Austin Bay liveblogs the president’s speech on the “long war:”
I am listening to President Bush’s speech at West Point and thinking “Why didn’t he give this speech three years ago?”
The U.S. will take the fight against terrorism to every shore and outpost in pursuit of enemies like none before, not relenting until their defeat and showing the same resolve that won the Cold War, President Bush told West Point graduates Saturday.
“America will fight the terrorists on every battlefront. And we will not rest until this threat to our country has been removed,” the commander in chief said in his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy.
“Against such an enemy there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory,” Bush said.
Bush recounted the challenges and setbacks in the early years after World War II, when the Cold War took root. He commended President Truman for laying the groundwork of success against communism and said that what was he was doing today against a more elusive enemy, global terrorists.
“By the actions he took, the institutions he built, the alliances he forged and the doctrines he set down, President Truman laid the foundation for America’s victory in the Cold War,” Bush said.
“Today at the start of a new century, we are again engaged in a war unlike any our nation has fought before. And like Americans in Truman’s day, we are laying the foundations of victory,” the president said.
To the 861 men and woman in West Point’s 208th graduating class, Bush warned them that “the enemies we face today are in many ways different than the enemies we faced in the Cold War. The terrorists have no borders to protect of capital to defend. They cannot be deterred but they will be defeated.”
The class of 2006 was the first time arrive at the academy after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“The reality of war has surrounded you since your first moments at this academy,” Bush told the audience. He noted that more than 50 fellow cadets already have seen combat, and 34 former cadets have died in the fight against terrorism.
“We will honor the memory of those brave souls. We will finish the task for which they gave their lives. We will complete the mission,” Bush said.
Laura Lee Donoho spotlights Vice President Cheney’s speech yesterday at Annapolis and has a gorgeous photo of the Blue Angels flyover. Laura pays tribute to her father-in-law, a WWII and Korean War naval aviator, here.
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This weekend, I am visiting some of the brave men and women who will soon take their own place in the defense of our freedom — the 2006 graduating class at West Point. This was the first class to arrive at West Point after the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. Each of them came to West Point in a time of war, knowing all the risks and dangers that come with wearing our Nation’s uniform. And the reality of that war has surrounded them since their first moments at the Academy. Thirty-four times since they arrived at West Point, they have observed a moment of silence to honor a former cadet fallen in the war on terror.
One of those former cadets was First Lieutenant Rob Seidel, a 2004 West Point graduate who gave his life in Iraq earlier this month. Rob grew up in Maryland, and as a child he and his family made frequent visits to the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, and from his earliest days he dreamed of serving in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Iraq with the 10th Mountain division and was killed by a bomb in Baghdad. His father says this about Rob: “He loved his family, and believed in God, and he loved his country, and he was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his country.”
We live in freedom because of young Americans like Lieutenant Rob Seidel. And in recent days in Iraq, we’ve seen what their sacrifices have made possible. A week ago, the new Prime Minister of Iraq announced the formation of a national unity government. British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently visited Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Maliki and Iraq’s new leaders, and this week he came to the United States to give me his impressions. Prime Minister Blair told me that Iraq’s new leaders are determined to rid their country of terrorism, unite Iraqis as one people, and deliver peace and prosperity for all their citizens.
The formation of a democratic government in Iraq marks a victory for the cause of freedom in the Middle East. It is a victory for millions of Iraqis who defied the terrorists and cast their ballots in three elections last year. It is a victory for the Iraqi Security Forces, who fought and bled for this moment, and now have a democracy worthy of their sacrifice. And it is a victory for the American, British, and other coalition forces who removed a murderous dictator who threatened the world. Because of their courage and sacrifices, Iraq has a free government that will be a strong and capable ally in the global war on terror.
The new government in Iraq is also a defeat for the terrorists, who fought the arrival of a free and democratic Iraq with all the hateful power they could muster. Now, a day that they feared has arrived. The terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. We can expect the terrorists to continue bombing and killing, but something fundamental has changed: The terrorists are now fighting a free and constitutional government. They are at war with the people of Iraq. The Iraqi people and their new leaders are determined to defeat this enemy, and so is the United States of America.
This Memorial Day weekend, we remember First Lieutenant Seidel and the brave Americans of every generation who have given their lives for freedom, liberated the oppressed, and left the world a safer and better place. And the best way to honor America’s fallen heroes is to carry on their fight, defend our freedom, and complete the mission for which they gave their lives…
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