Bush Outlines Philosophy in 'War on Terror'

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President Bush delivered a speech Thursday morning touted as a "major address" on his administration's philosophy and strategy for pursuing the so-called "war on terror." Alex Chadwick presents highlights from the speech, which found the president defiantly standing his ground on his Iraq policies.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

With declining public support for the war in Iraq and his own approval numbers down, President Bush defiantly stood his ground today, saying America will never back down in the war on terror, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory. This was in a speech that Mr. Bush gave before the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington. He accused Islamic militants of trying to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. And he charged that militants have made Iraq their main front in the war of terror.

Coming up, analysis of Mr. Bush's speech from NPR White House correspondent and the senior political writer at the online magazine Slate. First, we're going to hear some of what Mr. Bush said today, where he accused the enemy of having set its sights on Iraq.

(Soundbite of speech)

President GEORGE W. BUSH: The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economy and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.

CHADWICK: Mr. Bush went on to say about the war in Iraq and answering critics who say that extremism has been strengthened by America's actions in Iraq--he said radical extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence for years.

(Soundbite of speech)

Pres. BUSH: We were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and al-Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet militants killed more than 180 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan. Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank or the US military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary. They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.

CHADWICK: These are excerpts from President Bush's speech today on the war on terror, linking it to the war in Iraq. He went on to say that defeating the militant network is difficult. He called it a parasite, thriving on the suffering of others.

(Soundbite of speech)

Pres. BUSH: The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending far-away training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb or fire a rocket-propelled grenade. And this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.

CHADWICK: President Bush speaking today before the National Endowment for Democracy.

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