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Transcript: At U.N., Bush Defends His Decision to Go to War

FDCH E-Media, Inc.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004; 11:44 AM

Following is the full text of President Bush's address to the United Nations General Assembly:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you for the honor of addressing this General Assembly. The American people respect the idealism that gave life to this organization. And we respect the men and women of the U.N., who stand for peace and human rights in every part of the world.

Welcome to New York City. And welcome to the United States of America.

During the past three years, I've addressed this General Assembly in a time of tragedy for our country, and in times of decision for all of us. Now we gather at a time of tremendous opportunity for the U.N., and for all peaceful nations.

For decades the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world. This progress has brought unity to Europe, self-government to Latin America and Asia and new hope to Africa.

Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace, founded on human freedom.

The United Nations and my country share the deepest commitments. Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life.

That dignity is honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice and religious tolerance.

That dignity is dishonored by oppression, corruption, tyranny, bigotry, terrorism and all violence against the innocent.

And both of our founding documents affirm that this bright line between justice and injustice, between right and wrong, is the same in every age and every culture and every nation.

Wise governments also stand for these principles for very practical and realistic reasons.

We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.

We know that oppressive governments support terror, while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst.

We know that free peoples embrace progress and life instead of becoming the recruits for murderous ideologies.

Every nation that wants peace will share the benefits of a freer world. And every nation that seeks peace has an obligation to help build that world.

Eventually there is no safe isolation from terror networks or failed states that shelter them or outlaw regimes or weapons of mass destruction.

Eventually there is no safety in looking away, seeking the quiet life by ignoring the struggles and oppression of others.

In this young century, our world needs a new definition of security. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence or some balance of power, the security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind.

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