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GWB’s Sunni/Shia terror speech

Here’s the speech.

A snippet:

Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We’re taking the words of the enemy seriously. We’re on the offensive, and we will not rest, we will not retreat, and we will not withdraw from the fight, until this threat to civilization has been removed.


As we continue to fight al Qaeda and these Sunni extremists inspired by their radical ideology, we also face the threat posed by Shia extremists, who are learning from al Qaeda, increasing their assertiveness, and stepping up their threats. Like the vast majority of Sunnis, the vast majority of Shia across the world reject the vision of extremists -- and in Iraq, millions of Shia have defied terrorist threats to vote in free elections, and have shown their desire to live in freedom. The Shia extremists want to deny them this right. This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East. And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation’s resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda.

Like al Qaeda and the Sunni extremists, the Iranian regime has clear aims: They want to drive America out of the region, to destroy Israel, and to dominate the broader Middle East. To achieve these aims, they are funding and arming terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which allow them to attack Israel and America by proxy. Hezbollah, the source of the current instability in Lebanon, has killed more Americans than any terrorist organization except al Qaeda. Unlike al Qaeda, they’ve not yet attacked the American homeland. Yet they’re directly responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans abroad. It was Hezbollah that was behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. And Saudi Hezbollah was behind the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans, an attack conducted by terrorists who we believe were working with Iranian officials.

Just as we must take the words of the Sunni extremists seriously, we must take the words of the Shia extremists seriously. Listen to the words of Hezbollah’s leader, the terrorist Nasrallah, who has declared his hatred of America. He says, "Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute… Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America."

And yet another:

Imagine a world in which they were able to control governments, a world awash with oil and they would use oil resources to punish industrialized nations. And they would use those resources to fuel their radical agenda, and pursue and purchase weapons of mass murder. And armed with nuclear weapons, they would blackmail the free world, and spread their ideologies of hate, and raise a mortal threat to the American people. If we allow them to do this, if we retreat from Iraq, if we don’t uphold our duty to support those who are desirous to live in liberty, 50 years from now history will look back on our time with unforgiving clarity, and demand to know why we did not act.

This is the sort of speech he should have been giving at least once a month. Great stuff!

Here, if you care to read them, are the WaPo and NYT stories, which bury the speech in partisan context.

I’ll dig up analyses when they’re posted tomorrow.

Discussions - 3 Comments

More snippets:

The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience -- but they’re not madmen. They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil, but not insane....

Hear the words of bin Laden: "I now address… the whole… Islamic nation: Listen and understand… The most… serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War… [that] is raging in [Iraq]." He calls it "a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam." He says, "The whole world is watching this war," and that it will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation." For al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America -- it is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided.

Here is the whole speech.

Still more: Today we’re releasing a document called the "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism." Austin Bay does a summary of the strategy. (Via Power Line. Also at Power Line is a reference to this gripping 9-11 memorial, "Crystal Morning."

Thanks for providing the link. I got ahead of myself and didn’t initially do so. It’s now in the main body of the post.

It’s probably a good idea to mention, in addition to the quotes above, the basic structure of the speech. After the usual niceties about the notables in the audience, Bush recalls the 9/11 anniversary and states that as a result of the attacks "We’re a nation at war." He then explains the intention of the attackers, the enemies in the war, an intention revealed by clear statements issued by the leaders of those enemies. The intention of course is the founding of a regime, specifically, a radical Islamic empire.

He then gives a point-by-point list of the strategies by which the enemies intend to accomplish their religio-political intention, again quoting the would-be founders. He explains that the words of such men should be taken seriously by the rest of the world, given the examples of Lenin and Hitler in the last century. He distinguishes between the Sunni and Shia varieties of radical Islam. He then balances his account of the Islamist strategy with a five-point outline of his administration’s strategy for counteracting the several enemy organizations. He concludes with an exhortation, now familiar, citing the victory of the free nations over the twentieth-century tyrannies, left and right, as evidence that we’ve defeated people like this before.

I’m plodding through all this simply to call attention to the fact that this speech is an argument, not just a collection of sound bites. Because the media almost necessarily take a politician’s speech and make it into small part of the reporter’s narrative, it seems to me important to give a strong push toward looking at the original structure of the talk, obscured by the structure imposed upon it by the media, through which and by which that talk is chewed up.

This matters because, as we saw during the earlier debate about the war in Iraq, the media typically will extract a `headline’ and then the headline becomes the political issue. Bush’s original justification for the war in Iraq, made at the United Nations, adduced about six reasons for regime change, including the alleged presence of WMDs in Iraq. Once the `WMD’ argument was abstracted from the overall argument, and then turned out to be--well, if not false, at least not so impressive as it had seemed--then the other pieces of the argument were lost and the war seemed irrational. (Bush himself contributed to this problem; in later speeches he too emphasized the WMD issue at the expense of the others. People imagine that Bush is stupid but he actually has the opposite problem, too clever for his own good.)

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