- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2002

President Bush's State of the Union address should leave no one doubting America's resolve to finish the war against terrorism, wherever it may take us. His two goals were well-stated: First, to shut down the terrorist network and bring the terrorists to justice. Second, to prevent terrorists and their sponsors from threatening us and our allies with weapons of mass destruction. The second goal was stated in a way America has not stated it before: We will not wait to be attacked again. When we identify a serious threat, we will make a pre-emptive strike against it, unilaterally if necessary.

The president's warning to Iran, Iraq and North Korea is one they are unlikely to heed, and we must be prepared to act in the event they don't. This is no small task, and the price of performing it will be high in dollars, and maybe lives as well. Mr. Bush spoke of these nations pursuing weapons of mass destruction. But Iraq and North Korea already have chemical and biological weapons. Iran may as well. These threats are actual, not potential, and may have to be dealt with sooner than we would like.

There is an unfortunate contrast between the president's words and those of others here and abroad. A day before the speech, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah again took us to task for supporting Israel. He called upon the United States to hand over the majority of the prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Cuba who like the September 11 hijackers are Saudi citizens. The Saudis ask too much and give too little. Prince Abdullah's offer to investigate these prisoners rings hollow in light of the Saudis' failure to cooperate in most of our efforts in the war against terrorism. The crown prince would better serve his country's interests by negotiating the means for us to use our bases in his country in what soon may be conflicts with Iraq and Iran.

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt's job was to create a contrast with the president's remarks. What was most interesting about Mr. Gephardt's remarks was not his disagreements with the president, but his reflexively political perspective. After promising continued support for the war against terrorism, Mr. Gephardt asked the White House to continue to cooperate with Congress as it had for the past decade to keep our military strong. But in that time, Congress and the Clinton White House looked at the Pentagon only as a treasure chest to be looted to pay for social spending.

There you have it, three world views. Mr. Bush's world view is the one that has had the trust of the American people since September 11. As he said, it is our privilege and our responsibility to fight freedom's fight.

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