WASHINGTON, DC: The United States must remain the leader of the free world, President George W. Bush said Thursday at the ceremonial groundbreaking of United States Institute of Peace.
Speaking in front of tens of guests, among whom were Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as other present and past key politicians; President Bush drew parallels between the American struggle with the Soviet Union and the contemporary war on terror.
“The Institute of Peace was founded in 1984. It was during the last great ideological struggle of the 20th century – the struggle against Soviet Communism,” said the president. “We’re in a different struggle today, but we’re in an ideological struggle against violent extremism.”
The enemy has changed, said Bush, but America’s goal has remained the same: freedom all over the world. “We believe that freedom is the birthright of every man, woman and child. Free societies are peaceful societies. Freedom helps supplant the conditions of hopelessness that extremists exploit to recruit terrorists and suicide bombers,” stated the president.
Contrary to his previous statements, Bush declared that the United States should focus on spreading democracy through peaceful solutions instead of military actions. In countries endangered by extremists such as Pakistan or Lebanon, America’s duty is to reinforce local institutions and provide a fertile ground for economic and social reforms.
“It’s in America’s vital interest to help all these nations’ combat ideologies of hate. It’s in our security interest to eliminate safe havens for terrorists and extremists. It’s in our national interest to develop institutions that allow them to govern their territories effectively and improve their lives,” said Bush.
President Bush also reminded that the United States was the major contributor of financial and medical aid to the Third World. He said that even though other countries repeatedly pledged major donations, they often failed in “writing checks” and the main burden had to be carried by America.
“The last G8, our partners stood up and made strong commitments to help Africa deal with malaria and HIV/AIDS. They have yet to make good on their commitments. And I will remind them its one thing to make a promise, it’s another thing to write the check, and the American government expects our partners to live up to their obligations,” said President Bush.
President Bush boasted his Global Peace Operations Initiative that so far has managed to train over 40,000 international peacekeepers. In the same part of his speech, Bush underlined that the situation in Iraq had significantly improved due to the last year surge. He also said that the administration’s other projects such as Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Active Response Corps kept Iraq and Afghanistan stable.
“Civilian deaths are down. Sectarian killings are down. Security has improved, as well as the economy. Political reconciliation is taking place at the grassroots and federal level. And as the Iraqi security forces are becoming more capable, our troops are beginning to come home under a policy of return on success,” said Bush.
In a gently veiled attack at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President Bush urged Congress to end a political spectacle and pass the Columbia free trade agreement. Pelosi, supported by several Democrats and Republicans, has waged a strong opposition to the treaty that the Bush Administration hoped would have taken effect late last year.
“Congress has an opportunity to strengthen these efforts, and I strongly urge them to send a clear and sound message to the people of Colombia and the region that we stand with them by passing the Colombia free trade agreement,” said the president.
Bush praised the United States Institute of Peace, which will move to the new headquarters in 2010. The think-tank established by Congress in 1984, said the president, had helped the United States win the Cold War and now it could influence America in its struggle against terrorists.
“So it’s very important for this government and future governments to always be a strong and steady partner to non-governmental organizations and groups like the U.S. Institute of Peace,” said Bush.
Ending his 15-minute speech, President Bush said that he worried the United States might turn isolationist again. One of the main goals put before the United States Institute of Peace is, according to the president, preserving America as the strong leader of the free world.
“My big concern is that the United States becomes isolationist and nervous; we don’t support those values that have stood the test of time. The Institute of Peace, I hope, will make sure that never happens,” said the president.