Friday, April 20th, 2007
Bush talks to students about war on terrorism
By Timothy Cox
TIPP CITY - President George W. Bush's foreign policy is dictated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said Thursday.
Bush spoke at Tippecanoe High School in Tipp City at the invitation of businessman Steve Bruns, a Mercer County native, who invited the president to the area through a fax sent to The White House.
The event marked Bush's 47th visit to Ohio since he first won election.
He talked to the crowd of 500 about the 9/11 attacks and how they changed his presidency. He also talked about the ongoing war on terror and included the current war in Iraq as part of that effort.
"It was a - it was a moment that defined a dangerous world to me with absolute clarity," Bush said. "I realized then that this country was no longer invulnerable to attack from what may be happening overseas.
Bush called Iraq the current battleground in the war on terror that ensued following the 9/11 attacks. The al-Qaida terrorist group wants to drive the United States out of Iraq so it can establish a safe haven such as it did in Afghanistan prior to 9/11, Bush said.
"We must aggressively pursue the enemy and defeat them elsewhere so we don't have to face them here," Bush said, adding that America can no longer afford to let legitimate threats simmer in other parts of the world.
Bush admitted that the lengthy stay in Iraq has grown unpopular among Americans, but said he stands by his actions. The main role of a president is to make difficult decisions, he said.
"I'm optimistic that the decisions I have made will yield a better tomorrow," Bush said.
Pulling American troops out of Iraq now or in the near future - as some Bush critics want - is not the answer, the president said. Doing so would mean a victory for the terrorists, who would likely perceive the nation as "soft," he said.
Bush also renewed his criticism of members of Congress who refuse to support an Iraq war supplemental spending bill without timelines for troop withdrawal. The president has vowed to veto any legislation with such strings attached.
Victory in Iraq is essential so the Iraqi people can be free and a new democracy can thrive in the Middle East, Bush said."Our objective also is to help a young democracy flourish in a part of the world that desperately needs liberty."
Although Bush spoke for nearly 90 minutes, a lot of it about terrorism, he never uttered the words "Islam" or "Muslim." Instead, he used terms such as "radicals," "extremists," "cold-blooded killers," "al-Qaida" and "suiciders." He did menton "Shia" and "Sunni," which are Islamic factions.
At the beginning of the event, Bruns walked on stage ahead of Bush. After calling for a moment of silence for the Virginia Tech shootings, Bruns did what few others ever get to do.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States!" he said with a wide grin.
Bruns is a native of Cranberry Prairie and many of his family members still live locally. Several family members were on hand for the presidential visit sparked by Bruns' fax.
Several other county residents were in attendance. They include newly appointed state Rep. Jim Zehringer, who had a front row seat, state Sen. Keith Faber, Mercer County Republican Party Chairman Owen Hall and Dr. Tom Schwieterman.
U.S. Rep. John Boehner also attended but did not speak. Most other attendants were members of the Miami County Chamber of Commerce; about 30 Tippecanoe high students also attended and the rest of the school watched on closed-circuit television from their classrooms.