President Bush says, just as the United States persevered and ultimately won the Cold War against communism, America will emerge victorious in the war on terror. Mr. Bush addressed graduates at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the first class of future Army officers to have entered the institution since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
President Bush delivered a history lesson in his commencement address to 861 West Point graduates, their families and dignitaries. He said a dire threat to America's security emerged after the Second World War: the expansion of communism in much of Europe, Asia and elsewhere. Mr. Bush said, in the early years of the Cold War, world events seemed to foreshadow a bleak future for democracy.
Mr. Bush said a predecessor, President Harry Truman, recognized the threat as an ideological struggle, and acted to confront adversaries, build alliances, and expand freedom, thereby laying the foundation for eventual victory in the Cold War. Today, Mr. Bush said, the United States is employing a similar strategy in confronting terrorism.
"When President Truman spoke here for the 150th anniversary of West Point, he told the class of 1952, 'You cannot have lasting peace, unless we work actively and vigorously to bring about conditions of freedom and justice in the world.' That same principle continues to guide us in today's war on terror. Our strategy to protect America is based on a clear premise: the security of our nation depends on the advance of liberty in other nations," the president said.
President Bush noted that it took more than four decades to win the Cold War. Similarly, he said, victory in the war on terror will not come overnight. Mr. Bush predicted that the struggle against extremism will occupy the careers of this year's graduating class at West Point and other U.S. military academies.
But he said important objectives have been met in the war on terror, and are already bearing fruit.
"Just as an earlier generation of Americans helped change Germany and Japan from conquered adversaries to democratic allies, today a new generation of Americans is helping Iraq and Afghanistan recover from the ruins of tyranny," he said. "In Afghanistan, the terror camps have been shut down, and Afghans have chosen a new president and a parliament in free elections. In Iraq, last week, Iraqis made history when they inaugurated the leaders of a new government of their choosing. With the formation of this unity government, the world has seen the beginning of something new: a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East."
After the commencement address, President Bush handed out diplomas. Once commissioned as officers, many of the graduates are expected to be deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.
In his weekly Saturday radio address, President Bush paid tribute to fallen armed services members ahead of Monday's Memorial Day holiday. In the Democratic Party response, Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka criticized the Bush administration's treatment of military veterans. The Senator blasted a recent admission by the Department of Veterans Affairs that it had failed to safeguard the personal information of millions of veterans, possibly allowing the information to fall into criminal hands.