President Outlines Immediate, Long-Term Strategies for Peace
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 8, 2005 America is pursuing a clear strategy with its allies to win the war on terror and is making progress in helping ensure long-term peace and stability, President Bush said at the National Defense University at Fort McNair here today.
The immediate strategy, the president said, "is to eliminate terrorist threats abroad so we do not have to face them here at home." In the longer term, the strategy is to keep the peace by helping "change the conditions that give rise to extremism and terror, especially in the broader Middle East."
The theory behind eliminating terrorists abroad is straightforward, Bush said. "Terrorists are less likely to endanger our security if they're worried about their own security," he said. "While terrorists spend their days struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training to commit new attacks."
The United States and its allies have waged a global-scale campaign to eliminate terrorists and their safe havens, with good progress, the president said.
"The al Qaeda terror network that attacked our country still has leaders, but many of its top commanders have been removed," he said. "There are still governments that sponsor and harbor terrorists, but their number has declined. There are still regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction, but no longer without attention and without consequence."
The president acknowledged that the United States continues to be targeted by terrorists "who want to kill many and intimidate us all and vowed to remain on the offensive until they are defeated."
"We will keep the terrorists on the run until they have nowhere left to hide," Bush said. "We will stay on the offensive against them until the fight is won."
The longer-term U.S. strategy - to help change conditions that promote extremism - presents a challenge, particularly in parts of the Middle East the president said "have been caught for generations in the cycle of tyranny and despair and radicalism."
But Bush said the status quo has to be challenged because it threatens the rest of the world. "Because we have witnessed how the violence in that region can easily reach across borders and oceans, the entire world has an urgent interest in the progress and hope and freedom in the broader Middle East," the president said.
That requires a new approach to the region and recognition that "the best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies," he said.
"Our duty is now clear," Bush said. "For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East.
The president heralded encouraging changes taking place throughout the region: Afghanistan's new, free government; Iraq's successful elections putting the country on the path toward democracy; and Palestine's vote against violence and corruption.
"History is moving quickly, and leaders in the Middle East have important choices to make," he said.
Bush urged Syria to end its nearly 30-year occupation of Lebanon, implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and withdrawing all its military forces and intelligence personnel before the Lebanese elections.
He sent a message of the Lebanese: "Lebanon's future belongs in your hands, and by your courage, Lebanon's future will be in your hands." The American people, and millions of people around the world, "are on your side," he said.
The president also sent messages to Israel and the Arab states as well. Israel, he said, must freeze settlement activity and help the Palestinians build their economy and ultimately, a new free state. Arab states must end incitement in their media, cut off funding for terrorism, stop supporting extremist education and establish normal relations with Israel.
For Iran, Bush said the regime "should listen to the concerns of the world" about the destabilizing effect its acquisition of nuclear weapons would pose on the region, and "listen to the voice of the Iranian people" who long for freedom.
Bush said the United States "is determined to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every national and culture," with a goal of "ending tyranny in our world."
It's an objective he acknowledged "will not be achieved easily, or all at once or primarily by force of arms." Nations must choose freedom and shape their democratic institutions in their own way, often far differently from those in the United States, he said.
"Yet, we also know that our security increasingly depends on the hope and progress of other nations now simmering in despair and resentment," he said, "and that hope and progress is found only in the advance of freedom."