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 Home > News & Policies > October 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 4, 2001

President Directs Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
Remarks by the President to State Department Employees
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.

Play Audio  Listen to the President's Remarks
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     Fact sheet U.S. Assistance to the Afghan People
     Play Video View the President's Remarks

10:25 A.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.  Thank you all.  Mr. Secretary, I'm honored you invited me back.  (Laughter.)  I'm glad to be back to be able to say thanks on behalf of the American people to the patriots who work for our Department of State.  Thanks for your hard work.  Thanks for your dedication.  Thanks for your love of America.

     I'm also here to announce an initiative to help the Afghan people in a time of crisis and in a time of need.  America will stand strong and will oppose the sponsors of terror.  And America will stand strong and help those people who are hurt by those regimes.

     Mr. Secretary, I am proud of your leadership.  Last time I came, I predicted you would be a great Secretary of State.  You have not let me down.  (Applause.)  And neither have the folks who work at the State Department; not only here in Washington, but in embassies throughout the world.  America is proud of your service.  And America is comforted by the fact that we are united as we stand to fight terror.

     We are engaged in a noble cause.  And that is to say loud and clear to the evildoers that we reject you, that we will stand firm against terror, and that this great nation, along with many other nations, will defend freedom.

     I want to thank those of you who have worked extra long hours to help forge this fantastic coalition that we're building, a coalition of people all around the world who understand that the evil acts could have happened to them, just like they happened to us.

     People understand that now is the time to take a stand, to seize this moment, to say that out of this evil act will come good.  And the State Department has helped lead the way.  And I'm proud of your efforts.  And I'm proud of your hard work.

     After all, many of you understand the effects of terror.  We had two of our embassies bombed.  Your colleagues were injured and died.  I mean, the State Department has been on the front line of battling terror and the front line of seeing the effects of terror.  And the American people appreciate the heroism of the people who serve our country overseas.

     This is a unique type of war.  It's a war that is going to require us building a broad coalition of nations who will contribute, one way or the other, to make sure that we all win.  Some nations may be willing to commit troops, if that's a decision that we make.  Other nations will help in cutting off funding.  Truth of the matter is, the first shot we fired in this war against evildoers was when the Secretary and I and the Secretary of Treasury said we're going to find their money, and we're going to starve them of their money.

     We're going to find their bank accounts, and we will freeze them. We're going to talk to banks all around the world, and make it clear that if they are on our side, if they join the folks who are fighting evil, that they've got to do everything they can to cut off their funds.  When we starve them of their funds, we starve them of their capacity to move against freedom.

     I'm proud of the coalitions that we've built.  I'm proud of the fact that the Secretary of State and the able team here at the State Department is a results-oriented group of folks.

     We've said, not only join the coalition, we've said here's what we expect you to do.  Here is your assignment.  One of the things the American people appreciate about our administration is that we're results-oriented folks, that we expect there to be results.  We expect if you're on our team, that we want your performance.  And it's making a difference.

     As I announced the other day, we've collectively rounded up 150 terrorists, people associated with the al Qaeda organization.  Thanks to the Secretary of State's work and others' work and the work of people around the world, we've convinced those who joined our coalition to rout out terrorists, to find them, to incarcerate them, to question them, to find out what's in their mind and what their future activities may be.  And we're making great progress.

     This is a strong coalition.  It's a strong coalition because we've got great leadership, but it's a strong coalition because we're right.  Because it's a strong coalition.  Because we've made it clear, this is not a war between Christianity or Judaism and Islam.  As a matter of fact, the teachings of Islam make it clear that peace is important, that compassion is a part of life.  This is a war between good and evil.  And we have made it clear to the world that we will stand strong on the side of good, and we expect other nations to join us.  (Applause.)

     This is not a war between our world and their world.  It is a war to save the world.  And people now understand that.  And I want to thank you for all your work of making that simple, yet profound, mission clear.

     We have no compassion for terrorists in this country.  We have no compassion.  Nor will we have any compassion for any state that sponsors them.  Oh yes, we're a compassionate nation, but our compassion is limited. We have great compassion, however, for the millions around the world who are victims of hate, of victims of oppressive government, including the people who live in Afghanistan.

     Today I'm announcing, along with the Secretary of State, that America will contribute an additional $320 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghans for more food, more medicine, to help the innocent people of Afghanistan deal with the coming winter.  This is our way of saying that while we firmly and strongly oppose the Taliban regime, we are friends of the Afghan people.

     We will work with the UN agencies such as the World Food Program and work with private volunteer organizations to make sure this assistance gets to the people.  We will make sure that not only the folks in Afghanistan who need help get help, but we will help those who have fled to neighboring countries to get help as well.

     There's no question that we're an angry people about what happened to our country.  But in our anger, we must never forget we're a compassionate people as well.  We will fight evil.  But in order to overcome evil, the great goodness of America must come forth and shine forth.  And one way to do so is to help the poor souls in Afghanistan.  And we're going to do so.

     I want to remind the world that helping people in need is a central part of not only the Christian faith, but of Judaism and the Hindu faith, and of course a central part of Islamic traditions.  And that's why our coalition is more than just one to rout terrorism out of the world.  It's one to bind together, to knit those traditions in a way that helps people in need.

     You know, I talked to a lot of world leaders, and Colin has as well. And I told him, through our tears, we see opportunity, that in our sadness and grief we see an opportunity to not only defend freedom, but to make the world more peaceful.

     I see an opportunity at home when I hear the stories of Christian and Jewish women alike, helping women of cover, Arab American women go shop because they're afraid to leave their home.  I see a great opportunity when I see moms and dads spend more time with their children here at home.

     I see out of this sadness and grief an opportunity for America to reexamine our culture, to reexamine how we view the need to help people in need, whether it be in our own neighborhood and around the world.

     I see out of this evil will come good, not only here at home, as youngsters all of a sudden understand the definition of sacrifice, the sacrifice of those brave souls on Flight 93 who, after the 23rd Psalm said, let's roll to save America.

     I see an opportunity as well to bring peace to the world, the likes of which we've never seen.  I appreciate the Secretary of State's hard work in the Middle East.  It has been diligent.  It has been consistent.  It has been true to the principles of America, that in order for there to be peace, we must reduce the level of violence.

     I see an opportunity to make sure the subcontinent is more peaceful. No, in our grief and in our sadness, I see an opportunity to make the world a better place for generations to come.  And we will seize the opportunity. I fully understand that some will grow weary and some will tire.  Not this administration, and not the people of the State Department.

     I know there will be some nations that will become frustrated over time because we're fighting a different kind of campaign.  But we won't weary.  This is a nation that has determined, made a determination to rise up in a united way; to not only spread goodwill around the world, but to find terrorists where they may live and may hide, and those who harbor them, and bring them to justice.  Now is the time.  (Applause.)

     Now is the time for this great nation to lead.  And I'm proud of the Secretary of State and the hardworking people of the State Department for joining us in this cause.  Thank you for letting me come by again.  May God bless you all, and may God bless America.  (Applause.)

                           END                                     10:42 A.M. EDT