- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bush” >President Bush on Tuesday defended his doctrine of pre-emptive strikes as a critical part of his legacy he will leave the next president in fighting the war on terror.

He also pledged that the search for al Qaeda’s top leaders continues and said “the day will come when they receive the justice they deserve.”

Six years after he announced the policy at the U.S. Military Academy, Mr. Bush returned to West Point to make the case he’s leaving the military in better shape than he found it and leaving a strategy for fighting terrorism.

“If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. So we made clear that hostile regimes sponsoring terror or pursuing weapons of mass destruction would be held to account,” he said.

He said he also made the decision to discredit Islamic extremism as an ideology as a part of his strategy.

Mr. Bush said the challenge for the military in the future will be to handle “ungoverned spaces” — places governments can’t control, such as the tribal regions of Pakistan where Taliban and al Qaeda fighters are often in control.

The president acknowledged his efforts to spread freedom “are unfolding slowly and unevenly” but said he takes encouragement from political progress in Iraq.