NEW YORK – As President Bush on Saturday praised U.S. lawmakers for passing bills such as terrorism insurance, port security and homeland security, he said NATO's invitation to more countries to join its alliance will help in the global war on terror.
Bush, speaking from Europe during his weekly radio address, said he will sign several of the landmark pieces of legislation when he returns from Washington. He once again said the new Homeland Security Department approved by Congress recently will be key in coordinating the country's response to any future emergency and to track who is coming in and out of the country.
The president is touring countries such as Romania and Lithuania, congratulating them on their invitation to join NATO and emphasizing that their involvement in the group can help crack down on international terror groups.
And he didn't miss a chance to take another pot shot at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and to put his two cents in on how much the world needs to unite in its desire to disarm the dictator.
With 90 nations in the anti-terror coalition, "the world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq, whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands," Bush said in his address. "We must not and will not permit either terrorists or tyrants to blackmail freedom-loving nations."
Bush noted that 16 NATO countries have sent military forces to help track down terrorists in Afghanistan. At this week's NATO summit, the organization promised to build a new military response force with can be deployed on short notice when needed.
NATO members this week also voted in favor of asking seven of Europe's newest democracies to join the alliance: Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.
The addition of these former Eastern Bloc nations "will increase NATO's military strength," Bush said.
"These nations will also bring greater clarity to NATO's purposes because they know, from the hard experience of the 20 th century, that threats to freedom must be opposed, not ignored or appeased."
In speeches to several of these countries Saturday, Bush liked today's terrorists to Nazis and communities who tried to oppress those regions in years past.
"Like the Nazis and communists before them, the terrorists seek to end lives and control all lives," Bush said in those remarks. "And like the Nazis and communists before them, they will be opposed by free nations, and the terrorists will be defeated."
Bush suggested this week at the NATO summit that some old-line NATO allies have a stale view of the world. New NATO countries, eager to protect liberty, will refresh the alliance, he said.
Bush said in his address that both the NATO expansion and the progress made in Congress during the past few weeks will make America "more secure."