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The Price of Freedom Is High, but Never too High

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2002 – "It is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight," President Bush said Jan. 29 during his first State of the Union address.

The United States will dedicate whatever resources it takes to defeat terrorism and make America safe, Bush said to the joint session of Congress at the Capitol.

"As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers, yet the state of our Union has never been stronger," he said.

Bush told the gathered legislators that the United States is committed to a long war against terrorists. And, he said, the United States will work with coalition partners to blunt the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

"All nations should know that America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security," he said. "I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Bush listed the accomplishments of America since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He said the United States has buried its dead, comforted the victims, begun to rebuild, built a coalition against terror and liberated and fed Afghanistan. He said the United States and its allies have captured, arrested and rid the world of thousands of terrorists.

"The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan, now occupy cells in Guantanamo Bay, and terrorist leaders who once urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own," Bush said.

Bush said he had complete confidence in the men and women of the armed forces. He said U.S. service members "have delivered a message clear to every enemy of the United States, even 7,000 miles away across oceans and continents, on mountaintops and in caves: 'You will not escape the justice of this nation."

The president said U.S. discoveries in Afghanistan "confirmed our worst fears." U.S. intelligence experts have discovered diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities. They also discovered detailed instructions for making chemical weapons and surveillance maps of U.S. and other cities.

"What we have discovered in Afghanistan," Bush said, "is that far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning." Terror organizations are around the world and states still offer safe haven and money to these organizations, he said.

He said tens of thousands of "dangerous killers" trained in Afghanistan's terror training camps. He said the terror school graduates are "now spread around the world like ticking time bombs set to go off without warning." He said the terrorists view the world as a battlefield, "and we must pursue them wherever they are."

The United States will remain steadfast, patient and persistent in pursuit in two objectives, he said. First, the United States will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt their plans and bring them to justice. Second, the United States must prevent the terrorists and their state sponsors from developing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons that would threaten the United States and the world, he said.

Bush said while the camps are closed in Afghanistan, camps still exist in a dozen countries. And, he said, a terrorist underworld "including such groups as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad operates in remote deserts and jungles and hides in the centers of large cities."

He said the United States is working in the Philippines, Bosnia and off the coast of Somalia. "My hope is that all nations will heed our call and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own," Bush said.

He singled out Pakistan for its stand against terrorism. "But, some governments will be timid in the face of terror," Bush cautioned. "But make no mistake about it, if they do not act, America will."

Bush singled out North Korea, Iran and Iraq as regimes that sponsor terrorism and have active chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger," he said. "They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States.

"In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic." Given this threat, the United States will work with coalition partners to deny these weapons to these regimes. "We will develop and deploy effective missile defense to protect America and our allies from sudden attack," Bush said.

He told the legislators that the United States must spend more on defense. He said the budget he will present to Congress includes the largest defense spending boost since 1981.

"It costs a lot to fight this war," Bush said. "We have spent a billion dollars a month -- over $30 million a day - - and we must be prepared for future operations.

"Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them," he continued. "We need to replace aging aircraft and make our military more agile to put our troops anywhere in the world quickly and safely. Our men and women in uniform deserve the best weapons, the best equipment, the best training -- and they also deserve another pay raise."

Bush called on Congress to approve funds designed to prevent another attack or manage the consequences if a terrorist strike should succeed.

"We are protected from attack only by vigorous actions abroad and increased vigilance at home," he said. The budget will double the money devoted to homeland security. Bush said his administration will focus on four key areas: bioterrorism, emergency response, airport and border security, and improved intelligence.

He said the war has gone well, but it has only just begun. "While the war on terrorism may not end on our watch, it must be waged on our watch," he said.

Bush said the effort is expensive, but worth it. "While the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high," he said. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay."

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Related Sites:
The President's State of the Union Address, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2002

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