Bush in West Virginia
I have heard from folks who support the President that he has not done enough to communicate his accomplishments and his rationales for his foreign policy decisions. But is it the President who has not been communicating or the media which has not been reporting? How many of you heard or read a major media outlet report the substance of Bush's speech in West Virginia?
He describes his approach to a littany of domestic issues: education, healthcare and taxes. Then he talks about the War on Terror. In some detail:
I ask again: Is it Bush who is not communicating or the media who are not reporting?
...I know we have more to do to wage and win the war against terror. America's future depends on our willingness to lead in the world. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This isn't going to happen on my watch.
The world changed on a terrible September morning, and since that day we have changed the world. Before September the 11th, Afghanistan served as the home base of al Qaeda, which trained and deployed thousands of killers to set up cells around the world, including our own country. Because we acted, today Afghanistan is a rising democracy. They're going to have presidential elections in October of this year. Because we acted, many young girls go to school for the first time in Afghanistan. Because we acted, Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror. Because we acted, America and the world are safer.
Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Today, because America and our allies have sent a strong and easy-to-understand message the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and America and the world are safer.
Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. He was defying the world. You might remember, he was firing weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's sanctions. He had used weapons of mass destruction. He harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He and his henchmen murdered tens of thousands of his own people. He was a great source of instability in the world's most volatile region. He was a threat.
After September the 11th -- after September the 11th, this country must remember the new lessons. And a new lesson is, is that we must take threats seriously before they fully materialize. That is -- that is the new reality of the world in which we live. And it's really important we never forget that reality. So I saw a threat, and I went to the United States Congress. They looked at the intelligence I looked at, they remembered the history of Saddam Hussein, and they said he was a threat, and authorized the use of force -- they being Republicans, they being Democrats, they being my opponent and his running mate.
Because the use of force should be the last option of the Commander-in-Chief, the very last option, I went to the United Nations in the hopes that diplomacy would solve the threat. You might remember, the debate went on, and after consideration, the U.N. Security Council voted 15 to nothing to say to Saddam Hussein, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. So the world spoke.
As he had for over a decade, he defied the demands of the free world. This wasn't the only U.N. resolution he ignored. We then sent inspectors in -- or the world sent inspectors in, and he systematically deceived the inspectors. And so I had a choice to make: whether or not to trust the word of a madman and forget the lessons of September the 11th, or take action to defend our country. Given that choice, I will defend our country.
You know, we did not find the stockpiles that we thought would be there. I want to remind you that Saddam Hussein had the capability of making weapons of mass destruction, and he could have passed that capability on to others. And after September the 11th, that is not a risk this country could afford to take. Knowing what I know today, I would have made the same decision. America and the world are safer because Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell....
I'm running for four more years because I know we have more to do. We will continue to work with our friends and allies around the world to aggressively pursue the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. See, you cannot talk sense to these people. You cannot negotiate with them. In the post-9/11 era we live in, you just simply cannot hope for the best. We must aggressively pursue them around the world, so we do not have to face them here at home.
We will continue to lead the world with confidence and moral clarity. We put together a strong coalition. We're working with some great allies. There's over 40 nations involved in -- nearly 40 nations involved in Afghanistan and some 30 in Iraq. Over the next four years, I will continue to work with friends to help secure our country, their country, and spread the peace. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries.
We're going to keep our commitments to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. It's in our interest we keep our commitment. It's in our interest they become peaceful and democratic societies. The two nations are now governed by strong leaders who believe in the hopes and aspirations of their people. These nations are now headed for elections. Our strategy is clear, and our goal is clear. The goal is to have peaceful, democratic countries in the heart of the Middle East who are allies in the war on terror. That's our goal. It's in our interest we achieve that goal.
We are meeting that goal by providing security so that the political process develops. We will meet that goal by training Afghan and Iraqi forces so they can defend their country against these terrorists so they get to take -- do the necessary hard work for democracy to survive. Our military will complete this mission as quickly as possible, so our troops do not stay a day longer than necessary.
In these crucial times, the men and women of our military keep our commitments. We've got a great military. The people who wear our uniform -- I've seen their great decency and unselfish courage. The cause of freedom is in really good hands. And I want to thank the veterans who are here today for setting such a great example to the modern military.
I made a commitment to our troops and I made a commitment to their families, as well, that this government will support them in their missions. That's why, last September, I went to the Congress and said, we need supplemental funding. Support the people over there in Afghanistan and Iraq. This funding was for body armor, vital equipment, fuel, ammunition, spare parts, hazard pay, health benefits. This is important legislation. And I was really pleased that we got great bipartisan support. As a matter of fact, the support was so strong, that only 12 members of the United States Senate voted against it, two of whom are... my opponent and his running mate. See, they voted against it....
In the long-run -- in the long-run, our security is not going to be guaranteed by force alone. We must work to change the conditions that give rise to terror: poverty and hopelessness and resentment. A free and peaceful Iraq and a free and peaceful Afghanistan will be powerful examples in a part of the world that is desperate for freedom. Free societies do not export terror. Free societies do not stifle the dreams of their citizens.
We've done this kind of work before. One of my closest collaborators in peace is the Prime Minister of Japan. It wasn't all that long ago in the march of history that my dad and your dads were fighting the Japanese. And yet here we are, because we insisted upon the transforming qualities of liberty, we insisted that Japan be given a chance to self-govern and be a democratic nation. We believe that even an enemy could accept liberty as a way of life. Fortunately, my predecessor, Harry Truman, stuck with that point of view. Fortunately, America stuck with that point of view, and now Japan is an ally and a friend.
We believe in liberty in America. We believe that liberty can transform nations from tyranny to hope. We have seen it in our past. We not only believe that liberty will bring peace, we know that liberty answers to the deepest needs of the American soul. See, freedom is not America's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.
We have more to do to protect this country. I'm running because I understand that we've got to work hard to protect America. See, there's an enemy out there that still hates us. It's the reality of the world in which we live, and we'll deal with that. It's very important that we view these people as who they are. There's a difference of opinion in this race. I want to address a subject that I'm sure you're going to be asked about. See, my opponent said that going to war with the terrorists is actually improving their recruiting efforts. I think the logic is upside-down. You see, during the '90s -- remind somebody who asks you that, that during the '90s the terrorists were recruiting and training and plotting for war with us, long before we went to war with them. I think it's wrong to provide excuses for their hatred. You don't create terrorists by fighting back, you defeat the terrorists by fighting back.
...There's more to do. We've got a lot to do. We're beginning to implement some of the intelligence reforms that are necessary to make sure we've got the best intelligence. I've got to have the best intelligence to make decisions; our planners and everybody involved with the government needs to have the best intelligence. That's why we're implementing a lot of the 9/11 Commission reforms. We want to make sure there's still good, close cooperation between the different agencies in Washington. We're working on doing that. We need to renew the Patriot Act, so our law enforcement have the tools necessary to protect you against terrorist attack. We'll continue to work to make sure Homeland Security Department does its job...
[Applause and laughter notes deleted.]
(Thanks to my mom for the tip.)