September 30th, 2006 07:15 EST
Bush Vows to Support Voices of Moderation in Terror Fight
President Bush reaffirmed today his commitment to stand by Afghanistan and Iraq as they develop new democracies and become solid partners in the war against extremism, and vowed that the United States won’t rest until Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists are brought to justice.
Bush spoke here to members of the Reserve Officers Association, calling the struggle between moderation and extremism in the Middle East “the challenge of our time.”
“At this moment, terrorists and extremists are fighting to overthrow moderate governments in the region so they can take control of countries and use them as bases from which to attack America and from which to impose their hateful ideology,” he said.
Standing against extremists and supporting moderate leaders in the region is “the call of a generation” that will help secure a peaceful future, he said. “The only way to fight terror is to stand together,” he said.
Bush discussed his dinner meeting earlier this week with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, moderate leaders who he said “understand the stakes in the struggle.”
The session made it crystal clear that the three nations share the same goals, he said. “We will defeat the Taliban, we will defeat al Qaeda, and the only way to do that is by working together,” he said. “By standing with brave leaders like these, we are defending civilization itself, and we’re building a more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren.”
The president praised the 20,000 troops from 40 countries deployed in Afghanistan and NATO’s growing role there that is freeing U.S. and Afghan forces to remain on the offensive against terrorists.
“The enemies of a free Afghanistan are brutal, and they’re determined,” Bush said. “And we’re not going to let them succeed. NATO and coalition and Afghan forces will continue to fight the enemy. We still stay on the offense, and we’re going to help this government of President Karzai bring a better life to his people.”
Meanwhile, Bush promised to deny terrorists safe havens in Iraq to replace those they lost in Afghanistan. “We’re going to make it harder for them to recruit a new generation of terrorists,” he said. “And we’re going to help the Iraqis build a free society, a hopeful country that sends a powerful message across the broader Middle East and serves with those of us who believe in moderation and hope as an ally in the war against these extremists.”
Bush promised to continue the United States’ staunch support to Pakistan, praising Musharraf’s decision in the first days after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight rather than support terrorism. This decision has saved American lives, helped disrupt terror networks and foiled terror plots, he said.
“President Musharraf has a clear vision for his country as a nation growing in freedom and prosperity and peace,” he said. “And as he stands against the terrorists and for the free future of his country, the United States of America will stand by him.”
Bush said he has no doubt that the commitment demonstrated by the United States, the coalition and new democracies developing in the Middle East will ultimately squeeze out the terrorists and their extremist ideology.
“In both Pakistan and Afghanistan, America has strong allies who are committed to routing out the terrorists in their midst,” he said. “We’ve killed or captured hundreds of al Qaeda leaders and operatives, and we’ve put others on the run. Osama bin Laden and other terrorists are still in hiding.”
Bush issued a clear message to them: “No matter how long it takes, we will find you,” he said. “And we’re going to bring you to justice.”