Bush: Democracies Will Combat Terrorism

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President Bush on Tuesday told the American people his policies were leading to democracy in the Middle East and demanded that Syria pull out of Lebanon to allow free elections.

"All Syrian military forces and intelligence personnel must withdraw before the [May] Lebanese elections for these elections to be free and fair," Bush said in a speech at the National Defense University (search), a center for professional military education at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.

Addressing the Lebanese people, Bush said: "All the world is witnessing your great movement of conscience. Lebanon's future belongs in your hands, and by your courage, Lebanon's future will be in your hands.

"The American people are on your side," he added. "Millions across Europe are on your side. The momentum of freedom is on your side, and freedom will prevail in Lebanon."

He also had stern words for Syria and Iran, two countries which have provided support to terrorist groups. Iran also has continued work on its nuclear program despite global demands to abandon it and both nations fund Hezbollah, which orchestrated a massive demonstration in Beirut on Tuesday in favor of the Syrian occupation there.

"Syria, as well as Iran, has a long history of supporting terror groups," Bush said. "The time has come for Syria and Iran to stop using murder as a tool for policy."

The president also said his drive to spread democracy and freedom is the best way to combat terrorism.

"The advance of hope in the Middle East requires new thinking in the region. By now it should be clear that authoritarian rule is not the way of the future — it is the last gasp of a discredited past," Bush said. "Democracy is their goal and terrorists themselves have reason to fear."

'No Matter How Long it Takes'

Bush urged the world to come together to aid those countries in the Middle East and elsewhere struggling to get democracy up and running.

"For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East," the president said, adding that the effort requires a "generational commitment that demands patience and resolve ... when the headlines are good and when the headlines aren't so good."

Saying the attack on Pearl Harbor (search) in 1941 "began a period of serious reflection of America's place in the world," Bush said that attack on the United States taught Americans that "unopposed tyranny, even on faraway continents, could draw us into a struggle for our survival."

He cited attacks on U.S. interests, including the bombings of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the World Trade Center in 1993, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the USS Cole (search) in Yemen in 2000 as further proof that America's interests can only be protected if terrorism overseas is quashed.

"Sept. 11 provided a warning of future dangers, of terror networks aided by outlaw regimes and ideologies that incite the murder of the innocent," Bush said of the 2001 attacks that killed about 3,000 people on American soil.

"Like an earlier generation, America is answering new dangers with firm resolve," he added. "No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult the tasks, we will fight the enemy and lift the shadow of fear and lead free nations to victory."

Bush said soldiers who have lost their lives or been seriously wounded in the War on Terror (search) have the eternal gratitude of the American people. He also thanked all of America's partners in the War on Terror.

"Global terror requires a global response, and America is more secure today because more countries have stepped up to the fight," the president said.

He noted that Pakistani forces captured over 100 extremists last year, including some who were plotting attacks against the United States.

Britain arrested an operative who was providing detailed casing reports to Al Qaeda (search), while Germany arrested extremists planning attacks against targets in Iraq.

The Philippines antiterror task force has also captured a dozen Al Qaeda members, Bush said.

"Our allies in the War on Terror are making tough decisions, and they're taking risks and they're losing lives. These countries have proven themselves trusted friends and solid allies," Bush said.

Trademark of an Administration

Bush's speech marks a return to the trademark theme of his successful re-election campaign. After the election, Bush turned his focus to an uphill battle to radically redesign the Social Security program by offering personal investment accounts, a step that would be accompanied by a reduction in future benefits.

While more than half of Americans oppose his Social Security (search) overhaul, a solid majority approve of his handling of the terrorism fight.

Bush, in his Jan. 20 inaugural address, emphasized his goal of spreading freedom and democracy "with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

"That is how we will win the war on terrorism," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a preview of Bush's remarks.

"We're making tremendous progress in the Middle East toward freedom and democracy," the president's spokesman said. "But this is a generational commitment, one that is difficult and requires determination and resolve. Our objective will not be achieved easily, nor will it be achieved all at once."

Bush has described Iraq as the front line in combating terrorists. More than 1,500 U.S. troops have died there since Bush launched the invasion in March 2003.

The price tag is over $300 billion and climbing, including $81.9 billion more just requested from Congress. The money also covers operations in Afghanistan and the broader war on terror, but the bulk is for Iraq.

FOX News' Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.