This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1272
"We did not ask for this global struggle, we are answering history's call"
November 15, 2005
Remarks by the President on the War on Terror (1/2)
11/14/2005 9:57:00 PM
To: National Desk
Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush on the war on terror (part 1 of 2):
Elmendorf Air Force Base
2:35 P.M. AKST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for the warm welcome. (Applause.) Laura and I were in the neighborhood - (laughter) -- we thought we'd come by to say hello to the nation's "Arctic Warriors." (Applause.) We're proud to stand with the courageous airmen of Elmendorf Air Force Base, the soldiers of Fort Richardson, the Coast Guard -- (applause) -- the Coast Guard men and women here in Alaska -- (applause) -- the men and women of the Alaskan Command, and all those who wear the uniform of our country. (Applause.)
The General is right about one thing -- (laughter) -- I did live in Alaska. (Laughter.) In 1974, and I remember it just the way it looked coming in on Air Force One, this vast, majestic land, so beautiful, and full of decent, honorable, independent-minded people. (Applause.) People who love their country. (Applause.)
Here at Elmendorf Air Force Base, you're defending our nation's frontiers. You're securing freedom for future generations of Americans. Servicemen and women have departed this base to help liberate Iraq and Afghanistan, assist tsunami victims in Indonesia, and help those hit by the recent earthquake in Pakistan. Your courage and commitment are saving lives every day. First thing I want to tell you is the American people are grateful for your service -- and so is the Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
I also want to thank the military families who are with us today. (Applause.) Please be seated unless you don't have a seat. (Laughter.) I know that for many of you Alaska is a long way from home -- and it gets especially lonely when your loved ones are deployed on dangerous missions in distant lands. You have built a strong and close-knit community here. You support each other -- and you support your loved ones who stand in harm's way. I am proud of our men and women in the armed forces -- and I am grateful to the military families who stand behind them. (Applause.)
I want to thank General Fraser and his wife, Rena. I appreciate Brigadier General Hawk Carlisle. (Applause.) Kind of sounds like a general -- Hawk Carlisle. (Laughter.) I appreciate Craig Christensen and Hazen Baron.
I want to thank Senator Lisa Murkowski for flying all the way from Washington today to make sure she was here to see her fellow Alaskans, as well as to be with the President. It means a lot to me. I don't know if you know this or not, but after this speech, she said, make sure you keep it short because she's got to fly back to Washington this evening to make important votes for the people of Alaska. Lisa, thank you for your service. (Applause.) She's doing a fine job. And I see she brought her parents with her.
Governor and First Lady Nancy, thank you all for being here. We're proud to share the stage with you. I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor and his wife, Carolyn, for joining us. I appreciate the mayor of the City of Anchorage, Mayor Begich, and his wife, Deborah, for joining us today. I want to welcome former Governor Walter Hickle here today. He's a man who served his country and his state with dignity and class. (Applause.) I know we got a lot of state and statehouse folks and local folks, thank you all for being here. But most of all, thank you. Thanks for taking time out of your day to let me come by and share some thoughts with you.
In the 20th century, the men and women of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson stood guard on the frontlines of freedom -- serving in the shadow of the Soviet Union. From here, you gave our nation "Top Cover" -- standing ready to defend America at a moment's notice. And because of the courage of men and women like those who served here, the cause of liberty prevailed in the Cold War -- and millions who once lived in chains now live in freedom. (Applause.)
On September the 11th, 2001, history called on our nation to defend freedom once again. On that morning more than four years ago, Americans witnessed the violence and the hatred of a new enemy. We saw the terrorists' destructive vision for us and for all who love freedom. And in the face of this threat, our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger. We will stay on the offensive, we will not wait to be attacked again, and we will press on until this war is won. (Applause.)
This is a vital mission for our armed forces, and you're helping to carry out that mission. Since September the 11th, 2001, thousands of men and women from Elmendorf, Fort Richardson, U.S. Army Alaska, and Alaska National Guard have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other fronts in the war on terror. The 517th Airlift Squadron has served for over a year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Applause.) Crews from the 68th Medical Company have saved the lives of our injured and wounded in Afghanistan. The 172nd Stryker Combat Team is taking the fight to the enemy with Task Force Freedom in Mosul. (Applause.) Soldiers of the 95th Chemical Company are in Kuwait dealing with port decontamination and hazardous material operations. And the Fourth Battalion of the 123rd Aviation Regiment has been flying support missions throughout Iraq and Kuwait. From the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, America's Arctic Warriors are leaving their mark, and leaving a legacy of freedom. (Applause.)
Each of you is a volunteer. You stepped forward and took an oath to defend America. And every day you put on your uniforms, you reflect our nation's highest values and our greatest hopes. Through your hard work and dedication to duty, you are sacrificing to build a better and safer world for all Americans. And as you defend our freedom, the American people stand with you. (Applause.)
Every man and woman who volunteers to defend our nation deserves an unwavering commitment to the mission, and a clear strategy for victory. And a clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. For more than four years, we've seen the brutal nature of the terrorists. They've targeted the innocent in many countries, people from all walks of life. In Casablanca, they killed diners enjoying their evening meal. In Bali, they killed tourists who were on a holiday. In Beslan, they killed Russian school children. They've murdered workers in Riyadh, commuters in Madrid, and hotel guests in Jakarta, and guests at a wedding celebration in Amman, Jordan. They kill Iraqi children in Baghdad.
The tragic images of innocent victims can make it seem like these terrorist attacks are random and isolated acts of madness. While these killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks flow from an ideology and a terrifying vision for the world. Their acts are evil, but they're not insane. Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever we choose to call this enemy, we must recognize that this ideology is very different from the tenets of the great religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment -- by terrorism, subversion, and insurgency -- of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.
We know this vision of the radicals because they openly state it. They put it in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and on websites. 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.
The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter century: They hit us, and they expect us to run. The terrorists witnessed our response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983, and in Mogadishu in 1993, and they concluded that America can be made to run again -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences. The terrorists are mistaken. America will never run. We will stand, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror. (Applause.)
The terrorists want to use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, to build a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against America and non-radical Muslim governments. That's what they tell us. That's their stated goal. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover. And for a time, they achieved their goal in Afghanistan -- until they came face to face with the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. (Applause.)
In Afghanistan, we put the terrorists on the run, we routed them, and now they've set their sights on another country. They're trying to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a terrorist sanctuary from which they can plan and launch attacks against our people. The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.
These militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain. If they are not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidateEurope, to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I make you this solemn commitment: That's not going to happen so long as I'm the President of the United States. (Applause.)
Some might be tempted to dismiss the terrorist goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme -- but we cannot afford to dismiss them. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)
We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence, and with a comprehensive strategy to win this war.
First, we are determined to prevent attacks by terrorist networks -- by protecting the homeland, and working with our allies to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership. Together with our coalition partners, we've disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th -- including several plots here on the homeland. Our coalition against terror has stayed on the offensive. We have killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks. (Applause.) We have killed or captured several of bin Laden's most senior deputies, including that -- the man who planned the U.S. -- the bombing of the USS Cole. We've killed and captured al Qaeda and -- and managers - - al Qaeda managers and operatives in countries all around the world. We will stay on the hunt. We will keep the pressure on these people. We will not relent until the terror networks that threaten us are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder. (Applause.)
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1272