Remarks of John Kerry For Immediate Release
A Smarter War on Terrorism
My fellow Americans, the most urgent national security challenge we face is the war against those who attacked our country on September 11th, the war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. As president, I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror. My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us.
When we look at the images of children
brutalized by remorseless terrorists in
We owe the American people a real debate about the choices President Bush has made… and the choices I will make… to fight and win the war against terrorism.
President Bush was right to invade
But since then, again and again, the President has made the wrong choices in the war on terror… around the world and here at home.
Instead of using
Instead of finishing the job in
Instead of listening to the uniformed
military, his own State Department, Democratic and Republican leaders in
Congress, and outside experts about how to win the peace in
Instead of responding to the greatest intelligence failure in our history with a rapid overhaul of our intelligence system … the President dragged his feet and actually resisted reform. After opposing the 9/11 Commission, after trying to block its extension, after finally agreeing to testify, but only with Vice President Cheney at his side, he still refuses to fully implement the Commission’s recommendations. Those were the wrong choices.
Instead of proposing a Department of Homeland Security … the President actually opposed it – and then exploited it for political purposes. That was the wrong choice.
Instead of expanding programs to keep weapons of mass destruction in Russia out of terrorist hands… the President first tried to cut the programs… and even after 9/11 did too little to strengthen them. That was the wrong choice.
Instead of facing the urgent nuclear
Instead of speaking forcefully to the Saudis and others about terrorist financing … the President has said little and done less. That was the wrong choice.
Instead of providing our police, firefighters, and ambulance drivers with the equipment they need… instead of protecting ports, trains, subway lines and highways… instead of defending nuclear plants and chemical factories… this President under-funded homeland security. That was the wrong choice.
Instead of bringing the world together against the terrorists… the President alienated the countries whose help we need to defeat them. That was the wrong choice.
Yet, in the face of all the misjudgments, all the miscalculations, and all the mistakes, the president still says he wouldn’t do anything different. I would. I will make very different choices in the war on terrorism. I know what has gone wrong… and what needs to be done.
I begin with this belief: The war on terror is as monumental a struggle as the Cold War. Its outcome will determine whether we and our children live in freedom or in fear. It is not, as some people think, a clash of civilizations. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is not the true face of Islam. This is a clash between civilization and the enemies of civilization; between humanity’s best hopes and most primitive fears. The danger we face today will become even greater if the terrorists acquire what we know they are seeking – weapons of mass destruction, which they would use to commit mass murder. We are confronting an enemy and an ideology that must be destroyed. We are in a war that must be won.
Americans know this. We understand the stakes. On September 11th there were no Democrats, no Republicans. We were only Americans. We all stood together. We all supported the President. We all prayed for victory, because we love our country and despise everything our enemies stand for.
But three years after 9/11, we see our enemies striking -- in Spain, in Turkey, in Indonesia, in Kenya, and now every day -- in the most despicable and gruesome ways in Iraq, which was not a terrorist haven before the invasion. In fact, there were more terrorist attacks in the world last year than the year before. And we see an administration in confusion; we hear the president, the commander in chief, proclaiming one day that this war can’t be won and then saying something different the next day. And we hear the Secretary of Defense himself wondering whether the radicals are recruiting, training, and deploying more terrorists than we’re capturing or killing.
Then, yesterday, when asked about conditions in Iraq, Secretary Rumsfeld told Congress, and I quote: “Let’s pretend, hypothetically, that you get to election time in January and let’s pretend that it’s roughly like it is, or a little worse, which it could be, because you’ve got to expect it to continue….So be it, nothing is perfect in life.” If there was any doubt that the leaders of the Bush Administration are living in a fantasy world of spin, I think Secretary Rumsfeld put that doubt to rest.
We need to end this confusion. We need
national leaders who will face reality – not only in
The invasion of
I will wage this war relentlessly with
a single-minded determination: to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their
movement and free the world from fear.
To destroy our enemy, we have to know our enemy. We have to understand that we are facing a
radical fundamentalist movement with global reach and a very specific
plan. They are not just out to kill us
for the sake of killing us. They want to
provoke a conflict that will radicalize the people of the Muslim world, turning
them against the
The American people have a right to
hear the answer to a fundamental question:
How are we going to win this war?
What is our strategy for eliminating the terrorists, discrediting their
cause, and smashing their forces so that
Every week too many American families
grieve for loved ones killed in
That will take time. It will not be easy. But it can be done. And I have a comprehensive strategy for victory over terrorism.
First, I will build a stronger, smarter military and intelligence capability to capture or kill our enemies.
As president, I will expand our Army by 40,000 troops so that we have more soldiers to find and fight the enemy. I will double our Army Special Forces capacity. And we will accelerate the development and deployment of new technologies to track down and bring down terrorists.
I will strengthen our intelligence
system to detect and stop the terrorists before they can strike. By the morning of September 12th, everyone in
When I am president, that will change. I will act immediately to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. I will create a National Intelligence Director with all the budget and personnel authority the Commission says is needed to keep us safe. I will double our overseas clandestine service, train the linguists and Arab experts we need, and make sure the operation – hunting down bin Laden and al Qaeda -- has all the resources it needs.
I will make
As president, I will not subcontract
the fight to warlords who are out for nothing but power and personal gain. I will help the government of
Second, I will move decisively to deny the terrorists the deadly weapons they seek.
Those weapons were not in
When I’m president, denying our most
dangerous enemies the world’s most dangerous weapons will become the central
I will secure all nuclear weapons and
materials in the former
I will seek a verifiable global ban on the production of materials for nuclear weapons.
Nowhere is the nuclear danger more
urgent than in
I will make it clear to
Yesterday, there were reports that
Third, as president, I will wage a war on terrorist finances every bit as total as the war we wage on the terrorists themselves. We will trace terrorist funds to their sources and freeze the assets of anyone -- any person, bank, business or foreign official -- who is financing terrorism. I know how to do this. As Senator, I exposed and helped dismantle an international bank that was one of the early financiers of terrorism. We did it by following the money. We can and must do the same to choke off the dollars that are funding al Qaeda and its allies. On this, I will grant no one a "free pass.”
As president, I will do what President
Bush has not: I will hold the Saudis accountable. Since 9/11, there have been no public
Fourth, as president, I will make homeland security a real priority by offering a real plan, and backing it with real resources.
The first task is to prevent terrorists and their tools of destruction from entering our country.
We know that al Qaeda members and other
terrorists could cross into
At our seaports we’re physically
inspecting only 5% of the cargo coming into
At our airports, there has been some progress, but there is far more to do. According to news accounts, the terrorist aviation list only includes those who are a danger to aviation. This is ridiculous. It should include every suspected terrorist who is a danger to anything, anywhere in our country.
Terrorists used explosives to bring
down two planes in
This has to change. In a Kerry-Edwards Administration, we’ll give inspectors at our borders access to the terrorist watch lists. At our ports, we will provide a 600 percent increase in support for the most promising cargo inspection programs. In our airports, we’ll install the equipment to check passengers for explosives to screen cargo just like we screen baggage. And across the country, we will make sure our police, firefighters, and ambulance drivers have the latest radios, hazmat suits, decontamination facilities, and emergency operation centers they need to respond effectively in a crisis.
This is all common sense; but none of it is a priority for the Bush Administration. Here’s what’s on their agenda. Costly new nuclear weapons we don’t need that risk fueling a new arms race. And committing to a missile defense system that could eventually cost $100 billion doesn’t yet work and won’t stop likely threats to our security.
Near here, in the
At a time when police officers are more critical than ever to our homeland security, this President gutted the program to put 100,000 new police on our streets. I will restore that funding and make sure the money reaches our first responders.
This President has failed to provide
even a nickel in his budget to safeguard our railroads and subways – leaving
millions of people every day more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. We will invest more than $2 billion in new
funding to protect our transit systems, so that what happened in
Fifth, as we go after the terrorists and secure our homeland, I will focus on the long-term frontline of this war. To defeat the terrorists’ aims, we must deny them recruits and safe havens.
For al Qaeda, this war is a struggle
for the heart and soul of the Muslim world.
We will win this war only if the terrorists lose that struggle. We will win when ordinary people from
So we will win when we show that
We will win when we work with our allies, to enable children in poor countries to get a quality basic education. More than 50 percent of the population in the Arab and Muslim world is under the age of 25. The future is a race between schools that spark learning and schools that teach hate. We have to preempt the haters. We have to win the war of ideas. New generations must believe there is more to life than salvation through martyrdom.
Sixth, we will promote the development of free and democratic societies throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Millions of people there share our values of human rights, and our hopes for a better life for the next generation. They are facing their own struggle at home against the forces of fanaticism and militancy. They are our natural allies. Their lost trust in our intentions must be restored. We must reach out to them and yes we must always promote democracy. I will be clear with repressive governments in the region that we expect to see them change – not just for our sake but for their own survival.
As president, I will lead a massive national effort to improve our outreach to the Muslim world. We will train a new generation of American scholars, diplomats, and military officers, who know this region just as we built our knowledge of the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. I will convene a summit with our European partners and leaders from the Muslim world to strengthen mutual understanding, economic growth and the fight against terror.
Let it be clear that the issue here is
advancing democracy in Arab nations, not yielding to pressure to undermine
Finally, we will be stronger if we do not go it alone. As president, I will rebuild and lead strong alliances. This is not only critical to our military operations; it is essential to every other measure we must take, from tracking down terrorists, where we need the intelligence cooperation of other nations, to homeland security, where we need their help to stop terrorists and their weapons before they ever reach our shores.
We will not succeed in destroying
freedom’s adversaries if we are divided from freedom’s friends. The terrorists certainly understand
that. They are making a special effort
to set off bombs in
But the Bush administration would have you believe that when it comes to our allies, it won’t make a difference who is president. They say the Europeans won’t help us, no matter what. We’re not going to get more cooperation in the war on terror, no matter what. Ordinary people around the world will resent us, no matter what. But I have news for President Bush: just because you can’t do something, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
The first President Bush waged the
first Gulf War with a real coalition that fought with us on the battlefield and
paid virtually the entire cost of that war.
President Clinton built a real coalition in Kosovo, and now virtually
every soldier on patrol there comes from a foreign country. During the Cold War, every American president
understood what is still true today: The
strength of our country is vital but so is the character of our country. It is better to be an
I believe we can win the war on terror. We can defeat, capture and kill those who commit terror. I have just outlined a strategy for victory.
I know this struggle will be waged in
many ways and many places. I know that
it will be a long and difficult struggle.
I know we have to be resolute in confronting the evil that exists in the
world. But in the end, one of our
greatest strengths, one of our greatest safeguards, is that
No American mother should have to lie awake at night worrying whether her children will be safe at school the next day. No one should fear visiting our nation’s capitol or our greatest cities because they might be attacked.
Our hope – our determination – is nothing less than this: to live our lives confident that we are safe at home and secure in our world. And that is the great victory I will fight for as your President.
Thank you, God bless you and God bless
Kerry Attacks Bush's Handling of Campaign Against Terror
By MARIA NEWMAN
Senator John Kerry assailed President Bush today for going after Saddam Hussein when he should have been focused on hunting down Osama Bin Laden, and said that the Bush administration was "in confusion" about how to combat the growth of terrorism.
The senator also said that the West must reach out to Islamic youth around the world and convince those inclined to militancy that "there is more to life than salvation through martyrdom."
Mr. Kerry, continuing to hammer, as he
has all week, at the president's policies on
"The invasion of
Mr. Kerry said that because Mr. Bush
had focused the military's might and money on fighting Mr. Hussein's regime,
The Democratic presidential candidate offered up a detailed strategy to contain terrorism, and called for more attention to the politics, culture and economics of the broad Islamic world, and more cooperation with allies to fight the growth of terrorism within some Islamic factions and communities.
"We have to win the war of ideas," he said, pointing out that more than 50 percent of the population in the Arab and Muslim world is under age 25.
"If all they get to do is go to radical Islamic madrassas and learn how to hate and learn how to strap themselves with explosives, we have a problem for years to come, my friends," he said. "New generations have to believe that there is more to life than salvation through martyrdom."
"The war on terror is the monumental struggle of our time, it is as monumental a struggle as the cold war," Mr. Kerry said. "Its outcome will determine whether we and our children will live in freedom or in fear. It is not, as some people think, a clash of civilizations. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is not the true face of Islam."
With many polls showing that voters
have more confidence in Mr. Bush's approach to the war in
Senator Kerry said that the president
was "living in a fantasy world of spin" even as some senior advisers
and fellow Republicans, privately and publicly, express concern over the
growing violence in
"We hear the president, the commander in chief, proclaiming one day that this war can't be won, and then saying something different the next day," Mr. Kerry said. "And we hear the secretary of defense himself wondering whether the radicals are recruiting, training, and deploying more terrorists than we are capturing or killing."
Senator Kerry's remarks came a day
after the interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, paid
On Thursday, President Bush said,
"You can understand it's tough and still be optimistic," and Mr.
Allawi vowed that elections would be held in January even though "they may
not be perfect" because of the rising violence in parts of
Senator Kerry responded by saying that the prime minister was contradicting himself, alternately saying that terrorists were pouring into the country and that they were on the defensive.
Today, the president, who was in
"You can't lead this country if
your ally in
And while he continued to sound
optimistic about the war in
"You know, we weep when we see a person be beheaded on our TV screens," he said, adding, "We value human dignity in our society."
"That's why it's very important for us to not send mixed signals to the world, not embolden these people," he added.
Today, Mr. Kerry set forth a detailed
seven-point proposal for how he would fight terrorism, a plan that includes
going after those who finance terrorist operations, including those in
"I will do what President Bush has not: I will hold the Saudis accountable," Mr. Kerry said, in a discussion that drew a standing ovation and his loudest applause.
He said that since 9/11, there had been
no prosecutions of terrorist financial backers in
"And I will pursue a plan to make
this nation energy independent of
Mr. Kerry also said he would increase
by 40,000 the number of troops "not for
He further said he would beef up domestic security, including better protection at the nation's ports and more security in vulnerable areas like subways "so that what happened in Madrid doesn't happen here in the United States of America."
Mr. Kerry also said that any plan to fight terrorism had to go beyond just sending in American troops. He said his plan included initiatives to keep terrorists from increasing their ranks and to promote the development of free and democratic societies in the Islamic world.
In order to keep the ranks of terrorists from growing, he said, Americans must become smarter about countering the efforts of Al Qaeda to win "the heart and soul of the Muslim world."
"We will win this war only if the terrorists lose that struggle," he said. "We will win when ordinary people from Nigeria to Egypt, to Pakistan, to Indonesia know that they have more to live for than to die for."
He said that many of the terrorists' recruits were coming from poor Muslim communities. Under his plan, the United States could use its economic power to help poor Muslim countries in exchange for "them living up to goals of social and economic progress."
Lastly, Mr. Kerry said that the United States would have to work harder to win allies in its struggle against terrorism. "We will not succeed in destroying freedom's adversaries if we are divided from freedom's friends," he said.
"The terrorists certainly understand that," he said. "They're making a special effort to set off bombs in Turkey, Morocco and Indonesia. They want to keep other countries from standing with us in the war on terror. They know what the Bush administration has been so reluctant to admit — that we are weaker when we fight almost alone."
He said that the Bush administration had said that the United States must act alone because the Europeans "won't help us, no matter what."
"I have news for President Bush," Mr. Kerry said. "Just because you can't do it, doesn't mean it can't be done."
"I believe we can win the war on terror," he said.