HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — President Bush yesterday challenged international leaders to create a new world order, declaring pre-September 11 multilateralism outmoded and asserting that freedom from terrorism will come only through pre-emptive action against enemies of democracy.
In his first major foreign-policy speech since his re-election, the president set out an expansive second-term agenda with three distinct goals: reforming multilateral institutions, prosecuting the war on terrorism and spreading democracy in the Middle East.
But even as Mr. Bush urged a new effort by free nations to join forces, he criticized the multilateral process that splintered as his administration moved toward war in the absence of action by the United Nations against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
“The success of multilateralism is measured not merely by following a process, but by achieving results,” Mr. Bush said. “The objective of the U.N. and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate.”
The president, who was seated near Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, did not bring up the United States’ disagreement with Canada over the U.S.-led Iraq war or chastise other nations that opposed the pre-emptive strike on Saddam, such as France, Germany or Russia.
But one day after declaring in Ottawa that Americans on Election Day had endorsed the Bush administration’s foreign policy and its doctrine — which calls for pre-emptive action against states that harbor or aid terrorists — the president had a clear message for the rest of the world.
“Defense alone is not a sufficient strategy,” he said. “There is only one way to deal with enemies who plot in secret and set out to murder the innocent and the unsuspecting: We must take the fight to them.”
The president declared that multilateralism has, of late, resulted in little action. Although he vowed to make an effort to build coalitions with foreign powers, he said those efforts must be geared toward results.
“My country is determined to work as far as possible within the framework of international organizations, and we’re hoping that other nations will work with us to make those institutions more relevant and more effective in meeting the unique threats of our time,” he said.
While applauding Canada’s expansive military role in the world, with its peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Haiti, Sudan, Cyprus and the Middle East, Mr. Bush recalled Canada’s pre-emptive entry into World War II, noting, “Some Canadians argued that Canada had not been attacked and had no interest in fighting a distant war.”
The Canadian prime minister echoed Mr. Bush’s view of the post-September 11 world, saying the terrorist attacks on America “have redefined many realities in the world and on our own continent.”
“We’re in a war against terrorism, and we are in it together, Americans and Canadians. … Together we have come to realize that the world is indeed smaller since 9/11. It’s more complex, perilous, more challenging,” Mr. Martin said.
Both leaders called for renewed efforts in prosecuting the war on terrorism.
“In the new era the threat is different, but our duties are the same. Our enemies have declared their intentions — and so have we. Peaceful nations must keep the peace by going after the terrorists,” Mr. Bush said.
He also called on all free nations to become more involved in spreading democracy in the Middle East.
“By taking the side of reformers and democrats in the Middle East, we will gain allies in the war on terror and isolate the ideology of murder and help to defeat the despair and hopelessness that feeds terror. The world will become a much safer place as democracy advances,” Mr. Bush said.
But again, he urged all parties to avoid the endless debate over the decades-old issue, dismissing past efforts to accept small compromises over borders and settlement sites.
“This approach has been tried before without success,” he said. “The Palestinian people deserve a peaceful government that truly serves their interests, and the Israeli people need a true partner in peace.”
The president caused a bit of a stir when he mentioned the U.S. missile-defense program, which many Canadians oppose. The first U.S. missile bases in the shield have been set up in Alaska and California — and with Canada in between, the question of whether Canada will help out could become a sensitive point.
Mr. Martin told reporters after Mr. Bush had left that whatever his government decides, it “will be in Canada’s interests. We are a sovereign nation, and we will make our own decisions on our airspace,” he said, but added, “We are opposed to the weaponization of space.”
During his speech, Mr. Bush was conciliatory toward Canada and its prime minister, who replaced Jean Chretien, a vehement opponent to the war in Iraq.
He said that because the United States and Canada are neighbors that are engaged in “more multilateral institutions than perhaps any two nations on Earth” and conduct $1 billion in trade each day, “when frustrations are vented, we must not take it personally.”
Mr. Bush visited Halifax because on September 11, 2001, about 33,000 passengers on airplanes bound for U.S. airports were diverted to Canadian provinces, including Nova Scotia.
“You opened your homes and your churches to strangers, you brought food, you set up clinics, you arranged for calls to their loved ones, and you asked for nothing in return,” the president said. “Thank you for your kindness to America in an hour of need.”
Mr. Martin replied, “Well, Mr. President, that’s what neighbors do.”