He said today in a 40-minute speech that Islamic militants are much like the Cold War communists -- in his words, "elitists" who seek to dominate much of the world through intimidation and enslavement to a radical ideology.
These militants, Bush said, claim to be fighting for liberation, but in fact are merely killers seeking to impose their will through murder and helped by enabling governments.
Bush said that if the militants see problems in the way their own nations are governed, they shift the blame to the West in general, and to the United States and Israel in particular.
"The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers," Bush said. "They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience, like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America and on the Jews."
Bush began waging war on such groups shortly after the 11 September 2001 attacks, and a U.S.-led force soon drove Al-Qaeda and their host, the Taliban, from power in Afghanistan. Now, though, Americans and their allies face a like-minded enemy in the Iraq insurgency.
"Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response. We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory."
Bush has long said Iraq is the focus of this war against Muslim extremists, saying it is better for Americans that the terrorists are engaged there than on U.S. soil. Yesterday, he refined that description, saying it is Al-Qaeda that holds this view of Iraq.
"The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity, and we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror," Bush said.
Closer to home, Bush said Western allies have managed to prevent at least 10 Al-Qaeda attacks since 9-11, including three in the United States itself. But he offered no details of the plots.
Bush's speech came at a time when support for the Iraq war is eroding in the United States.
Overall, his approval ratings are at their lowest point since he became president in January 2001.
Amid the insurgency, Iraqis will vote on 15 October on whether to adopt a constitution sponsored by the U.S. administration.
In his speech, Bush said Western nations did nothing to deserve the attacks they have suffered at the hands of Islamic militants. He dismissed arguments that Muslim resentment of the West intensified because of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. After all, he said, U.S. forces weren't in Iraq when New York and Washington were attacked in 2001.
Furthermore, Bush said, changing policies would not prevent further violence. Therefore, he declared, the United States and its allies have only one course.
"The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity, and we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror."
"No concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder," Bush said. "On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response. We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory."
As he has many times before, Bush again warned that the war against the militants will be long and hard. He said now is not the time to waver in the face of adversity, but to push on until victory is achieved.For all of RFE/RL's coverage on the global fight against terrorism, visit our War On Terror website.
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