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11/8/04 - BUSH ON WAR AGAINST TERRORISM - 2004-11-09

The United States, says President George W. Bush, will persevere in the war against terrorism. At his first news conference since being re-elected, Mr. Bush said, "Every civilized country also has a stake in the outcome of this war":

"Whatever our past disagreements, we share a common enemy. We have common duties to protect our peoples, to confront disease and hunger and poverty in troubled regions of the world. I'll continue to reach out to our friends and allies, our partners in the [European Union] and NATO, to promote development and progress, to defeat the terrorists, and to encourage freedom and democracy as alternatives to tyranny and terror."

President Bush said that after al-Qaida's devastating attacks on the U.S. on September 11th, 2001, he had to make "some very hard decisions," which not everyone agreed with:

"I laid out a doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist, and that doctrine was ignored by the Taleban [in Afghanistan] and we removed the Taleban."

There was also disagreement by many when a U.S.-led coalition acted to oust the tyrannical and aggressive Saddam Hussein regime from Iraq. But, said Mr. Bush, "I made the decision I made in order to protect our country, first and foremost":

"I will continue to do that, as the president. But as I do so, I will reach out to others and explain why I make the decisions I make."

Some people have also questioned U.S. efforts to promote freedom and democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries. But this will continue to be a central part of U.S. foreign policy. "You cannot lead this world. . .to a better tomorrow," said President Bush, "unless you have a vision of a better tomorrow. And I've got one based upon a great faith, that people do want to be free and live in democracy."