By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
May 1, 2007 – More than 90 nations around the world that have joined the United States in fighting terrorism and stemming its spread are helping build a more peaceful future for generations to come, President Bush said today in Tampa, Fla. "We appreciate your countries' contributions to this enormous challenge in the 21st century," Bush said in an address to the U.S. Central Command Coalition Conference at MacDill Air Force Base.
"CENTCOM's Coalition Village is a welcome reminder that in the fight against radicals and extremists and murders of the innocent, we stand as one," he said.
Together, he said, the countries represented in the village have helped liberate millions of people and kept millions more safe.
Bush compared the fight against terrorism to the Cold War, when the United States and its allies held firmly against communism, even when victory seemed elusive. "Once again it is vital that allies, despite occasional disagreements, hold firm against vicious and determined enemies," he said.
The president praised countries that have stepped up to the plate to work together in the face of this threat. "An era of new threats requires new forms of engagement, new strategies and new tactics," he said. "So we've reinvigorated historic alliances such as NATO and formed new and dynamic coalitions to address the dangers of our time."
These alliances are paying off in countering terrorism, he said. The United States and its allies have shared intelligence that has helped thwart many attacks. They uncovered and stopped terrorist conspiracies targeting embassies in Yemen and Singapore and ships in the Straits of Hormuz and Gibraltar. They stopped a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives. They stopped an al Qaeda cell seeking to develop anthrax. British authorities disrupted a plot to blow up U.S.-bound aircraft flying over the Atlantic.
In addition, coalition forces working together have captured or killed key terror network leaders, the president said. Philippine forces killed top leaders of an al Qaeda affiliate. Spanish police captured fugitives wanted in connection with the Madrid train bombings. Terror cells have been broken up in Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, France, Indonesia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.
Bush warned against settling for these victories. "We must stay on the offense," he said. "We must defeat the enemy overseas so we don't have to face them in our countries."
The president cited initiatives the United States and its allies have undertaken to foil terrorist efforts, including:
-- Shutting down funding channels and freezing assets to make it difficult to finance attacks;
-- Imposing measures to identify terrorist financers and prevent them from using the international system to fund their efforts;
-- Training local forces to conduct counterterrorism activities in their own regions;
-- Taking steps to stop terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction;
-- Working to stop shipments of WMD materials through the Proliferation Security Initiative; and
-- Confronting adversaries who threaten international security around the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bush cited the coalition's success in freeing Afghanistan from Taliban and al Qaeda oppression and helping it build a new democracy in the Middle East.
"Just as America and our allies are standing together in Afghanistan, a determined coalition is committed to winning the fight in Iraq," he said.
Leaving Iraq too soon would have lasting repercussions in the region and world, he said. Radicals and extremists would be emboldened, better able to attract new recruits, and left to believe that they could strike free nations anywhere.
"Failure in Iraq should be unacceptable to the civilized world," he said. "The risks are enormous."
Bush praised the coalition of more than 30 countries supporting operations in Iraq. Seventeen NATO nations have contributed forces or been part of the NATO training mission to help the Iraqis. In addition, Georgia recently agreed to contribute 2,000 troops.
By helping ensure a free Iraq and by working to ensure its long-term stability, these countries are laying the foundation for a peaceful future, he said.
Achieving that goal won't be easy, he said, just as it wasn't easy for past generations to fight oppression.
"These are difficult times. These are tough times," the president said. "These are times that test the resolve of free people. These are times that require hard work and courage and faith in the ability of liberty to yield the peace we want."
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