Bush Calls on U.N. to Unite Against Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2004 In the interests of peace, justice and the rule of law, nations must band together to defeat the scourge of terrorism, President Bush told the United Nations today.
Bush, speaking to the General Assembly in New York, said, "Every nation that wants peace will share the benefits of a freer world, and every nation that seeks peace has an obligation to help build that world."
Bush called on nations to help the United States and coalition allies build democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush also announced a proposal to establish a Democracy Fund in the United Nations to help foster that change.
"For decades, the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world," Bush said. "This progress has brought unity to Europe, self-government to Latin America and Asia, and new hope to Africa. Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace founded on human freedom."
Bush said countries cannot isolate themselves from terrorist attacks. They cannot seek safety by ignoring failed states and the conditions that foster extremism. Security in the globally linked new century relies on advancing freedom and dignity for all peoples, Bush said. "These rights are advancing across the world, and across the world the enemies of human rights are responding with violence," the president said.
Bush cited the shocking terror attack on a school in Beslan, Russia, as one instance of the depths of hatred terrorists have. He said Svetlana Dzebisov was held hostage in the school with her son and nephew. Her nephew was killed.
"She recently visited the cemetery and saw what she called the little graves," Bush said. "She said, 'I understand that there is evil in the world, but what have these little creatures done?'
"Members of the United Nations, the Russian children did nothing to deserve such awful suffering and fright and death," Bush said. "The people of Madrid and Jerusalem and Istanbul and Baghdad have done nothing to deserve sudden and random murder. These acts violate the standards of justice in all cultures and the principles of all religions. All civilized nations are in this struggle together, and all must fight the murderers."
Bush said the United States is determined to destroy terror networks, and he thanked the nations cooperating in this effort. He thanked the nations that formed the coalition that defeated the Taliban and those that freed the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein.
The president also addressed steps taken to get at the roots of terrorism -- the hopelessness that drives people to embrace extreme philosophies. "Defending our ideals is vital, but it is not enough," he said. "Our broader mission as U.N. members is to apply these ideals to the great issues of our time. Our wider goal is to promote hope and progress as the alternatives to hatred and violence. Our great purpose is to build a better world beyond the war on terror."
Bush cited efforts the United States is making in such pursuits as helping in the global battle against AIDS; confronting the evil of trafficking in human beings; changing the way the United States confronts poverty, corruption and aid; and working to relieve the crushing burden of debt on the poorest nations.
He also said the United Nations needs more effective tools "to stabilize regions in turmoil and to halt religious violence and ethnic cleansing." The United States and Italy have proposed a global peace operations initiative in which the richest countries of the world will train 75,000 peacekeepers, initially from Africa, so they can conduct operations on that continent and elsewhere.
Finally, Bush said that because the United Nations believes in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. "No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace," the president said.
Democracies are alive in all cultures encompassing all ethnicities, religions, traditions and races, Bush said. "When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations," he said. "People everywhere are capable of freedom and worthy of freedom."
He said that freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the United Nations must continue to support democracies in those nations. "The liberty that many have won at a cost must be secured," he said. "As members of the United Nations, we all have a stake in the success of the world's newest democracies."
The Afghan people, the president said, are showing extraordinary courage under difficult conditions. Forces loyal to the national government are fighting the Taliban remnants, and the nation is preparing for a presidential election Oct. 9, he noted.
Bush said that the idea that 10 million Afghans would register to vote -- including more than 4 million women -- should answer the question of whether Muslim societies can be democratic societies. "The Afghan people are giving their answer," he said.
In Iraq, sovereignty has returned. He said the nation, long a pariah, has rejoined the community of nations. "The government of Prime Minister (Ayad) Allawi has earned the support of every nation that believes in self- determination and desires peace," he said. "The U.N. and its member nations must respond to Prime Minister Allawi's requests and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal and free."
And Iraq needs the help. He said the enemies of democracy know that if Iraq succeeds, it will be a decisive blow against their ambitions for that region. "So a terrorist group associated with al Qaeda is now one of the main groups killing the innocent in Iraq today, conducting a campaign of bombings against civilians and the beheadings of bound men," he said.
He said coalition forces in Iraq -- along with Iraqi security forces -- are taking on these enemies so "peaceful nations around the world will never have to face them within our own borders."
Bush said that as elections approach in Afghanistan and Iraq the enemies of democracy will step up the attacks. "The work ahead is demanding, but these difficulties will not shake our conviction that the future of Afghanistan and Iraq is a future of liberty," he said. "The proper response to difficulty is not to retreat, it is to prevail. We will stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled."