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Bush Delivers Speech to U.N. General Assembly

Aired November 10, 2001 - 09:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: President George W. Bush seeking to garner support for the war on terror at the U.N. General Assembly.

Let's listen in to his speech.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... danger in a world uniting for a long struggle. Every civilized nation here today is resolved to keep the most basic commitment of civilization. We will defend ourselves and our future against terror and lawless violence.

The United Nations was founded in this cause.

In the Second World War, we learned there is no isolation from evil. We affirmed that some crimes are so terrible they offend humanity itself, and we resolved that the aggressions and ambitions of the wicked must be opposed early, decisively and collectively before they threaten us all. That evil has returned, and that cause is renewed.

A few miles from here, many thousands still lie in a tomb of rubble. Tomorrow the secretary general, the president of the General Assembly and I will visit that site where the names of every nation and region that loss citizens will be read aloud.

If we were to read the names of every person who died, it would take more than three hours.

Those names include a citizen of Gambia, whose wife spent their fourth wedding anniversary, September the 12th, searching in vain for her husband.

Those names include a man who supported his wife in Mexico, sending home money every week.

Those names include a young Pakistani who prayed toward Mecca five times a day and died that day trying to save others.

The suffering of September 11 was inflicted on people of many faiths and many nations. All of the victims, including Muslims, were killed equal indifference and equal satisfaction by the terrorist leaders. The terrorists are violating the tenets of every religion, including the one they invoke.

Last week, the sheik of Al-Azhar University, the world's oldest Islamic institution of higher learning, declared that terrorism is a disease and that Islam prohibits killing innocent civilians.

The terrorists call their cause holy, yet they fund it with drug dealing. They encourage murder and suicide in the name of a great faith that forbids both. They dare to ask God's blessing as they set out to kill innocent men, women and children. But the God of Isaac and Ismail would never answer such a prayer.

And a murderer is not a martyr, he is just a murder. Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.

And the people of my country will remember those who have plotted against us. We are learning their names. We are coming to know their faces. There is no corner of the earth distant or dark enough to protect them. However long it takes, their hour of justice will come.

Every nation has a stake in this cause. As we meet, the terrorists are planning more murder, perhaps in my country or perhaps in yours. They kill because they aspire to dominate. They seek to overthrow governments and destabilize entire regions.

Last week, anticipating this meeting of the General Assembly, they denounced the United Nations.

They called our secretary general a criminal and condemned all Arab nations here as traitors to Islam.

Few countries meet their exacting standards of brutality and oppression. Every other country is a potential target, and all the world faces the most horrifying prospect of all: These same terrorists are searching for weapons of mass destruction, the tools to turn their hatred into holocaust.

They can be expected to use chemical, biological and nuclear weapons the moment they are capable of doing so. No hint of conscience would prevent it. This threat cannot be ignored. This threat cannot be appeased. Civilization itself, the civilization we share, is threatened.

History will record our response and judge or justify every nation in this hall. The civilized world is now responding. We act to defend ourselves and deliver our children from a future of fear

We choose the dignity of life over a culture of death. We choose lawful change and civil disagreement over coercion, subversion and chaos. These commitments -- hope and order, law and life -- unite people across cultures and continents. Upon these commitments depend all peace and progress. For these commitments we are determined to fight.

The United Nations has risen to this responsibility. On the 12th of September, these buildings opened for emergency meetings of the General Assembly and the Security Council. Before the sun had set, these attacks on the world stood condemned by the world.

And I want to thank you for this strong and principled stand.

I also thank the Arab and Islamic countries that have condemned terrorist murder. Many of you have seen the destruction of terror in your own lands. The terrorists are increasingly isolated by their own hatred and extremism.

They cannot hide behind Islam. The authors of mass murder and their allies have no place in any culture and no home in any faith.

The conspiracies of terror are being answered by an expanding global coalition. Not every nation will be a part of every action against the enemy, but every nation in our coalition has duties.

These duties can be demanding, as we in America are learning. We have already made adjustments in our laws and in our daily lives. We're taking new measures to investigate terror and to protect against threats. The leaders of all nations must now carefully consider their responsibilities and their future.

Terrorist groups like al Qaeda depend upon the aid or indifference of governments. They need the support of a financial infrastructure and safe havens to train and plan and hide.

Some nations want to play their part in the fight against terror but tell us they lack the means to enforce their laws and control their borders. We stand ready to help.

Some government still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken.

And some governments, while pledging to uphold the principles of the U.N. have cast their lot with the terrorists. They support them and harbor them, and they will find that their welcomed guests are parasites that will weaken them and eventually consume them.

For every regime that sponsors terror, there is a price to be paid, and it will be paid. The allies of terror are equally guilty of murder and equally accountable to justice. The Taliban are now learning this lesson. That regime and the terrorists who support it are now virtually indistinguishable.

Together, they promote terror abroad and impose a reign of terror on the Afghan people. Women are executed in Kabul's soccer stadium. They can be beaten for wearing socks that are too thin. Men are jailed for missing prayer meetings. The United States, supported by many nations, is bringing justice to the terrorists in Afghanistan. We're making progress against military targets, and that is our objective. Unlike the enemy, we seek to minimize -- not maximize -- the loss of innocent life.

I'm proud of the honorable conduct of the American military.

And my country grieves for all the suffering the Taliban have brought upon Afghanistan, including the terrible burden of war.

The Afghan people do not deserve their present rulers. Years of Taliban mis-rule have brought nothing but misery and starvation. Even before this current crisis, 4 million Afghans depended on food from the United States and other nations, and millions of Afghans were refugees from Taliban oppression.

I make this promise to all the victims of that regime: The Taliban's days of harboring terrorists and dealing in heroin and brutalizing women are drawing to a close. And when that regime is gone, the people of Afghanistan will say with the rest of the world, "Good riddance."

I can promise, too, that America will join the world in helping the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country. Many nations, including mine, are sending food and medicine to help Afghans through the winter.

America has airdropped over 1.3 million packages of rations into Afghanistan. Just this week, we airlifted 20,000 blankets and over 200 tons of provisions into the region.

We continue to provide humanitarian aid, even while the Taliban tried to steal the food we sent.

More help eventually will be needed. The United States will work closely with the United Nations and development banks to reconstruct Afghanistan after hostilities there have ceased and the Taliban are no longer in control. And the United States will work with the U.N. to support a post-Taliban government that represents all of the Afghan people.

In this war of terror, each of us must answer for what we have done or what we have left undone.

After tragedy, there is a time for sympathy and condolence. And my country has been very grateful for both. The memorials and vigils around the world will not be forgotten, but the time for sympathy has now passed. The time for action has now arrived.

The most basic obligations in this new conflict have already been defined by the United Nations. On September 28, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1373. It's requirements are clear. Every United Nations member has a responsibility to crack down on terrorist financing. We must pass all necessary laws in our own countries to allow the confiscation of terrorist assets. We must apply those laws to every financial institution in every nation. We have a responsibility to share intelligence and coordinate the efforts of law enforcement. If you know something, tell us. If we know something, we'll tell you. And when we find the terrorists, we must work together to bring them to justice.

We have a responsibility to deny any sanctuary, safe haven or transit to terrorists. Every known terrorist camp must be shut down, its operators apprehended and evidence of their arrest presented to the United Nations. We have a responsibility to deny weapons to terrorists and to actively prevent private citizens from providing them.

These obligations are urgent, and they are binding on every nation with a place in this chamber. Many governments are taking these obligations seriously, and my country appreciates it.

Yet, even beyond Resolution 1373, more is required and more is expected of our coalition against terror.

We're asking for a comprehensive commitment to this fight.

We must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just some of them.

In this world, there are good causes and bad causes, and we may disagree on where that line is drawn. Yet, there is no such thing as a good terrorist. No national aspiration, no remembered wrong can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent. Any government that rejects this principle, trying to pick and choose its terrorist friends, will know the consequences.

We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th, malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty. To inflame ethnic hatred is to advance the cause of terror.

The war against terror must not serve as an excuse to persecute ethnic and religious minorities in any country. Innocent people must be allowed to live their own lives, by their own customs, under their own religion.

And every nation must have avenues for the peaceful expression of opinion and dissent. When these avenues are closed, the temptation to speak through violence grows.

We must press on with our agenda for peace and prosperity in every land.

My country has pledged to encouraging development and expanding trade. My country had pledged to investing in education and combating AIDS and other infectious diseases around the world.

Following September 11, these pledges are even more important. In our struggle against hateful groups that exploit poverty and despair, we must offer an alternative of opportunity and hope. The American government also stands by its commitment to a just peace in the Middle East. We are working toward the day when two states -- Israel and Palestine -- live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for by the Security Council resolutions.

We will do all in our power to bring both parties back into negotiations. But peace will only come when all have sworn off forever incitement, violence and terror.

And finally, this struggle is a defining moment for the United Nations itself. And the world needs its principled leadership. It undermines the credibility of this great institution, for example, when the Commission on Human Rights offers seats to the world's most persistent violators of human rights. The United Nations depends above all on its moral authority and that authority must be preserved.

The steps I've described will not be easy. For all nations, they will require effort. For some nations, they will require great courage. Yet, the cost of inaction is far greater. The only alternative to victory is a nightmare world, where every city is a potential killing field.

As I've told the American people, freedom and fear are at war. We face enemies that hate not our policies but our existence, the tolerance of openness and creative culture that defines us. But the outcome of this conflict is certain. There is a current in history, and it runs toward freedom.

Our enemies resent it and dismiss it, but the dreams of mankind are defined by liberty, the natural right to create and build and worship and live in dignity. When men and women are released from oppression and isolation, they find fulfillment and hope, and they leave poverty by the millions.

These aspirations are lifting up the peoples of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and they can lift up all of the Islamic world. We stand for the permanent hopes of humanity, and those hopes will not be denied.

We are confident, too, that history has an author who fills time and eternity with his purpose. We know that evil is real, but good will prevail against it. This is the teaching of many faiths.

And in that assurance, we gain strength for a long journey. It is our task, the task of this generation, to provide the response to aggression and terror. We have no other choice, because there is no other peace.

We did not ask for this mission, yet there is honor in history's call. We have a chance the write the story or our times, a story of courage defeating cruelty and light overcoming darkness. This calling is worthy of any life and worthy of every nation.

So let us go forward, confident, determined and unafraid.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: You have been listening to a speech by President George W. Bush to a gathering of the United Nations General Assembly. It was a speech in which he was outlining the talking points for the United States to rally support in its ongoing war against terrorism, an effort that the President of the United States said to the U.N. was a chance to write the story of our times.

We want to get some insight and perspective now on the president's speech. For that, let's bring in CNN's Kelly Wallace and also William Luers, Ambassador Luers. He is the president and CEO of the U.N. Association. It's the nation's leading center for policy research on the United Nations. Thank you both.

Let me start with Kelly though, simply because you follow the president so closely. This was a very powerful speech. Obviously, very carefully crafted in the terminology that was used, in the images that were portrayed and the way the president portrayed the plight of the United States as well as the world. How important did the White House look upon this speech?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Marty, the White House viewed this as a very, very important speech. In fact, really sort of set this speech up at the end of a week where the president was doing a number of high-profile speeches, again to sort of sound the call and strengthen the international coalition. But as we noted, talking before this speech, the president was also setting out to do something else and that is to put the pressure on the international community. You heard the president say, "That the time for sympathy has now passed, that the time for action has now arrived." So the president looking for concrete steps from the world community.

He made it clear that every country might not be able to participate in every action that some countries might step in in terms of the financial front against terrorism. Some countries might step in in terms of intelligence gathering. Other countries will play a role when it comes to the military.

He also did something else, Marty, and that is to talk about how this is not just focused on the al Qaeda network. Currently, of course, the campaign definitely targeting al Qaeda, targeting the Taliban. The president saying the Taliban's day are drawing to a close. But the president making it clear that the goal is really to route out all terrorism around the world and making very, very clear that those countries that are turning a blind eye to the threat are mistaken. And then making it very, very clear that those countries disguising, to harbor terrorists, to finance terrorists, to support them, will pay a price. That that is a message he wanted to send.

And then the third point really, in his opening, Marty, you heard him talk about how not only the United States was affected by those September 11 terrorist attacks. The president talking about, reciting at the time, how a man from Pakistan praying several times a day was killed trying to rescue people, a man who was trying to send money back to his family in Mexico, how this affected dozens and dozens of countries, citizens from dozens and dozens of nations, including Muslims. And so again, he was trying to send the message that this is not just about America, not just about the United States. But again, a message about -- it's taking a stand for the entire international community that was targeted on that day, September 11 -- Marty.

SAVIDGE: Ambassador Luers, what's your opinion on how well the president may have reached out to the international community here?

AMB. WILLIAM LUERS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, U.N. ASSOCIATION: I agree with Kelly, what she just said. He reached across civilizations. He tried to undermine the whole position of Osama Bin Laden who tries to divide this struggle between Islam and all other civilizations.

I guess I would say one thing about this speech. He -- if he's going to be the quarterback of this team, this U.N. team, to try to route out terrorism, he's going to have to know every player, every player's strengths. And more than that, he's going to have to relate to each player's interests and agenda.

Toward the end of his speech, he said, "In addition to all the other things I've said about terrorism, we still care about HIV-AIDS. We know there's poverty. We are concerned about the environment." He listed the agenda that the U.N. is going to discussing. And I think over time, he's going to find that relating to their agenda, to each country's agenda, is going to be important for him.

The South Africans are going to be much more interested in placing at the top of their agenda, terrorism, if we're prepared to be very strong on fighting against HIV-AIDS.

So I think that drama for him is going to play out as the leader of this effort. And I think he's learning as he goes along, the veil has lifted. He knows the United Nations is there. It's important to the United States. And he's seen that the United Nations is responding to this need.

SAVIDGE: There seemed to be a repeat once more of similar statements he made, which is you're either for us or against us. And he warned that every regime that sponsors terror, there is a price to be paid. I'm wondering, this clear delineation of black and white, could pose a problem for some nations because after all terrorism -- you know, one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. What do we do here?

LUERS: Right, well, I think -- it's interesting, Khatami, the president of Iran, comes here and he makes a statement that in many ways was a major victory in this battle. He denounced Osama Bin Laden and the terrorist act in strongest terms. He said Osama Bin Laden does not speak for Islam. That image is wrong. And in a way, that's more important than taking a little town in Afghanistan.

And yet, Iran is going to be a problem for us. They support presumably the Islamic Jihad, the Hezbollah and maybe other terrorist groups in the Middle East. But on the other hand, that voice of Khatami condemning Osama Bin Laden, that one of the major leaders in the Middle East, one of the major Islamic leaders in the world who's noted for Islamic Fundamentalism, attacking this man and what it stands for is a very important ally.

And I think it goes to your point that they're going to be some grays of this. And I think as time goes on that's going to be seen. This is not a military struggle. This is a struggle of getting as many nations as you can, along side that effort to route in their own countries and everywhere they find them, terrorists.

The battle that we're fighting in Afghanistan is not the war. The war is much longer term and involves many different countries, every one of which was sitting in that room today.

SAVIDGE: That's right. The president said that is was going to be a long journey. And he said it was the task of this generation. Ambassador Luers, thank you very much for insights. Also, thanks to Kelly Wallace for her insights as well, covering the president. Thank you both this morning.

LUERS: Yes, thank you.

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