An inspiration to us all: Thursday’s speech by the American President about the “War on Terror.” About how the “murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century,” and threatens the peace and security of the entire world; and how “this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.” About how, in the four years since the events of September 11, 2001, his Administration has protected the American Homeland against “at least” ten serious terrorist plots—all of them Al Qaeda’s. And about what this morning’s Christian Science Monitor called the President’s “spirited justification for the war on terror,” in which he outlined a “step-by-step plan for confronting the 21st century’s ‘ideology of hatred’,” and bound it all together in his effort to “refocus Americans on what he sees as the central undertaking of this century: defeating the forces of Islamic radicalism.”
There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.
—- President George W. Bush, in his speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, D.C., October 6, 2005
“President Discusses War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, October 6, 2005
“Fact Sheet: President Bush Remarks on the War on Terror,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, October 6, 2005
“Fact Sheet: Plots, Casings, and Infiltrations Referenced in President Bush’s Remarks on the War on Terror,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, October 6, 2005
“Bush rallies faith in war,” Ken Herman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 7, 2005
“Bush Says Defeating Iraq Insurgency Is Critical,” Charlie Savage, Boston Globe, October 7, 2005
“Bush Bravado,” Editorial, Boston Globe, October 7, 2005
“Bush frames battle of 21st century,” Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, October 7, 2005
“Bush sees threat from imperialists of terror,” Edward Alden, Financial Times, October 7, 2005
“Iran and Syria get blunt warnings on terror,” Christopher Adams and Edward Alden, Financial Times, October 7, 2005
“Ten al-Qaida plots foiled since 9/11,” Jamie Wilson, The Guardian, October 7, 2005
“Bush Likens War on Terror to Cold War,” Warren Vieth and Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2005
“Bush Ups Ante for Iran, Syria in Terror War,” Meghan Clyne, New York Sun, October 7, 2005
“10 Plots Foiled Since Sept. 11, Bush Declares,” David E. Sanger, New York Times, October 7, 2005
“Al Qaeda Tells Ally in Iraq to Strive for Global Goals,” Douglas Jehl and Thom Shankar, New York Times, October 7, 2005
“President Bush’s Major Speech: Doing the 9/11 Time Warp Again,” Editorial, New York Times, October 7, 2005
“President Bush’s Major Speech: Sounding Old Themes on Iraq,” Editorial, New York Times, October 7, 2005
“Bush begs for support to fight ‘evil radicals’ waging war on humanity,” Tim Reid, The Times, October 7, 2005
“Bush portrays war in Iraq as part of a global battle,” Donald Lambro, Washington Times, October 7, 2005
“Bush hits ‘Islamic radicals’,” Bill Sammon, Washington Times, October 7, 2005
“Official defends hard line on terror,” Tom Carter, Washington Times, October 7, 2005
FYA (“For your archives”): A lengthy excerpt from the American President’s October 6 speech in Washington.—Question: How can we citizens of the planet earth protect our planet from these Americans? They threaten, and they attack; and then they threaten some more. And yet it is they who point their fingers at everyone else. They accuse. They scream “Terror.” But this isn’t just “bravado.” Much less a mere “reprise” of the never-ending rhetoric of 9/11 to avoid today’s realities. Instead, this kind of rhetoric emanates from the world’s preeminent threat to international peace and security. There is only one reason for these Americans to liken the so-called “War on Terror” to the so-called Cold War: So that in their own minds they can provide themselves with a little bit of cover when they threaten and attack others. So one system of propaganda succeeds another. Big deal. But the reality of the State that discards the worn out legitimations for the newer ones remains unchanged. This is all that there is to it. What I would like to know is, How can anybody take the political leadership of this centuries-old Super Predator State seriously? They may be truly scary fucks, these Americans. But there is absolutely nothing mysterious about them. Not in the least.
Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence — the 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 inalterable 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. (Applause.)
The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, “what is good for them and what is not.” And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his — that this is the road to paradise — though he never offers to go along for the ride.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We’ve seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Margaret Hassan, and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim’s grieving mother and said, “I do not feel your pain — because I believe you are an infidel.” And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.
When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple — the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. (Applause.) We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, “the most cowardly of God’s creatures.” But let’s be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that once again will destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.)
And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom — by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half the population — this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants’ vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past — a declaration of war on the idea of progress, itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. (Applause.)
We didn’t ask for this global struggle, but we’re answering history’s call with confidence, and a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we’re disrupting militant conspiracies, destroying their ability to make war, and working to give millions in a troubled region of the world a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.
First, we’re determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur. We’re reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We’re reforming our intelligence agencies 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. We’re acting, along with the governments from many countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders. Together, we’ve killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks; as well as some of bin Laden’s most senior deputies; al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the Jakarta and the first Bali bombings; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner, who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of al Qaeda’s senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.
Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We’ve stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country. Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded — but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.
Second, we’re determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as long-range ballistic missiles. And in the last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspected weapons technology, including equipment for Iran’s ballistic missile program.
This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we’re working urgently to keep weapons of mass destruction out of their hands.
Third, we’re determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they’re equally as guilty of murder. (Applause.) Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.
Fourth, we’re determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. For this reason, we’re fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. For this reason, we’re working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. And for this reason, we’re fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power — and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.
Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. Area by area, city by city, we’re conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces, and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning. Within these areas, we’re working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. And we’re aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence. This work involves great risk for Iraqis, and for Americans and coalition forces. Wars are not won without sacrifice — and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve.
The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we’ve ever faced. They’re unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity, or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.
Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters — they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.
In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress — from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years. With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces. Progress isn’t easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.
Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom. We’ve heard it suggested that Iraq’s democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that’s the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who you disagree — who disagree, building consensus by persuasion, and answering to the will of the people. We’ve heard it said that the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country. It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq — but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower; it is a healthy, sturdy tree. (Applause.)
As Americans, we believe that people everywhere — everywhere — prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all. And so we’re confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.
Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources? Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence.
There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory. (Applause.)
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. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there’s no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end. By standing for the hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.
America is making this stand in practical ways. We’re encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We’re standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We’re making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women, beliefs that are right and true in every land, and in every culture. (Applause.)
As we do our part to confront radicalism, we know that the most vital work will be done within the Islamic world, itself. And this work has begun. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, “Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person.” The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith.
Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we have engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in a vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their own country. These brave citizens know the stakes — the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition — and that United States of America is proud to stand beside them. (Applause.)
With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle, between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision — and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure — until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent — until the day that free men and women defeat them.
We don’t know the course of our own struggle — the course our own struggle will take — or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.
May God bless you. (Applause.)
Postscript (January 9, 2006): For one subject that the Great Emancipators back in the States and the U.K. don’t like to touch—and, therefore, we ought to:
“How Many Iraqis Have Died Since the US Invasion in 2003?” Andrew Cockburn, CounterPunch, January 9, 2006
“A Formula for Slaughter: The American Rules of Engagement from the Air,” Michael Schwartz, TomDispatch.com, January 10, 2006
“Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey,” Les Roberts et al., The Lancet, posted online October 29, 2004. (This copy of the document is made available by the U.K.-based Count the Casualties organization.)
“Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion,” Press Release, Center for International Emergency, Disaster, and Refugee Studies, October 28, 2004
“100,000 Iraqis Dead: Should We Believe It?” Stephen Soldz, ZNet, November 3, 2004