U.S. Advancing Freedom, Defeating Terrorists, Bush Says
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 21, 2005 The United States is making good progress in advancing the cause of freedom, defeating the forces of terror, and transforming its military to meet emerging threats, President George W. Bush said today during his weekly national radio address.
Bush noted that first lady Laura Bush is in the Middle East this weekend to help advance the freedom agenda.
In a May 19 briefing en route to Amman, Jordan, the first lady said she was going to the Middle East to talk about democracy and the spread of freedom in that area of the world. She said she would talk about education of children and women, and women's rights in the Middle East and worldwide.
Mrs. Bush's trip includes visits to Israel, Egypt and Jordan, where she was slated to speak at the World Economic Forum today.
"Her message is a powerful one: that by working together for liberty, we will create a future of peace and opportunity for women and men worldwide," Bush said of his wife.
The president noted that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is on a four-day visit to the United States and that the two plan to meet at the White House to discuss "freedom's remarkable progress" in Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan now has a constitution, an elected president, and its citizens will return to the polls this September to elect provincial councils in the lower house of the National Assembly," Bush noted. "We're helping Afghanistan's elected government solidify these democratic gains and deliver real change.
"A nation that once knew only the terror of the Taliban is now seeing a rebirth of freedom," he continued. "And we will help them succeed."
Terrorists know there is no room for them as freedom takes root in the broader Middle East, so they are fighting to stop its progress, the president said. He said that in recent weeks U.S. forces have dealt terrorists "a series of devastating blows."
For example, Bush said, U.S. forces have brought to justice dozens of terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan. Abu Faraj al-Libbi, one of Osama bin Laden's senior terrorist leaders, was arrested in Pakistan on May 3, Bush said. Libbi reportedly was responsible for al Qaeda's operational planning and execution in Pakistan.
In Iraq, coalition forces captured two deputies of Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Bush noted. "And our forces have killed or captured hundreds of terrorists and insurgents near the Syrian border," he added.
"Our strategy is clear," Bush emphasized, "we will fight the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. While some difficult days still lie ahead, these recent victories are making America safer and the world more secure."
He also said the U.S. military is making progress in transforming to a more modern force.
Bush noted he is slated to speak at the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., on May 27. He said he will speak to the future military leaders about how the armed forces are being made faster, more agile and more lethal.
"To deal with the emerging threats of the 21st century, we are building a military that can deploy rapidly and deliver more fire power with fewer forward-deployed forces," he said. "However, much of our military is still deployed in ways that reflect the threats of the Cold War."
Consequently, Bush said, in summer 2004 he announced a plan to reposition the armed forces over the next decade. "This shift will bring home 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel, while still maintaining a significant overseas presence," he said. "It will also allow us to reduce the stress on our military families and make the best overall use of our resources.
"In the months and years ahead, we will continue to do what is necessary to prepare our armed forces to protect the American people in this new century," he added.
As the war on terror continues, the nation is making solid progress, but the United States must not become complacent, Bush said.
"We will continue to pursue terrorists abroad," he said. "We will continue to support democratic change throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the broader Middle East. And we will do whatever it takes to support our men and women in uniform and give them the tools they need to prevail."