PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all for
coming. Be seated, please. Good morning, and thanks for coming. Laura and I are
pleased to welcome you all to the White House.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. Members of my National Security Council
are here; members of the administration, members of our armed forces, members
of the United States Congress, thank you for being here; ladies and gentlemen.
I particularly want to thank the members of the diplomatic corps who are
here, thank the ambassadors for coming today. We're representing 84 countries
united against a common danger and joined in a common purpose. We're the nations
that have recognized the threat of terrorism, and we're the nations that will
defeat that threat.
Each of us has pledged before the world we will never bow to the violence
of a few. We will face this mortal danger, and we will overcome it together.
As we meet, violence and death at the hands of terrorists are still fresh
in our memory. The people of Spain are burying their innocent dead. These men
and women and children began their day in a great and peaceful city, yet lost
their lives on a battlefield, murdered at random and without remorse. Americans
saw the chaos and the grief and the vigils and the funerals, and we have shared
in the sorrow of the Spanish people.
Ambassador Ruperez, please accept our deepest sympathy for the great loss
that your country has suffered.
The murders in Madrid are a reminder that the civilized world is at war.
And in this new kind of war, civilians find themselves suddenly on the front
lines. In recent years, terrorists have struck from Spain to Russia, to Israel,
to East Africa, to Morocco, to the Philippines and to America.
They've targeted Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Yemen. They've
attacked Muslims in Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. No nation
or region is exempt from the terrorist campaign of violence.
Each of these attacks on the innocent is a shock and a tragedy and a test
of our will. Each attack is designed to demoralize our people and divide us
from one another, and each attack must be answered not only with sorrow, but
with greater determination, deeper resolve and bolder action against the killers.
It is the interest of every country and the duty of every government to fight
and destroy this threat to our people. There is a dividing line in our world,
not between nations and not between religions or cultures, but a dividing line
separating two visions of justice and the value of life. On a tape claiming
responsibility for the atrocities in Madrid, a man is heard to say, "We choose
death while you choose life." We don't know if this is the voice of the actual
killers, but we do know that it expresses the creed of the enemy.
It is a mindset that rejoices in suicide, incites murder and celebrates every
death we mourn. And we who stand on the other side of the line must be equally
clear and certain of our convictions. We do love life, the life given to us
and to all. We believe in the values that uphold the dignity of life: tolerance
and freedom and the right of conscience. And we know that this way of life
is worth defending.
There is no neutral ground - no neutral ground - in the fight between civilization
and terror, because there's no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom
and slavery, and life and death. The war on terror is not a figure of speech,
it is an inescapable calling of our generation.
The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies; they are offended
by our existence as free nations. No concession will appease their hatred.
No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions
are to control the peoples of the Middle East and to blackmail the rest of
the world with weapons of mass terror.
There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness
or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for
all nations. The only certain way to protect our people is by united and decisive
action. In this contest of will and purpose, not every nation joins every mission
or participates in the same way, yet every nation makes a vital contribution,
and America is proud to stand with all of you as we pursue a broad strategy
in the war against terror.
We're using every tool of finance. intelligence, law enforcement and military
power to break terror networks, to deny them refuge and to find their leaders.
Over the past 30 months, we have frozen or seized nearly $200 million in assets
of terror networks. We've captured or killed some two-thirds of al Qaeda's
known leaders as well as many of al Qaeda's associates in countries like the
United States or Germany or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Thailand.
We're taking the fight to al Qaeda allies, such as Ansar al-Islam in Iraq,
Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Our coalition is sending
an unmistakable message to the terrorists, including those who struck in Madrid.
These killers will be tracked down and found. They will face their day of justice.
Our coalition is taking urgent action to stop the transfer of deadly weapons
and materials. America and the nations of Australia and France and Germany
and Italy and Japan and the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United
Kingdom, Canada, Singapore and Norway have joined in the Proliferation Security
Initiative. All aim to bind together to interdict lethal materials transported
by air or sea or land. Many governments have cooperated to expose and dismantle
the network of A.Q. Khan, which sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North
Korea. By all these efforts, we are determined to prevent catastrophic technologies
from falling into the hands of an embittered few.
Our coalition is also confronting the dangerous combination of outlaw states,
terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction. For years the Taliban made
Afghanistan the home base of al Qaeda, and so we gave the Taliban a choice:
to abandon forever their support for terror or face the destruction of their
Because the Taliban chose defiance, our coalition acted to remove this threat.
And now the terror camps are closed and the government of a free Afghanistan
is represented here today as an active partner in the war on terror.
The people of Afghanistan are a world away from the nightmare of the Taliban.
Citizens of Afghanistan have adopted a new constitution guaranteeing free elections
and full participation by women. The new Afghan army is becoming a vital force
of stability in that country. Businesses are opening, health care centers are
being established, and the children of Afghanistan are back in school, boys
and girls. This progress is a tribute to the brave Afghan people and to the
efforts of many nations.
NATO, including forces from Canada, France, Germany and other nations, is
leading the effort to provide security. Japan and Saudi Arabia have helped
to complete the highway from Kabul to Kandahar, which is furthering commerce
and unifying the country. Italy is working with Afghans to reform their legal
system and strengthening an independent judiciary. Three years ago the people
of Afghanistan were oppressed and isolated from the world by a terrorist regime.
Today that nation has a democratic government and many allies, and all of us
our proud to be friends of the Afghan people.
Many countries represented here today also acted to liberate the people of
Iraq. One year ago military forces of a strong coalition entered Iraq to enforce
United Nations demands to defend our security and to liberate that country
from the rule of a tyrant. For Iraq it was a day of deliverance. For the nations
of our coalition it was the moment when years of demands and pledges turned
to decisive action. Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we
mark a turning point for the Middle East and a crucial advance for human liberty.
There have been disagreements in this matter among old and valued friends.
Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall
of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability
in the Middle East. It's a good thing that the demands of the United Nations
were enforced, not ignored with impunity. It is a good thing that years of
illicit weapons developed by the dictator have come to the end. It is a good
thing that the Iraqi people are now receiving aid instead of suffering under
sanctions. And it's a good thing that the men and women across the Middle East
looking to Iraq are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be
There are still violent thugs and murderers in Iraq, and we're dealing with
them, but no one can argue that the Iraqi people would be better off with the
thugs and murderers back in the palaces. Who would prefer that Saddam's torture
chambers still be open? Who would wish that more mass graves were still being
filled? Who would begrudge the Iraqi people their long-awaited liberation?
One year after the armies of liberation arrived, every soldier who has fought,
every aid worker who has served, every Iraqi who has joined in their country's
defense can look with pride on their brave and historic achievement. They've
served in freedom's cause, and that is a privilege.
Today in Iraq a British-led division is securing the southern city of Basra.
Poland continues to lead a multinational division in south-central Iraq. Japan
and the Republic of Korea, of South Korea, have made historic commitments of
troops to help bring peace to Iraq. Special forces from El Salvador and Macedonia
and other nations are helping to find and defeat Ba'athists and terrorist killers.
Military engineers from Kazakhstan have cleared more than a half-million explosive
devices from Iraq. Turkey is helping to resupply coalition forces. All of these
nations and many others are meeting their responsibilities to the people of
Iraq. Whatever their past views, every nation now has an interest in a free,
successful, stable Iraq.
And the terrorists understand their own interests in the fate of that country.
For them, the connection between Iraq's future and the course of the war on
terror is very clear. They understand that a free Iraq will be a devastating
setback to their ambitions of tyranny over the Middle East, and they've made
the failure of democracy in Iraq one of their primary objectives. By attacking
coalition forces, by targeting innocent Iraqis and foreign civilians for murder,
the terrorists are trying to weaken our will. Instead of weakness, they are
Not long ago we intercepted a planning document being sent to leaders of
al Qaeda by one of their associates, a man named Zarqawi. Along with the usual
threats, he had a complaint. "Our enemy," said Zarqawi, "is growing stronger,
and his intelligence data are increasing day by day." "This is suffocation." Zarqawi's
getting the idea. We will never turn over Iraq to terrorists who intend our
own destruction. We will not fail the Iraqi people who have placed their trust
in us. Whatever it takes, we will fight and work to assure the success of freedom
Many coalition countries have sacrificed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Among
the fallen soldiers and civilians are sons and daughters of Australia, Bulgaria,
Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic
of Korea, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey,
Ukraine, Uzbekistan, United Kingdom and the United States.
We honor their courage. We pray for the comfort of their families. We will
uphold the cause they served.
The rise of democratic institutions in Afghanistan and Iraq is a great step
toward a goal of lasting importance to the world. We've set out to encourage
reform and democracy in the greater Middle East as the alternatives to fanaticism,
resentment and terror. We've set out to break the cycle of bitterness and radicalism
that has brought stagnation to a vital region and destruction to cities in
America and Europe and around the world. This task is historic and difficult.
This task is necessary and worthy of our efforts.
In the 1970s, the advance of democracy in Lisbon and Madrid inspired democratic
change in Latin America. In the 1980s, the example of Poland ignited a fire
of freedom in all of Eastern Europe. With Afghanistan and Iraq showing the
way, we are confident that freedom will lift the sights and hopes of millions
in a greater Middle East.
One man who believed in our cause was a Japanese diplomat named Katsuhiko
Oku. He worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Mr. Oku was
killed when his car was ambushed. In his diary he described his pride in the
cause he had joined. "The free people of Iraq," he wrote, "are now making steady
progress in reconstruction - reconstructing their country, while also fighting
against the threat of terrorism. We must join hands with the Iraqi people in
their effort to prevent Iraq from falling into the hands of terrorists." This
good, decent man concluded, "This is also our fight - to defend freedom."
Ladies and gentlemen, this good man from Japan was right. The establishment
of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight.
The war on terror is our fight. All of us are called to share the blessings
of liberty and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense.
It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges.
Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties and met
them in full. May God bless our efforts.