President Bush has given another superb speech before the National Endowment for Democracy about the War On Terror.
Like the Advance of Freedom speech President Bush gave to the National Endowment for Democracy last nearly two years ago, today's speech is another in the series of thought provoking speeches in which the President has set forth an ambitious vision of the post 9-11 world.
In his November 2003 speech, President Bush laid out his vision of a “forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.” In the President’s vision, the “advance of freedom leads to peace:”
The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.
Over time, free nations grow stronger and dictatorships grow weaker.
Because we and our allies were steadfast, Germany and Japan are democratic nations that no longer threaten the world. A global nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union ended peacefully -- as did the Soviet Union.
A week after that speech the President gave Three Pillars speech at Whitehall Palace. There he explained that “the peace and security of free nations" now rest on "three pillars:" their encouragement of strong and effective "international institutions," their willingness in the last resort "to restrain aggression and evil by force," and their "commitment to the global expansion of democracy."
Today, President Bush reminded us of that evil four years ago:
We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoice in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day and continues to this hour.
We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.
The President succinctly summarized the goal and vision of the enemy; "the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom:"
- First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace and stand in the way of their ambitions.
- Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments.
- Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.
The President addressed those who say the War on Terror has strengthened the enemy:
I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and Al Qaida attacked us anyway.
The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet militants killed more than 180 Russian school children in Beslan. Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: Israeli presence on the West Bank or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the crusades of a thousand years ago.
In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.
Against such an enemy there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory.
President Bush then laid out five elements of our strategy on the War On Terror:
- First, we're determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist network before they occur. We're reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agency for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity, based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources here and abroad.
- Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation.
- Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror.
- Fourth, we're determined to deny the militant's control of any nation which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror.
- The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East.
As he did two years ago at the National Endowment for Democracy and Whitehall Palace, President Bush has once again eloquently explained the great struggle in which we are now engaged. President Bush does not get anything like the credit he deserves for his long-term vision for winning the war on terror. You should read the entire speech.
Reading summaries, excerpts and critiques lets others do the thinking for you. Snippets can't help you grasp the import, which you should have especially if you want to disagree in a knowledgeable manner. This speech deserves to be read in its entirety. Please invest the 30 minutes required to read, listen or watch the whole thing.