President Bush delivered the commencement address at the Air Force academy today. Here is the full text of this excellent speech. It contains many fine passages, but here is my favorite:
“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.)” [Actually a standing ovation]
While his critics fixate on this or that minor set-back or embarrassment in Iraq, President Bush looks beyond the Iraqi struggle at the bigger picture. He warns that “the struggle we have entered will not end with. . . Iraq. Overcoming terrorism, and bringing greater freedom to the nations of the Middle East, is the work of decades. To prevail, America will need the swift and able transformed military you will help to build and lead. America will need a generation of Arab linguists, and experts on Middle Eastern history and culture. America will need improved intelligence capabilities to track threats and expose the plans of unseen enemies. Above all, America will need perseverance. This conflict will take many turns, with setbacks on the course to victory. Through it all, our confidence comes from one unshakable belief: We believe, in Ronald Reagan’s words, that “the future belongs to the free.” (Applause).”
As I said, an excellent speech, worth reading in its entirety.
UPDATE by BIG TRUNK: Our friend Jeff Dahlberg writes:
Just reporting in from Colorado Springs. You may have heard I moved here almost three years ago. I attended the Academy Graduation today and it was a moving and clarifying experience. Bush was magnificent with the best speech I’ve ever heard him give. The message was so focused and complete. He laid out the challenge clearly. He knew that these young men and women were going to be crucial leaders in this long war. I was very proud of him and these incredible kids who have worked so hard to get to this point. They are there for a reason…to serve their country, and they are extremely bright and dedicated. We are so fortunate to be blessed with young people who “get it.” It makes you realize how the division in American opinion and the power of the left establishment are a big part of this war. I can only hope that those who believe in freedom can stay strong and maintain the edge we need to persevere. As you can imagine, our president had a very supportive audience. This is one of the things I like about Colorado Springs. The spontaneous standing ovation you refer to in your blog was great and lasted a long time, this well into a fairly long speech. I was heartened at the response of the audience. This was all topped off with a stunning aerial show by the Thunderbirds, what a day!