Excerpts: Bush to remain ‘committed’ to war on terror

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THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Excerpts of President Bush’s interview yesterday in the Oval Office with editors and reporters of The Washington Times.

President Bush: A couple of things. One, I’m really looking forward to the second term. I worked really hard to get here, and I said some things to the American people that I intend to follow through on.

I assured them that I will remain firm and committed to fighting and winning the war on terror. We will deploy assets to defeat people before they come and hurt us. I believe that we are in a global war against an ism that can be defeated, and must be defeated. One way you defeat them is to find them and bring them to justice. That’s why we need good intelligence, the capacity to move quickly, a military that understands the stakes and is preparing the troops to meet the challenges. The other way is to spread freedom. And I believe that — I know — that free societies will be peaceful societies. And I believe the American president must use the great influence of our country to convince others to work to spread freedom in parts of the world that have been denied freedom. And that’s what you’re seeing.

It’s been a remarkable three months in the history of mankind. Elections in Afghanistan, elections in the Palestinian territory and elections to be in Iraq. And I am excited about helping spread freedom and helping say to reformers, “We hear your call and you’ve got a friend,” and helping to say to the critics and the cynics, people from all walks of life, all religions, have got the capacity to self-govern.

In the course of the campaign, I said this a couple of times, that “Laura and I live on the east side of the mountain, the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It’s the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that is gone.” I said that because I wanted people — to convey a sense of my great optimism about what we stand for and what America believes.

The quote isn’t complete, though, because the president also has got to be able to see the day that is gone in order to deal with — predict the day that is coming, as I make big decisions. The day that is gone tells me a lot about what is going to happen, in my judgment. And I talked a lot about Japan on the campaign trail, about how [Prime Minister Junichiro] Koizumi is one of my close friends. The guy is a lot of fun to be with, by the way, an interesting character. And yet, my dad fought them, mortal enemies … and they killed a lot of people and attacked our country. But because we believe that freedom can change societies and convert enemies to allies — Harry Truman and others believed that — Japan is now a strong ally and the world is more peaceful as a result of it.

And so I’ll work on what I just told you about. We can talk about specific countries and their regions, if you like.

‘Ownership society’

At home, I’ve got some fantastic opportunities to promote the ownership society. I love it when people own their home for the first time. I think it is — I get inspired when I talk to first-generation Americans who own their own business.

Today, I talked about Social Security. We have a problem in Social Security. And it’s pretty easy when you understand the math; there’s not enough payers for the recipients. And in 2018, it goes in the red; in 2040, it goes broke, flat bust. And so there is a lot of talk, you hear politicians talk, I want to leave a better America for the generations to come. OK, fine. Let’s do something on Social Security, because if we don’t, there won’t be a better America for generations to come.

Today, I talked about the need for a Social Security system to say to the seniors: “Look, you’re fine, nothing changes, but younger workers ought to be able to take some of their own money as a part of a solution, to set aside in a personal account.” I believe it’s necessary to get a better rate of return so that at least the promises of Social Security are more nearly met to future generations. But I also love the idea of people opening up on a regular basis an account that says, “Here’s how you’re doing in the stock market or the bond market or the mutual fund market. And by the way, policies can affect how you’re doing.” In other words, you got a stake in the future of the country if you own something.

Health care accounts will be expanded in my term because I believe the more people who have got decision-making — are involved with the decision-making process in health care the more likely it is we’ll be able to wring excess costs out of the system.

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