The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory
for the forces of freedom—and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.
In the twenty-first century, only nations that share a commitment to protecting basic human rights and guaranteeing political
and economic freedom will be able to unleash the potential of their people and assure their future prosperity. People everywhere
want to be able to speak freely; choose who will govern them; worship as they please; educate their children—male and
female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their labor. These values of freedom are right and true for every person,
in every society—and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving
people across the globe and across the ages.
Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence.
In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage.We seek instead
to create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves
the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty. In a world that is safe, people will be able to make their own
lives better.We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants.We will preserve the peace by building good relations
among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.
Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the Federal Government. Today, that
task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America.
Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase
a single tank. Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us.
To defeat this threat we must make use of every tool in our arsenal—military power, better homeland defenses, law
enforcement, intelligence, and vigorous efforts to cut off terrorist financing. The war against terrorists of global reach
is a global enterprise of uncertain duration. America will help nations that need our assistance in combating terror. And
America will hold to account nations that are compromised by terror, including those who harbor terrorists— because
the allies of terror are the enemies of civilization. The United States and countries cooperating with us must not allow the
terrorists to develop new home bases. Together, we will seek to deny them sanctuary at every turn.
The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared
that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United
States will not allow these efforts to succeed.We will build defenses against ballistic missiles and other means of delivery.
We will cooperate with other nations to deny, contain, and curtail our enemies’ efforts to acquire dangerous technologies.
And, as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.We
cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. So we must be prepared to defeat our enemies’ plans, using
the best intelligence and proceeding with deliberation. History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed
to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action.
As we defend the peace, we will also take advantage of an historic opportunity to preserve the peace. Today, the international
community has the best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers
compete in peace instead of continually prepare for war. Today, the world’s great powers find ourselves on the same
side— united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. The United States will build on these common interests
to promote global security.We are also increasingly united by common values. Russia is in the midst of a hopeful transition,
reaching for its democratic future and a partner in the war on terror. Chinese leaders are discovering that economic freedom
is the only source of national wealth. In time, they will find that social and political freedom is the only source of national
greatness. America will encourage the advancement of democracy and economic openness in both nations, because these are the
best foundations for domestic stability and international order.We will strongly resist aggression from other great powers—even
as we welcome their peaceful pursuit of prosperity, trade, and cultural advancement.
Finally, the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe.We will
actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world. The
events of September 11, 2001, taught us that weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests
as strong states. Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty, weak institutions, and corruption
can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders.
The United States will stand beside any nation determined to build a better future by seeking the rewards of liberty for
its people. Free trade and free markets have proven their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty—so the United
States will work with individual nations, entire regions, and the entire global trading community to build a world that trades
in freedom and therefore grows in prosperity. The United States will deliver greater development assistance through the New
Millennium Challenge Account to nations that govern justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom.We will
also continue to lead the world in efforts to reduce the terrible toll of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
In building a balance of power that favors freedom, the United States is guided by the conviction that all nations have
important responsibilities. Nations that enjoy freedom must actively fight terror. Nations that depend on international stability
must help prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Nations that seek international aid must govern themselves wisely,
so that aid is well spent. For freedom to thrive, accountability must be expected and required.
We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions
can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United
Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of American States, and NATO as well as other long-standing alliances.
Coalitions of the willing can augment these permanent institutions. In all cases, international obligations are to be taken
seriously. They are not to be undertaken symbolically to rally support for an ideal without furthering its attainment.
Freedom is the non-negotiable demand of human dignity; the birthright of every person—in every civilization. Throughout
history, freedom has been threatened by war and terror; it has been challenged by the clashing wills of powerful states and
the evil designs of tyrants; and it has been tested by widespread poverty and disease. Today, humanity holds in its hands
the opportunity to further freedom’s triumph over all these foes. The United States welcomes our responsibility to lead
in this great mission.
George W. Bush
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 17, 2002