Thursday, October 06, 2005

President Bush: "Freedom will Prevail"

[EDIT: I've placed this in the Political Teen's open trackback.]

Blogs for Bush has the full transcript (title link); Political Teen has video. Some highlights (emphasis mine): [edit: This is a quick analysis of the first half of the speech only. I didn't realize just how great of a speech this was until I started writing.]
Our nation stood guard on tense borders; we spoke for the rights of dissidents and the hopes of exile; we aided the rise of new democracies on the ruins of tyranny. And all the cost and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it, because, from Latin America to Europe to Asia, we've gained the peace that freedom brings.
A beautiful opening, and a nice reminder that greatness requires sacrifice.
In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom. And once again, we will see freedom's victory.
We will see victory, because we remember the past and look to the future - we learn from the tragedies and ensure they never occur again.
Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a great turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day, and continues to this hour: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.
We must also remember that it is not just the one infamous day of 9/11 that drives us:
All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.
An excellent point - the argument many have had for the terrorists is to show them as human beings, with numerous reasons for why they act as they do - and visions for a different future. But we must realize that it is the reasons and visions themselves which are the problems, and why they must never succeed.
We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it -- in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions.
While we rarely see this in the media, and often misunderstand it when we do, the terrorists are quite open about why they have killed and maimed tens; hundreds; thousands.
Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Bin Laden has stated:
"The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation."
The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
One can argue to no end about the justness of entering Iraq in the first place - but none of it matters anymore. At this point, Iraq is the focal point for terrorism in the world - surpassing the United States, England, and even Israel.
Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.
Bush is not mincing any words: Europe must react to this, and they have few options. They can either react meekly, softening Bush's words - and thus prove how intimidated they are; or they can react strongly and back Bush, which will finally force them to admit that the stated goals of Bin Laden and those like him is not only a state of their own, but all that which Bush has said.
Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed,
"We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life."
And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
Appeasement of any sort is not an option. Ambitious people are not satisfied with a small piece of the pie; they want to swallow the whole thing. When they are evil, they must be given nothing at all.
Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror.
This is another reason why Ariel Sharon may yet be the best tactician in recent history: He has placed the Palestinians in a situation where they have no one to blame but themselves, however much they try (previously discussed here).
The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews.
The specific mentions of Iran and Syria are nice, and bring hope that perhaps they will be targeted in some way in the near future. At the least, it should bring greater scrutiny on the two, particularly if/when they respond to Bush's comments as if they are being attacked baselessly and with bias.
The militants are aided, as well, by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam" -- with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, and Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq.
The media is an important tool in any war, and seldom has it played a role that is so weighted against the United States. It would have been nice to see Bush discuss the United States media as well, but that can hardly be expected - and as bad as they are, they are nowhere near the level of the Arab media.
Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001 -- and al Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
(Speaks for itself)
Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
People must recognize this basic set of facts: It is not the US presence in Iraq, any more than it was the Israeli "occupation" of Gaza or the Western liberal ideologies which spawned terrorism. It is pure, unadulterated hatred; hatred which involves the eventual destruction of our society and requires the sacrifices of our lives.
On the contrary: They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory.
This fight can only be won when one side is utterly defeated. There is no impasse or truce - these are only tactics under which the terrorists stall until they can built up again.
Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote,
"what is good for them and what is not."
And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.
Again, Bush makes a sharp point, designed this time to remind radical Muslims themselves about who is leading them. It is always the case that the terrorist leaders call for the sacrifice of sons and one's own self for the sake of martyrdom; but never is it their own son, never their own life.
In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said,
"I do not feel your pain -- because I believe you are an infidel."
The inherent difference between us and them.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.
Just as they cannot stand our way of life, we are appalled by theirs. The two are incompatible in this world, as they reject our way of life anywhere, and we reject their oppressiveness and injustice - along with murder, hatred, and their other driving themes. The simple question we all must ask ourselves is: Which life would we rather live?

[to be continued... I didn't realize just how good this speech was]

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  1. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote,
    "what is good for them and what is not."
    And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.

    Again, Bush makes a sharp point, designed this time to remind radical Muslims themselves about who is leading them. It is always the case that the terrorist leaders call for the sacrifice of sons and one's own self for the sake of martyrdom; but never is it their own son, never their own life.

    Um. What am I missing here? Isn't Bush "a man who grew up in wealth and privilege", who considers it good for other people's sons and daughters to fight, kill, and die? Has Bush put either himself or his children in harm's way? Regardless what one believes about the war in Iraq and the GWOT, that particular part of the speach can only be regarded as fantastically hypocritical.

  2. There's a difference between calling on people to join a war as a volunteer soldier and calling on a teenager to commit suicide. One is asking a person to fight for what's right in the hopes that nothing will happen; the other is a guaranteed death (even from their standpoint that it is right). The terror leaders will send many on suicide missions - but never their own relatives.