Certainly, if you are getting shelled by the Hezbollah, you could believe that yesterday was much more important than 11 Sept 2001. If you trip a wire in Iraq and unexpectedly remove your leg from your body by means of IED, might not today be more significant than 11 Sept 2001? If you are worried that your country may pitch you into an extended war with Israel and all you wanted to do was send your six year old to school this fall, might you be more concerned with tomorrow than 11 Sept 2001?
Not to diminish the significance of the 9/11 disaster, but can't we ask why Bush continues to bring it up to leverage the remorse we feel for the victims of Nine Eleven for political gain and support for his ideology? Can't we ask him to stop using Nine Eleven as a political pawn?
I think it is time to honor those fallen and those still living by letting Nine Eleven rest in peace. To me, it's an obvious tool that the W, Rove and Co. uses to bend the thinking of the American People. It's time to stop.
Here's the unscripted speechifying that led me to this line of thinking. See if you had/have the same reaction:
Q Mr. President, you've been quite specific in Hezbollah's role as the creator of this conflict. But what is the magnet, what is the pressure point, what is the hook to get this group to accept a cease-fire, to stop shooting and to stop kidnapping soldiers from across the border of another country?It may just be me, but every time W trots out the rhetorical whip and spanks the Nine Eleven Monkey to leverage support for his arguments, he looks more and more like a desperate man.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I would hope it would be international pressure on not only Hezbollah, the group of Hezbollah within Lebanon, but also its sponsors. And that's the whole purpose of the United States working with allies and friends, is to send a clear message that sponsoring terror is unacceptable. It's the great challenge of the 21st century, really.
Q Do you --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish for a minute.
Q I'm sorry..
THE PRESIDENT: It is the great challenge of this century and it's this: As young democracies flourish, terrorists try to stop their progress. And it's the great challenge of the United States and others who are blessed with living in free countries. Not only do terrorists try to stop the advance of democracy through killing innocent people within those countries, they also try to shape the will of the western world by killing innocent westerners. They try to spread their jihadist message -- a message I call, it's totalitarian in nature -- Islamic radicalism, Islamic fascism, they try to spread it as well by taking the attack to those of us who love freedom.
And as far as this administration is concerned, we clearly see the problem and we're going to continue to work to advance stable, free countries. We don't expect every country to look like the United States, but we do want countries to accept some basic conditions for a vibrant society -- human rights, human decency, the power of the people to determine the fate of their governments. And, admittedly, this is hard work because it flies in the face of previous policy, which basically says stability is more important than form of government. And as a result of that policy, anger and resentment bubbled forth with an attack, with a series of attacks, the most dramatic of which was on September the 11th.
You know, your question is can we get people to -- a terrorist group to change their attitude. What we can do is we can get state sponsors of terror to understand this behavior is unacceptable, and that we can convince some people in terrorist groups that there is a better way forward for them and their families.
Remember, Hezbollah is a political party within Lebanon. They actually ran people for office. The problem is, is that they're a political party with a militia that is armed by foreign nations and, obviously, this political party with militia was willing to try to influence the Middle East through unprovoked attacks.
And what Condi is working on and I work on is to remind people about the stakes in the Middle East. And those stakes include not only helping the Lebanese government firm up its democracy -- remember, we worked with the French two years ago to boot out Syria. Syria was inside Lebanon and we felt that in order for a democracy to flourish, Syria needed to remove not only her troops, but her agents, her intelligence agents, for example.
And, obviously, there are some in the region that don't want the Lebanese government to succeed. I also happen to believe that as Prime Minister Olmert was making progress in reaching out to President Abbas and others in the region to develop a Palestinian state, that that caused a terrorist reaction. Remember, this all started with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by militant Hamas, followed shortly thereafter by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.
And, finally, the third most notable battleground in the advance of liberty is Iraq. It's interesting, if you go back to the work of Mr. Zarqawi, he talked about fomenting sectarian violence in order to stop the advance of democracy. The challenge of the 21st century is for free nations to help those who aspire to liberty. And, you know, the first question is, do people aspire to liberty? And the answer is, absolutely -- look at the 12 million people who voted in Iraq. Or look at the people who went to the polls in Lebanon. It's just clear to me that there will be terrorist activities that will try to stop people from living a decent, hopeful life.
And what you're watching now is the diplomatic efforts to address the problem. I know there's -- I sense a certain impatience in your voice about diplomacy coming to a conclusion. What Secretary Rice is doing, as well as me, is we are dealing with a lot of different interests. Remember, each nation at the Security Council has got its own domestic issues to deal with, as well, and so it is -- I wish things happened quicker in the diplomatic realm -- sometimes it takes a while to get things done. But what the American people need to know is we've got a strategy -- a strategy for freedom in the Middle East which protects the American people in the long run. And we've got a strategy to deal with the situations that arise in the Middle East -- first Lebanon; of course, the Iranian nuclear weapon issue.
And as you remember, right before the G8, the question on your mind was would we ever get a resolution out of the U.N. on the Iranians' desire to have a nuclear weapon, as well as whether or not we'd ever get a resolution out of the U.N. to deal with North Korea. As a matter of fact, there was great skepticism, I felt, in some circles, as to whether or not we'd be able to put a diplomacy in place that would deal with these two very difficult problems.
And, in fact, during the G8, two resolutions were passed -- by the way, those resolutions overshadowed by the situation in Lebanon. And I'm confident that working with our friends, if we stay on principle and remind people of the stakes, that we'll be able to accomplish the diplomatic objectives that we have set out -- which is dealing with this problem and addressing the long-term issues.