Standing Firm

President Bush gave a speech at the 85th American Legion Convention that outlines our strategy in the war on terror from Afghanistan to Iraq.

A few highlights:

In this first war of the 21st century, America and all free nations are facing a new threat and fighting a new enemy, a global network of terror supported by outlaw regimes…

The terrorists’ aim is to spread chaos and fear by killing on an ever-widening scale. They serve their cause by sacrificing the innocent. They celebrate the murder of women and children. They attacked the civilized world because they bear a deep hatred for the values of the civilized world. They hate freedom and religious tolerance and democracy and equality for women. They hate Christians and Jews and every Muslim who does not share their narrow and violent vision.

No nation can be neutral in the struggle between civilization and chaos. Every nation that stands on the side of freedom and the value of human life must condemn terrorism and act against the few who would destroy the hopes of the many.

When President Bush said that "you’re either with us or with the terrorists" this is exactly what he meant. Neutrality in the war on terror is not an option, as the Indonesians have found out in Bali and Jakarta. Those states that do not actively combat terror will quickly find that terrorists like those of al-Qaeda are not willing to spare any nation that does not bend to their radical and oppressive version of Islam.

Moreover, the President notes that those who criticize the idea of preemptive action against terrorism are making a foolish argument. The other side of the argument is that the United States should wait until a major attack actually occurs before taking action. We do not have the luxury of seeing troops amassing on our border and we cannot simply assume that we will see the next attack before it happens, and to argue that we should wait until that attack happens is nothing short of suicidal. It is morally and politically unacceptable to wait for the death of thousands or even millions of people before eliminating these threats. The arguments against preemption do not hold water in an age of terrorism and the danger of weapons of mass destruction.

Because America stands for freedom and tolerance and the rights of all, the terrorists have targeted our country. During the last few decades the terrorists grew bolder, believing if they hit America hard, America would retreat and back down. Five years ago, one of the terrorists said that an attack could make America run in less than 24 hours. They’re learning something different today. The terrorists have not seen America running, they’ve seen America marching. They’ve seen the armies of liberation. They have seen the armies of liberation marching into Kabul and to Baghdad.

On the subject of Iraq, the President had this to say:

Ultimately, the security of Iraq will be won by the Iraqi people themselves. They must reject terror, and they must join in their own defense. And they’re stepping forward. More than 38,000 Iraqis have been hired as police officers. Iraqi police and border guards and security forces are increasingly taking on critical duties. Over 1,400 Iraqi civil defense corps volunteers are being trained to work closely with coalition forces; 12,000 Iraqis will be trained in the next year for the country’s new army.

Adding more US troops to Iraq only adds more potential targets. The priority for coalition forces should be transferring power to the Iraq people and police forces and eliminating the terrorists plaguing that country. Once the security situation is under control, then the rebuilding effort can continue in full.

Another point that the President stressed that is important is the fact that progress is being made. While critics have said that Afghanistan is a mess, the reality is that Afghanistan is better off now than it has been in decades. The Taliban are able to do little more than serve as target practice for US forces, and Hamid Karzai is slowly but surely rebuilding his country and extending his base of power beyond Kabul and its environs. The situation in Afghanistan is unsettled, but considering the difficult realities of rebuilding a nation virtually from scratch, the progress made has been enormous.

Our actions of the past two years have eliminated two horrendous regimes, restored freedom to millions of people, and acted to defend this nation against a threat more dangerous than any other we’ve see in our history. The critics of George W. Bush are arguing that the people of Iraq should still be under the bootheel of Saddam Hussein, and that the United States should not act to remove the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction before they strike. With such an argument, there is little wonder why the anti-war left is becoming increasingly marginalized in America today.

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