In his speech to the American people on Wednesday morning, President George W. Bush described Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as "acts of war." But, for now, there appears to be no decision about how the United States should respond. Although the president is given wide latitude to exercise his power, especially in a time of national emergency, only Congress has the power to declare war. As evidence mounts about who was behind these acts, it will be up to the president to educate Americans about what fighting this war will require. Herewith, an unsolicited "draft" of President Bush's next speech.
My Fellow Americans:
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, our country was deliberately attacked by determined enemies of liberty and civilization. These were acts of terror, yes, but they were fundamentally acts of war.
That is why tomorrow I will ask Congress to declare war on the enemies of the United States.
You may ask who these are, thinking that there is no easy answer. And there may be no easy answer but there is an answer.
We do not now know precisely who is responsible for Tuesday's attacks. If we must wait to establish guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," before taking action, it is unlikely that we will ever take any action at all.
My fellow Americans, I submit to you that it does not matter. Assigning blame is a matter for courts of law. Finding and destroying the enemy is a matter for the military. When at war, great nations do not seek to arrest and try the politicians and generals who make war against them. They seek to destroy their armed forces, and their ability to continue the war.
Our enemy is the shadowy web of terror groups that has for the past generation been attacking American bases, embassies, ships and now American cities. Our enemies are the governments who harbor those groups, and support them with men, money, equipment and encouragement, so that they may kill American soldiers and civilians. And I am saddened to say our enemies have agents here at home, working, training, planning for the next attack.
When in the field facing a determined enemy, great commanders do not concern themselves only with the regiment that is currently attacking them. Their maps show all the regiments, all the divisions, all the airbases, all the supply depots. And those are all slated for destruction, as capabilities and prudence permit.
It does not matter if this or that terrorist, harbored by this or that country, perpetrated Tuesday's atrocity. If he is not responsible for the carnage of today, then he has surely escaped retribution for an act committed yesterday. And if he did not kill innocents yesterday, he is surely planning to kill tomorrow.
In the Second World War, we gave no quarter to German divisions simply because they were far from the front, and had not yet engaged American troops. We did not ignore a Japanese fleet because none of its specific ships had yet fired on the American Navy. So too in this war in the war that began yesterday we will give no quarter to our enemy, wherever he exists.
My fellow Americans, this will be a long, hard war. It is will tax us all to the utmost. It will deprive many of us of our lives, and many more of their loved ones. It will make us tired, and sad, and probably at least in the short term a little poorer.
But only in money, and never in spirit.
That is never in spirit if we choose not to let this war, and these opening shots, break us. We must so choose and it is a choice.
The war I will ask your representatives to declare will demand every ounce of strength, courage and resolve that we can muster. It will demand that we understand and believe in the nobility and justice of our nation, and in the rightness of our cause.
In the coming weeks, I will speak to you again about the war, and I will have more to say about our cause. But until then, I ask you to look in your hearts, and believe as I know that all of us do believe the words of President Lincoln: the United States of America is the "last, best hope of earth."
I address my final words this evening to our enemies. I know you are listening, so listen closely.
More than six decades ago, when civilization faced an even greater peril, a great statesman warned his countrymen of the dangers to come.
Today, I paraphrase those famous words of Winston Churchill, but I speak them to you:
Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup, which will be proffered to you year by year, as through a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor we Americans arise again, and take our stand for freedom, as in the olden time.