25 August 2003
Rice Says U.S. Will Not Shrink From Fight Against Terrorism
Terrorist networks are being broken and disrupted daily
terrorist attacks in Baghdad and Jerusalem, National Security
Rice says "we cannot and will
not shrink" from the fight against terrorism.
25 to the 104th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign
in San Antonio, Texas, Rice said the bombings in
Iraq and Israel are reminders that the world remains unsafe, "that
our enemies are engaged in a war on freedom" and the terrorists "will
target all people living in freedom -- including women, children,
or relief workers."
know, Rice said, "that a free Iraq can change
the face of the Middle East. That is why they, together with the
remnants of the old regime, are fighting as if this is a life-and-death
struggle. It is -- and the terrorists will lose."
ultimate goal "is to impose a system based
on tyranny and oppression" by means of terrorizing free people
in an attempt to break both spirit and resolve, Rice said. But
the United States and its allies "have taken the fight to
the terrorists themselves," she said, employing "all
instruments of our national power to root out terror networks and
hold accountable states that harbor terrorists."
The first battle
against the terrorists involved rooting the Taliban from Afghanistan
because it was a home base and primary sanctuary
for al-Qaida, Rice said. "Today, across the globe, unparalleled
law enforcement and intelligence cooperation efforts are underway," she
said, "successfully breaking up and disrupting terrorist networks."
Now, Rice said,
almost two-thirds of al-Qaida's senior leadership, operational
and key facilitators "have been captured
or killed and the rest are on the run -- permanently."
security adviser also spoke about the situation in the Middle
East. "Despite the horrific events of recent days," she
said, "we have seen real progress toward peace for Israelis
and Palestinians." Rice said a new Palestinian leadership
is emerging that understands and articulates in Arabic and English "that
terror is not a means to Palestinian statehood, but rather the
greatest obstacle to statehood."
Rice said things
are improving gradually in Iraq and normal life "is
being reborn as basic services are restored -- in some cases beyond
pre-war levels -- transportation networks are rebuilt and the economy
transformation in the Middle East requires "a
commitment of many years," Rice said that does not mean "we
will need to maintain a military presence in Iraq, as was the case
in Europe. It does mean that the United States and its allies "must
engage broadly throughout the region, across many fronts including
diplomatic, economic and cultural," she said, and it requires
a full partnership with the peoples of the region who share our
commitment to human freedom."
Following is the text of Rice's remarks as prepared for delivery:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Crawford, Texas)
August 25, 2003
As Prepared for Delivery
REMARKS BY CONDOLEEZZA RICE
ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
AT THE 104TH NATIONAL CONVENTION
OF THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
San Antonio, Texas
Thank you for this opportunity to speak, and thank you for the
Dwight David Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award. It is an
honor to receive an award named for one of America's greatest
soldier-statesmen -- a man who helped guide America and our allies
to victory in a world war and then the Cold War. The values of
service and sacrifice that Dwight Eisenhower embodied are also
at the heart of this organization.
For more than a century, you have been doing the important work
of helping to ensure that our veterans and our active-duty soldiers
receive the respect and the benefits they deserve. In all of your
activities, you honor the dead by helping the living, and it is
a privilege to be with you.
It has been almost two years since the September 11 attacks, and
it is worth taking a moment to reflect and report on the strategy
that America has pursued in responding to that awful day.
No less than December 7, 1941, September 11, 2001, forever changed
the lives of every American and the strategic perspective of the
United States. That day produced an acute sense of our vulnerability
to attacks hatched in distant lands, that come without warning,
bringing tragedy to our shores.
We have marked real progress since September 11, but we get regular
reminders that the world continues to be an unsafe place. Last
week, terrorists struck in Baghdad and Jerusalem, killing more
than three-dozen innocent people. These bombings confirm that our
enemies are engaged in a war on freedom, and they will target all
people living in freedom -- including women, children, or relief
workers. The ultimate goal of the terrorists is to impose a system
based on tyranny and oppression, and they terrorize free people
to break our spirit and our resolve. But we cannot and will not
shrink from this fight. The freedoms and the way of life we hold
sacred are at stake.
From the very
beginning of this war on terror, President Bush has delivered
a clear and
consistent message to the terrorists.
In a speech just nine days after the September 11 attacks, he said, "Our
war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there.
It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has
been found, stopped, and defeated."
last week's bombing in Baghdad, he said, "Our
will cannot be shaken. We will persevere through every hardship.
We will continue this war on terror until the killers are brought
to justice. And we will prevail."
The president has backed up these words with action. We have taken
the fight to the terrorists themselves -- using all instruments
of our national power to root out terror networks and hold accountable
states that harbor terrorists.
The war on terror must be fought on the offense -- defense of
the homeland is a vital mission -- but the president has been clear,
we will take the fight to the terrorists.
As a result, nearly two-thirds of al-Qaida's senior leaders, operational
managers, and key facilitators have been captured or killed, and
the rest are on the run -- permanently.
That's a tribute to the skill of our troops and our intelligence
officials, many of whom have operated under extreme weather conditions
on extended missions far from home.
Rooting the Taliban out of Afghanistan was the first battle because
they had provided the home base and primary sanctuary for al-Qaida.
Today, across the globe, unparalleled law enforcement and intelligence
cooperation efforts are underway, successfully breaking up and
disrupting terrorist networks.
And the United States and many other nations are helping Afghans
rebuild their country and form a representative government, with
democratic institutions, so that Afghanistan is never again a haven
Confronting Saddam Hussein was also essential. His regime posed
a threat to the security of the United States and the world. This
was a regime that pursued, had used, and possessed weapons of mass
He had links to terror; had twice invaded other nations; defied
the international community and 17 U.N. resolutions for 12 years;
and gave every indication that he would never disarm and never
comply with the just demands of the world. That threat could not
be allowed to remain -- and to grow.
Now that Saddam's regime is gone, the people of Iraq are more
free and seeing real progress. Step by step, normal life in Iraq
is being reborn as basic services are restored -- in some cases
beyond pre-war levels -- transportation networks are rebuilt and
the economy is revived.
Banks are opening throughout the country and a new currency --
without Saddam Hussein's picture -- is being prepared. America's
service men and women, working with Iraqis and coalition forces,
are helping to usher in these improvements. Our troops in Baghdad
and other cities are operating under difficult conditions, and
we are committed to providing them with the support they need to
get the job done.
Saddam's removal means people everywhere need no longer fear his
weapons, his aggression, and his cruelty. The war on terror is
greatly served by the end of this source of instability in the
world's most volatile region.
Let me be very clear, the terrorists know that a free Iraq can
change the face of the Middle East. That is why they, together
with the remnants of the old regime, are fighting as if this is
a life-and-death struggle. It is -- and the terrorists will lose.
Already there are new opportunities for a different kind of Middle
Despite the horrific events of recent days, we have seen real
progress toward peace for Israelis and Palestinians. At the Red
Sea Summits in June, Israelis, Palestinians, and neighboring Arab
states united behind the vision the President has set forth --
a vision for two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side
in peace and security. Israeli leaders increasingly understand
that it is in Israel's interest for Palestinians to govern themselves,
in a state that is viable, peaceful, democratic, and committed
to fighting terror. Israel has to fulfill its responsibilities
to help that peaceful state emerge.
A new Palestinian leadership is emerging that understands -- and
says, in Arabic and English -- that terror is not a means to Palestinian
statehood, but rather the greatest obstacle to statehood.
Amidst this progress came last week's familiar images of bloodshed
and violence by those who would use terror to destroy the hopes
for peace. But the terrorists will not succeed -- and terrorist
networks must be dismantled. President Bush remains committed to
the course he laid out at the Red Sea Summits because it is the
only course that will bring a durable peace and lasting security.
Transformation in the Middle East will require a commitment of
many years. I do not mean that we will need to maintain a military
presence in Iraq, as was the case in Europe. I do mean that America
and our friends and allies must engage broadly throughout the region,
across many fronts, including diplomatic, economic, and cultural.
And -- as in Europe -- our efforts must work in full partnership
with the peoples of the region who share our commitment to human
The transformation of the Middle East is the only guarantee that
it will no longer produce ideologies of hatred that lead men to
fly airplanes into buildings in New York or Washington.
We must remain patient. When Americans begin a noble cause, we
finish it. We are 117 days from the end of major combat operations
in Iraq. That is not very long.
There is an
understandable tendency to look back on America's experience
in post-War Germany
and see only the successes. But
as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled
was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging
period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers
-- called "werewolves" -- engaged in sabotage and attacked
both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them --
much like today's Ba'athist and Fedayeen remnants.
It is also
true that democracy is not easy. Its institutions are not the
of human nature. And our own history
should remind us that the union of democratic principle and practice
is always a work in progress. When the Founding Fathers said "We
the People," they did not mean me. My ancestors were considered
three-fifths of a person.
Knowing the difficulties of America's own history, we should always
be humble in singing freedom's praises. But America's voice should
never waver in speaking out on the side of people seeking freedom.
And the people of the Middle East share the desire for freedom.
We have an opportunity -- and an obligation -- to help them turn
this desire into reality. And we must work with others to create
a world where terror is shunned and hope is the provenance of every
living human. That is the security challenge -- and moral mission
-- of our time.
I am confident we will meet this challenge, because the central
players will include America's men and women in uniform. Just as
America's soldiers of yesteryear made priceless contributions to
the security of Europe following World War II, and then to the
security and prosperity of Asia in the next decade, the professionalism
and commitment of our soldiers will help countries like Afghanistan
and Iraq recover from years of tyranny and steadily move toward
democracy and prosperity. In both nations, our troops face difficult
conditions, and America appreciates their sacrifice.
Every one of America's soldiers, like every one of you, took an
oath to defend this nation. There is no higher calling, and America
and the world are a better place thanks to your labors. All of
you are also part of a rich military tradition that reaches back
more than two centuries, and which is being carried forward today
by our men and women in uniform. There is a common bond of duty
and honor among those who have served, and a respect for those
who have marched down the same path.
A sergeant with the 82nd Airborne who is stationed in Iraq captured
this spirit in a moving letter he wrote recently to America's veterans.
This sergeant wrote,
the longing of home in our hearts, we do here what needs to be
done so that
the generations that follow mine will
know of the freedoms I've enjoyed for so long. . . . Through your
blood and sweat, we have the America that is, and I will give my
all to make sure that is how it will be. From this generation to
the ones that came before, I thank you."
And on behalf of President Bush, I thank you, for all that you
have done to advance human freedom in the United States and throughout
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs,
U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)