As violence rages from Baghdad to Beirut, George W. Bush was asked today to explain "what has happened to America's clout in this region that you've committed yourself to transform?" Here's how he responded:
"It's an interesting period because, instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability. For a while, American foreign policy was just, 'Let's hope everything is calm' -- kind of, managed calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested on September the 11th. And so we've taken a foreign policy that says: On the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short run by being aggressive in chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice.
"And make no mistake: They're still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for. In the long term, to defeat this ideology -- and they're bound by an ideology -- you defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom. And, look, I fully understand some people don't believe it's possible for freedom and democracy to overcome this ideology of hatred. I understand that. I just happen to believe it is possible. And I believe it will happen.
"And so what you're seeing is, you know, a clash of governing styles.
"For example, you know, the notion of democracy beginning to emerge scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, those who want to impose their vision. It just frightens them. And so they respond. They've always been violent.
"You know, I hear this amazing kind of editorial thought that says, all of a sudden, Hezbollah's become violent because we're promoting democracy. They have been violent for a long period of time. Or Hamas? One reason why the Palestinians still suffer is because there are militants who refuse to accept a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles.
"And so what the world is seeing is a desire by this country and our allies to defeat the ideology of hate with an ideology that has worked and that brings hope. And one of the challenges, of course, is to convince people that Muslims would like to be free, that there's other people other than people in Britain and America that would like to be free in the world.
"There's this kind of almost -- kind of a weird kind of elitism that says well maybe -- maybe certain people in certain parts of the world shouldn't be free; maybe it's best just to let them sit in these tyrannical societies. And our foreign policy rejects that concept. And we don't accept it. And so we're working.
"And this is -- I said the other day, when these attacks took place, I said it should be a moment of clarity for people to see the stakes in the 21st century. I mean, now there's an unprovoked attack on a democracy. Why? I happen to believe because progress is being made toward democracies.
"And I believe that -- I also believe that Iran would like to exert additional influence in the region; a theocracy would like to spread its influence using surrogates.
"And so I'm as determined as ever to continue fostering a foreign policy based upon liberty. And I think it's going to work unless we lose our nerve and quit. And this government isn't going to quit."