War on Terror the "Decisive" 21st Century Struggle, Bush Says

Washington - President Bush says the War on Terror is “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” pitting free nations against those who employ violence to impose a “dark vision of tyranny” across the world.

In the first of a scheduled series of five speeches leading up to the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks against New York and Washington, the president told an audience in Salt Lake City August 31, “We will not allow the terrorists to dictate the future of this century, so we will defeat them in Iraq.”

The United States bears a responsibility to the Iraqi people to help them achieve the freedom they desire, and is working with Iraqi leaders who can count on American partnership so long as they promote freedom and democracy, Bush said.

U.S. forces will not leave Iraq “until victory is achieved,” even though the president warned of more difficulties ahead. “This is a pivotal moment for the Middle East.  The world is watching, and in Iraq the forces of freedom will prevail,” Bush said.

The United States has a “straightforward choice” in its approach to the Middle East, Bush said.  The United States can help lead the region toward a more hopeful future, or it can allow the Middle East to follow the course on which it was headed before September 11, 2001, and leave future generations "a region dominated by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons."

The president said that despite sectarian and geographic differences, the terrorist groups now at work constitute a “worldwide network” of radicals who are using terror to kill or intimidate those who stand in the way of their ideology.

Bush described them as a “self-appointed few” who are trying to impose their views on the world and compared them to totalitarian groups like the Nazis that the world confronted in the 20th century. Countries that harbor or support terrorists are enemies of the United States, he reiterated.

Turning to Iran, which faces an August 31 deadline from the U.N. Security Council to stop its uranium enrichment and reprocessing, Bush said the international community has offered that country a better course for the future if it abandons its quest for nuclear weapons.

However, he said, Iran has responded with “further defiance and delay.”  The United States will continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but Bush added that “there must be consequences” for Iran’s behavior.

The transcript of the president’s remarks is available on the White House Web site, as is a fact sheet outlining Bush’s strategy for winning the War on Terror.