|Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings|
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 8, 2002
National Security Advisor Speaks at Texas A&M
Remarks by Condoleezza Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
at the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs
George Bush Presidential Library Foundation
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
As Prepared for Delivery
It is a great honor to be back at Texas A&M. Before returning to government last year, I had the privilege of serving on the advisory board of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. I learned quickly that Texas A&M is dedicated not only to learning and scholarship, but also to promoting character and leadership. And your ethic of public service, embodied in annual traditions such as The Big Event and Replant, is a model for other colleges and universities across the country.
I have fond memories of an earlier visit to College Station -- a sunny November day in 1997 when nearly 20,000 people turned out for the dedication of the Bush Library. Mr. President, your speech -- with its trademark grace and modesty -- was a potent reminder of a time when the world truly was transformed. And all of us who worked for you were transformed too. We learned the true meaning of the words "public service" and 'service to country." It is an experience that I will never forget and why I treasured my time serving in your administration.
Sweeping change has continued since I left the first Bush Administration, in 1991, to return to Stanford University. Back then, the Internet was being used only by a small band of computer enthusiasts, and books lamenting America's decline were rocketing up the best-seller lists. And my first book, titled The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovakian Army, still had some relevance. Today, neither of those exist anymore and my book is out of print.
But for all the changes, there are some fundamental facts that have not changed. The United States still faces grave security threats from ruthless tyrants.
Just as no one predicted September 11, 2001, no one predicted August 2, 1990 -- the date Saddam Hussein's Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait. But in both cases, a great nation set its sights on great causes, deploying our troops halfway around the world on a moment's notice to defend liberty and thwart the forces of murder and mayhem.
There is another enduring parallel between 1991 and today: America continues to be the world's guardian, defending freedom and advancing democracy, helping to make the world a safer -- and better -- place for all of us and all of our children. And just as a decade ago, we are striving to enable the maximum number of men and women of the world to experience the exhilaration -- and challenges -- of freedom.
This mission has assumed new significance since September 11. None of us will ever forget what happened that day or where we were when we heard the news. I was standing at my desk at 8:46 a.m. when my assistant told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center. My first thought was, "What a terrible accident." I called the President, then went downstairs to the Situation Room for my staff meeting, and about 15 minutes into it we were interrupted with the news that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. Within a few minutes, an officer ordered me to go to the White House bunker.
Once there, the Vice President and I met with the President by videoconference. And it was at that meeting that the President said, "We're going to get whoever did this."
In the hours and days that followed, the President set the broad outlines of our strategy. He began working to restore a sense of normalcy, ensuring that New York and the Pentagon were getting all the assistance they needed. And he worked to get some of our critical infrastructure, ranging from banks, to airports, to the New York Stock Exchange, up and running. He was determined to show the forces of terror that they could not disable the United States.
From our very first meeting, the President also made clear that we needed to think about the terrorism in global terms. Thus as we focused on the central role of Afghanistan, we quickly understood that Pakistan could be a critical ally. We received the support of our oldest allies: Britain and NATO. And of a new friend, Russia.
The President also ordered the Pentagon to quickly develop a military strategy for Afghanistan. It was a plan that was daring in conception and difficult in execution. It was truly outside the box, for a simple reason: the American military didn't have an operational plan on the shelf that said "Afghanistan Campaign." Indeed, there was no template on the shelf that said, your ground forces are going to be on horseback, complemented by 21st century air power.
But we quickly adapted to the new conditions that faced us. The President wanted the use of American military force to be forceful and deliberate. He understood immediately that the best defense is a good offense, that only the decisive use of American military power would win the war against terror.
The results speak for themselves: part of al-Qaida has been deprived of its bases, its leadership is on the run, and many of its operatives have been captured or killed. The Taliban regime has been routed. The effect has been the transformation of Afghanistan from a terrorist-sponsored state into a country led by people who are trying to create a brighter future.
There remains much work to be done. But the military's power and professionalism, a President who set clear objectives and has been focused and patient, and the support of an international coalition that understands this is a struggle between good and evil has brought us this far and will carry us to victory.
It will take years to understand the long-term effects of September 11. But even so, if we are to take advantage of the opportunities before us, we must act now.
First, there has been an end to innocence about international politics and about our own vulnerability. Over the past decade, some have argued that wars of consequence were relics of a bygone era. Some even predicted that the primary energies of America's armed forces would be devoted to what the military calls "operations other than war": civil conflict, ethnic conflict, and humanitarian missions.
On September 11, with this most aggressive attack on the most powerful country in the world, everybody looked around and said: 'There really is a threat, there really is evil, and it really does have to be confronted." And this reinforced one of the rediscovered truths about the world today: power matters in international politics and security.
Second, the events of September 11 underscored the need for the United States to devote more of our time and resources to securing our homeland. We are now engaged in trying to harden the country. That means thinking about airport security, visa requirements, protection of nuclear power plants, and other physical and cyber infrastructure.
It also means new levels of cooperation with our neighbors Mexico and Canada. We are working with them in unprecedented ways to construct smart and modern borders -- borders that protect us from those who would harm us, while facilitating the trade and human interchange that enrich us. We have enormous opportunities to work in partnership with Mexico's new democratic leadership to protect our common welfare -- and the President is determined to seize those opportunities.
Tom Ridge, who resigned as Governor of Pennsylvania to take this call to service, is doing a magnificent job of changing the way that we think about our vulnerability and respond to it. But everyone understands that if we are to remain who we are -- open and trusting and free -- we cannot harden the country enough to fully protect ourselves. Therefore, since his first address to the nation on September 11, the President has conveyed that we would make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbored them. The best defense is a good offense. We are taking the fight to them.
In addition to pursuing al-Qaida, we also pursued the Taliban and the Government of Afghanistan, as we knew they shared responsibility for the terrorist attacks.
With the Taliban eliminated and al-Qaida badly damaged, we have moved into the second stage of our war on terror. This war is a sustained campaign to deny sanctuary to terrorists -- regardless of where they are from and where they commit their crimes.
We have taken this step because if terrorists are going to be stopped, they must be treated as fugitives wherever they are in the world -- denying them a place to organize, a place to hide, and even a place to sleep. There must be no refuge, and no safe havens, for terrorists. We have been pleased with Pakistan's efforts in this regard, as the government provided critical assistance in the recent capture of Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenants.
Indeed, we have made clear to leaders on every continent that there is no such thing as a good terrorist and a bad terrorist. You cannot condemn al-Qaida and hug Hamas. Our message is that terrorism can support no cause. It is never -- never -- legitimate. It is, by its very nature, evil. Let us be clear: Terrorists have no positive agenda. Terrorists are not for anything. Terrorists are against peace, against freedom; they are against life itself.
Recent events in the Middle East illustrate the terrible damage done by terrorism. Innocent lives are being lost. People who could be living together in peace are being driven apart by death and destruction. This is a time for leadership, not for terror. And as the President said last Thursday, all in the Middle East must move decisively in word and deed against terrorist acts. The President also reiterated that the United States will always be a committed friend of Israel. But to lay the foundation for peace, the President has asked Israel to halt incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas, and begin withdrawing from those cities it has recently occupied. The path to peace will remain difficult, but our determination to work on its behalf will not waver. Every child -- every Israeli child and every Palestinian child -- deserves freedom from terror and, indeed, freedom itself.
The fourth observation I would make about the long-term implications of September 11 is that attacks underscored in the most dramatic fashion possible the need to deny terrorists the opportunity to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The world's most dangerous people simply cannot be permitted to obtain the world's most dangerous weapons. We recoil from the thought of 19 people as evil as the hijackers entering our country with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. And it is a stubborn and extremely troubling fact that the list of states that sponsor terror and the list of states that are seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction happen to overlap substantially.
The President was crystal clear in his State of the Union address about the growing danger posed by North Korea, Iran, and Iraq and states like these. These are brutally repressive regimes that are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The United States and our coalition partners must work together to prevent them from doing so.
Indeed, we will use every tool at our disposal to meet this grave global threat. We will work to strengthen nonproliferation regimes and export controls, and we will develop and deploy the full range of counterproliferation capabilities needed to protect our homeland, our forces abroad, and our friends and allies. We will use our new and budding relationship with Russia to redouble our efforts to prevent the leakage of dangerous materials and technologies. And we will move ahead with missile defense.
Our coalition must act deliberately, but inaction is not an option. As the President has said, we must not -- and we will not -- wait on events while dangers gather.
When you have an earthquake of the magnitude of 9/11, tectonic shifts in international politics ensue. As new dangers present themselves, so do new opportunities. And age-old problems are seen in a new light.
We have found new areas of cooperation in our relations with many nations. September 11 has, for example, hastened the transformation of our relationship with Russia, as it clarified our common security agenda. We have been pleased with Russia's support for, and cooperation with, the coalition against terrorism -- including Moscow's permission for our overflights, its sharing of intelligence, and its backing of U.S. deployments to Central Asia.
We have worked cooperatively with India on a range of issues, even as we work closely with Pakistan. And Germany and Japan have begun to taken on new security roles that correspond with their status as leading economic powers and democracies.
September 11 also underscored that even as we fight evil, as we leave the world safer, we must also leave it better. That is what we did in 1945 when we defeated Nazi tyranny and withstood the onward rush of Stalinism both by military might and the creation of new, strong democracies in Germany and Japan, establishing a world that traded in freedom.
That is why the President has put forward a new compact to promote economic development in the world's poorest nations. He proposed that within three budget years we increase America's core development assistance by 50 percent. The new funds will be devoted to projects in nations that govern justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom.
In Afghanistan, we are pressing to bring the country new opportunity -- and new hope. The American military will soon begin training troops who have enlisted in Afghanistan's new national army. On the humanitarian side, we are working with aid groups to vaccinate 2.2 million Afghan children against measles and to establish primary care community clinics. And we are helping to rebuild Afghanistan's roads, schools, and bridges.
I am particularly proud of our efforts to rebuild Afghanistan's educational system. We have printed and distributed more than 4 million primary school textbooks, and nearly 5 million more are on the way. We are also providing basic training for 4,000 teachers, at least half of whom are women.
March 23 was a special day in our efforts. That was when Afghan girls returned to school for the first time in nearly six years. Pictures and words from Afghanistan capture the significance of this achievement better than any speech. One news account told the story of a 35-year-old Afghan woman whose daughter was anxious to begin going to class for the first time in her life. The mother said, my daughter "woke up early in the morning and told me, "Wash my face and hands, I want to go to school." She didn't even want breakfast. She just wanted to go to school."
Stories like this are a reminder that the fight against terror is everyone's fight -- not just every American's, but every Afghan's, and every person on the planet who values hope and opportunity.
Throughout the world -- and particularly in places like Pakistan and many other Muslim countries -- the role of education to enlighten people and give them skills, rather than using schools to teach hatred and fuel old grievances, has become a key concern. President Musharraf made this point forcefully a few months ago. It is a point that we Americans understand fully.
There is one remarkable thing about education: It opens up to you the full range of possibilities of what you can be. At Stanford, I was always heartened to have a fourth-generation legatee sitting next to the son or daughter of a migrant farm worker. It reinforced that education is the equalizer and the great common experience.
Education also provides hope, and terrorism cannot stand in a world in which people have hope.
Texas A&M, like America itself, is committed to advancing opportunity through education. This commitment to education was critical in our hour of need, as we found a country that has been renewed in common values and a country that has been sustained by relying on honor, family, and faith. We still have a full agenda ahead of us. But renewed in who we are, renewed in our common purpose and our values, we are succeeding -- and we will succeed.
America stands for compassion and hope. We stand for rights that are inalienable and truths that are self-evident. With these universal principles under siege from purveyors of death and destruction, we need to -- and we will -- pursue our struggle for freedom and security without fear and without flagging.
September 11 reintroduced America to a part of itself that some had forgotten or that some thought we no longer had. We have been reminded that defending freedom was not just the work of the greatest generation, but is the work of every generation. And we will carry this better part of ourselves out into the wider world.
Thank you very much.
# # #