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Debating president’s speech

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, September 25, 2003

Last year at this time, President George Bush delivered a speech acclaimed even by the amnesic media as a powerful indictment of Iraq, and of the United Nations itself.

Yesterday, the president outdid himself. Most major news editorials, and even the “stories” themselves, portray the president’s speech as something ranging from “puzzling” to outright “failure.”

It is difficult to comprehend how such important statements as the president made yesterday, could go unrecognized by so many. David Frum of the National Review probably provides the best answer: The press is “disappointed because Bush neither apologized to the United Nations … nor pleaded for its support.”

Prejudiced disppointment is seemingly the only way the talking heads could have so spectacularly failed to grasp the import of Bush’s words. David Frum got it: The president rejected outright any notion that he made the wrong decision when he invaded Iraq. He dispelled any suspicion that he may feel chided by events in Iraq and international opposition, or that his willingness to carry on the war might be faltering. The war on terrorism continues. Bush is undeterred in that conviction.

The editorials variously describe the speech as “mild” or “perfunctory.” Did they read it? Speaking of terrorists and suicide bombers who target relief workers and innocents, “have no place in any religious faith … and they should have no friends in this chamber.” He looked the General Assembly in the eye when he said that.

“Between those who seek order and those who spread chaos … there is no neutral ground. All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization.” He looked Syria, Iran, North Korea and France in the eyes when he said that. The president repeated almost verbatim the words from his first war speech and his first State of the Union Address. You are either with us or against us. We have not wavered from the determination, to enforce the line which we have consciously drawn in the sand.

The fact that most nations in the world, and all nations in the Middle East, refuse to stand squarely on our side or either side, only reinforces our determination to exact from them the consequences of their choices. “The former regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq knew these alternatives, and made their choices.” Don’t tell me that didn’t stiffen a few spines, or for those lacking, cause a distinct tingling.

Despite all the criticism, all the opposition, the president remains resolute. Like it or no, that was a rousing speech.

Padraic McDermott


off campus

Sept. 24