BUSH INVOKES GHOSTS OF IRON CURTAIN
President Bush on Tuesday compared Afghanistan 's Taliban regime and its ``mad global ambitions'' to the totalitarian regimes that enslaved Europe for much of the last century, and asked the region's new leaders to join his anti-terrorism campaign.
``No nation can be neutral in this conflict,'' Bush told officials from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Republics and the Balkans. The remarks, delivered via satellite to a 20-nation gathering in Poland, were part of a 10-day diplomatic offensive designed to address doubts about the military campaign in Afghanistan. Bush was meeting later with French President Jacques Chirac and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
``For more than 50 years, the people of your region suffered under repressive ideologies that tried to trample human dignity. Today our freedom is threatened once again,'' Bush said. ``Like the Fascist totalitarians before them, these terrorists - al-Qaida, the Taliban regime that supports them and other terror groups across the world - try to impose their radical views through threats and violence.''
``We see the same intolerance of dissent, the same mad global ambitions, the same brutal determination to control every life and all of life. We have seen the true nature of these terrorists in the nature of their attacks,'' Bush said.
He issued a long indictment of the Taliban regime and its terrorists allies: They kill, then rejoice over the murders; steal food from their own people; destroy religious monuments; forbid children to fly kites, sing songs or build snowmen. A girl of 7, Bush said, can be beaten for wearing white shoes.
``And now they're trying to export terrorism throughout the world,'' in some 60 nations, he warned.
``Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and eventually to civilization itself,'' he said. ``We act now because we must lift this dark threat from our age and save generations to come.''
He received fresh words of caution Monday from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who pledged support but warned that the military operation in Afghanistan must minimize civilian deaths.
Bush sought to allay such concerns Tuesday, saying, ``Our efforts are directed at terrorists and military targets, because unlike our enemies, we value human life.''
By invoking the ghosts of communism in his speech, Bush was walking a fine line between stirring listeners to his cause and inflaming officials from countries, such as Russia and the former Soviet satellites, where communists still enjoy some support.
The leaders gathered at the invitation of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to discuss ways they can cooperate in fighting terrorism.
Heads of state from Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Macedonia confirmed participation, said Andrzej Majkowski, a senior aide to Kwasniewski. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Yugoslavia planned to send senior government representatives, he said. Hungary also was expected to participate, but had not decided whom to send. Observers were expected from Russia, Belarus, Turkey, the European Union , NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Bush said the U.S.-led efforts requires ``sincere, sustained actions'' from other nations.
Previewing his remarks this weekend at the United Nations, the president said, ``I will put every nation on notice that these duties involve more than sympathy or words. No nation can be neutral in this conflict because no civilized nation can be secure in a world threatened by terrorism.''
Many of the nations represented have a powerful incentive to cooperate: They are seeking NATO admission. But administration officials said Bush was not promising to promote their membership in exchange for cooperation.
Bush said the military action in Afghanistan has destroyed terrorist camps and weakened the Taliban's front-lines. ``It may take a long time but no matter how long it takes,'' the terrorists and their allies ``will be brought to justice,'' Bush said.
He praised the government for responding to anthrax attacks in America and said investigators will track down those responsible ``whether abroad or at home.''
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