As with a similar series of speeches last year, the President often warms to new material with each iteration. Yesterday, speaking to the Military Officers Association of America he found his voice, his passion, his focus.
And he delivered a gripping speech that went further than any before in describing the enemy we face and what is at stake.
The White House web site has a link to the video here. The following is an extended excerpt:
Wow! Can I get an "Amen" for that?
President Discusses Global War on Terror
White House Transcript:
We know what the terrorists intend to do because they've told us -- and we need to take their words seriously. So today I'm going to describe -- in the terrorists' own words, what they believe, what they hope to accomplish, and how they intend to accomplish it. I'll discuss how the enemy has adapted in the wake of our sustained offensive against them, and the threat posed by different strains of violent Islamic radicalism. I'll explain the strategy we're pursuing to protect America, by defeating the terrorists on the battlefield, and defeating their hateful ideology in the battle of ideas.
The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience -- but they're not madmen. They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil, but not insane. These al Qaeda terrorists and those who share their ideology are violent Sunni extremists. They're driven by a radical and perverted vision of Islam that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women and children in the pursuit of political power. They hope to establish a violent political utopia across the Middle East, which they call a "Caliphate" -- where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology. Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks -- in his words -- "a great step towards the unity of Muslims and establishing the Righteous [Caliphate]."
This caliphate would be a totalitarian Islamic empire encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. We know this because al Qaeda has told us. About two months ago, the terrorist Zawahiri -- he's al Qaeda's second in command -- declared that al Qaeda intends to impose its rule in "every land that was a home for Islam, from [Spain] to Iraq. He went on to say, "The whole world is an open field for us."
We know what this radical empire would look like in practice, because we saw how the radicals imposed their ideology on the people of Afghanistan. Under the rule of the Taliban and al Qaeda, Afghanistan was a totalitarian nightmare -- a land where women were imprisoned in their homes, men were beaten for missing prayer meetings, girls could not go to school, and children were forbidden the smallest pleasures like flying kites. Religious police roamed the streets, beating and detaining civilians for perceived offenses. Women were publicly whipped. Summary executions were held in Kabul's soccer stadium in front of cheering mobs. And Afghanistan was turned into a launching pad for horrific attacks against America and other parts of the civilized world -- including many Muslim nations.
The goal of these Sunni extremists is to remake the entire Muslim world in their radical image. In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there can be no compromise or dialogue with those they call "infidels" -- a category that includes America, the world's free nations, Jews, and all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam. They reject the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the free world. Again, hear the words of Osama bin Laden earlier this year: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."
These radicals have declared their uncompromising hostility to freedom. It is foolish to think that you can negotiate with them. (Applause.) We see the uncompromising nature of the enemy in many captured terrorist documents. Here are just two examples: After the liberation of Afghanistan, coalition forces searching through a terrorist safe house in that country found a copy of the al Qaeda charter. This charter states that "there will be continuing enmity until everyone believes in Allah. We will not meet [the enemy] halfway. There will be no room for dialogue with them." Another document was found in 2000 by British police during an anti-terrorist raid in London -- a grisly al Qaeda manual that includes chapters with titles such as "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages." This manual declares that their vision of Islam "does not make a truce with unbelief, but rather confronts it." The confrontation calls for "the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine gun."
Still other captured documents show al Qaeda's strategy for infiltrating Muslim nations, establishing terrorist enclaves, overthrowing governments, and building their totalitarian empire. We see this strategy laid out in a captured al Qaeda document found during a recent raid in Iraq, which describes their plans to infiltrate and take over Iraq's western Anbar Province. The document lays out an elaborate al Qaeda governing structure for the region that includes an Education Department, a Social Services Department, a Justice Department, and an "Execution Unit" responsible for "Sorting out, Arrest, Murder, and Destruction."
According to their public statements, countries that have -- they have targeted stretch from the Middle East to Africa, to Southeast Asia. Through this strategy, al Qaeda and its allies intend to create numerous, decentralized operating bases across the world, from which they can plan new attacks, and advance their vision of a unified, totalitarian Islamic state that can confront and eventually destroy the free world.
These violent extremists know that to realize this vision, they must first drive out the main obstacle that stands in their way -- the United States of America. According to al Qaeda, their strategy to defeat America has two parts: First, they're waging a campaign of terror across the world. They're targeting our forces abroad, hoping that the American people will grow tired of casualties and give up the fight. And they're targeting America's financial centers and economic infrastructure at home, hoping to terrorize us and cause our economy to collapse.
Bin Laden calls this his "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan." And he cited the attacks of 9/11 as evidence that such a plan can succeed. With the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden says, "al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the event, while America lost -- according to the lowest estimate -- $500 billion. Meaning that every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million dollars of America. Bin Laden concludes from this experience that "America is definitely a great power, with unbelievable military strength and a vibrant economy, but all of these have been built on a very weak and hollow foundation." He went on to say, "Therefore, it is very easy to target the flimsy base and concentrate on their weak points, and even if we're able to target one-tenth of these weak points, we will be able [to] crush and destroy them."
Secondly, along with this campaign of terror, the enemy has a propaganda strategy. Osama bin Laden laid out this strategy in a letter to the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, that coalition forces uncovered in Afghanistan in 2002. In it, bin Laden says that al Qaeda intends to "[launch]," in his words, "a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government." This media campaign, bin Laden says, will send the American people a number of messages, including "that their government [will] bring them more losses, in finances and casualties." And he goes on to say that "they are being sacrificed to serve the big investors, especially the Jews." Bin Laden says that by delivering these messages, al Qaeda "aims at creating pressure from the American people on the American government to stop their campaign against Afghanistan."
Bin Laden and his allies are absolutely convinced they can succeed in forcing America to retreat and causing our economic collapse. They believe our nation is weak and decadent, and lacking in patience and resolve. And they're wrong. (Applause.) Osama bin Laden has written that the "defeat of... American forces in Beirut" in 1983 is proof America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He's declared that "in Somalia the United States [pulled] out, trailing disappointment, defeat, and failure behind it." And last year, the terrorist Zawahiri declared that Americans "know better than others that there is no hope in victory. The Vietnam specter is closing every outlet."
These terrorists hope to drive America and our coalition out of Afghanistan, so they can restore the safe haven they lost when coalition forces drove them out five years ago. But they've made clear that the most important front in their struggle against America is Iraq -- the nation bin Laden has declared the "capital of the Caliphate." Hear the words of bin Laden: "I now address the whole Islamic nation: Listen and understand: The most serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War [that] is raging in [Iraq]." He calls it "a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam." He says, "The whole world is watching this war," and that it will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation." For al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America -- it is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided.
Here is what al Qaeda says they will do if they succeed in driving us out of Iraq: The terrorist Zawahiri has said that al Qaeda will proceed with "several incremental goals. The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of Caliphate The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq. And the fourth stage: the clash with Israel."
These evil men know that a fundamental threat to their aspirations is a democratic Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. They know that given a choice, the Iraqi people will never choose to live in the totalitarian state the extremists hope to establish. And that is why we must not, and we will not, give the enemy victory in Iraq by deserting the Iraqi people. (Applause.)
Last year, the terrorist Zarqawi declared in a message posted on the Internet that democracy "is the essence of infidelity and deviation from the right path." The Iraqi people disagree. Last December, nearly 12 million Iraqis from every ethnic and religious community turned out to vote in their country's third free election in less than a year. Iraq now has a unity government that represents Iraq's diverse population -- and al Qaeda's top commander in Iraq breathed his last breath. (Applause.)
Despite these strategic setbacks, the enemy will continue to fight freedom's advance in Iraq, because they understand the stakes in this war. Again, hear the words of bin Laden, in a message to the American people earlier this year. He says: "The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever."
Now, I know some of our country hear the terrorists' words, and hope that they will not, or cannot, do what they say. History teaches that underestimating the words of evil and ambitious men is a terrible mistake. In the early 1900s, an exiled lawyer in Europe published a pamphlet called "What Is To Be Done?" -- in which he laid out his plan to launch a communist revolution in Russia. The world did not heed Lenin's words, and paid a terrible price. The Soviet Empire he established killed tens of millions, and brought the world to the brink of thermonuclear war. In the 1920s, a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews. The world ignored Hitler's words, and paid a terrible price. His Nazi regime killed millions in the gas chambers, and set the world aflame in war, before it was finally defeated at a terrible cost in lives.
Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We're taking the words of the enemy seriously. We're on the offensive, and we will not rest, we will not retreat, and we will not withdraw from the fight, until this threat to civilization has been removed. (Applause.)
Five years into this struggle, it's important to take stock of what's been accomplished -- and the difficult work that remains. Al Qaeda has been weakened by our sustained offensive against them, and today it is harder for al Qaeda's leaders to operate freely, to move money, or to communicate with their operatives and facilitators. Yet al Qaeda remains dangerous and determined. Bin Laden and Zawahiri remain in hiding in remote regions of this world. Al Qaeda continues to adapt in the face of our global campaign against them. Increasingly, al Qaeda is taking advantage of the Internet to disseminate propaganda, and to conduct "virtual recruitment" and "virtual training" of new terrorists. Al Qaeda's leaders no longer need to meet face-to-face with their operatives. They can find new suicide bombers, and facilitate new terrorist attacks, without ever laying eyes on those they're training, financing, or sending to strike us.
[editor: The Shia Terrorist Problem]
As we continue to fight al Qaeda and these Sunni extremists inspired by their radical ideology, we also face the threat posed by Shia extremists, who are learning from al Qaeda, increasing their assertiveness, and stepping up their threats. Like the vast majority of Sunnis, the vast majority of Shia across the world reject the vision of extremists -- and in Iraq, millions of Shia have defied terrorist threats to vote in free elections, and have shown their desire to live in freedom. The Shia extremists want to deny them this right. This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East. And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda.
Like al Qaeda and the Sunni extremists, the Iranian regime has clear aims: They want to drive America out of the region, to destroy Israel, and to dominate the broader Middle East. To achieve these aims, they are funding and arming terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which allow them to attack Israel and America by proxy. Hezbollah, the source of the current instability in Lebanon, has killed more Americans than any terrorist organization except al Qaeda. Unlike al Qaeda, they've not yet attacked the American homeland. Yet they're directly responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans abroad. It was Hezbollah that was behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. And Saudi Hezbollah was behind the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans, an attack conducted by terrorists who we believe were working with Iranian officials.
Just as we must take the words of the Sunni extremists seriously, we must take the words of the Shia extremists seriously. Listen to the words of Hezbollah's leader, the terrorist Nasrallah, who has declared his hatred of America. He says, "Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute. Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America."
Iran's leaders, who back Hezbollah, have also declared their absolute hostility to America. Last October, Iran's President declared in a speech that some people ask -- in his words -- "whether a world without the United States and Zionism can be achievedÂ? I say that thisÂ? goal is achievable." Less than three months ago, Iran's President declared to America and other Western powers: "open your eyes and see the fate of pharaoh if you do not abandon the path of falsehood you're doomed destiny will be annihilation." Less than two months ago, he warned: "The anger of Muslims may reach an explosion point soon. If such a day comes [America and the West] should know that the waves of the blast will not remain within the boundaries of our region." He also delivered this message to the American people: "If you would like to have good relations with the Iranian nation in the future bow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender. If you don't accept [to do this], the Iranian nation will force you to surrender and bow down."
America will not bow down to tyrants. (Applause.)
President Bush went on to unveil the new document: "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism" which outlines in great detail the efforts we are undertaking to keep Americans safe and WIN the War on Terror.
Democrats will want to get a copy to quote from next time a reporter asks what their plan is for keeping America safe. They make a habit of claiming all good ideas as their own while offering nothing but obstruction and negativity.