On dog and pony shows

ABC News on their evening broadcast tonight showed somber Senators saying Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket, followed by clips of testifying former generals, saying that Rumsfeld is to blame.  For balance, they showed a short clip the Homeland Security Advisor, being interviewed on the White House lawn.

A reasonable observer would conclude that the Bush Administration had once again been raked over the coals in a Congressional hearing.

The reasonable observer would be wrong.  There was no Congressional hearing.  There was a partisan dog-and-pony show held by Democrats on Capitol Hill, who invited their favorite former generals to come and lambast Donald Rumsfeld.

The truth, via the Washington Post[*1] :

In testimony before the Democratic Policy Committee today, retired Maj.Gen. John R.S. Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraqin 2004 and 2005 and served as a senior military assistant to formerdeputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, charged that Rumsfeld andothers in the Bush administration “did not tell the American people thetruth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq.”

Why does ABC News report a partisan event as if it was a Congressional Hearing?  Hmm?  Is the case against the Iraq war so fundamentally weak?  A reasonable observer should wonder.


Bill Clinton says that the Bush Administration “didn’t try”[*1] to get Bin Laden in the eight months prior to the 9//11 attack:

“But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me andsome, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking menow,” Clinton said when asked whether he had failed to fullyanticipate bin Laden’s danger. “They had eight months to try,they did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed.”

Sure, Bill. And Gore’s ill-conceived Florida chad fiasco (did you know that not a single actual vote count or recount in Florida in 2000 showed Gore ahead?), the sabotage of the transition from the Clinton to the Bush Administrations, and the general attitude of surly anti-Bushism from the out-of-control CIA and State Departments had nothing whatsoever to do with the Bush Administration’s difficulties taking over anti-terrorism operations from the Clinton Administration.

You know, at some point the finger-pointing has to stop. But it’s obvious that the Democrats generally and Bill Clinton in particular never learned to share in pre-school. If they don’t have control of the ball, they want to make sure no one else has it, either.

You don’t like Bush. We get it. But in your inchoate rage against the current sitting President, your fevered opposition has spilled over our national borders to be eagerly consumed by the likes of Ahmadenijad, Chavez, bin Laden, and the reactionary enemies of freedom and liberty throughout the world.

Does the phrase “aid and comfort to the enemy” ring a bell?

Think about the “comfort” part for a while, in the context of the Iranian President’s and the Venzuelan lunatic’s comfortable anti-Americanism rhetoric in New York this week.

It might have been about Bush at one time. It isn’t any more. You have made George W. Bush the Alfred Dreyfus of our age, guilty mainly of not being a radical leftist. To you, this is treason, and nothing else, not even patriotism, matters.


Private space station up by 2010

Space.com reports[*1] :

SAN JOSE, Calif. If the planned Jan. 30 launch of Bigelow Aerospace’s Genesis 2 space module on a Russian Dnepr rocket is successful, Las Vegas entrepreneur Robert Bigelow plans to send a human-rated habitat into orbit in either the second half of 2009 or the first half of 2010.
. . .
At a luncheon speech today in San Jose, Calif., at the AIAA Space 2006 Symposium, Bigelow said his third module, dubbed Sundancer, would have a mass of 8,618.4 kilograms and be equipped with life support systems, attitude control, three windows, on-orbit maneuverability, reboost and de-orbit capability.

He plans to place it at an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of 40 degrees. Bigelow said that while Sundancer will be a scale model of the large, human-rated habitat he eventually plans to launch into orbit, it will nonetheless have 180 cubic meters of habitable space.

“We’re pretty damn serious,” Bigelow said in his lunch address.

The Pope at Regensburg

Here’s Pope Benedict XVI’s speech[*1] to the faculty of the University of Regensburg (emphasis added). The speech is in the language of “High Academic Obfuscatory English (actually, it probably was given in High Academic Obfuscatory German), but given the histrionic reaction of some in the Muslim (and Western) world, it is well worth the slog to see what all the fuss is (or isn’t) about:

Your Eminences, Your Magnificences, Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the university and to be able once again to give a lecture at this podium. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. That was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas – something that you too, Magnificent Rector, just mentioned – the experience, in other words, of the fact that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason – this reality became a lived experience. The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the “whole” of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point – itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole – which, in the context of the issue of “faith and reason”, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (διάλεξις- controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the λόγος”. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, σὺν λόγω, with logos. Logos means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (cf. Acts 16:6-10) – this vision can be interpreted as a “distillation” of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and simply declares “I am”, already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates’ attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: “I am”. This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria – the Septuagint – is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act “with logos” is contrary to God’s nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the claim that we can only know God’s voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God’s freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazm and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God’s transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which – as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated – unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, “transcends” knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul – “λογικη λατρεία”, worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history – it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity – a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the programme of dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal’s distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack’s central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack’s goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ’s divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant’s “Critiques”, but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature’s capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must beobserved that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology’sclaim to be “scientific” would end up reducing Christianity to a merefragment of its former self. But we must say more: if science as awhole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up beingreduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin anddestiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have noplace within the purview of collective reason as defined by “science”,so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of thesubjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences,what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective”conscience” becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way,though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community andbecome a completely personal matter. This is a dangerous state ofaffairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies ofreligion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reducedthat questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts toconstruct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology andsociology, end up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is – as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector – the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Onlythus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures andreligions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widelyheld that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based onit are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious culturessee this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as anattack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf tothe divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subculturesis incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the sametime, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with itsintrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question whichpoints beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology.Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rationalstructure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and theprevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which itsmethodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so isa real question, and one which has to be remanded by the naturalsciences to other modes and planes of thought – to philosophy andtheology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology,listening to the great experiences and insights of the religioustraditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular,is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptablerestriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded ofsomething Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, manyfalse philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “Itwould be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at allthese false notions that for the rest of his life he despised andmocked all talk about being – but in this way he would be deprived ofthe truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”. The West haslong been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlieits rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage toengage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur- this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblicalfaith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, notto act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

Ahmadinejad at the U.N.

Giving equal time, from Globalsecurity.org[*1] , Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly (emphasis added):

“In the Name of the God of Mercy, Compassion, Peace, Freedom and Justice
“Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Today we have gathered here to exchange views about the world, itsfuture and our common responsibilities towards it. It is evident thatthe future of the world is intertwined with its current state and theprevailing trends, which exhibit signs of hope and despair.

“On the one hand certain hopes and opportunities exist, and thisaugust Assembly is convened on such hopes. Today human thought reflectsoutstanding commonalities which provide appropriate grounds to buildupon. With the passing of the era of agnostic philosophies, todayhumanity is once again joined in celebrating monotheism and belief inthe Creator as the originator of existence. This is the common threadwhich binds us all.

“Faith will prove to be the solution to many of today’s problems.

The Truth will shine the light of faith and ethics on the life ofhuman beings and prevent them from aggression, coercion and injusticeand will guide them towards care and compassion for fellow beings.

“Another hope is the common global appreciation of the sources ofknowledge. Although reason, experience and science are among valuablesources of knowledge, the darkness of the Middle Ages deprived majorportions of the Western world of appreciating. This reactionarytendency deprived many of access to various scientific findings andknowledge and led to the exclusion of other sources of knowledge namelyGod and knowledge based on revelation from the life of human beings inthe West; Divine knowledge that was carried and disseminated by suchprophets as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad (peace be uponthem).

“Today, agnostic thinking is on the decline and presently humanityis equally enamored with religion knowledge and spirituality. This isan auspicious beginning. Divine prophets teach us about proper regardfor the exalted state of human beings on earth.

“The human being is blessed with dignity, most importantlymanifested in being the viceroy of the Almighty on earth. The Almightyplaced humans on earth to develop it, institutionalize justice,overcome their egoistic tendencies and praise no lord but the Almighty.

“Faith and good deeds can bring deliverance and the good life evenin this world. Attaining this depends on human will, that is the willof each and every one of us. We must heed the call of our commonprimordial nature and achieve the realization of this good life.

“On the other hand, the prevalence of military domination,increasing poverty, the growing gap between rich and poor countries,violence as a means to solve crises, spread of terrorism, speciallystate terrorism, existence and proliferation of weapons of massdestruction, the pervasive lack of honesty in interstate relations, anddisregard for the equal rights of peoples and nations in internationalrelations constitute some of the challenges and threats.

“Although these challenges are very real, we believe we are notpredestined to experience them. Our common will not only can changethis course but in fact can lead us to a life filled with hope andprosperity. Divine revelation teaches us that “The Almighty changes thefate of no people unless they themselves show a will for change” (HolyQuran, 13:11).

“How can we influence the future of the world? When and how willpeace, tranquility and well-being for all come about? These are thefundamental questions before us.

“We believe that a sustainable order, nurturing and flourishingpeace and tranquility, can only be realized on the two pillars ofjustice and spirituality. The more human society departs from justiceand spirituality, the greater insecurity it will face, so much so thata relatively small crisis, such as a natural disaster, leads to variousabnormalities and inhuman behavior.

“Unfortunately, the world is rife with discrimination and poverty.

Discrimination produces hatred, war and terrorism. They all sharethe common root of lack of spirituality coupled with injustice. Justiceis about equal rights, the correct distribution of resources in theterritories of different states, the equality of all before the law andrespect for international agreements.

“Justice recognizes the right of every one to tranquility, peace anda dignified life. Justice rejects intimidation and double standards. Asthe eminent daughter of the Prophet of Islam has said, “justice bringstranquility and harmony to our hearts.”
“Today, the world is longing for the establishment of such justice. Ifhumanity heeds the call of its primordial nature with firm resolve,justice will emerge. This is what the Almighty has promised and allpeople of good will from all religions are waiting for. If theprevailing discourse of global relations becomes one of justice andspirituality, then durable peace will be guaranteed.

“Conversely, if international relations are defined without justiceand spirituality and void of moral considerations, then the mechanismsfor promoting confidence and peace will remain insufficient andineffective.

“If some, relying on their superior military and economic might,attempt to expand their rights and privileges, they will be performinga great disservice to the cause of peace and in fact will fuel the armsrace and spread insecurity, fear and deception. If global trendscontinue to serve the interests of small influential groups, even theinterests of the citizens of powerful countries will be jeopardized, aswas seen in the recent crises and the even natural disaster such as therecent tragic hurricane.

“Today, my nation calls on other nations and governments to “moveforward to a durable tranquility and peace based on justice andspirituality.”

“Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is born out of a movement, based on thepure primordial nature of a people who rose up to regain their dignityesteem and human rights. The Islamic Revolution toppled a regime, whichhad been put in place through a coup, and supported by those who claimto be advocates of democracy and human rights, thwarted the aspirationsof the nation for development and progress for 25 years throughintimidation and torture of the populace and submission andsubservience to outsiders.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the manifestation of true democracyin the region. The discourse of the Iranian nation is focused onrespect for the rights of human beings and a quest for tranquillity,peace, justice and development for all through monotheism.

“For 8 years, Saddam’s regime imposed a massive war of aggressionand occupation on my people. It employed the most heinous weapons ofmass destruction, including chemical weapons against Iranians andIraqis alike. Who, in fact, armed Saddam with these weapons? What wasthe reaction of those who now claim to fight against WMDs regarding theuse of chemical weapons back then? The world is witness to the factthat the Islamic Republic of Iran, because of its humanitarianprinciples, even during the most testing of times and when it wassustaining the highest number of casualties, never allowed itself touse such weapons.

“Thousands of nuclear warheads that are stockpiled in variouslocations coupled with programs to further develop these inhumanweapons have created a new atmosphere of repression and the rule of themachines of war, threatening the international community and even thecitizens of the countries that possess them.

“Ironically, those who have actually used nuclear weapons, continueto produce, stockpile and extensively test such weapons, have useddepleted uranium bombs and bullets against tens and perhaps hundreds ofthousands of Iraqis, Kuwaitis, and even their own soldiers and those oftheir allies, afflicting them with incurable diseases, blatantlyviolate their obligations under the NPT, have refrained from signingthe CTBT and have armed the Zionist occupation regime with WMDs, arenot only refusing to remedy their past deeds, but in clear breech ofthe NPT, are trying to prevent other countries from acquiring thetechnology to produce peaceful nuclear energy.

“All these problems emanate from the fact that justice andspirituality are missing in the way powerful governments conduct theiraffairs with other nations.

“After September 11, a particular radical group was accused ofterrorist activities — although it was never explained how such hugeintelligence gathering and security organizations failed to preventsuch an extensive and well planned operation.

“Why powers that, not so long ago, were supporting the activities ofsuch groups in Afghanistan and thus portraying themselves as supportersof human rights and the Afghan people have over night turned into theirmost fierce critic?
“Are we to believe that their benefactors ,i.e. the very same hegemonic powers have lost control?
“If the answer is yes, would it not be better for those powers to adoptan honest and transparent approach to the international community,provide precise information about the main elements and their arms andfinancial support system, and accept responsibility for their inhumanactions against nations and countries, and thereby assist peoples andnations to correctly, wisely and sincerely fight the roots ofterrorism.

“We must endeavor to achieve sustainable tranquility and peace based on justice and spirituality.

“Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Terrorism and WMDs are two major threats before the internationalcommunity. The Islamic Republic of Iran, as one of the main victims ofterrorism and chemical weapons, fully appreciates the difficulties thatlie ahead in the road to combat these menaces.

“Today, the most serious challenge is that the culprits arearrogating to themselves the role of the prosecutor. Even moredangerous is that certain parties relying on their power and wealth tryto impose a climate of intimidation and injustice over the world makebullying, while through their huge media resources portray themselvesas defenders of freedom, democracy and human rights.

“People around the world are fully aware of what is happening in theoccupied Palestine. Women and children are being murdered andadolescents taken prisoner. Houses are being demolished and farms burntdown. Yet, when the people of Palestine resist these conditions, theyare accused of terrorism. At the same time, the occupier, which doesnot abide by any principles and terror is part of its pronounced androutine policy enjoys the support of the previously mentionedgovernments. Let me be blunter. State terrorism is being supported bythose who claim to fight terrorism.

“How can one talk about human rights and at the same time blatantlydeny many the inalienable right to have access to science andtechnology with applications in medicine, industry and energy andthrough force and intimidation hinder their progress and development?”Can nations be deprived of scientific and technological progressthrough the threat of use of force and based on mere allegations ofpossibility of military diversion? We believe that all countries andnations are entitled to technological and scientific advancement in allfields, particularly the peaceful technology to produce nuclear fuel.Such access cannot be restricted to a few, depriving most nations andby establishing economic monopolies, use them as an instrument toexpand their domination.

“We have gathered here to defend human rights in accordance withCharter of UN and prevent certain powers from claiming that “somecountries have more rights “or that” some countries do not have theright to enjoy their legitimate rights”.

“We must not, at the beginning of the 21st century, revert to thelogic of the dark ages and once again try to deny societies access toscientific and technological advances.

“Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“The UN must be the symbol of democracy and the equal rights ofnations. If we talk about the equal rights of nations in politicalforums, we must talk of the same concept in this forum as well.

“Similarly, if we talk about the right of sovereignty, then allnations must be allowed to exercise their rights on an equal footingand in a democratic process.

“The UN can be the standard bearer of democracy in the world, whenit, itself, is a manifestation of democratic process. I reiterate thatdurable tranquility and peace can only be built on justice andspirituality.

“Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a symbol of true democracy. Allofficials including the Leader, President, members of the IslamicConsultative Assembly, city and village councils are elected throughthe vote of the citizens. The Islamic Republic of Iran has held 27national elections in 27 years. This showcases a vibrant and dynamicsociety in which people widely participate in the political life.

“Because of its key importance and influence in the important andstrategic Middle East region, the Islamic Republic of Iran is committedto contribute actively to the promotion of peace and stability in theregion.

“Saddam, Taliban regimes were both the products of foreign powers.

The people of Afghanistan and Iraq know very well who supported these two regimes.

“Today, to establish peace and security in the region, foreignoccupation forces must leave and completely hand over the political andeconomic sovereignty of these two countries to their peoples. “TheIslamic Republic of Iran will continue to provide full andcomprehensive support to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and theirelected governments, and will actively help them in the establishmentof order and security. My country will continue and expand its sincerecooperation and interaction with them.

“In Palestine, a durable peace will be possible through justice, anend to discrimination and the occupation of Palestinian land, thereturn of all Palestinian refugees, and the establishment of ademocratic Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

“Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Today, more than ever, nations need constructive, positive and honestcooperation and interaction in order to enjoy a dignified, tranquil andpeaceful life based on justice and spirituality. Let us enter into acollective covenant to realize this legitimate aspiration of ournations.

“Here, I would like to briefly talk about the approach and initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the nuclear issue.

Nuclear weapons and their proliferation, and attempts to impose anapartheid regime on access to peaceful nuclear energy, are two majorthreats, challenging international tranquility and peace.

“Keeping in mind that in past years no serious efforts complimentedby practical mechanisms — have been made to move towards fulldisarmament and more specifically implement the decisions and outcomesof the NPT Review Conferences of 1995 and 2000, I suggest that theGeneral Assembly, as the most inclusive UN organ, mandate an ad-hoccommittee to compile and submit a comprehensive report on possiblepractical mechanisms and strategies for complete disarmament.

“This Committee should also be asked to investigate as to howcontrary to the NPT — material, technology and equipment for nuclearweapons were transferred to the Zionist regime, and to proposepractical measures for the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zonein the Middle East.

“Some powerful states practice a discriminatory approach againstaccess of NPT members to material, equipment, and peaceful nucleartechnology, and by doing so, intend to impose a nuclear apartheid.

“We are concerned that once certain powerful states completelycontrol nuclear energy resources and technology, they will deny accessto and thus deepen the divide between powerful countries and the restof the international community. When that happens, we will be dividedinto light and dark countries.

“Regrettably, in the past 30 years, no effective measure has beenimplemented to facilitate the exercise of the legally recognized rightof NPT state-parties to have access to and use peaceful nuclear energyin accordance with article IV. Therefore, the General Assembly shouldask the IAEA in accordance with article 2 of its Statute to report onviolations by specific countries that have hindered the implementationof the above article and also produce practical strategies for itsrenewed implementation.

“What needs our particular attention is the fact that peaceful useof nuclear energy without possession of nuclear fuel cycle is an emptyproposition. Nuclear power plants can indeed lead to total dependenceof countries and peoples if they need to rely for their fuel oncoercive powers, who do not refrain from any measure in furtherance oftheir interests. No popularly elected and responsible government canconsider such a situation in the interest of its people. The history ofdependence on oil in oil rich countries under domination is anexperiment that no independent country is willing to repeat.

“Those hegemonic powers, who consider scientific and technologicalprogress of independent and free nations as a challenge to theirmonopoly on these important instruments of power and who do not want tosee such achievements in other countries, have misrepresented Iran’shealthy and fully safeguarded technological endeavors in the nuclearfield as pursuit of nuclear weapons. This is nothing but a propagandaploy. The Islamic Republic of Iran is presenting in good faith itsproposal for constructive interaction and a just dialogue.

“However, if some try to impose their will on the Iranian peoplethrough resort to a language of force and threat with Iran, we willreconsider our entire approach to the nuclear issue.

“Allow me, as the elected President of the Iranian people, tooutline the other main elements of my country’s initiative regardingthe nuclear issue:

“1. The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates its previously andrepeatedly declared position that in accordance with our religiousprinciples, pursuit of nuclear weapons is prohibited.

“2. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that it is necessary torevitalize the NPT and create the above-mentioned ad-hoc committee sothat it can combat nuclear weapons and abolish the apartheid inpeaceful nuclear technology.

“3. Technically, the fuel cycle of the Islamic Republic of Iran isnot different from that of other countries which have peaceful nucleartechnology.

“Therefore, as a further confidence building measure and in order toprovide the greatest degree of transparency, the Islamic Republic ofIran is prepared to engage in serious partnership with private andpublic sectors of other countries in the implementation of uraniumenrichment program in Iran. This represents the most far reaching step,outside all requirements of the NPT, being proposed by Iran as afurther confidence building measure.

“4. In keeping with Iran’s inalienable right to have access to anuclear fuel cycle, continued interaction and technical and legalcooperation with the IAEA will be the centerpiece of our nuclearpolicy.

“Initiation and continuation of negotiations with other countrieswill be carried out in the context of Iran’s interaction with theAgency.

“With this in mind, I have directed the relevant Iranian officialsto compile the legal and technical details of Iran’s nuclear approach,based on the following considerations:
“4.1. International precedence tells us that nuclear fuel- deliverycontracts are unreliable and no legally binding international documentor instrument exists to guarantee the delivery of nuclear fuel.

“On many occasions such bilateral contracts stopped altogether forpolitical reasons. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in itspursuit of peaceful nuclear technology, considers it within itslegitimate rights to receive objective guarantees for uraniumenrichment in the nuclear fuel cycle.

“4.2. In its negotiations with the EU3 ,Iran has tried in earnest toprove the solid and rightful foundations of its nuclear activity in thecontext of the NPT, and to establish mutual trust. The selection of ournegotiating partners and the continuation of negotiations with the EU3will be commensurate with the requirements of our cooperation with theAgency regarding non-diversion of the process of uranium enrichment tonon-peaceful purposes in the framework of the provisions of the NPT. Inthis context, several proposals have been presented which can beconsidered in the context of negotiations. The Islamic Republic of Iranappreciates the positive contribution of South Africa and H.E.President Mbeki personally in the resolution of the nuclear issue andcognizant of South Africa’s active role in the IAEA Board of Governorswould welcome its active participation in the negotiations.

“4.3. The discriminatory approaches regarding the NPT that focuseson the obligations of state-parties and disregards their rights underthe Treaty should be discontinued.

“As the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I assure you thatmy country will use everything in its power to contribute to globaltranquility and peace based on the two maxims of spirituality andjustice as well as the equal rights of all peoples and nations.

My country will interact and cooperate constructively with the international community to face the challenges before us.

“Dear Friends and Colleagues,
“From the beginning of time, humanity has longed for the day whenjustice, peace, equality and compassion envelop the world. All of uscan contribute to the establishment of such a world. When that daycomes, the ultimate promise of all Divine religions will be fulfilledwith the emergence of a perfect human being who is heir to all prophetsand pious men. He will lead the world to justice and absolute peace.

“O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your lastrepository, the promised one, that perfect and pure human being, theone that will fill this world with justice and peace.

Zero tolerance? Zero intelligence!

Tawann Caskey, a Kansas City, MO first grader faces a ten-day suspension and being permanently branded in his record as a gun-toter.  From the KMBC-TV story[*1] :

“We ask our principals for safety of students and staff, and we do follow the code of conduct and do not give exceptions to Class IV offenses. We take it very seriously,” the school district’s Phyllis Budesheim said.

(KMBC-TV reporter Natalie) Moultrie reported that the incident will stay on Tawann’s school record. But (Tawann’s mother Danielle) Womack said her son does not understand why he’s not in school.

Suspended ten days for bringing a two-inch long plastic squirt gun to school.

A squirt gun.



Perhaps the administrators of the Kansas City School District are the ones who need to be held back in first grade for another year.

Wal-Mart: Economic spark

Here at home, suburban Kansas City, MO, the Kansas City Star talks about two new Wal-Mart Supercenters as being economic lifts for the inner-suburban ring (Kansas City Star[*1] requires free registration):

One of the most high-profile construction sites in eastern JacksonCounty is the Wal-Mart Supercenter being built near the intersection ofInterstate 70 and U.S. 40.

The Wal-Mart is on schedule to open in January.

The 195,000-square-foot facility will occupy much of the site of theformer Blue Ridge Mall, torn down last year. It will be the principalanchor of the new Blue Ridge Crossing Shopping Center being developedby MBS Mall Investor-98, LLC.

There will be other retail stores beyond Wal-Mart. In addition, thedeveloper anticipates soon breaking ground on a 22,000-square-footretail building that will sit on the north side of the property alongInterstate 70. Crews will start moving dirt for that project inmid-October.

And, in near-by Raytown, in the Missouri 350 Highway corridor:

The biggest plum would be a new Wal-Mart Supercenter. Aldermen areconsidering the project now and could make some key decisions within amonth.

The move comes as city leaders acknowledge that keeping thecommunity’s current Wal-Mart would be difficult. It sits at 6709 BlueRidge Blvd., a location that “won’t serve them well,” city FinanceDirector Dan Estes said.

“We figured it was advantageous to engage them in building a newstore in Raytown,” Estes continued, referring to the largerSupercenter. “We want to have that tax base for the next 20 to 25years.”

Estes sees the Supercenter, which he says could break ground in 2008, as an economic spark.

“This is the start of more to come. It’s the seed money to have future growth along the corridor.”

Bush at the U.N.

Whenever I begin to doubt my support for Bush, he comes through with a speech like the one he gave today at the U.N.[*1]

Sadly, most of the President’s opponents will not even read the speech.  So, to those of you who oppose President Bush, the following speech outlines exactly what you are opposing.  Are you sure you’re on the right side?

(emphasis added):

THE PRESIDENT:Mr. Secretary General, Madam President,distinguished delegates, and ladies and gentlemen: I want to thank youfor the privilege of speaking to this General Assembly.

Last week, America and the world marked the fifth anniversary ofthe attacks that filled another September morning with death andsuffering. On that terrible day, extremists killed nearly 3,000innocent people, including citizens of dozens of nations representedright here in this chamber. Since then, the enemies of humanity havecontinued their campaign of murder. Al Qaeda and those inspired by itsextremist ideology have attacked more than two dozen nations. Andrecently a different group of extremists deliberately provoked aterrible conflict in Lebanon. At the start of the 21st century, it isclear that the world is engaged in a great ideological struggle, betweenextremists who use terror as a weapon to create fear, and moderatepeople who work for peace.

Five years ago, I stood at this podium and called on the communityof nations to defend civilization and build a more hopeful future. Thisis still the great challenge of our time; it is the calling of ourgeneration. This morning, I want to speak about the more hopeful worldthat is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men andwomen are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices ofmoderation are empowered, and where the extremists are marginalized bythe peaceful majority.This world can be ours if we seek it and if wework together.

The principles of this world beyond terror can be found in the veryfirst sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thisdocument declares that the “equal and inalienable rights of all membersof the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice and peacein the world.”One of the authors of this document was a Lebanesediplomat named Charles Malik, who would go on to become President ofthis Assembly.Mr. Malik insisted that these principles apply equallyto all people, of all regions, of all religions, including the men andwomen of the Arab world that was his home.

In the nearly six decades since that document was approved, we haveseen the forces of freedom and moderation transform entire continents.Sixty years after a terrible war, Europe is now whole, free, and atpeace — and Asia has seen freedom progress and hundreds of millions ofpeople lifted out of desperate poverty. The words of the UniversalDeclaration are as true today as they were when they were written. Asliberty flourishes, nations grow in tolerance and hope and peace. Andwe’re seeing that bright future begin to take root in the broader MiddleEast.

Some of the changes in the Middle East have been dramatic, and wesee the results in this chamber. Five years ago, Afghanistan was ruledby the brutal Taliban regime, and its seat in this body was contested.Now this seat is held by the freely elected government of Afghanistan,which is represented today by President Karzai. Five years ago, Iraq’sseat in this body was held by a dictator who killed his citizens,invaded his neighbors, and showed his contempt for the world by defyingmore than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions. Now Iraq’s seat isheld by a democratic government that embodies the aspirations of theIraq people, who’s represented today by President Talabani. With thesechanges, more than 50 million people have been given a voice in thischamber for the first time in decades.

Some of the changes in the Middle East are happening gradually, butthey are real.Algeria has held its first competitive presidentialelection, and the military remained neutral. The United Arab Emiratesrecently announced that half of the seats in its Federal NationalCouncil will be chosen by elections. Kuwait held elections in whichwomen were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time.Citizens have voted in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, inparliamentary elections in Jordan and Bahrain, and in multipartypresidential elections in Yemen and Egypt. These are important steps,and the governments should continue to move forward with other reformsthat show they trust their people. Every nation that travels the roadto freedom moves at a different pace, and the democracies they buildwill reflect their own culture and traditions.But the destination isthe same: A free society where people live at peace with each other andat peace with the world.

Some have argued that the democratic changes we’re seeing in theMiddle East are destabilizing the region. This argument rests on afalse assumption, that the Middle East was stable to begin with. Thereality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was amirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region have beentrapped in oppression and hopelessness. And these conditions left ageneration disillusioned, and made this region a breeding ground forextremism.

Imagine what it’s like to be a young person living in a countrythat is not moving toward reform. You’re 21 years old, and while yourpeers in other parts of the world are casting their ballots for thefirst time, you are powerless to change the course of your government.While your peers in other parts of the world have received educationsthat prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you havebeen fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for yourcountry’s shortcomings. And everywhere you turn, you hear extremistswho tell you that you can escape your misery and regain your dignitythrough violence and terror and martyrdom. For many across the broaderMiddle East, this is the dismal choice presented every day.

Every civilized nation, including those in the Muslim world, mustsupport those in the region who are offering a more hopeful alternative.We know that when people have a voice in their future, they are lesslikely to blow themselves up in suicide attacks. We know that whenleaders are accountable to their people, they are more likely to seeknational greatness in the achievements of their citizens, rather than interror and conquest. So we must stand with democratic leaders andmoderate reformers across the broader Middle East. We must give themvoice to the hopes of decent men and women who want for their childrenthe same things we want for ours. We must seek stability through a freeand just Middle East where the extremists are marginalized by millionsof citizens in control of their own destinies.

Today, I’d like to speak directly to the people across the broaderMiddle East: My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spreadpropaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam.This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justifyacts of terror. We respect Islam, but we will protect our people fromthose who pervert Islam to sow death and destruction. Our goal is tohelp you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people ofall faiths and promote the peace.

To the people of Iraq:Nearly 12 million of you braved the carbombers and assassins last December to vote in free elections.Theworld saw you hold up purple ink-stained fingers, and your couragefilled us with admiration. You’ve stood firm in the face of horrendousacts of terror and sectarian violence — and we will not abandon you inyour struggle to build a free nation. America and our coalitionpartners will continue to stand with the democratic government youelected. We will continue to help you secure the internationalassistance and investment you need to create jobs and opportunity,working with the United Nations and through the International Compactwith Iraq endorsed here in New York yesterday.We will continue totrain those of you who stepped forward to fight the enemies of freedom.We will not yield the future of your country to terrorists andextremists. In return, your leaders must rise to the challenges yourcountry is facing, and make difficult choices to bring security andprosperity. Working together, we will help your democracy succeed, soit can become a beacon of hope for millions in the Muslim world.

To the people of Afghanistan: Together, we overthrew the Talibanregime that brought misery into your lives and harbored terrorists whobrought death to the citizens of many nations.Since then, we havewatched you choose your leaders in free elections and build a democraticgovernment. You can be proud of these achievements. We respect yourcourage, and your determination to live in peace and freedom. We willcontinue to stand with you to defend your democratic gains. Todayforces from more than 40 countries, including members of the NATOAlliance, are bravely serving side-by-side with you against theextremists who want to bring down the free government you’veestablished. We’ll help you defeat these enemies and build a freeAfghanistan that will never again oppress you, or be a safe haven forterrorists.

To the people of Lebanon: Last year, you inspired the world whenyou came out into the streets to demand your independence from Syriandominance. You drove Syrian forces from your country and youreestablished democracy. Since then, you have been tested by thefighting that began with Hezbollah’s unprovoked attacks on Israel. Manyof you have seen your homes and communities caught in crossfire. We seeyour suffering, and the world is helping you to rebuild your country,and helping you deal with the armed extremists who are undermining yourdemocracy by acting as a state within a state.The United Nations haspassed a good resolution that has authorized an international force, ledby France and Italy, to help you restore Lebanese sovereignty overLebanese soil.For many years, Lebanon was a model of democracy andpluralism and openness in the region — and it will be again.

To the people of Iran:The United States respects you; we yourcountry. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and yourmany contributions to civilization. You deserve an opportunity todetermine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence andyour talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendouspotential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulershave chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation’s resources tofund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons. TheUnited Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regimein Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon itsnuclear weapons ambitions. Despite what the regime tells you, we haveno objection to Iran’s pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear powerprogram. We’re working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis.And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom — andAmerica and Iran can be good friends and close partners in the cause ofpeace.

To the people of Syria: Your land is home to a great people with aproud tradition of learning and commerce. Today your rulers haveallowed your country to become a crossroad for terrorism. In yourmidst, Hamas and Hezbollah are working to destabilize the region, andyour government is turning your country into a tool of Iran. This isincreasing your country’s isolation from the world. Your governmentmust choose a better way forward by ending its support for terror, andliving in peace with your neighbors, and opening the way to a betterlife for you and your families.

To the people of Darfur: You have suffered unspeakable violence,and my nation has called these atrocities what they are — genocide.For the last two years, America joined with the international communityto provide emergency food aid and support for an African Unionpeacekeeping force. Yet your suffering continues. The world must stepforward to provide additional humanitarian aid — and we must strengthenthe African Union force that has done good work, but is not strongenough to protect you.The Security Council has approved a resolutionthat would transform the African Union force into a blue-helmeted forcethat is larger and more robust. To increase its strength andeffectiveness, NATO nations should provide logistics and other support.The regime in Khartoum is stopping the deployment of this force. If theSudanese government does not approve this peacekeeping force quickly,the United Nations must act. Your lives and the credibility of theUnited Nations is at stake. So today I’m announcing that I’m naming aPresidential Special Envoy — former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios– to lead America’s efforts to resolve the outstanding disputes andhelp bring peace to your land.

The world must also stand up for peace in the Holy Land. I’mcommitted to two democratic states — Israel and Palestine — living side-by-side in peace and security. I’m committed to aPalestinian state that has territorial integrity and will livepeacefully with the Jewish state of Israel. This is the vision setforth in the road map — and helping the parties reach this goal is oneof the great objectives of my presidency. The Palestinian people havesuffered from decades of corruption and violence and the dailyhumiliation of occupation. Israeli citizens have endured brutal acts ofterrorism and constant fear of attack since the birth of their nation.Many brave men and women have made the commitment to peace. Yetextremists in the region are stirring up hatred and trying to preventthese moderate voices from prevailing.

This struggle is unfolding in the Palestinian territories. Earlierthis year, the Palestinian people voted in a free election. The leadersof Hamas campaigned on a platform of ending corruption and improving thelives of the Palestinian people, and they prevailed. The world iswaiting to see whether the Hamas government will follow through on itspromises, or pursue an extremist agenda. And the world has sent a clearmessage to the leaders of Hamas: Serve the interests of the Palestinianpeople. Abandon terror, recognize Israel’s right to exist, honoragreements, and work for peace.

President Abbas is committed to peace, and to his people’saspirations for a state of their own. Prime Minister Olmert iscommitted to peace, and has said he intends to meet with President Abbasto make real progress on the outstanding issues between them. I believepeace can be achieved, and that a democratic Palestinian state ispossible. I hear from leaders in the region who want to help.I’vedirected Secretary of State Rice to lead a diplomatic effort to engagemoderate leaders across the region, to help the Palestinians reformtheir security services, and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders intheir efforts to come together to resolve their differences. PrimeMinister Blair has indicated that his country will work with partners inEurope to help strengthen the governing institutions of the Palestinianadministration. We welcome his initiative. Countries like Saudi Arabiaand Jordan and Egypt have made clear they’re willing to contribute thediplomatic and financial assistance necessary to help these effortssucceed. I’m optimistic that by supporting the forces of democracy andmoderation, we can help Israelis and Palestinians build a more hopefulfuture and achieve the peace in a Holy Land we all want.

Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed — it must be chosen.From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom. Andthe nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: Willwe support the moderates and reformers who are working for change acrossthe Middle East — or will we yield the future to the terrorists andextremists? America has made its choice: We will stand with themoderates and reformers.

Recently a courageous group of Arab and Muslim intellectuals wroteme a letter. In it, they said this: “The shore of reform is the onlyone on which any lights appear, even though the journey demands courageand patience and perseverance.” The United Nations was created to makethat journey possible.Together we must support the dreams of good anddecent people who are working to transform a troubled region — and bydoing so, we will advance the high ideals on which this institution wasfounded.

Thank you for your time. God bless.