This morning President George W. Bush held an impromptu press conference outside the Oval Office of the White House. In his speech he mentioned several things pertaining to Iraq, and "The War on Terror". A few that stuck in mind are the following:
- The surge has worked.
- The (tour of duty) deployment of troops to Iraq will be reduced to 12 months, rather than 15 months.
- "P.M. Maliki recently... held important diplomatic discussions with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Berlusconi, and His Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI."
- "We remain a nation at war".
The statement about the meeting of Al Maliki with "His Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI", really stuck me as unwarranted and peculiar. This is a sticking point for me, and I hope also with many others. Since when does the President of the largest secular (protestant) republic refer to the head of the Catholic Church, as "Holy Father"? Is this a form of paradigm shift in the making. To sensitize the American people to think of this mere mortal who represents the Church of Rome, as holy? Is this where our republic founded on the principles of separation between Church and State, revert to old-world Catholicity? Where the pope is the supreme authority over all heads of state, including ours a representative democracy?
Here's my concern for what I consider to be a descent down the slippery slope of Catholic influence in our nation; The chicanery being used against the unsuspecting citizenry. A reproduction of what took place between President Reagan and John Paul II; When they secretly discussed (collaborated) American Top Secret Information to "defeat" the Polish Communist stronghold, and eventually the Soviet Union. This same arrangement is taking place before our very eyes; In which Benedict XVI is being made privy to American Intelligence, and vice versa, The Vatican is sharing intelligence with President Bush. Who is benefiting from this 'closet confidence sessions'? Is the Catholic Church now an arbiter in secular international issues? Why this flagrant violation of our Constitution is taking place is simply flabbergasting? Are we a Catholic country subject to the Vatican's meddling in our affairs. Why the adulation? Adulation for a German Catholic Bishop who resides in the Vatican? Is the holy see a nation or a religion? Which one does the U.S. exchange state secrets with? Something is extremely wrong here and no one seems to notice, or mind. What I see is prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes. Wars, and rumors of war... The Image of the Beast is now a fact for all with 'eyes that see', to see!
Here's the transcript of that press conference; Read and weep:
President Bush Discusses Iraq
8:04 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This has been a month of encouraging news from Iraq. Violence is down to its lowest level since the spring of 2004, and we're now in our third consecutive month with reduced violence levels holding steady. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker caution that the progress is still reversible, but they report that there now appears to be a "degree of durability" to the gains we have made.
A significant reason for this sustained progress is the success of the surge. Another is the increasing capability of the Iraqi forces. Iraqi forces now have 192 combat battalions in the fight -- and more than 110 of these battalions are taking the lead in combat operations against terrorists and extremists.
We saw the capability of those forces earlier this year, when the Iraqi government launched successful military operations against Shia extremist groups in Basra, Amarah, and the Sadr City area of Baghdad. Because of these operations, extremists who once terrorized the citizens of these communities have been driven from their strongholds. As a result, our Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, was able to walk the streets of Sadr City last Wednesday, as something that would not have been possible just a few months ago.
This week, the Iraqi government is launching a new offensive in parts of the Diyala province that contain some of al Qaeda's few remaining safe havens in the country. This operation is Iraqi-led; our forces are playing a supporting role. And in the moments -- in the months ahead, the Iraqis will continue taking the lead in more military operations across the country.
As security in Iraq has improved, the Iraqi government has made political progress as well. The Iraqi Council of Representatives has passed several major pieces of legislation this year, and Iraqi leaders are preparing for provincial elections. And Prime Minister Maliki recently returned from a successful visit to Europe, where he held important diplomatic discussions with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Berlusconi, and His Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
The progress in Iraq has allowed us to continue our policy of "return on success." We now have brought home all five of the combat brigades and the three Marine units that were sent to Iraq as part of the surge. The last of these surge brigades returned home this month. And later this year, General Petraeus will present me his recommendations on future troop levels -- including further reductions in our combat forces as conditions permit.
As part of the "return on success" policy, we are also reducing the length of combat tours in Iraq. Beginning tomorrow, troops deploying to Iraq will serve 12-month tours instead of 15-month tours. This will ease the burden on our forces -- and it will make life easier for our wonderful military families.
We're also making progress in our discussion with Prime Minister Maliki's government on a strategic framework agreement. This agreement will serve as the foundation for America's presence in Iraq once the United Nations resolution authorizing the multinational forces there expires on December the 31st.
We remain a nation at war. Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq -- but the terrorists remain dangerous, and they are determined to strike our country and our allies again. In this time of war, America is grateful to all the men and women who have stepped forward to defend us. They understand that we have no greater responsibility than to stop the terrorists before they launch another attack on our homeland. And every day they make great sacrifices to keep the American people safe here at home. We owe our thanks to all those who wear the uniform -- and their families who support them in their vital work. And the best way to honor them is to support their mission -- and bring them home with victory.
Thank you very much.
END 8:08 A.M. EDT