CANBERRA, Australia -- Heckled in and outside Australia's Parliament, President Bush offered a pointed answer to those who say the war with Iraq was not worth fighting.
"Who can possibly think that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power?" Bush said yesterday as he wrapped up a six-nation campaign to reinvigorate the war on terrorism among Asian and Pacific allies.
Bush told the divided Parliament that the war in Iraq was right and inevitable, but that Americans and Australians "still have decisive days ahead" and that the broader war on terror could be long and drawn out.
With thousands of antiwar demonstrators protesting outside the building and two hecklers jeering him from within, Bush thanked the government of Prime Minister John Howard for its help in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"America, Australia, and other nations acted in Iraq to remove a grave and gathering danger," Bush said near the end of an eight-day overseas trip.
Bush arrived in Hawaii later yesterday after a 10-hour flight across the international date line. He was greeted with leis by Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, and others as he stepped off Air Force One amid tight security at Hickam Air Force Base.
Bush and his wife, Laura, visited the USS Arizona Memorial where 1,177 crewmen were killed Dec. 7, 1941, in the surprise attack by Japanese planes.
Before heading for Hawaii, Bush observed a ceremony in which soldiers placed a wreath on Australia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honor Sergeant Andrew Russell, the first casualty among US allies in Afghanistan.
Bush praised Howard as "a leader of exceptional courage" for sending 2,000 troops to Iraq despite the largest peace protests in his nation since the Vietnam War.
For his part, Howard said as he introduced Bush to Parliament: "We have a divided view in this nation" on Iraq. That was reinforced when 41 opposition party legislators signed a letter criticizing Bush's decision to go to war, saying no present danger existed.
Thousands of demonstrators banged drums and shouted outside the Parliament building while a separate group of protesters jostled with security officials outside the US Embassy compound where Bush stayed overnight.
During Bush's speech, two Green Party senators jumped to their feet and shouted war protests. They were ordered removed from the chamber but refused to leave. One, Senator Bob Brown, shouted, "We are not a sheriff," a reference to Bush's recent description of Howard. Several other legislators wore white armbands to protest the Iraq war. For the most part, Bush was warmly received. While he provoked a mixed response with his remarks about Iraq, his comments on the broader war on terrorism brought approving shouts of "here, here" from both sides of the chamber. "As free nations in peril, we must fight this enemy with all our strength," Bush said.