Bush: Advancing Freedom Means Concrete U.S., Allied Moves
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 21, 2003 Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has said the United States must not only defend against terrorism -- it must also address the conditions that push people toward terrorism.
He took the occasion of the graduation at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., today to reiterate that point.
"America will not relent in the war against global terror," Bush told the class of 2003. "We will hunt the terrorists in every dark corner of the Earth, and we're making good progress. Nearly one-half of al Qaeda senior operatives have been captured or killed."
Combating terrorism is more than just military maneuvers, the president said. "We also stand for the values that defeat violence and the hope that overcomes hatred," he said. "We find our greatest security in the advance of human freedom. Free societies look to the possibilities of the future instead of feeding old resentments and bitterness."
Helping struggling countries build wealth and prosperity for all their peoples are important humanitarian and political goals, the president said. "Because America loves peace, America will always work and sacrifice for the expansion of freedom," he said.
Bush stated that freedom is not the sole birthright of Americans. The United States has demonstrated, time and again in its history, the will to spread freedom around the globe. "As a people dedicated to civil rights, we are driven to defend the human rights of others," he said.
"We are the nation that liberated continents and concentration camps. We're the nation of the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift and the Peace Corps. We're the nation that ended the oppression of Afghan women, and we are the nation that closed the torture chambers of Iraq."
Bush pointed out it is not only terrorist leaders who hold up the progress of freedom, but "the faceless enemies of human dignity: plague, starvation and hopeless poverty." He said the United States is at war against these enemies too.
Bush stressed that advancing freedom requires concrete moves by the United States and its allies. He said the United States and its allies can work together to halt the spread of AIDS in Africa.
"Today on the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people are afflicted with HIV/AIDS, including 3 million children under the age of 15," he said. "It is a desperate struggle for any person, or any nation, to build a better future in the shadow of death. Yet this shadow can be lifted. AIDS can be prevented. And AIDS can be treated. Lives can be saved, and others extended by many years."
The administration proposed a $15 billion initiative to fight the disease and Congress passed the bill. It is the largest single up-front commitment in history for an international public health initiative involving a specific disease.
"When I travel to Europe next week, I will challenge our allies to make a similar commitment," he said. "I will urge our European partners and Japan and Canada to join a great mission of rescue, and to match their good intentions with real resources."
Famine is still prevalent in many areas of the world, the president said. "Our world produces more than enough food to feed its 6 billion people, yet tens of millions are at risk of starvation, and millions more lack water fit for drinking," he said.
"This crisis also is concentrated in Africa. We have the ability to confront the suffering, and we accept the duty, as old as the scriptures, to comfort the afflicted and to feed the hungry."
He said the United States will spend $1 billion to provide clean drinking water to 50 million people in the developing world. He has pledged more money to the U.N. World Food Program to combat famine. The president has asked Congress to provide $200 million for a new famine fund, "which will give us the flexibility to act quickly when the first signs of famine appear." He called on other nations to follow the U.S. lead.
The president stated that persistent poverty and despair also undermines freedom. "Half the human population lives on less than $2 a day," he said. "Billions of men and women can scarcely imagine the benefits of modern life because they've never experienced them."
The old way of shipping money to these countries has proven a disaster. "Far too often, these funds have only enriched corrupt rulers and made little or no difference in the lives of the poor," he said. The only test, he said, must be this: Does a program work?
To get results, developing nations should embrace free markets, he said. "When nations embrace free markets, the rule of law and open trade, they prosper and millions of lives are lifted out of poverty and despair," Bush said.
In his State of the Union address, the president proposed the creation of a new Millennium Challenge Account. This money will go to developing nations whose governments are committed to three broad standards: They must rule justly; they must invest in the health and education of their people; and they must have policies that encourage economic freedom.
At the Coast Guard graduation, he urged Congress to pass legislation authorizing the program and said that he will call upon allies to join "in moving beyond the broken development policies of the past and encourage the freedom and reform that lead to prosperity."
The president said that addressing the problems of disease, hunger and poverty in the developing world will make the United States more secure. "They're also the moral purpose of American influence," he said. "They set an agenda for our government and they give idealistic citizens a great cause to serve."
Part of that moral purpose is embodied in the Peace Corps, he said. "For more than four decades, the volunteers of the Peace Corps have carried the good will of America into many parts of the world," he said. "Interest in this program is greater than ever before. I'm determined to double the size of the Peace Corps over the next five years."
The president said he sees the idealism in the faces of service members worldwide. "I see that idealism in the faces of this academy class," he said. "The men and women of the Coast Guard are always ready to defend the security of this nation. You are always ready to rescue those in trouble.
"These two commitments define your mission, and they define America's role in history. We understand that strength is necessary to confound the designs of evil men. And we know that the compassion and generosity of this land can aid the suffering and inspire the world. We will use the great power of America to serve the great ideals of America. And by these efforts we will build a lasting democratic peace for ourselves and for all humanity."