Presidential Radio Address - 20 March 2004
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. One year ago this week, ground forces of a strong coalition entered Iraq to liberate that country from the rule of a tyrant. For the Iraqi people, it was the beginning of their deliverance. For the world, it was the moment when years of demands and pledges turned to decisive action.
The liberation of Iraq was good for the Iraqi people, good for America, and good for the world. The fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression, and instability from the Middle East. The worst regime in the region was given way to what will soon be among the best. The demands of the United Nations were enforced, not ignored with impunity. Years of illicit weapons development by the dictator have come to an end. The Iraqi people are now receiving aid, instead of suffering under sanctions. And men and women across the Middle East, looking to Iraq, are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be like.
Helping Iraq emerge as a free nation is a global responsibility, and the nations of the world are meeting their responsibilities. Troops from Britain, and Poland, and Japan, are securing important areas of the country. Special Forces from El Salvador, Macedonia, and other nations are helping to find and defeat Baathist and terrorist killers. In all, more than 50 nations are helping the Iraqi people emerge from decades of tyranny, and realize a democratic future.
There are still violent thugs and murderers in Iraq, and our coalition is dealing with them. Not long ago, we intercepted a planning document being sent to leaders of al Qaeda by a terrorist named Zarqawi. Along with the usual threats, he had a complaint: "Our enemy," said Zarqawi, "is growing stronger and his intelligence data are increasing day by day. This is suffocation!" Zarqawi is getting the idea. The resolve of our coalition is firm. We will never turn over Iraq to terrorists who intend our own destruction. We will not fail the Iraqi people, who have placed their trust in us. Whatever it takes, we will fight and work to assure the success of freedom in Iraq.
The terrorists hate and target a free Iraq. They also hate and target every country that stands for democracy, and tolerance, and freedom in the world. The murders in Madrid have revealed, once again, the agenda and the nature of the terrorist enemy. They kill the innocent -- they kill children and their mothers on a commuter train -- without conscience or mercy. They cause suffering and grief, and rejoice in it.
The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is the inescapable calling of our generation. The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies. They are offended by our existence as free nations. No concession will appease their malice. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. No course of therapy will cure them of their hatred. There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Whatever it takes we will seek, and find, and destroy the terrorists.
Earlier this week, I traveled to Fort Campbell, in Kentucky, where I met with Green Berets and special force soldiers, and members of the 101st Airborne -- the "Screaming Eagles." These men and women are defending their fellow citizens against ruthless enemies. They have liberated millions from oppression, and added to the momentum of freedom across the world. Like all of their brothers and sisters in uniform, they are making America safer and more secure. Because of their service and sacrifice, I know that justice and freedom will prevail over terror and tyranny.
Thank you for listening.