- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2006

President Bush yesterday told members of the U.S. Military Academy’s graduating class that they are fighting a generation-long war against Islamic radicalism and said he has prepared them the same way President Truman prepared for the long Cold War.

The 861 men and women belong to the first class to have entered West Point after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and Mr. Bush told them the fight is “still in the early stages.”

“The war began on my watch — but it’s going to end on your watch,” he said. “Your generation will bring us victory in the war on terror.”

The president repeated the Bush doctrine of military intervention, which he laid out at West Point’s graduation ceremony in 2002.

“America will not wait to be attacked again. We will confront threats before they fully materialize,” he said yesterday.

Mr. Bush said that, just as Mr. Truman prepared the military to fight the Cold War, the West Point graduates have benefited from studies geared to fight a new enemy.

This year’s class has had training in identifying improvised explosive devices, the deadly makeshift bombs responsible for the deaths of many U.S. troops in Iraq, and has received training from members of the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions. West Point also has created a new minor in terrorism studies and expanded its Arabic-language training.

The president said the current war effort mirrors that of Mr. Truman’s in some key ways:

• The United States has made allies out of former foes Iraq and Afghanistan, just as it did after World War II with Japan and Germany.

• Nations around the world have banded to form new international alliances, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is made up of more than 70 nations and is designed to deny terrorists weapons of mass destruction.

• The federal government has reorganized itself to fight terrorism, particularly with the Department of Homeland Security, the same way it was reorganized at the start of the Cold War.

He also said Mr. Truman withstood “enormous pressure” from people urging him to bring troops home from Germany and Japan, and instead kept forces deployed to counterbalance the emerging Soviet and Chinese communist threats.

After speaking, Mr. Bush helped hand out degrees to the top students and shook hands with each graduate as he or she filed across the stage in Mitchie Stadium.

The president noted that 50 cadets already have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said 34 West Point graduates have died in the war on terror.

He singled out one graduate on hand, Patrick Dowdell, whose father was a New York City fireman and died in the rescue effort at the World Trade Center. Mr. Dowdell’s brother, James, recently graduated from the New York City Fire Academy.

Also yesterday, the president used his weekly radio address to commemorate Memorial Day, which will be observed tomorrow, and to praise another West Point graduate, 1st Lt. Rob Seidel, a member of the Class of 2004 who was killed by a bomb in Baghdad.

Democrats used their weekly radio address to claim credit for passing an immigration bill through the Senate last week, and called on Mr. Bush to more strenuously oppose members of his party who say they will block any bill that they consider amnesty.


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