- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2008

Making clear that he - not Sen. Barack Obama - is president of the United States, President Bush on Thursday catalogued his administration’s efforts to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world and set out the challenges facing the next commander in chief.

Hours before the first-term Illinois senator was to deliver a speech in Berlin, the president warned that America’s “belief in the universality of freedom is being challenged once again.”

“So the challenge for America in the years ahead is to continue to help people in struggling nations achieve freedom from corruption, freedom from disease, freedom from poverty, freedom from hunger and freedom from tyranny,” Mr. Bush said in a speech at the Reagan Bulding.

Speaking in the same place where Mr. Obama delivered a address on Afghanistan last week, the president catalogued his administration’s successes, but repeatedly looked ahead to the coming challenges.

“The challenge for future presidents and future Congresses is to ensure that America always stands with those seeking freedom — and never hesitates to shine the light of conscience on abuses of human rights across the world,” he said to several hundred members of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The speech came as Mr. Obama, in the mold of President John F. Kennedy, prepared to ascend to the world stage by delivering an address on freedom to Berliners. He was to say that “no one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone,” and, while defending America’s role is spreading freedom, note that “the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common.”

But the president struck a completely different tone, mentioning the September 11 attacks four times and once again decalring that “to protect America, we must fight the enemy abroad so we don’t have to face them here at home.”

“Over the past seven years, this is exactly what we have done. Since 9-11, we recognized that we’re at war and we must stop new attacks before they happen — not wait until after they happen,” he said.

“We’ve captured or killed thousands of terrorists, including most of those responsible for the September the 11th attacks. We’ve removed regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq that threatened our citizens and the peace in the world,” he said.

“And now we’re helping the people of those two nations fight the terrorists who want to establish new safe havens from which to launch attacks on America and our friends.”

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