President Bush's Second Inaugural Address

President Bush’s second inaugural address was a masterpiece laying out the strategy for winning the war against terrorism.

This is another in the series of excellent and important speeches in which President has set forth an ambitious vision of the post 9-11 world. Think back for a moment to the days immediately following the 9-11 terror attacks on the U.S. Remember the country’s desire for an answer to the question of why it happened; “why do they hate us?”

President Bush may not answer that question, but he presents a long term vision about how to eliminate the conditions that incubate the evil doers.

The war against terror and the quest for freedom are inextricably linked, and neither can succeed without the other. The struggle is not limited to one or two countries, as some wish. The war is global dimension. President Bush understands what is at stake in this struggle and continues on the correct, probably the only course, which can guarantee that our way of life survives.

In Thursday's speech President Bush expanded on his "forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East." In the President's vision, the "advance of freedom leads to peace." President Bush first laid out the "forward strategy of freedom" in his November 6, 2003 speech at The National Endowment For Democracy:

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

President Bush expanded on his advance of freedom theme in his November 18, 2003 speech at Whitehall Palace in London. There the President eloquently explained the great struggle in which we are now engaged. President Bush described the danger we are required to fight.

These terrorists target the innocent, and they kill by the thousands. And they would, if they gain the weapons they seek, kill by the millions and not be finished. The greatest threat of our age is nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in the hands of terrorists, and the dictators who aid them. The evil is in plain sight. The danger only increases with denial. Great responsibilities fall once again to the great democracies. We will face these threats with open eyes, and we will defeat them.

As he did at the National Endowment for Democracy, at Whitehall President Bush set forth the need to bring democracy to the Middle East:

If the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation and anger and violence for export. And as we saw in the ruins of two towers, no distance on the map will protect our lives and way of life. If the greater Middle East joins the democratic revolution that has reached much of the world, the lives of millions in that region will be bettered, and a trend of conflict and fear will be ended at its source.

Arab scholars speak of a freedom deficit that has separated whole nations from the progress of our time. The essentials of social and material progress -- limited government, equal justice under law, religious and economic liberty, political participation, free press, and respect for the rights of women -- have been scarce across the region.

Many governments are realizing that theocracy and dictatorship do not lead to national greatness; they end in national ruin. They are finding, as others will find, that national progress and dignity are achieved when governments are just and people are free.

In a thought provoking editorial, John Zvesper suggested President Bush’s Whitehall speech should cause us to reflect upon questions such as these:

Do Americans have "a naive faith that liberty can change the world"?

Are Americans (especially, it could be added, Americans who support him) too moralistic, too inclined to "speak in terms of right and wrong"?

Does political freedom depend on people's moral and religious convictions?

Our answers to these questions are important and must impact the strategy for the war against terrorism. Do the answers support our pursuit of a forward strategy of freedom throughout the world? Is there any better approach?

As America seeks the advance of freedom throughout the world and the peace that freedom brings, additional questions should be addressed:

  • Are we truly willing to oppose tyranny wherever it is found?
  • Do we really have any choice?

Posted by Dan Spencer at January 22, 2005 9:44 PM | TrackBack (1)