Bush: 'We Will Take the Fight to the Enemy'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 2, 2004 President Bush today refused to back down to terrorists, despite continued violence in Iraq just 28 days before the handover of power to an interim government.
The United States and its allies would continue to "take the fight to the enemy," Bush vowed in his commencement address to the Air Force Academy's 2004 graduating class in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"I'm confident of our cause in Iraq," the president said, noting U.S. service members deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the globe are "dealing with killers who have made the death of Americans the calling of their lives."
Yet, he emphasized, achieving success against terrorists in Iraq wouldn't end the war against terror.
"Overcoming terrorism and bringing greater freedom to the nations of the Middle East is the work of decades," Bush pointed out.
He compared today's struggle against global terrorism to the conflict between the world's democracies and totalitarian regimes in Germany and Japan during World War II.
To pull out of Iraq, Bush explained to the graduating Air Force cadets, would be tantamount to waving a white flag to terrorists worldwide.
"The terrorist movement feeds on the appearance of inevitability," he noted. "It claims to rise on the currents of history, using past America withdrawals from Somalia and Beirut to sustain this myth and to gain new followers." The president was referring to past U.S. actions in pulling out its troops from Lebanon after the 1983 terror bombing in Beirut, and later when it departed Somalia in 1993 after the "Black Hawk Down" firefight with radicals in Mogadishu.
America "will need perseverance" to defeat global terrorism, Bush observed, noting, "this conflict will take many turns, with setbacks on the course to victory."
Yet, U.S. confidence in ultimate victory over terrorism "comes from one unshakable belief," Bush declared, noting that Americans believe in former President Ronald Reagan's words: "'The future belongs to the free.'"
Bush pointed out the need to stay the course in Iraq, noting that if the United States had lost its resolve in confronting communism during the Cold War, then "there would have been no long twilight struggle -- only a long twilight."
However, the United States and its allies persevered throughout the 40-year- long Cold War, Bush pointed out, and "stayed true to the vision of a democratic Europe." That resolve, he noted, resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall and "gave all the world a lesson in the power of liberty."
Three years into the war against terrorism America and its allies have faced many challenges, Bush noted, adding, "There are more ahead."
Now is not the time for impatience or "self-defeating pessimism," he maintained.
"These times demand the kind of courage and confidence that Americans have shown before," the president said.
"You are the ones who will defeat the enemies of freedom," Bush told the graduates. "Your country is depending on your courage and your dedication to duty. The eyes of the world are upon you. You leave this place at a historic time, and you enter this struggle ahead with the full confidence of your commander in chief."