Bush: U.S. Will Stand By Friends, Allies
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2002 The United States will stand by its friends and allies against global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush said today to U.S. troops in the Republic of Korea.
President George W. Bush speaks to American forces and their families during his visit to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, on Feb. 21. Photo by Staff Sgt. Johnny Saldivar, USAF.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Stability on the Korean Peninsula, he pointed out, depends upon the military might of the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance.
"History has led us here. Ties of commerce and friendship keep us here," the president said in Seoul. "When America says we're your friend, we mean it."
U.S. officials hope to see the day that stability is based on the peaceful reconciliation of North and South Korea, he said In the meantime, however, Bush vowed that the United States would maintain its presence on the peninsula.
"In our dealings with North Korea, we've laid down a clear marker," the president said. "We will stand by the people of South Korea."
Bush repeated the pledge he made during his State of the Union address. "We will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us or our friends or our allies with weapons of mass destruction," he said.
North Korea, Iraq and Iran form an "axis of evil" that threatens world peace, Bush said in the Jan. 29 speech before Congress. The ruling regimes in those countries sponsor terrorism and have chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, he said.
"Our most important job is the security of the United States of America and the security of our friends and allies," the president said. "And we will pay whatever price it takes to defend America."
America is committed to finding and routing out terrorists wherever they hide, he told the troops. "We won't stop until the threat of global terrorism has been destroyed," he said.
"We will do everything in our power to defend freedom and the universal values that are so important to our nation, and so important to a peaceful world," he stressed. "I made this clear to our enemy, and the mighty United States military is delivering (the message)."
U.S. forces serving in South Korea "walk in the path of thousands of soldiers who fought for freedom in the Korean War, and all who kept the peace for half a century," the president said. He thanked the service members for "being strong and steady" in their effort to keep the peace.
U.S. troops stationed in Korea and around the world spend every day training, testing and preparing for any mission that may come, Bush said. "That's your responsibility and you're the best in the world."
As commander-in-chief, he added, his job is to give clear orders, set clear objectives, and to make sure service members have everything they need to do their job. That's why he's asked Congress to pass more than a $48 billion increase in the fiscal 2003 defense budget, he said. The budget request includes another pay raise for service members.
Those who wear the uniform have earned the president's confidence and gratitude for the difficulties they accept and the dangers they face. "A grateful nation not only thanks those who wear the uniform, but we thank the wives and husbands, sons and daughters, and family members who sacrifice along with you," he said.