The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a
decisive victory for the forces of freedomand a single sustainable model for national success:
freedom, democracy, and free enterprise. In the twenty-first century, only nations that share a
commitment to protecting basic human rights and guaranteeing political and economic
freedom will be able to unleash the potential of their people and assure their future prosperity.
People everywhere want to be able to speak freely; choose who will govern them; worship as they
please; educate their childrenmale and female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their
labor. These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every societyand the
duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving
people across the globe and across the ages.
Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic
and political influence. In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength
to press for unilateral advantage.We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human
freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards
and challenges of political and economic liberty. In a world that is safe, people will be able to
make their own lives better.We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants.We will
preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace
by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.
Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the
Federal Government. Today, that task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed
great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of
individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase
a single tank. Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of
modern technologies against us.
To defeat this threat we must make use of every tool in our arsenalmilitary power, better
homeland defenses, law enforcement, intelligence, and vigorous efforts to cut off terrorist
financing. The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration.
America will help nations that need our assistance in combating terror. And America will hold
to account nations that are compromised by terror, including those who harbor terrorists
because the allies of terror are the enemies of civilization. The United States and countries
cooperating with us must not allow the terrorists to develop new home bases. Together, we will
seek to deny them sanctuary at every turn.
The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our
enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence
indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these
efforts to succeed.We will build defenses against ballistic missiles and other means of delivery.
We will cooperate with other nations to deny, contain, and curtail our enemies efforts to acquire
dangerous technologies. And, as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act
against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.We cannot defend America and our
friends by hoping for the best. So we must be prepared to defeat our enemies plans, using the
best intelligence and proceeding with deliberation. History will judge harshly those who saw this
coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and
security is the path of action.
As we defend the peace, we will also take advantage of an historic opportunity to preserve the
peace. Today, the international community has the best chance since the rise of the nation-state
in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers compete in peace instead of
continually prepare for war. Today, the worlds great powers find ourselves on the same side
united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. The United States will build on
these common interests to promote global security.We are also increasingly united by common
values. Russia is in the midst of a hopeful transition, reaching for its democratic future and a
partner in the war on terror. Chinese leaders are discovering that economic freedom is the only
source of national wealth. In time, they will find that social and political freedom is the only
source of national greatness. America will encourage the advancement of democracy and
economic openness in both nations, because these are the best foundations for domestic stability
and international order.We will strongly resist aggression from other great powerseven as we
welcome their peaceful pursuit of prosperity, trade, and cultural advancement.
Finally, the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom
across the globe.We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free
markets, and free trade to every corner of the world. The events of September 11, 2001, taught
us that weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests as
strong states. Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty,
weak institutions, and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and
drug cartels within their borders.
The United States will stand beside any nation determined to build a better future by seeking
the rewards of liberty for its people. Free trade and free markets have proven their ability to lift
whole societies out of povertyso the United States will work with individual nations, entire
regions, and the entire global trading community to build a world that trades in freedom and
therefore grows in prosperity. The United States will deliver greater development assistance
through the New Millennium Challenge Account to nations that govern justly, invest in their
people, and encourage economic freedom.We will also continue to lead the world in efforts to
reduce the terrible toll of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
In building a balance of power that favors freedom, the United States is guided by the conviction
that all nations have important responsibilities. Nations that enjoy freedom must actively fight
terror. Nations that depend on international stability must help prevent the spread of weapons
of mass destruction. Nations that seek international aid must govern themselves wisely, so that
aid is well spent. For freedom to thrive, accountability must be expected and required.
We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone.
Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations.
The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations, the World Trade
Organization, the Organization of American States, and NATO as well as other long-standing
alliances. Coalitions of the willing can augment these permanent institutions. In all cases,
international obligations are to be taken seriously. They are not to be undertaken symbolically
to rally support for an ideal without furthering its attainment.
Freedom is the non-negotiable demand of human dignity; the birthright of every personin
every civilization. Throughout history, freedom has been threatened by war and terror; it has
been challenged by the clashing wills of powerful states and the evil designs of tyrants; and it
has been tested by widespread poverty and disease. Today, humanity holds in its hands the
opportunity to further freedoms triumph over all these foes. The United States welcomes our
responsibility to lead in this great mission.
George W. Bush
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 17, 2002