SCMP Tuesday, October 9, 2001


'We will not falter. Freedom will prevail'

The following is a slightly abridged version of George W. Bush's message to the nation, following the launch of the attacks in Afghanistan:
On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan.
These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taleban regime.
We are joined in this operation by our staunch friend, Great Britain. Other close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany and France, have pledged forces as the operation unfolds. More than 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and across Asia have granted air transit or landing rights.
Many more have shared intelligence. We are supported by the collective will of the world.
More than two weeks ago, I gave Taleban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: close terrorist training camps, hand over leaders of the al-Qaeda network and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in your country.
None of these demands were met. And now, the Taleban will pay a price. By destroying camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and co-ordinate their evil plans.
Initially the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice.
At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan.
The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people, and we are the friends of almost a billion worldwide who practise the Islamic faith.
The United States of America is an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder in its name.
Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader.
We're a peaceful nation. Yet, as we have learned, so suddenly and so tragically, there can be no peace in a world of sudden terror. In the face of today's new threat, the only way to pursue peace is to pursue those who threaten it.
We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfil it.
The name of today's military operation is Enduring Freedom. We defend not only our precious freedoms, but also the freedom of people everywhere to live and raise their children free from fear.
In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths - patience with the long waits that will result from tighter security, patience and understanding that it will take time to achieve our goals, patience in all the sacrifices that may come.
Today, those sacrifices are being made by members of our armed forces who now defend us so far from home, and by their proud and worried families.
A commander in chief sends America's sons and daughters into battle in a foreign land only after the greatest care and a lot of prayer.
We ask a lot of those who wear our uniform.
We ask them to leave their loved ones, to travel great distances, to risk injury, even to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
They are dedicated. They are honourable. They represent the best of our country, and we are grateful.
To all the men and women in our military, every sailor, every soldier, every airman, every coast guardsman, every Marine, I say this: your mission is defined. The objectives are clear. Your goal is just. You have my full confidence, and you will have every tool you need to carry out your duty.
I recently received a touching letter that says a lot about the state of America in these difficult times, a letter from a fourth-grade girl with a father in the military.
"As much as I don't want my dad to fight," she wrote, "I'm willing to give him to you."
This is a precious gift. The greatest she could give. This young girl knows what America is all about.
Since September 11, an entire generation of young Americans has gained new understanding of the value of freedom and its cost and duty and its sacrifice.
The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.
Thank you. May God continue to bless America.