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West Point Graduates Will Clinch Victory in War on Terror, Bush Says

By Tech. Sgt. Elaine Wilson, USAF
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2006 – America will take the fight against terrorism to every battlefront with an unrelenting determination that will not cease until terrorists are defeated, President Bush said today in West Point, N.Y.

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Cadets celebrate at the conclusion of graduation exercises at the U.S. Military Academy, May 27. Those graduating represent approximately 72 percent of the cadets who entered West Point almost four years ago. U.S. Army photo

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"Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down; we will never give in; and we will never accept anything less than complete victory," Bush said in his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy.

Bush praised the graduates for their "patriotism, devotion to duty and courageous decision to serve" as the first class to arrive at West Point after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The reality of war has surrounded you since your first moments at the Academy," he said, noting that more than 50 cadets already have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and 34 former cadets have lost their lives in the war on terror.

"Each loss is heartbreaking, and each loss has made you even more determined to pick up their mantle, to carry on their fight, and to achieve victory," he said.

Bush told the cadets they are well-equipped with the skills they need for the war on terrorism, as West Point has adapted to a war "unlike any our nation has seen before" with a new center for combating terrorism, courses in homeland security, and intelligence and convoy-operations training.

The recent transformation of West Point is as significant as the transformation made six decades ago shortly after World War II ended, when the threat of Communism appeared on the horizon, Bush said. West Point, like America, "had to prepare for a long struggle with a new adversary," the president said.

Bush described the turmoil that gripped the world in the post-World War II era, including a communist threat to Greece and Turkey, the victory of communism in China, the blockade of Berlin, and the explosion of a nuclear weapon in the Soviet Union in 1949.

"Fortunately we had a president named Harry Truman who recognized the threat, took bold action to confront it and laid the foundation for freedom's victory in the Cold War," the president said.

Bush said Truman swiftly established new doctrine that would guide America throughout the Cold War. "In a speech to Congress, Truman said, 'It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressure,'" Bush said. With Truman's doctrine and the "aid to back it up," the Berlin Airlift was launched, Greece and Turkey were saved from communism, and Soviet expansion was stopped.

Bush said Truman issued a presidential directive that called on the United States to "accept the responsibility of world leadership and defend the cause of freedom and democracy."

"And that's exactly what the United States did," Bush said.

Bush pointed out similarities between the Cold War and the war being fought today. "Like Americans in Truman's day, Americans are once again laying the foundations for victory," he said.

Like the Cold War, America is fighting the followers of a "murderous ideology that despises freedom" and enemies who are "dismissive of free people," the president said.

"Like previous generations, history has once again called America to great responsibilities, and we're answering history's call with confidence," Bush said.

Like Truman with the Cold War, America is "laying the foundation for victory in the war on terror," as coalition forces act with courage and determination to confront new adversaries, Bush said, citing several victories U.S. forces have already seen along the way.

"Coalition forces drove the Taliban from power, liberated Afghanistan, and brought freedom to 25 million people. In Afghanistan, the terror camps have been shut down; women are working; boys and girls are going to school; and Afghans have chosen a president and a new parliament in free elections."

In Iraq, Bush said, the country's former dictator is on trial, and a new unity government has stood up. "The world has seen the beginning of something new: a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East."

Although progress has been made, Bush said America is still in the early stages in the struggles for freedom, with setbacks, challenges and tests of America's resolve. "Yet we've also seen days of victory and hope. In the past four years alone, more than 110 million human beings across the world have joined the ranks of the free. And this is only the beginning."

Bush assured the graduates that their generation would see a victorious end to the war on terror. "Now the class of 2006 will enter the great struggle, and the final outcome depends on your leadership," he said. "The war began on my watch, but it's going to end on your watch."

He encouraged the graduates to "trust in the power of freedom, and be bold in freedom's defense."

"Trust in your convictions; stay true to yourselves, and one day the world will celebrate your achievements," he continued. "You have chosen a difficult and dangerous vocation, - and America is grateful for that choice."

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Related Sites:
Full transcript of President Bush's speech
U.S. Military Academy

Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Bush speaks during the commencement ceremony for the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2006. U.S. Army photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCadets celebrate at the conclusion of graduation exercises at the U.S. Military Academy, May 27. Those graduating represent approximately 72 percent of the cadets who entered West Point almost four years ago. Photo by Leslie Gordnier  
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