If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens … new recruits … new resources … and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11 and invite tragedy. And ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East … to succeed in Iraq … and to spare the American people from this danger.