HONOLULU (AP) – President Bush circled the globe on his Asian journey but never strayed far from the subject of Iraq. He dined with U.S. troops in Hawaii before heading home Tuesday, telling them their efforts “will determine how your children and grandchildren live.”

Bush returned to Washington late Tuesday night after visiting Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia during an eight-day trip aimed at assuring Asia of America’s commitment to the region. He even found time to meet briefly with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Still, Iraq and the war on terror kept the president’s attention. In Vietnam, asked about lessons from that war, Bush answered that in Iraq, “we’ll succeed unless we quit.”

And he found himself in front of cameras on Tuesday at Hickam Air Force Base condemning the assassination earlier in the day of an anti-Syrian Lebanese leader.

Bush was briefed in Hawaii at the Oahu headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command, whose territory spreads from the West Coast of the U.S. to the Indian Ocean. Before that, he ate and chatted with the troops, at an open-sided mess hall.

The president made his way through the food line, piling his plate with ham, eggs, a biscuit topped with gravy, and potatoes. He shook hands with troops in camouflage uniforms. Then, after eating, he thanked the military personnel for their service “on behalf of a grateful nation.”

“You serve at a time when we witness an ideological struggle between those who love freedom and those who hate freedom,” the president said.

Three police motorcycle officers were injured when they crashed on slick pavement while escorting his motorcade on Tuesday. Two were taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where one was described as in serious condition and another was described as stable.

Members of the White House medical team – including an ambulance – helped at the scene, said Dr. Richard Tubb, Bush’s doctor.

Local ambulance and fire units were sent, too.

Also, acting White House Travel Office Director Gregg Pitts was beaten and robbed by at least two men while out in Honolulu Monday night. Pitts suffered head and other injuries in the attack. He was awake and alert but remained behind at a Honolulu hospital because of a possible concussion, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

Bush’s Asia trip was shadowed by talk of wars past and present.

His visit to Vietnam inspired a fresh debate about whether today’s increasingly difficult war in Iraq has dangerous parallels to the failed American war in Southeast Asia three decades ago. The president ended his Asian tour with the stop in Hawaii, where the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor launched the United States’ entry into World War II.

The Iraq situation was complicated Monday when Iranian leaders invited the presidents of Iraq and Syria to a weekend summit in Tehran to discuss the war. The move, viewed as an attempt by Iran to counter U.S. influence in the region, was received with skepticism at the State Department in Washington.

Then, on Tuesday, came the assassination of Lebanese Christian leader Pierre Gemayel, a foe of Syrian involvement in his country.

Bush denounced the killing, saying that Syria and Iran were trying to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

He stopped short of specifically blaming Iran or Syria, but called for a full investigation to identify “those people and those forces” behind the assassination.

AP-ES-11-21-06 2255EST

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