What was your best JROTC memory

The war on terror is making headway, but it will take a long time

Speech by President Bush at the George C. Marshall ROTC Awards Seminar On National Security
April 17, 2002

I would like to thank you for your warm welcome and for inviting me to one of the greatest institutes in the United States. I brought a small exam present with me. I am sure you will like it and some of you will need it. As Commander in Chief, I hereby grant an amnesty. General Bunting, I'm sure you can tell me who's eligible. And I know you will be generous in interpreting this doctrine.

I would like to congratulate the winners of the George C. Marshall ROTC Award. The 260+ young men and women - the winners - represent the best of our country and the best future for the United States Army. You stand out among the nearly 30,000 young Americans enrolled in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) today - the officers who will serve in the military of the future and will one day lead it.

The majority of today's army officers started out in the ROTC. For almost 90 years, this great program has produced executives and shaped their character. Those looking for idealism on America's college campuses will find it among the men and women of the ROTC. The traditions and values ​​of the ROTC are a contribution and a tribute to every college and university.

Secretary of State Powell was at the ROTC at City College in New York - an experience that helped him plan his future life. It itself once said: "The order, the self-discipline, the pride that our ROTC instilled in me prepared me well for my career in the army, or - if you will - for any other career for which I am prepared would have decided. "

Colin Powell's career has taken him from service in Vietnam to the very top of the military and now on a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East. The United States is fortunate, and I am proud that ROTC graduate Colin Powell is serving our country.

Only one other Army General became Secretary of State, and that was George Marshall himself - the best cadet in all disciplines of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) born in 1901.

As inspector of the Army, General Marshall became the architect of America's victory in World War II. He fought tenaciously against our enemies and then worked just as hard to keep the peace. President Truman thought George C. Marshall was the greatest man he knew. Winston Churchill said that above all, Marshall had "always successfully fought against defeatism, discouragement and disillusionment." The key to morale and victory, Marshall explained, is "steadfastness, courage and hope."

And today we are called to defend freedom against ruthless enemies. Once again, we need steadfastness, courage, and hope. The war on terror will last a long time. And, as George Marshall understood so well, it will not be enough to make the world a safer place. We must also work to create a better world.

In the days immediately following September 11th, I told the American people that this was going to be another war, waged on many fronts. Today we are making progress on many fronts around the world. In some cases we use military force. In others we fight diplomatically, apply financial pressure or carry out special operations. In all cases, we will fight the threats to our country and the civilized world.

Our progress is measured day by day, terrorist by terrorist. We recently captured one of Al Qaeda’s leading terrorists, a man named Abu Zabaydah. For a long time he was one of the leading representatives of Al Qaeda, he planned conspiracies and murders. Now he no longer plans. He's under lock and key and we'll keep him company. We pursue the killers one by one.

We learn a lot about Al Qaeda operations and plans. When our enemies fled their hiding places in Afghanistan, they left a lot behind. We found laptop computers, drawings, and maps. And based on these documents, we get a clearer picture of the terrorists' goals and methods.

Our international coalition against these killers is strong and united and it is acting. The nations of Europe have frozen nearly $ 50 million in the assets of the suspected terrorists, and that is important. Many European countries are taking aggressive and effective law enforcement measures to join us in rounding up the terrorists and their cells. We are making great strides.

Still, Americans need to know that this war will not be short or easy. The first phase of our military operation took place in Afghanistan, where our armed forces continue to do their work with courage and skill. You must know that when we drove the Taliban out, our forces were not sent there to conquer, but to liberate. And they succeeded. We are proud of our military.

The fighting in Afghanistan is not over yet. American and allied troops are taking risks today in what we call Operation Mountain Lion - chasing down Al Qaeda and Taliban supporters and ensuring that they are still on the run. The coalition naval forces patrol escape routes in the largest joint fleet since World War II, intercepting ships in search of terrorists and their supplies.

When the spring thaw sets in, we expect cells of trained murderers to attempt to regroup, murder, wreak havoc and undermine Afghanistan's efforts to build lasting peace. We know this not only because of our intelligence services, but also because of the history of military conflicts in Afghanistan. It is a story of initial success, followed by long agonizing years and ultimate failure. We won't make the same mistake.

In the United States of America, the terrorists have chosen an enemy they have never had before - an enemy they have never faced before. They have never faced a country like ours: we are tough, we are determined, we are adamant. We'll stay until the job is done.

We know that real peace can only be achieved if we give the Afghan people the means to realize their own desires. Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan create its own stable government. And peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan train and deploy its own national army. Peace is achieved through a functioning education system for boys and girls.

We work hard in Afghanistan. We clear minefields. We're rebuilding roads. We improve medical care. And we will help Afghanistan build an economy that can feed its people without feeding global drug demand.

We are helping the Afghan people to recover from the Taliban rule. And as we do that, we encounter worse and worse atrocities, more and more evidence of horror. In the Hazarajat region, the Red Cross found signs of Taliban massacres last year - victims lying in mass graves. This is the legacy of the first regime to fall in the war on terror. These mass graves are the memory of the enemy we fought and whom we defeated. And he is the evil that we keep fighting.

In building an Afghanistan free from this evil and a better place to live, we are following the best traditions of George Marshall. Marshall knew that our military victory over enemies in World War II had to be followed by a moral victory that led to a better life for each individual.

After 1945, the United States of America was the only nation in the world strong enough to rebuild Europe and Japan that had been decimated by World War II. Today our former enemies are our friends. Europe and Japan are strong partners in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

This transformation is clear evidence of the success of the Marshall's vision, a light that illuminates the path that we too must follow.

In the second phase of the war on terror, our military, law enforcement and intelligence officials are helping countries around the world in their efforts to fight terror within their borders. Global terrorism can only be combated with a global response. We must prevent al Qaeda from expanding its operations to other countries. We must deny the terrorists the funding they need to run their operations. We must deny them places of refuge where they can plan new atrocities and indoctrinate new recruits.

We are working with the Yemeni government to stop the terrorists from regrouping there. We have sent troops to the Philippines to train local forces to help them fight terrorists who are trying to establish a military regime. And we are providing the Republic of Georgia with temporary support for the military in breaking up terrorist cells near the Russian border. Wherever global terror threatens the civilized world, we and our friends will react - and decide.

Any nation that fights for our cause is welcome. Any nation that needs our help will get it. And no nation can remain neutral. All over the world, countries have to choose. They're on our side or they're on the terrorists' side.

In the Middle East, where acts of terrorism are triggering increasing violence, all parties have to decide. Every politician has to choose between two different paths: the path of peace or the path of terror. On the tortured faces of mothers - Palestinian mothers and Israeli mothers - the whole world witnesses the painful price of this conflict. Now every country and every leader in the region must work to end terrorism.

All parties are responsible. This responsibility is not easy, but it is clear. Secretary Powell helps clarify them. I want to thank Secretary Powell for his hard work on this difficult task. He comes back home with Progress for Peace.

We are dealing with centuries-old feelings of hatred, with conflicts that have been simmering for decades. However, you should know that I will continue to work towards a vision of peace.

We will continue to remind people that, in the short term, they have responsibility for defusing the current crisis. The Palestinian Authority must translate its words of condemnation of terror into action. Israel must continue its withdrawal. And all Arab states must live up to their responsibilities.

The Egyptians and Jordanians and Saudis have helped in the wider war on terrorism. You must now also help tackle terrorism in the Middle East. All parties are responsible for ending the financing of terrorism and incitement to terrorism. And all parties must make it clear that a murderer is not a martyr; he or she is just plain murderer.

All parties must recognize that the only vision for a long-term solution for both states - Israel and Palestine - is coexistence in security and peace. This will require tough decisions from the leadership of the Israelis, the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors. It is now time for everyone to choose peace.

Ultimately, the civilized world faces a serious threat from weapons of mass destruction. A small number of outlawed regimes now develop and own chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. They manufacture missiles as delivery systems and at the same time cultivate their contacts with terrorist groups. Threatening the peace, their insane ambitions, their destructive potential and the oppression of their own people, these regimes represent an axis of evil against which the world must act.

The United States will join forces with other countries to combat the proliferation of dangerous weapons and technologies. To protect the American people, our troops, and our friends and allies, we will continue our missile defense plans. The United States will take the necessary steps to counter threats as they arise.

We will act consciously and together with our friends and allies. And as we do that, we will fulfill our obligation to defend freedom. We will fight terrorist organizations in different ways, with different tactics, in different places. And we will fight the threat of weapons of mass destruction in different ways, with different tactics, in different places.

However, our goal is always the same: we will defeat global terror and we will not allow the most dangerous regimes in the world to threaten us with the most dangerous weapons in the world.

The United States has far greater goals than eliminating threats and reducing resentment alone because we believe in the dignity and worth of each individual. America seeks hope and opportunity for all people in all cultures. And that's why we're helping to rebuild Afghanistan. That's why we have a new agreement for the development of the Millennium Challenge Account. That is why we are working towards free trade to lift people out of poverty all over the world.

A better world can seem very distant when children are sent out to kill other children, old feelings of hatred are stirred up and carefully passed on from generation to generation, and the violent few love death more than life. Nevertheless, hatred and fanaticism are not the ways of the future, because the hope of humanity has always been stronger than all hatred.

These hopes are common to all countries and cultures. Men and women everywhere want to live, create, build and own with dignity and raise their children in peace and security.

The way to a peaceful future can be found in the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. Dignity requires the rule of law, the restriction of the power of the state, respect for women, private property, equality before the law and religious tolerance. No nation is entitled to these principles alone. No nation is exempt from them.

Sixty years ago, few would have foreseen the triumph of these values ​​in Germany and Japan. Fifteen years ago, few would have foreseen the advance of these values ​​in Russia. But this is no surprise to the Americans. We know that the demands of human dignity are written in every heart.

The demands have their own strength and dynamism, they oppose any kind of pessimism. And they are predestined to change lives and countries on every continent. The United States has always acted on these hopes throughout its history. George Marshall is admired for the war he waged, but he is best remembered for the peace he secured.

The Marshall Plan, the rebuilding of Europe and the improvement of the lives of former enemies showed that America is not satisfied with military victories alone. Americans always see greater hope and a better future. And America sees a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.

Many of you will help make this better world a reality. At a young age you followed a noble calling. You will serve your country and its values. You will protect your fellow citizens. And by your efforts and example you will advance the cause of freedom around the world. So I am here to thank you for your commitment and to congratulate you on the prestigious honor you have received.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America.