Saturday, November 27, 2004

Access of Evil - or - Everything I need to know about terrorism I learned in the 50s. - Part I

Compare and contrast these two speeches separated by 50 years.


This …Congress faces as grave a task as any Congress in the history of our Republic. The actions you take will be watched by the whole world. These actions will measure the ability of a free people, acting through their chosen representatives and the its free institutions, to meet a deadly challenge to their way of life.

We can meet this challenge foolishly or wisely. We can meet it timidly or bravely, shamefully or honorably.

I know that the …Congress will meet this challenge in a way worthy of our great heritage. I know that your debates will be earnest, responsible, constructive, and to the point. I know that from these debates there will come the great decisions needed to carry us forward.

At this critical time, I am glad to say that our country is in a healthy condition. Our democratic institutions are sound and strong. We have more men and women at work than ever before. We are able to produce more than ever before in fact, far more than any country ever produced in the history of the world.

I am confident that we can succeed in the great task that lies before us.

We will succeed, but we must all do our part. We must all act together as citizens of this great Republic.

As we meet here today, American soldiers are fighting a bitter campaign in Afghanistan. We pay tribute to their courage, devotion, and gallantry.

Our men are fighting, alongside their coalition allies, because they know, as we do, that the aggression in Afghanistan is part of the attempt of the terrorists to take over the world, step by step.

Our men are fighting a long way from home, but they are fighting for our lives and our liberties. They are fighting to protect our right to meet here today-our right to govern ourselves as a free nation.

The threat of world conquest by terrorists endangers our liberty and endangers the kind of world in which the free spirit of man can survive. This threat is aimed at all peoples who strive to win or defend their own freedom and national independence.

The free nations do not have any aggressive purpose. We want only peace in the world-peace for all countries. No threat to the security of any nation is concealed in our plans and programs.

The present leaders of Al Quaeda have shown that they are willing to use this power to destroy the free nations and win domination over the whole world.

The terrorists have two ways of going about their destructive work. They use the method of subversion and internal revolution, and they use the method of external aggression. In preparation for either of these methods of attack, they stir up … strife and disorder. They encourage sabotage. They put out poisonous propaganda. They deliberately try to prevent economic improvement.

If their efforts are successful, they foment a revolution, as they did in Iran and Afghanistan, .... If their methods of subversion are blocked, and if they think they can get away with outright warfare, they resort to external aggression. …

We … must be ready to meet both of these methods of Al Quaeda aggression. We must not neglect one or the other.

We have the power and resources to meet these two forms of aggression resources that are far greater than those of the terrorists. … And above all, we cherish liberty. Our common ideals are a great part of our strength. These ideals are the driving force of human progress.

We believe in the dignity and the worth of man.

We believe in freedom for all people.

We believe that free and independent people can band together into a world order based on democracy. We have laid the cornerstone of such a peaceful world in Afghanistan.

We believe that such a world order can and should spread the benefits of freedom and democracy throughout the world.

These ideals give our cause a power and vitality that the forces of terrorism can never command.

We however, are bound together by more than ideals. They are a real community bound together also by the ties of self-interest and self-preservation. If they should fall apart, the results would be fatal to human freedom.

... Our national safety would be gravely prejudiced if Al Quaeda were to succeed in unleashing weapons of mass destruction on the free nations of the world.

We are the most powerful country in the free world, and we have a special responsibility. We must take the leadership in meeting the challenge to freedom and in helping to protect the rights of independent nations.

This country has a practical, realistic program of action for meeting this challenge.

First,... the best way to stop terrorism is to strike at its roots ... …

These actions will bring greater strength for the free world. They will give many people a real stake in the future and reason to defend their freedom. …

Second, we shall need to continue our military assistance to people who want to defend themselves.

… But we will not engage in appeasement.

The terrorists have made it clear that we must have strength as well as right on our side. If we build our strength-and we are building it- Al Quaeda will face the facts and lay aside their plans to impose their will on the world.

… That is the only realistic road to peace.

These are the main elements of the course our Nation must follow.... These are the things we must do to preserve our security and help create a peaceful world. But they will be successful only if we increase the strength of our own country.

Here at home we have some very big jobs to do. We are building much stronger military forces-and we are building them fast. We are preparing for full wartime mobilization, if that should be necessary. And we are continuing to build a strong and growing economy, able to maintain whatever effort may be required for as long as necessary.

We are building our own Army, Navy, and Air Force ... We are stepping up the training of the reserve forces, and establishing more training facilities, so that we can rapidly increase our active forces far more on short notice.

We are going to produce all the weapons and equipment that such an armed force will need…. On top of this, we will build the capacity to turn out on short notice arms and supplies that may be needed for a full-scale war.

The second part is to increase our capacity to produce and to keep our economy strong for the long pull. We do not know how long terrorist aggression will threaten the world.

But in a long-term defense effort like this one, we cannot neglect the measures needed to maintain a strong economy and a healthy democratic society.

And above all, we must remember that the fundamentals of our strength rest upon the freedoms of our people. We must continue our efforts to achieve the full realization of our democratic ideals. We must uphold the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience in our land. …

As we go forward this year in the defense of freedom, let us keep clearly before us the nature of our present effort.

We are building up our strength, … to meet the danger of aggression that has been turned loose on the world. The strength of the free nations is the world's best hope of peace.

Let us all stand together as Americans. Let us stand together with all men every where who believe in human liberty.

Peace is precious to us. It is the way of life we strive for with all the strength and wisdom we possess. But more precious than peace are freedom and justice. We will fight, if fight we must, to keep our freedom and to prevent justice from being destroyed.

These are the things that give meaning to our lives, and which we acknowledge to be greater than ourselves.

This is our cause-peace, freedom, justice. We will pursue this cause with determination and humility, asking divine guidance that in all we do we may follow the will of God.


Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our alarm has turned to anger, and anger to resolution….

I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time…

… enemies of freedom threaten our country. Americans have known wars ... Americans have known the casualties of war … a world where freedom itself is under attack.

… Our enemy is a radical network of communists, and every person that supports them.

Our war on communism begins with Soviet imperialism, but it does not end there. It will not end until every communist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

… They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in the free world. …

These communists threaten …to disrupt and end a way of life. With every act of aggression, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the past. … they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.

Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

This war will not be like the war … a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. …

…. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen…. We will starve communist cells of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue individuals that provide aid or safe haven to communism. Every person … now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the communists. From this day forward, any one that support(s) communism will be regarded by the United States as an enemy of freedom.

Our nation has been put on notice: We are not immune …. We will take defensive measures against communism to protect Americans. Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security. These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. …

These measures are essential. But the only way to defeat communism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows.

Many will be involved in this effort... All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers. And tonight… I have a message for our military: Be ready. I've called the Armed Forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.

This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us. ... Perhaps the NATO Charter reflects best the attitude of the world: A threat to one is a threat to all.

The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if this communism goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Communism …can threaten the stability of legitimate governments. And you know what -- we're not going to allow it.

… I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.

I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here. We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. ...

I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Communists threaten American prosperity. It does not touch its source. America is successful because of the hard work, and creativity, and enterprise of our people. …

And, finally, please continue praying for … those in uniform, and for our great country. Prayer has comforted us in sorrow, and will help strengthen us for the journey ahead.

Tonight, we face new and sudden national challenges. …

We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America's economy.…

After all that has just passed … it is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of communist aggression. I know there are struggles ahead, and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of tyranny; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.

… we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of tyranny from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.

…I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

Fellow citizens, we'll meet tyranny with patient justice -- assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom, and may He watch over the United States of America.

One of these speeches was delivered in 1951, the other 2001. Now a confession, I've altered them both. I've flipped the words Communist and Terrorist and deleted historically specific references. The first speech is Harry Truman's 1951 State of the Union. The second is George W Bush's 2001 State of Union. The ellipses represent the text I've omitted. The bold text represents the text I've changed.

I was attempting to show how much of the mindset of our present War on Terrorism is rooted in a Cold War mentality. Largely, I think this is evident. What I found, also, was that it wasn't sufficient to omit or alter historically specific references. Truman's speech, for example, reads in its unaltered form as a plea for multi-lateralism. To make it read correctly I had to replace the phrase "free nations" with the word "we" in places.

In Part II, I intend to look more closely at each text - their differences and similarities. And also I'll look more closely at the changes necessary to make each read as if it were displaced in time by 50 years , and what those changes reveal. Finally, I'll look at why it was much easier to alter Truman's speech than Bush's and what that reveals too.

Stay tuned.

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