Bush Speech Links Iraq War And Nazis

President Bush gestures during a fundraiser for the reelection campaign of Sen Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo
President George W. Bush said Thursday the war against Islamic militants was like last century's fight against Nazis and communists and that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would lead to its conquest by America's worst enemies.

"The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq," Mr. Bush said in a speech to rally support for his unpopular war strategy two months before congressional elections. The Democrats responded by accusing Mr. Bush of pursuing failed policies that have weakened the war on terrorism.

Although nearly 4,000 anti-war protesters demonstrated in downtown Salt Lake City, Mr. Bush picked one of the most hawkish groups, in one of the most conservative states, as his audience for remaking his case for the war in Iraq, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod.

His speech before the American Legion convention in Utah, was the first in a series of Iraq speeches by Mr. Bush at a time when just 33 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the war, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.

With just 10 weeks until Election Day, the president's public relations offensive gives him a way to handle his biggest weakness – the war in Iraq by absorbing it into his biggest strength – the War on Terror, Axelrod reports.

"Some politicians look at our efforts in Iraq and see a diversion from the war on terror," Mr. Bush said. "That would come as news to Osama bin Laden, who proclaimed that the 'third world war is raging' in Iraq."

The president's reference to a battle against Nazism echoed recent speeches by other administration officials. In a speech at the American Legion convention earlier this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the world faces "a new type of fascism." And he warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.

With national security a cornerstone of his campaign strategy, Mr. Bush will mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by visiting all three sites where terrorists crashed hijacked planes, in Washington, Pennsylvania and New York.

Mr. Bush noted that many people are frustrated with the unrelenting violence in Iraq and that some are calling for a timetable for withdrawal.

"Many of these folks are sincere and they're patriotic, but they could be — they could not be more wrong," Mr. Bush said.

Some Republicans, liked Rep. Christopher Shays, have joined with Democrats in seeking a withdrawal timetable.