- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

In one of the most significant speeches of his presidency, President Bush yesterday specifically named the threat the United States faces today: Islamofascism. It is necessary to explain to the American people the nature of the broader enemy, and that is precisely what the president did. Mr. Bush also warned state sponsors of terror such as Iran and Syria that Washington “makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they’re equally as guilty of murder.”

In the face of public-opinion polls suggesting that there is growing support for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, Mr. Bush noted in a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy that doing this would be catastrophic. “This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people and its resources?” Mr. Bush asked. As the president noted, abandoning Iraq would embolden the enemy and heighten the long-term threat to the United States, something he will not permit to occur.

Mr. Bush alluded to the fact that when it becomes apparent that a protracted war is inevitable, democracies tend to look for the easy way out — to hope that somehow a way can be found to reach an understanding with their enemies that would enable a way to resolve things peacefully. But that is a dangerous illusion in the current conflict with radical Islamists. “There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence.”

As the president observed, today’s Islamist terror networks operate in many forms: Some are part of al Qaeda’s transnational terrorist organization; others in locations like the Philippines and Kashmir are part of groups that are loosely affiliated with al Qaeda. But they are united by a desire to end American and Western influence in the Middle East. “Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run,” the president stated. In places such as Iraq, “They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993 — only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.”

While September 11 was uniquely horrifying to Americans, Mr. Bush noted, it was but one in a long series of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamofascists around the world, in the past four years, in countries as diverse as Spain, Israel, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Morocco. Innocent men, women and children have died “simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel.” These attacks may appear to be indiscriminate actions carried out by madmen. But they are integral components of a violent ideology that focuses on killing Christians, Jews, Hindus and other jihadist Muslims who deem them to be heretics.

The danger from these jihadists is magnified by “helpers and enablers” including “allies of convenience like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews,” Mr. Bush noted. They are aided and abetted by “elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American ‘war on Islam’ — with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, and Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo and Iraq,” he said.

The president also pointed to a number of hopeful developments that have occurred since September 11, ranging from the heightened willingness of Muslim scholars in the Arab world to condemn terrorism to the fact that many thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting jihadists in their own countries: “These brave citizens know the stakes — the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition — and that the United States of America is proud to stand beside them.”

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