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Bush Vows to Stop Terrorists Before They Strike Again - 2002-06-01


President Bush has said terrorists are planning more attacks against the United States, and he is vowing to stop them before they strike. The president spoke Saturday at graduation ceremonies for U.S. soldiers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

President Bush told the next generation of army officers to be ready for pre-emptive strikes against what he calls "terrorists and tyrants," because those responsible for the September 11 attacks are planning more violence.

"The dangers have not passed. This government and the American people are on watch. We are ready, because we know the terrorists have more money and more men and more plans," Mr. Bush said.

If the nation waits for those terrorist plans to fully materialize, Mr. Bush said, America will have waited too long. The only path to safety, he said, is the path of action. "The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge," Mr. Bush said.

In the past, Mr. Bush said, America's enemies needed great armies and industrial production to threaten the nation. On September 11, he said, a few dozen men with a few hundred-thousand dollars caused such chaos and suffering for less than the cost of a single U.S. tank.

In addressing these new threats, the president said, the gravest danger lies in what he calls "the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology," where some nations could help terrorists acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

That was a big part of the president's message in Europe last week, and echoes his State of the Union Address, in which he said Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are an "axis of evil" that threatens world peace because they could help terrorists get weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Bush said U.S. forces are fighting for more than national defense. They are fighting for what he calls a "just peace" that "favors human liberty."

"We will defend the peace against threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent," he said.

The president said establishing this just peace is not America's opportunity, it is America's duty. He said the nation has no empire to extend, or utopia to establish, and wants for others only what it wants for its own people - safety from violence and hope for a better life.

"When it comes to the common rights of men and women, there is no clash of civilizations. The requirements of freedom apply fully to Africa and Latin America and the entire Islamic world. The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation, and their governments should listen to their hopes," Mr. Bush said.

Without mentioning any countries by name, Mr. Bush says truly strong nations will permit non-violent dissent, economic reform, and rights for women, because he said no nation can prosper by denying opportunity to half its citizens.

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