Bush: Global war on terrorism involves 'great clash' of ideologies similar to World War II
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)--Drawing parallels to World War II, President Bush said June 2 that the war on terrorism involves a clash of ideologies and that America and its allies must win if freedom is to survive.
“This is the great challenge of our time, the storm in which we fly,” he told an audience at the Air Force Academy’s commencement. “History is once again witnessing a great clash.”
Bush’s speech came just four days after the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated, and just four days prior to the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
“Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States,” he said. “We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy.
“Like the murderous ideologies of the 20th century, the ideology of terrorism reaches across borders and seeks recruits in every country. So we’re fighting these enemies wherever they hide across the earth.”
Telling the graduating class that they will be the ones “who will defeat the enemies of freedom,” Bush said it is imperative that America stay the course in Iraq if terrorism is to be defeated. The terrorists, he said, want America to abandon its effort so that they can use Iraq as a base for terrorism in the Middle East -– much like, he said, they used Afghanistan.
“Just as events in Europe determined the outcome of the Cold War, events in the Middle East will set the course of our current struggle,” he said. “If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence and alarm, exporting killers of increasing destructive power to attack America and other free nations. If that region grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business.
“The stakes of this struggle are high. The security and peace of our country are at stake, and success in this struggle is our only option.”
Bush read the statement from an al Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Gheith, who said on a website: “We have the right to kill four million Americans -- two million of them children -- and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.”
Such statements underscore the importance of the war on terrorism, Bush said.
“In all these threats, we hear the echoes of other enemies in other times -- that same swagger and demented logic of the fanatic,” he said. “Like their kind in the past, these murderers have left scars and suffering. And like their kind in the past, they will flame and fail and suffer defeat by free men and women.”
But the war on terrorism, the president said, is not a war on Islam.
“This is not a clash of civilizations,” Bush said. “The civilization of Islam, with its humane traditions of learning and tolerance, has no place for this violent sect of killers and aspiring tyrants. This is not a clash of religions. The faith of Islam teaches moral responsibility that ennobles men and women and forbids the shedding of innocent blood. Instead, this is a clash of political visions.”
Terrorists want to see moderate Arab states overthrown and “nonbelievers ... expelled from Muslims lands,” Bush said.
“In this vision, books are burned, terrorists are sheltered, women are whipped and children are schooled in hatred and murder and suicide,” he said.
The goal of terrorists, the president said, stands in stark contrast to the goal of the Unites States.
“We believe that every person has a right to think and pray and live in obedience to God and conscience, not in frightened submission to despots,” he said. “We believe that societies find their greatness by encouraging the creative gifts of their people, not in controlling their lives and feeding their resentments. And we have confidence that people share this vision of dignity and freedom in every culture because liberty is not the invention of Western culture. Liberty is the deepest need and hope of all humanity.”
Young adults in the Middle East, Bush said, must see a democratic nation succeed.
“To stop the flow of recruits into terrorist movement, young people in the region must see a real and hopeful alternative -- a society that rewards their talent and turns their energies to constructive purpose,” he said. “And here the vision of freedom has great advantages.”
Democracy in the Middle East, though, won’t “grow overnight,” Bush warned. The president also answered those who say the United States is making matters worse by engaging terrorists.
“The terrorists who attacked our country on September the 11th, 2001, were not protesting our policies. They were protesting our existence,” he said. “Some say that by fighting the terrorists abroad since September the 11th, we only stir up a hornet’s nest. But the terrorists who struck that day were stirred up already.”
Drawing laughter, Bush said: “If America were not fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, what would these thousands of killers do, suddenly begin leading productive lives of service and charity?
“... We are dealing here with killers who have made the death of Americans the calling of their lives. And America has made a decision about these terrorists: Instead of waiting for them to strike again in our midst, we will take the fight to the enemy.”