In State of Union address: Bush defends Iraq War, vows to challenge ''enemies of reform'' in the Middle East
President Bush, wrapping in his State of the Union address, asserted Tuesday night that America is successfully combatting terrorism.
In a speech to a joint session of Congress, Bush said it was tempting, but wrong, to think the danger of terrorist attacks had passed even though it has been more than two years since America was attacked.
"Twenty-eight months have passed since Sept. 11, 2001 - over two years without an attack on American soil - and it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting and false."
Bush said his administration was confronting nations that harbor and support terrorists and can supply them with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. "Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better," Bush said.
He said the United States has captured or killed two-thirds of the leadership of the al-Qaeda network, although Osama bin Laden is still at large.
The US leader defended his decisions to go to war in Iraq. Of the top 55 officials of Saddam Hussein's regime, 45 have been captured or killed, Bush said.
Of Saddam, Bush said, "The once all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole and now sits in a prison cell."
Bush acknowledged that some Americans opposed his decision to go to war in Iraq. But he said, "Had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day."
With more than 500 American troops killed in Iraq, Bush said, "The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right."
He reiterated America's pursuance of what he termed as "a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East."
"We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again."
Bush noted that movements threatening America would continue to exist as long as the Middle East remained "a place of tyranny, despair and anger."
"As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friend. To cut through the barriers of hateful propaganda, the Voice of America and other broadcast services are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian -- and soon, a new television service will begin providing reliable news and information across the region." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)