Bush: U.S. Leadership, Resolve Critical to Terror Fight, Security
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Bush urged the United States to hold steadfastly to its leadership role in the world - a role he said is critical to protect American citizens and secure the peace.
As inviting as isolationism and protectionism may seem to some, it's a dangerous road for America, Bush told a joint session of Congress. That reality was demonstrated loud and clear on Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to the country, he said.
America must remain on the offensive against terror networks to prevent more terrorist attacks, he said. "If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone," Bush said. "They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores."
Terrorists like Osama bin Laden are serious about mass murder, and Americans must take their declared intentions seriously, the president said. "They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder," he said. "Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world."
But in their acts of horror, terrorists have made a miscalculation, Bush said. "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it," he said.
This fight is showing success, with many terrorist leaders already killed or captured. "And for the others, their day will come," the president said.
The United States and coalition remain on the offensive in Afghanistan, where a democratically elected president and national assembly are fighting terror while building their new government, Bush said.
Similarly, the United States remains on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory that involves helping build a new, inclusive government, continuing reconstruction efforts and boosting Iraq's security forces.
Despite the challenges, Bush said, he's confident in the plan for victory, the will of the Iraqi people and the skill and spirit of the U.S. military. "We are in this fight to win, and we are winning," he said.
But winning the war on terror isn't something the military can do alone, the president said.
Ultimately, "the only way to defeat terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change," he said.
Bush cited the vast differences between dictatorships and democracies and emphasized the need to spread freedom around the world. "Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction," he said. "Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror."
While helping spread democracy around the world, America is helping write "a new chapter in the story of self-government," with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, among the examples he cited.
"Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal," he told the audience. "We seek the end of tyranny in our world."
Some people dismiss this goal as misguided idealism, but every step toward freedom in the world makes the United States safer, Bush said. "In reality, the future security of America depends on it," he said.
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