WASHINGTON – President Bush gave the commencement address Wednesday at the Air Force Academy, reinforcing that America must stay on the offensive to combat terrorism and that the rebuilding of Iraq is a priority.
"History is once again witnessing a great clash," Bush said, adding that the conflict is not between civilizations or religions but "a clash of political visions."
White House officials hope Bush's address will set the tone for a series of meetings he is scheduled to have over the next few days with foreign leaders both overseas and at home.
Bush wants to rally support for the new Iraqi government that has been formed to assume sovereignty on June 30.
"Liberty is not the invention of western culture, it is the deepest need and hope of all humanity," he said. "We bring more than a vision to this conflict -- we bring a strategy, which will lead to victory."
Bush is also expected to compare the terrorist agenda with the vision of countries like the United States, who want freedom in the Middle East (search).
"Each of you receiving a commission today in the U.S. military will also carry the hopes of free people everywhere," Bush said to the 981 graduates Wednesday. "During a global conflict that will define your careers, you'll be called upon to take brave action and serve great honor."
Bush compared the current military conflict to wars of the past.
"In some ways this struggle we're in is unique, in other ways it resembles the great clashes of the last century. Our goal, the goal of this generation, is the same. We will secure our nation and defend the peace through the forward march of freedom."
The president attended a fund-raiser in Denver Tuesday night that raised $2.2 million for the Republican Party.
Attorney General John Ashcroft (search) was attending the ceremony. Ashcroft's nephew, Joe Ashcroft, a kicker on the academy's football team, is part of this year's graduating class.
As Bush was spending time in Colorado, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (search) urged Iraqis to accept the country's new interim government, while acknowledging a strong American hand in shaping it. The new government may not be perfect, but it is the best one possible under the circumstances, the former Algerian foreign minister said.
"Will every Iraqi be satisfied of the present government? Definitely not," he said. But "many Iraqis, if not all" will find members who they feel represent or are "close to them."
Hoshyar Zebari (search), foreign minister of the new government, which will be in power until Jan. 31 elections, was expected to travel soon to New York to lobby the United Nations on behalf of the new resolution the United States has circulated there. The resolution would confer formal recognition on the new government and authorize a multinational force led by an American commander.
In the resolution, which still faces scrutiny by France, Germany and Russia, the interim government will maintain control over the Iraqi army and police and end the mandate for the multinational force by January 2006 at the latest.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (search) was spending the day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to give a series of private briefings to House and Senate leaders and members of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees about the status of the resolution, among other security issues.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R- Kan., told reporters that Rice had expressed hope the United Nations would approve the new resolution within 10 days.
Speaking to Fox News this morning, Rice minimized disputes about how the multinational force would be managed.
"We've done this around the world. In Bosnia, we're working with a sovereign government with troops on the ground. In Afghanistan, we're working with a sovereign government with troops on the ground. The American people should know that the American president never loses command and control of the American armed forces," Rice said.
After his speech in Colorado Springs, the president was set to travel to Rome on Thursday, where he will meet at the Vatican with Pope John Paul II, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, and with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (search), an ally who has committed his country's troops to Iraq.
This month, the president will also be meeting no less than four times with one of the harshest critics on Iraq, French President Jacques Chirac (search).
Fox News' James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.