Presidential Radio Address - 23 August 2003
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Earlier this week, terrorists struck the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. The U.N. personnel and Iraqi citizens killed in the bombings were engaged in a purely humanitarian mission. Men and women in the building were working on reconstruction, medical care for Iraqis, and the distribution of food. Among the dead was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. representative for Iraq -- a good man serving an important cause.
On the same day, a terrorist in Jerusalem murdered 20 innocent people riding a bus, including five Americans. The killer had concealed under his clothing a bomb filled with metal fragments, designed to kill and injure the greatest number of people possible. Among the 110 people hurt were 40 children.
These two bombings reveal, once again, the nature of the terrorists, and why they must be defeated. In their malicious view of the world, no one is innocent. Relief workers and infants alike are targeted for murder. Terrorism may use religion as a disguise, but terrorism violates every religion and every standard of decency and morality.
The terrorists have declared war on every free nation and all our citizens. Their goals are clear. They want more governments to resemble the oppressive Taliban that once ruled Afghanistan. Terrorists commit atrocities because they want the civilized world to flinch and retreat so they can impose their totalitarian vision. There will be no flinching in this war on terror, and there will be no retreat.
From Afghanistan to Iraq, to the Philippines and elsewhere, we are waging a campaign against the terrorists and their allies, wherever they gather, wherever they plan, and wherever they act. This campaign requires sacrifice, determination and resolve, and we will see it through. Iraq is an essential front in this war. Now we're fighting terrorists and remnants of that regime who have everything to lose from the advance of freedom in the heart of the Middle East.
In most of Iraq, there is steady movement toward reconstruction and a stable, self-governing society. This progress makes the remaining terrorists even more desperate and willing to lash out against symbols of order and hope, like coalition forces and U.N. personnel. The world will not be intimidated. A violent few will not determine the future of Iraq, and there will be no return to the days of Saddam Hussein's torture chambers and mass graves.
Working with Iraqis, coalition forces are on the offensive against these killers. Aided by increasing flow of intelligence from ordinary Iraqis, we are stepping up raids, seizing enemy weapons, and capturing enemy leaders. The United States, the United Nations, and the civilized world will continue to stand with the people of Iraq as they reclaim their nation and their future.
We're determined, as well, not to let murderers decide the future of the Middle East. A Palestinian state will never be built on a foundation of violence. The hopes of that state and the security of Israel both depend on an unrelenting campaign against terror waged by all parties in the region. In the Middle East, true peace has deadly enemies. Yet America will be a consistent friend of every leader who works for peace by actively opposing violence.
All nations of the world face a challenge and a choice. In continued acts of murder and destruction, terrorists are testing our will, hoping we will weaken and withdraw. Yet across the world, they are finding that our will cannot be shaken. Whatever the hardships, we will persevere. We will continue this war on terror until all the killers are brought to justice. And we will prevail.
Thank you for listening.