Bush Defends Military Budget Request, Warns Both Sides in Middle East
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 8, 2002 President Bush today defended his fiscal 2003 defense budget request and re-emphasized America's in the fight against terrorism for the long haul during a stop in Knoxville, Tenn.
Following a tour of a Citizens Police Academy, Bush also spoke shortly about U.S. expectations in the Middle East. He said he told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the United States expects Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory without delay. He also said that Arab nations and leaders must condemn terrorism and terrorist activity.
"There is a mutual responsibility to achieve peace and it's going to require leadership on both sides, and the United States is firmly committed to achieving peace and I am firmly committed to what I expect from both parties," Bush said. "I repeat: I meant what I said about withdrawal without delay, and I mean what I say when I call upon the Arab world to strongly condemn and act against terrorist activities.
In a later speech, Bush said he came to the Volunteer State to tout volunteerism. He spoke about the all-volunteer military and the superb job service members are doing against terrorists and then spoke about the various Citizen Corps opportunities.
Bush said the fiscal 2003 budget request reflects the nature of the conflict the United States is in. "I've asked for the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years not only because it will fulfill our commitment to support our troops, but because it recognizes that this country is in our war for the long pull -- that we're interested in defending freedom no matter what the cost!" he said.
The United States, he said, would commit the resources needed to defend freedom worldwide. "I'm proud of the United States of America. I'm proud of our people. I'm proud of our resolve. I'm proud of the unity. I'm proud of the patience of the American people," he said.
"The American people know what I know: that we have been called into action, that history has given us a chance to lead, that we now understand that history's call is to lead our vast coalition against terrorists," he continued.
Bush said critics have said the defense budget request is too large. "Listen, the price of freedom is high. I understand that. But it's not too high as far as I'm concerned," he said. "This nation can show the world what we stand for, and we can show future generations what we're made out of."
Bush said the United States is making good progress in the war on terror. "We're hunting them down, and that's what has to happen," he said. "We're doing it in a way that sometimes doesn't make it in the newspapers." He said the government is going about the business of assaulting terrorism in a steady, deliberate and patient manner.
"There is no cave deep enough to hide from the arm of justice of the United States of America," he said.