George W. Bush (January 29, 2002)
Thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of
Congress, distinguished guests, fellow citizens: As we gather tonight, our
nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world
faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been
We last met in an hour of shock and suffering. In four short months, our
nation has comforted the victims, begun to rebuild New York and the
Pentagon, rallied a great coalition, captured, arrested, and rid the world
of thousands of terrorists, destroyed Afghanistan's terrorist training
camps, saved a people from starvation, and freed a country from brutal
The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who
once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay.
And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are
running for their own.
America and Afghanistan are now allies against terror. We'll be partners in
rebuilding that country. And this evening we welcome the distinguished
interim leader of a liberated Afghanistan: Chairman Hamid Karzai.
The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of
Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or
going to school. Today women are free, and are part of Afghanistan's new
government. And we welcome the new Minister of Women's Affairs, Doctor Sima
Our progress is a tribute to the spirit of the Afghan people, to the
resolve of our coalition, and to the might of the United States military.
When I called our troops into action, I did so with complete
confidence in their courage and skill. And tonight, thanks to them, we are
winning the war on terror. The men and women of our Armed
Forces have delivered a message now clear to every enemy of the United
States: Even 7,000 miles away, across oceans and continents, on
mountaintops and in caves--you will not escape the justice of this
For many Americans, these four months have brought sorrow, and pain that
will never completely go away. Every day a retired firefighter returns to
Ground Zero, to feel closer to his two sons who died there. At a memorial
in New York, a little boy left his football with a note for his lost
father: Dear Daddy, please take this to heaven. I don't want to play
football until I can play with you again some day.
Last month, at the grave of her husband, Michael, a CIA officer and Marine
who died in Mazur-e-Sharif, Shannon Spann said these words of farewell:
"Semper Fi, my love." Shannon is with us tonight.
Shannon, I assure you and all who have lost a loved one that our cause is
just, and our country will never forget the debt we owe Michael and all who
gave their lives for freedom.
Our cause is just, and it continues. Our discoveries in Afghanistan
confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead.
We have seen the depth of our enemies' hatred in videos, where they laugh
about the loss of innocent life. And the depth of their hatred is equaled
by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of
American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed
instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American
cities, and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout
What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our
war against terror is only beginning. Most of the 19 men who hijacked
planes on September the 11th were trained in Afghanistan's camps, and so
were tens of thousands of others. Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled
in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread
throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without
Thanks to the work of our law enforcement officials and coalition partners,
hundreds of terrorists have been arrested. Yet, tens of thousands of
trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world
as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. So
long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists,
freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not,
Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the
pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps,
disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we
must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or
nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world.
Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of
business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist
underworld--including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad,
Jaish-i-Mohammed--operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in
the centers of large cities.
While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting
elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines, helping to train that
country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an
American, and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian
government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our
Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and
the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.
My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist
parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting
forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the
strong leadership of President Musharraf.
But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no
mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.
Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening
America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of
these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know
their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons
of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an
unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support
terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and
nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used
poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens--leaving the bodies of
mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to
international inspections--then kicked out the inspectors. This is a
regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.
States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil,
arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass
destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could
provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their
hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United
States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be
We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state
sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver
weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile
defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack.
And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure
our nation's security.
We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on
events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer
and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most
dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.
Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may
not be finished on our watch--yet it must be and it will be waged on our
We can't stop short. If we stop now--leaving terror camps intact and
terror states unchecked--our sense of security would be false and
temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is
both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight.
Our first priority must always be the security of our nation, and that will
be reflected in the budget I send to Congress. My budget supports three
great goals for America: We will win this war; we'll protect our homeland;
and we will revive our economy.
September the 11th brought out the best in America, and the best in this
Congress. And I join the American people in applauding your unity and
resolve. Now Americans deserve to have this same spirit
directed toward addressing problems here at home. I'm a proud member of my
party--yet as we act to win the war, protect our people, and create jobs
in America, we must act, first and foremost, not as Republicans, not as
Democrats, but as Americans.
It costs a lot to fight this war. We have spent more than a billion dollars
a month--over $30 million a day--and we must be prepared for future
operations. Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the
enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them. We need to
replace aging aircraft and make our military more agile, to put our troops
anywhere in the world quickly and safely. Our men and women in uniform
deserve the best weapons, the best equipment, the best training--and they
also deserve another pay raise.
My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in two decades
--because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too
high. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay.
The next priority of my budget is to do everything possible to protect our
citizens and strengthen our nation against the ongoing threat of another
attack. Time and distance from the events of September the 11th will not
make us safer unless we act on its lessons. America is no longer protected
by vast oceans. We are protected from attack only by vigorous action
abroad, and increased vigilance at home.
My budget nearly doubles funding for a sustained strategy of homeland
security, focused on four key areas: bioterrorism, emergency response,
airport and border security, and improved intelligence. We will develop
vaccines to fight anthrax and other deadly diseases. We'll increase funding
to help states and communities train and equip our heroic police and
firefighters. We will improve intelligence collection and
sharing, expand patrols at our borders, strengthen the security of air
travel, and use technology to track the arrivals and departures of visitors
to the United States.
Homeland security will make America not only stronger, but, in many ways,
better. Knowledge gained from bioterrorism research will improve public
health. Stronger police and fire departments will mean safer neighborhoods.
Stricter border enforcement will help combat illegal drugs. And
as government works to better secure our homeland, America will continue to
depend on the eyes and ears of alert citizens.
A few days before Christmas, an airline flight attendant spotted a
passenger lighting a match. The crew and passengers quickly subdued the
man, who had been trained by al Qaeda and was armed with explosives. The
people on that plane were alert and, as a result, likely saved nearly 200
lives. And tonight we welcome and thank flight attendants Hermis Moutardier
and Christina Jones.
Once we have funded our national security and our homeland security, the
final great priority of my budget is economic security for the American
people. To achieve these great national objectives--to win
the war, protect the homeland, and revitalize our economy--our budget
will run a deficit that will be small and short-term, so long as Congress
restrains spending and acts in a fiscally responsible manner.
We have clear priorities and we must act at home with the same purpose and
resolve we have shown overseas: We'll prevail in the war, and we will
defeat this recession.
Americans who have lost their jobs need our help and I support extending
unemployment benefits and direct assistance for health care coverage.
Yet, American workers want more than unemployment checks--
they want a steady paycheck. When America works, America
prospers, so my economic security plan can be summed up in one word: jobs.
Good jobs begin with good schools, and here we've made a fine start.
Republicans and Democrats worked together to achieve historic
education reform so that no child is left behind. I was proud to work with
members of both parties: Chairman John Boehner and Congressman George
Miller. Senator Judd Gregg. And I was so proud of
our work, I even had nice things to say about my friend, Ted Kennedy.
(Laughter and applause.) I know the folks at the Crawford coffee shop
couldn't believe I'd say such a thing--(laughter)--but our work on this
bill shows what is possible if we set aside posturing and focus on results.
There is more to do. We need to prepare our children to read and succeed in
school with improved Head Start and early childhood development programs.
We must upgrade our teacher colleges and teacher training and
launch a major recruiting drive with a great goal for America: a quality
teacher in every classroom.
Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must
act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure,
and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less
dependent on foreign oil.
Good jobs depend on expanded trade. Selling into new markets creates new
jobs, so I ask Congress to finally approve trade promotion authority.
On these two key issues, trade and energy, the House of
Representatives has acted to create jobs, and I urge the Senate to pass
Good jobs depend on sound tax policy. Last year, some in this
hall thought my tax relief plan was too small; some thought it was too big.
But when the checks arrived in the mail, most Americans thought
tax relief was just about right. Congress listened to the
people and responded by reducing tax rates, doubling the child credit, and
ending the death tax. For the sake of long-term growth and to help
Americans plan for the future, let's make these tax cuts permanent.
The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the
economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by
speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend. For the sake of
American workers, let's pass a stimulus package.
Good jobs must be the aim of welfare reform. As we reauthorize these
important reforms, we must always remember the goal is to reduce dependency
on government and offer every American the dignity of a job.
Americans know economic security can vanish in an instant without health
security. I ask Congress to join me this year to enact a patients' bill of
rights--(applause)--to give uninsured workers credits to help buy
health coverage--(applause)--to approve an historic increase in the
spending for veterans' health--(applause)--and to give seniors a sound
and modern Medicare system that includes coverage for prescription drugs.
A good job should lead to security in retirement. I ask Congress to enact
new safeguards for 401K and pension plans. Employees who have
worked hard and saved all their lives should not have to risk losing
everything if their company fails. Through stricter accounting
standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be
made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest
standards of conduct.
Retirement security also depends upon keeping the commitments of Social
Security, and we will. We must make Social Security financially stable and
allow personal retirement accounts for younger workers who choose them.
Members, you and I will work together in the months ahead on other issues:
productive farm policy--(applause)--a cleaner environment--(applause)
--broader home ownership, especially among minorities--(applause)--and
ways to encourage the good work of charities and faith-based groups.
I ask you to join me on these important domestic issues in the
same spirit of cooperation we've applied to our war against terrorism.
During these last few months, I've been humbled and privileged to see the
true character of this country in a time of testing. Our enemies believed
America was weak and materialistic, that we would splinter in fear and
selfishness. They were as wrong as they are evil.
The American people have responded magnificently, with courage and
compassion, strength and resolve. As I have met the heroes, hugged the
families, and looked into the tired faces of rescuers, I have stood in awe
of the American people.
And I hope you will join me--I hope you will join me in expressing thanks
to one American for the strength and calm and comfort she brings to our
nation in crisis, our First Lady, Laura Bush.
None of us would ever wish the evil that was done on September the 11th.
Yet after America was attacked, it was as if our entire country looked into
a mirror and saw our better selves. We were reminded that we are citizens,
with obligations to each other, to our country, and to history. We began to
think less of the goods we can accumulate, and more about the good we can
For too long our culture has said, "If it feels good, do it." Now America
is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: "Let's roll." In the
sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the
bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens, we have glimpsed what a new
culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a nation that
serves goals larger than self. We've been offered a unique opportunity, and
we must not let this moment pass.
My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years--4,000
hours over the rest of your lifetime--to the service of your neighbors
and your nation. Many are already serving, and I thank you. If
you aren't sure how to help, I've got a good place to start. To sustain and
extend the best that has emerged in America, I invite you to join the new
USA Freedom Corps. The Freedom Corps will focus on three areas of need:
responding in case of crisis at home; rebuilding our communities; and
extending American compassion throughout the world.
One purpose of the USA Freedom Corps will be homeland security. America
needs retired doctors and nurses who can be mobilized in major emergencies;
volunteers to help police and fire departments; transportation and utility
workers well-trained in spotting danger.
Our country also needs citizens working to rebuild our communities. We need
mentors to love children, especially children whose parents are in prison.
And we need more talented teachers in troubled schools. USA Freedom Corps
will expand and improve the good efforts of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to
recruit more than 200,000 new volunteers.
And America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every
part of the world. So we will renew the promise of the Peace Corps, double
its volunteers over the next five years--(applause)--and ask it to join
a new effort to encourage development and education and opportunity in the
This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity--a moment we
must seize to change our culture. Through the gathering momentum of
millions of acts of service and decency and kindness, I know we can
overcome evil with greater good. And we have a great
opportunity during this time of war to lead the world toward the values
that will bring lasting peace.
All fathers and mothers, in all societies, want their children to be
educated, and live free from poverty and violence. No people on Earth yearn
to be oppressed, or aspire to servitude, or eagerly await the midnight
knock of the secret police.
If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic
"street" greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the
skeptics look to Islam's own rich history, with its centuries of learning,
and tolerance and progress. America will lead by defending liberty and
justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people
No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We
have no intention of imposing our culture. But America will always stand
firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law;
limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free
speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance.
America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values
around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater
objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a
just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.
In this moment of opportunity, a common danger is erasing old rivalries.
America is working with Russia and China and India, in ways we have never
before, to achieve peace and prosperity. In every region, free markets and
free trade and free societies are proving their power to lift lives.
Together with friends and allies from Europe to Asia, and Africa to Latin
America, we will demonstrate that the forces of terror cannot stop the
momentum of freedom.
The last time I spoke here, I expressed the hope that life would return to
normal. In some ways, it has. In others, it never will. Those of us who
have lived through these challenging times have been changed by them. We've
come to know truths that we will never question: evil is real, and it must
be opposed. Beyond all differences of race or creed, we are one
country, mourning together and facing danger together. Deep in the American
character, there is honor, and it is stronger than cynicism. And many have
discovered again that even in tragedy--especially in tragedy--God is
In a single instant, we realized that this will be a decisive decade in the
history of liberty, that we've been called to a unique role in human
events. Rarely has the world faced a choice more clear or consequential.
Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder.
They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a
different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it
again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.
Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedom's price.
We have shown freedom's power. And in this great conflict, my fellow
Americans, we will see freedom's victory.
Thank you all. May God bless.