May 27, 2006

Bush urges resolve in war on terror

By Caren Bohan

WEST POINT, New York (Reuters) - President George W. Bush
urged resolve in the struggle against Islamic radicalism on
Saturday and likened the "war on terror" to the fight against
communism after World War Two.

Addressing graduates of the West Point military academy,
Bush described his goal of spreading freedom throughout the
Middle East, saying repression in those countries was creating
the conditions for global terrorism.

"We're still in the early stages of this struggle for
freedom and, like those first years of the Cold War, we've seen
setbacks and challenges and days that have tested America's
resolve yet we've also seen days of victory and hope," Bush

"The war began on my watch but it's going to end on your
watch," Bush told the cadets.

The speech marked a return for Bush to a lofty theme of
spreading global democracy and contrasted with his contrite
tone at a Thursday news conference in which he acknowledged
mistakes on Iraq.

But he also strove for solemnity on Memorial Day weekend, a
time when America honors its war dead.

"We have made clear that the war on terror is an
ideological struggle between tyranny and freedom," Bush said.
"Our strategy to protect America is based on a clear premise:
the security of our nation depends on the advance of liberty in
other nations.

"We learned an important lesson. Decades of excusing and
accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did
nothing to make us safe."

Bush mentioned Syria and Iran specifically in vowing to
pursue an end to repression in countries around the world.

"The message has spread from Damascus to Tehran that the
future belongs to freedom and we will not rest until the
promise of liberty reaches every people in every nation," Bush

Bush, who has seen his approval ratings slide to record
lows in large part because of the Iraq war, invoked the legacy
of another wartime president, Democrat Harry Truman.

He recalled the Korean War as part of a difficult period in
the Cold War and said America's perseverance then helped lead
to victory against communism decades later when the Soviet
Union fell.

"We are again engaged in a war unlike any our nation has
fought before and, like Americans in Truman's day, we are
laying the foundations for victory," Bush said.

Truman's popularity fell even lower than Bush's -- which
hovers in the low 30 percent range with 2 1/2 years left in
office -- yet he has been remembered favorably in history.

As is the tradition at graduation ceremonies, Bush offered
some advice to the cadets: "Take risks, try new things and
challenge the established way of doing things. Trust in your
convictions and stay true to yourselves and one day the world
will celebrate your achievements."