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Bush: Radicals Seek to Intimidate World

Bush: Radicals Seek to Intimidate World


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By TOM RAUM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush, trying to reverse a slide in public support for the war in Iraq, said Thursday that Islamic radicals are seeking to "enslave whole nations and intimidate the world," and called that a prime reason not to cut and run in Iraq.

"There's always a temptation in the middle of a long struggle to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder," he said, seeking to address calls from anti-war activists for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

In a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush said Islamic militants have made Iraq their main front in a war against civilized society.

"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia," Bush said.

President Bush arrives to speak about war on terror to the National Endowment for Democracy, Thursday,Oct. 6, 2005, in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.
President Bush arrives to speak about war on terror to the National Endowment for Democracy, Thursday,Oct. 6, 2005, in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. (Photo: (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds))

The president has been stepping up his defense of his Iraq policy in the face of declining public support for the war and a crucial test in Iraq with the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum.

Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the speech was "one he should've made a few years ago. I'm glad he made it now."

"I've been saying for a long time the president needs to better define this war," Santorum said.

Bush likened the ideology of Islamic militants to communism. And he said they are being "aided by elements of the Arab news media that incites hatred and anti-Semitism."

"Against such an enemy, there's only one effective response: We never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory," Bush declared.

He spoke as recent polls show declining American support for the war that has thus far claimed more than 1,940 members of the U.S. military. His Iraq policy faces a crucial test in Iraq's Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution, a vote that Bush has said terrorists will try to derail.

"We are facing a radical ideology with immeasurable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world," Bush said.

Bush said the terrorists are aided by corrupt charities that direct money to terrorist activities and nations, such as Syria and Iran, calling them "allies of convenience" that back terrorists.

Countering claims that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is fueling radicalism, Bush noted that American troops were not there on Sept. 11, 2001. He said Russia did not support the military action in Iraq, yet a terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia, left more than 300 schoolchildren dead in 2004.

"The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in the war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror," he said.

"Our commitment is clear _ we will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder," Bush said.

The president said that no one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should anyone be pessimistic about U.S. efforts to battle terrorism.

"With every random bombing, and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters," Bush said. "They are murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves."

Bush vowed not to retreat from Iraq or from the broader war on terrorism. "We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory," he said.

(Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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