You Can't Ask for a More Clear Vision
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't agree with everything George Bush stands for... but I know exactly where he stands. And when it comes to the war on terror (the number one issue for me come November), I stand where the President stands.
Today he gave a speech at the US Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony
... here's a few of the more choice quotes (emphasis added):
In the terrorists' vision of the world, the Middle East must fall under the rule of radical governments, moderate Arab states must be overthrown, nonbelievers must be expelled from Muslim lands, and the harshest practice of extremist rule must be universally enforced. In this vision, books are burned, terrorists are sheltered, women are whipped, and children are schooled in hatred and murder and suicide.
Our vision is completely different. We believe that every person has a right to think and pray and live in obedience to God and conscience, not in frightened submission to despots. (Applause.) We believe that societies find their greatness by encouraging the creative gifts of their people, not in controlling their lives and feeding their resentments. And we have confidence that people share this vision of dignity and freedom in every culture because liberty is not the invention of Western culture, liberty is the deepest need and hope of all humanity. The vast majority of men and women in Muslim societies reject the domination of extremists like Osama bin Laden. They're looking to the world's free nations to support them in their struggle against the violent minority who want to impose a future of darkness across the Middle East. We will not abandon them to the designs of evil men. We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom. (Applause.)
For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short-term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer-term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. (Applause.) Democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at it source. Democratic institutions in the Middle East will not grow overnight; in America, they grew over generations. Yet the nations of the Middle East will find, as we have found, the only path to true progress is the path of freedom and justice and democracy. (Applause.)
Some who call themselves "realists" question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality. America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat. America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.
As we fight the war on terror in Iraq and on other fronts, we must keep in mind the nature of the enemy. No act of America explains terrorist violence, and no concession of America could appease it. The terrorists who attacked our country on September the 11th, 2001 were not protesting our policies. They were protesting our existence. Some say that by fighting the terrorists abroad since September the 11th, we only stir up a hornet's nest. But the terrorists who struck that day were stirred up already. (Applause.) If America were not fighting terrorists in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere, what would these thousands of killers do, suddenly begin leading productive lives of service and charity? (Laughter.) Would the terrorists who beheaded an American on camera just be quiet, peaceful citizens if America had not liberated Iraq? We are dealing here with killers who have made the death of Americans the calling of their lives. And America has made a decision about these terrorists: Instead of waiting for them to strike again in our midst, we will take this fight to the enemy. (Applause.)
I wonder who that "realist" he talks about could be... hmmmm. Maybe its our foragainst friend John Kerry? All snide comments aside however, the whole speech is excellent, and well worth the read. He also gives a four part strategy which is pretty straight forward (and more than we've ever seen from Kerry). I personally think that Sept. 11 proved that "stability" and status quo in the Middle East doesn't work. The Middle East needs... no... deserves
Democracy just like we all do.
Update: The Volokh Conspiracy
has a very good commentary on the New York Times article
about the speech. The Times piece is purely political and really belongs in an Op Ed column (but then again most Times articles should be labeled Opinion, not fact). It of course makes the assumption that you didn't hear the entire speech, nor would bother to read the full text of the speech, because if you did, you'd truly wonder what speech the Times columnist was listening to.