- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

In a speech to graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. on Saturday, President Bush forcefully emphasized the need for America to take "pre-emptive" military action against countries or organizations which threaten the United States. Mr. Bush told the 1,000 members of the class of 2002 that the U.S. "must take its battle to the enemy, disrupt its plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge." The president declared that "unbalanced dictators," apparently a reference to Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, must be prevented from acquiring more weapons of mass destruction or providing them to terrorist groups.
The president's clear signal to the enemies of freedom be they terrorist groups like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda or Hezbollah or states that support them, like Iran, Iraq, Syria and North Korea that the United States will not sit passively while awaiting future attacks is especially welcome because lately the war on terrorism had seemed to lose momentum. "The war on terror cannot be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt its plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge," Mr. Bush declared. "If we wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long."
Noting that terrorist groups are active in more than 60 countries, the president said that the United States will work with allied states by training their security forces to press the fight against hostile terrorist organizations inside their borders. "America needs partners to preserve the peace, and we will work with every nation that shares this noble goal," he said. "We can support governments that make the right choices for their own people." Should these efforts fail, the president told the cadets, "we will send you, our soldiers, where you're needed."
Mr. Bush had a warning for states that "have been caught" building weapons of mass destruction. "When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology … occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike at great nations," he said. These enemies of America, Mr. Bush said, "want the capability to blackmail us and to harm our friends, and we will oppose them with all our power… . All nations that decide for aggression and terror will pay a price. We will not leave the safety of Americans and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants."
One day before Mr. Bush's West Point speech, Bill Gertz of The Washington Times reported that the terrorist threat to the United States has taken a deadly new form: The U.S. government has alerted airlines and law enforcement agencies that Islamic terrorists have smuggled shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles into the United States which could be used to bring down an airliner. The alerts follow the discovery of an empty SA-7 launcher near a desert base used by U.S. air force jets in Saudi Arabia. Clearly, America's new war on terrorism has only just begun. The president's speech at West Point suggests that we will soon see something more than more rhetoric.

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