Over the course of the past few years, I have made several trips to both Iraq and Afghanistan to see firsthand the situation on the ground. I have met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and discussed with him the current situation. I have also led Congressional delegations into Baghdad where we met with key military leaders and representatives of the newly-formed Iraqi government. I have also had the great honor of visiting with the men and women of our armed services who are serving far from their homes, many from the 6th district of Virginia.
While we are clearly facing serious challenges in Iraq, much has been accomplished. Our goal is not to maintain and occupy Iraq, but to ensure that the country is stable enough to stand on its own and be a beacon of hope and democracy in the Middle East. Stability in the Middle East is imperative to our national security. The long-term instability over decades in this region has created a haven for terrorists and a breeding ground for radical Islamic extremists to advance their terrorist agenda. Pulling out of Iraq at this time would put our nation and the rest of the world at great risk. While I continue to support our mission in Iraq, I think it is clear that the Administration's efforts to achieve the mission have not been flawless. I believe more should be done to press the now established Iraqi government and U.S. trained Iraqi military to take the lead.
We must maintain the resolve to win the war against terrorism and Islamic extremists. That is the surest way to protect our freedom and achieve peace. America is more secure today thanks to the brave men and women of our armed forces, whose dedication, patriotism, and bravery are helping to advance the cause of freedom in Iraq and around the world.