It is hard for Americans to understand how now, in the 21st century, so much of the world is still dominated by hatred, tyranny, and fanaticism. We have to recognize that that's the way it is, and to understand that some of that hatred and fanaticism is directed toward us. Tyrants hate us because the American model of freedom is a threat to them. Fanatics hate us because we don't subscribe to their hateful ideologies. The events of September 11, 2001 proved once and for all that wide oceans are no longer an effective defense from foreign dangers.
We must remain vigilant in the war on terror. Al Qaeda and its allies remain dedicated to killing Americans on American soil. Iran wants nuclear weapons and North Korea already has them. The world is a dangerous place, and we must respond accordingly.
Iraq--The War in Iraq was, in fact, justified by intelligence that turned out to be wrong. Moreover, the Bush Administration made some serious mistakes in the war's execution--something I stated publicly at the time. None of this changes the facts that Saddam Hussein was in violation of virtually every article of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire agreement, that he had possessed weapons of mass destruction and even used them, that he had invaded two of his neighbors, that he was firing almost daily at our aircraft, and that he was a brutal dictator over his people.
Thoughtful people will continue to debate our entry into Iraq, and few will disagree that we should withdraw as soon as possible. However, I believe we have a moral responsibility to contribute to the security and progress of the Iraqi people. We should not make the mistake of simply abandoning them because we have grown weary of our involvement there.
Afghanistan--Abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban would not only be a bad mistake, it would be a repeated bad mistake. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan rightly opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and we helped the Afghan people resist it. However, when the Soviets withdrew, we disengaged as well. This allowed the Taliban to take control and to provide a safe haven for Osama Bin Laden. Before the Soviet Union, before the Taliban, and before Al Qaeda, Afghanistan was a peaceful country. We have invested tremendous resources in helping the Afghans return to peace and begin to build prosperity. We should not abandon them now. We made that mistake once before, and we should not repeat it.