George Bush: 'Rebuilding Iraq has not always gone as well as we had hoped'

From a speech by the President of the United States to the Council on Foreign Relations, meeting at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC
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The Independent Online

Throughout Iraq, we're seeing challenges common to young democracies. Corruption is a problem at both the national and local levels of the Iraqi government. We will not tolerate fraud ­ so our embassy in Baghdad is helping to demand transparency and accountability for the money being invested in reconstruction. We've helped the Iraqi people establish institutions like a Commission on Public Integrity and a stronger Supreme Board of Audit to improve oversight of the rebuilding process.

Another problem is the infiltration of militia groups into some Iraqi security forces ­ especially the Iraqi police. We're helping Iraqis deal with this problem by embedding coalition transition teams in Iraqi units to mentor police and soldiers. We're also working with Iraqi leaders at all levels of government to establish high standards for police recruiting. In a free Iraq, former militia members must shift their loyalty to the national government, and learn to operate under the rule of law.

Reconstruction has not always gone as well as we had hoped, primarily because of the security challenges on the ground. Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking. It's even harder when terrorists are trying to blow up that which the Iraqis are trying to build. The terrorists and Saddamists have been able to slow progress, but they haven't been able to stop it.

In the space of two-and-a-half years, we have helped Iraqis conduct nearly 3,000 renovation projects at schools, train more than 30,000 teachers, distribute more than 8 million textbooks, rebuild irrigation infrastructure to help more than 400,000 rural Iraqis, and improve drinking water for more than 3 million people.

Our coalition has helped Iraqis introduce a new currency, reopen their stock exchange, extend $21m [£12m] in micro-credit and small business loans to Iraqi entrepreneurs. As a result of these efforts, more than 30,000 new Iraqi businesses have registered since liberation.With all these improvements,Iraqis who were disillusioned with their situation are beginning to see a hopeful future for their country.