Almost two years have passed since al-Qaida terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing more than three thousand people from some ninety countries. National security adviser Condoleeza Rice says that in the aftermath of those attacks, the United States resolved to "take the fight to terrorists themselves:"
"We realized that to win the war on terror, we must win a war of ideas by appealing to the hopes of decent people everywhere in the world . . . .helping to give them the chance for a better life and a brighter future. . . .and reason to reject the false and destructive comforts of bitterness and grievance and hate."
The war on terror has already brought some decisive victories. Al-Qaida's state sponsor, the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S.-led coalition working with Afghan resistance forces. Condoleeza Rice says that removing the Saddam Hussein regime was another blow to terrorism and extremism:
"Step by step, normal life in Iraq is being born, and basic services are restored -- in some cases beyond pre-war levels. . . .and the economy will be revived. A country in which, only months ago, dissent was punishable by death, now sees more than one-hundred fifty newspapers competing in a new marketplace of ideas. "
National Security Adviser Rice says progress towards peace for Israelis and Palestinians is another indication that the tide has turned against terrorism:
"A new Palestinian leadership is emerging that understands -- and says both in Arabic and in English -- that terror is not a means to Palestinian statehood, but rather the greatest obstacle to statehood. This President [Bush] believes that Palestinians, like people everywhere, deserve democratic institutions with honest leaders who truly serve the interests of their people."
The path to democracy is difficult, but the desire for freedom transcends race, religion, and culture. The people of the Middle East are not exempt from this desire.