I didn’t see President Bush’s speech tonight, so I can’t say how he delivered it, but the speech was good. The media have been spinning it non-stop, so if you didn’t see the speech, you should read it, not read about it. The full text is here. This was the President’s conclusion:
In the last 32 months, history has placed great demands on our country and events have come quickly. Americans have seen the flames of September 11th, followed battles in the mountains of Afghanistan and learned new terms like orange alert and ricin and dirty bomb.
We’ve seen killers at work on trains in Madrid, in a bank in Istanbul, in a synagogue in Tunis and at a nightclub in Bali. And now the families of our soldiers and civilian workers pray for their sons and daughters in Mosul, in Karbala, in Baghdad.
We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving and it will tend toward hope or tend toward tragedy.
Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. They seek to impose Taliban-like rule country by country across the greater Middle East. They seek the total control of every person in mind and soul; a harsh society in which women are voiceless and brutalized. They seek bases of operation to train more killers and export more violence. They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein.
They seek weapons of mass destruction to impose their will through blackmail and catastrophic attacks.
None of this is the expression of a religion. It is a totalitarian, political ideology pursued with consuming zeal and without conscience.
Our actions, too, are guided by a vision.
We believe that freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East as it has advanced and changed lives in Asia, in Latin America, in Eastern Europe and Africa. We believe it is a tragedy of history that in the Middle East, which gave the world great gifts of law and science and faith, so many have been held back by lawless tyranny and fanaticism.
We believe that when all Middle Eastern peoples are finally allowed to live and think and work and worship as free men and women, they will reclaim the greatness of their own heritage. And when that day comes, the bitterness and burning hatreds that feed terrorism will fade and die away.
America and all the world will be safer when hope has returned to the Middle East. These two visions–one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life –clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over and that nation is coming to life again.
These two visions have now met in Iraq and are contending for the future of that country.
The failure of freedom would only mark the beginning of peril and violence. But, my fellow Americans, we will not fail. We will persevere and defeat this enemy and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty.
May God bless our country.
Our readers know that we are not shills for the administration. But the world is now aflame in an epic battle between good and evil. It is by no means clear that the forces of good will prevail. It may turn out to be impossible for free, liberal societies to continue to exist as they have for the last two hundred years. In this struggle for the world’s future, America’s elites–its university professors, its newspaper reporters and editors, its television executives, its moviemakers, its musicians and artists, all too often its business leaders–are mostly on the side of evil. One of America’s political parties is, on the most charitable interpretation, AWOL in this great war for the future of civilization.
President Bush must continue to frame the issues confronting us in the starkest possible terms. If he does, there is every reason to expect that the American people will stay the course and will preserve the hope, at least, that civilization may endure.