- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2004

The following are excerpts from President Bush’s speech at the White House yesterday to mark the one-year anniversary of the war on Iraq, which toppled Saddam Hussein:

We are the nations that have recognized the threat of terrorism, and we are the nations that will defeat that threat.

Each of us has pledged before the world, we will never bow to the violence of a few. We will face this mortal danger and we will overcome it together.

As we meet, violence and death at the hands of terrorists are still fresh in our memory. The people of Spain are burying their innocent dead. These men and women and children began their day in a great and peaceful city, yet lost their lives on a battlefield, murdered at random and without remorse.

Americans saw the chaos and the grief and the vigils and the funerals, and we have shared in the sorrow of the Spanish people…. There is a dividing line in our world, not between nations and not between religions or cultures, but a dividing line separating two visions of justice and the value of life….

There is no neutral ground in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.

The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation.

The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies, they’re offended by our existence as free nations.

No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror.

There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations.

Over the past 30 months, we have frozen or seized nearly $200 million in assets of terror networks. We’ve captured or killed some two-thirds of al Qaeda’s known leaders, as well as many of al Qaeda’s associates in countries like the United States or Germany or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Thailand….

Our coalition is also confronting the dangerous combination of outlaw states, terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction.

For years, the Taliban made Afghanistan the home base of al Qaeda. And so we gave the Taliban a choice: to abandon forever their support for terror or face the destruction of their regime.

Because the Taliban chose defiance, our coalition acted to remove this threat, and now the terror camps are closed and the government of a free Afghanistan is represented here today as an active partner in the war on terror….

Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we mark a turning point for the Middle East and a crucial advance for human liberty.

There have been disagreements in this matter among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability in the Middle East….

Many coalition countries have sacrificed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the fallen soldiers and civilians are sons and daughters of Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

We honor their courage. We pray for the comfort of their families. We will uphold the cause they served.

The rise of democratic institutions in Afghanistan and Iraq is a great step toward a goal of lasting importance to the world. We’ve set out to encourage reform and democracy in the greater Middle East as the alternatives to fanaticism, resentment and terror.

We’ve set out to break the cycle of bitterness and radicalism that has brought stagnation to a vital region and destruction to cities in America and Europe, and around the world.

This task is historic and difficult. This task is necessary and worthy of our efforts….

It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges. Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties and met them in full.

May God bless our efforts.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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