Monday, October 18, 2004
Gains in the War on Terror
A little over three years ago, al-Qa'ida was already a growing danger. Its leader, Osama bin Laden, was safe and sheltered in Afghanistan. His network was dispersed throughout the world and had been attacking US interests for years.
Three years later, more than three-quarters of al-Qa'ida's key members and associates have been detained or killed, bin Laden is on the run, many of his key associates are behind bars or dead and his financial lines of support have been reduced.
Afghanistan, once controlled by extremists, today is led by Hamid Karzai, who is at the forefront of the world's efforts in support of moderates versus extremists. Soccer stadiums once used for public executions under the Taliban are today used, once again, for soccer.
Libya has gone from being a nation that sponsored terrorists, and secretly sought nuclear capability, to one that renounced its illegal weapons programs, and now says it is ready to re-enter the community of civilised nations.
Pakistani scientist AQ Khan's nuclear-proliferation network – which provided lethal assistance to nations such as Libya and North Korea – has been exposed and dismantled. Indeed, Pakistan, once sympathetic to al-Qa'ida and the Taliban, has under President Pervez Musharraf cast its lot with the civilised world and is a stalwart ally against terrorism.
NATO is now leading the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and is helping to train Iraqi security forces. The United Nations is helping set up free elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Over 60 countries are working together to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Three years ago, in Iraq, Saddam Hussein and his sons brutally ruled a nation in the heart of the Middle East. Saddam was attempting regularly to kill US and British air crews enforcing the no-fly zones. He ignored 17 UN Security Council resolutions.
Three years later, Saddam is a prisoner, awaiting trial. His sons are dead. Most of his associates are in custody.
Iraq has an interim constitution that includes a bill of rights and an independent judiciary. There are municipal councils in nearly every major city and in most towns and villages. Iraqis now are among those allowed to say, write, watch, and listen to whatever they want, whenever they want.
Have there been setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq? Of course. But the enemy cannot win militarily. Their weapons are terror and chaos. They attack any sort of hope or progress to try to undermine morale. They know that if they can win the battle of perception, we will lose our will and leave.
These are difficult times. From the heart of Manhattan and Washington DC, to Baghdad, Kabul, Madrid, Bali, and The Philippines, a call to arms has been sounded, and the outcome of this struggle will determine the nature of our world for decades to come.
Today, as before, the hard work of history falls to the US, to our coalition, to our people. We can do it knowing that the great sweep of human history is for freedom – and that it is on our side.