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War on Terrorism - President George W. Bush

Speech - Page 4

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They are doing that by building the institutions of a free society -- a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and equal justice under law.

The Iraqis have held free elections and established a transitional national assembly. The next step is to write a good constitution that enshrines these freedoms in permanent law.

The assembly plans to expand its constitutional drafting committee to include more Sunni Arabs. Many Sunnis who opposed the January elections are now taking part in the democratic process, and that is essential to Iraq's future.

By taking these critical steps and meeting their deadlines, Iraqis will bind their multiethnic society together in a democracy that respects the will of the majority and protects minority rights.

As Iraqis grow confident that the democratic progress they are making is real and permanent, more will join the political process.

And as Iraqis see that their military can protect them, more will step forward with vital intelligence to help defeat the enemies of a free Iraq.

As Iraqis make progress toward a free society, the effects are being felt beyond Iraq's borders.

Before our coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

Across the broader Middle East, people are claiming their freedom. In the last few months, we have witnessed elections in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. These elections are inspiring democratic reformers in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Our strategy to defend ourselves and spread freedom is working.

The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder and make our nation safer.

We are fighting against men with blind hatred and armed with lethal weapons who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras.

They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail.

The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter under threat, and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins.

America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us.

We accept these burdens because we know what is at stake.

We fight today because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital region of the world, and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror.

And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand.

So we'll fight them there, we'll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence to the darkest days of a civil war to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve or our way.

But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage. And we know that this great ideal of human freedom entrusted to us in a special way and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.

I thank our military families. The burden of war falls especially hard on you.

In this war, we have lost good men and women who left our shores to defend freedom and did not live to make the journey home.

I've met with families grieving the loss of loved ones who were taken from us too soon. I've been inspired by their strength in the face of such great loss.

We pray for the families. And the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission.

I thank those of you who've re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you.

We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform.

When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.

After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult and we are prevailing.

Our enemies are brutal, but they are no match for the United States of America, and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military.

May God bless you all.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much.
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