Remarks by the President on the Six-Month Anniversary of the
September 11th Attacks
The South Lawn, Washington, DC
March 11, 2002
THE PRESIDENT: Diplomatic representatives of the coalition of
nations; members of the Congress, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court;
members of the American Armed Forces; military coalition members
from around the world; distinguished guests; and ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to the White House.
We have come together to mark a terrible day, to reaffirm a just
and vital cause, and to thank the many nations that share our
resolve and will share our common victory.
Six months separate us from September the 11th. Yet, for the families
of the lost, each day brings new pain; each day requires new courage.
Your grace and strength have been an example to our nation. America
will not forget the lives that were taken, and the justice their
We face an enemy of ruthless ambition, unconstrained by law or
morality. The terrorists despise other religions and have defiled
their own. And they are determined to expand the scale and scope
of their murder. The terror that targeted New York and Washington
could next strike any center of civilization. Against such an
enemy, there is no immunity, and there can be no neutrality.
Many nations and many families have lived in the shadows of terrorism
for decades -- enduring years of mindless and merciless killing.
September the 11th was not the beginning of global terror, but
it was the beginning of the world's concerted response. History
will know that day not only as a day of tragedy, but as a day
of decision -- when the civilized world was stirred to anger and
to action. And the terrorists will remember September 11th as
the day their reckoning began.
A mighty coalition of civilized nations is now defending our common
security. Terrorist assets have been frozen. Terrorist front groups
have been exposed. A terrorist regime has been toppled from power.
Terrorist plots have been unraveled, from Spain to Singapore.
And thousands of terrorists have been brought to justice, are
in prison, or are running in fear of their lives.
With us today are representatives from many of our partners in
this great work, and we're proud to display their flags at the
White House this morning. From the contributions these nations
have made -- some well known, others not -- I am honored to extend
the deepest gratitude of the people of the United States.
The power and vitality of our coalition have been proven in Afghanistan.
More than half of the forces now assisting the heroic Afghan fighters,
or providing security in Kabul, are from countries other than
the United States. There are many examples of commitment: our
good ally, France, has deployed nearly one-fourth of its navy
to support Operation Enduring Freedom, and Great Britain has sent
its largest naval task force in 20 years. British and American
special operations forces have fought beside teams from Australia,
and Canada, Norway, Denmark and Germany. In total, 17 nations
have forces deployed in the region. And we could not have done
our work without critical support from countries, particularly
like Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
Japanese destroyers are refueling coalition ships in the Indian
Ocean. The Turkish air force has refueled American planes. Afghans
are receiving treatment in hospitals built by Russians, Jordanians,
Spanish, and have received supplies and help from South Korea.
Nations in our coalition have shared in the responsibilities and
sacrifices of our cause. On the day before September the 11th,
I met with Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, who spoke
of the common beliefs and shared affection of our two countries.
We could not have known that bond was about to be proven again
in war, and we could not have known its human cost. Last month,
Sergeant Andrew Russell of the Australian Special Air Service,
died in Afghanistan. He left behind his wife, Kylie, and their
daughter, Leisa, just 11 days old. Friends said of Sergeant Russell,
"You could rely on him never to let you down."
This young man, and many like him, have not let us down. Each
life taken from us is a terrible loss. We have lost young people
from Germany, and Denmark, and Afghanistan, and America. We mourn
each one. And for their bravery in a noble cause, we honor them.
Part of that cause was to liberate the Afghan people from terrorist
occupation, and we did so. Next week, the schools reopen in Afghanistan.
They will be open to all -- and many young girls will go to school
for the first time in their young lives. (Applause.) Afghanistan
has many difficult challenges ahead -- and, yet, we've averted
mass starvation, begun clearing mine fields, rebuilding roads
and improving health care. In Kabul, a friendly government is
now an essential member of the coalition against terror.
Now that the Taliban are gone and al Qaeda has lost its home base
for terrorism, we have entered the second stage of the war on
terror -- a sustained campaign to deny sanctuary to terrorists
who would threaten our citizens from anywhere in the world.
In Afghanistan, hundreds of trained killers are now dead. Many
have been captured. Others are still on the run, hoping to strike
again. These terrorist fighters are the most committed, the most
dangerous, and the least likely to surrender. They are trying
to regroup, and we'll stop them. For five months in Afghanistan,
our coalition has been patient and relentless. And more patience
and more courage will be required. We're fighting a fierce battle
in the Shah-i-kot Mountains, and we're winning. Yet, it will not
be the last battle in Afghanistan. And there will be other battles
beyond that nation.
For terrorists fleeing Afghanistan -- for any terrorist looking
for a base of operations, there must be no refuge, no safe haven.
(Applause.) By driving terrorists from place to place, we disrupt
the planning and training for further attacks on America and the
civilized world. Every terrorist must be made to live as an international
fugitive, with no place to settle or organize, no place to hide,
no governments to hide behind, and not even a safe place to sleep.
I have set a clear policy in the second stage of the war on terror:
America encourages and expects governments everywhere to help
remove the terrorist parasites that threaten their own countries
and peace of the world. (Applause.) If governments need training,
or resources to meet this commitment, America will help.
We are helping right now in the Philippines, where terrorists
with links to al Qaeda are trying to seize the southern part of
the country to establish a militant regime. They are oppressing
local peoples, and have kidnapped both American and Filipino citizens.
America has sent more than 500 troops to train Philippine forces.
We stand with President Arroyo, who is courageously opposing the
threat of terror.
In the Republic of Georgia, terrorists working closely with al
Qaeda operate in the Pankisi Gorge near the Russian border. At
President Shevardnadze's request, the United States is planning
to send up to 150 military trainers to prepare Georgian soldiers
to reestablish control in this lawless region. This temporary
assistance serves the interests of both our countries.
In Yemen, we are working to avert the possibility of another Afghanistan.
Many al Qaeda recruits come from near the Yemen-Saudi Arabian
border, and al Qaeda may try to reconstitute itself in remote
corners of that region. President Saleh has assured me that he
is committed to confronting this danger. We will help Yemeni forces
with both training and equipment to prevent that land from becoming
a haven for terrorists.
In the current stage of the war, our coalition is opposing not
a nation, but a network. Victory will come over time, as that
network is patiently and steadily dismantled. This will require
international cooperation on a number of fronts: diplomatic, financial
and military. We will not send American troops to every battle,
but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles
ahead. This mission will end when the work is finished -- when
terror networks of global reach have been defeated. The havens
and training camps of terror are a threat to our lives and to
our way of life, and they will be destroyed. (Applause.)
At the same time, every nation in our coalition must take seriously
the growing threat of terror on a catastrophic scale -- terror
armed with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. America is
now consulting with friends and allies about this greatest of
dangers, and we're determined to confront it.
Here is what we already know: some states that sponsor terror
are seeking or already possess weapons of mass destruction; terrorist
groups are hungry for these weapons, and would use them without
a hint of conscience. And we know that these weapons, in the hands
of terrorists, would unleash blackmail and genocide and chaos.
These facts cannot be denied, and must be confronted. In preventing
the spread of weapons of mass destruction, there is no margin
for error, and no chance to learn from mistakes. Our coalition
must act deliberately, but inaction is not an option. (Applause.)
Men with no respect for life must never be allowed to control
the ultimate instruments of death. (Applause.)
Gathered here today, we are six months along -- a short time in
a long struggle. And our war on terror will be judged by its finish,
not by its start. More dangers and sacrifices lie ahead. Yet,
America is prepared. Our resolve has only grown, because we remember.
We remember the horror and heroism of that morning -- the death
of children on a field trip, the resistance of passengers on a
doomed airplane, the courage of rescuers who died with strangers
they were trying to save. And we remember the video images of
terrorists who laughed at our loss.
Every civilized nation has a part in this struggle, because every
civilized nation has a stake in its outcome. There can be no peace
in a world where differences and grievances become an excuse to
target the innocent for murder. In fighting terror, we fight for
the conditions that will make lasting peace possible. We fight
for lawful change against chaotic violence, for human choice against
coercion and cruelty, and for the dignity and goodness of every
Every nation should know that, for America, the war on terror
is not just a policy, it's a pledge. I will not relent in this
struggle for the freedom and security of my country and the civilized
And we'll succeed. (Applause.) There will be a day when the organized
threat against America, our friends and allies is broken. And
when the terrorists are disrupted and scattered and discredited,
many old conflicts will appear in a new light -- without the constant
fear and cycle of bitterness that terrorists spread with their
violence. We will see then that the old and serious disputes can
be settled within the bounds of reason, and goodwill, and mutual
security. I see a peaceful world beyond the war on terror, and
with courage and unity, we are building that world together.
Any nation that makes an unequivocal commitment against terror
can join this cause. Every nation of goodwill is welcome. And,
together, we will face the peril of our moment, and seize the
promise of our times.
May God bless our coalition. (Applause.)