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Bush speech a welcome change in war on terror

In his speech Thursday before the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush demonstrated what appears to be a significant change in his approach to the war on terror.

Rather than the generic references to "the enemy" we have too often heard from Mr. Bush, the president tried for the first time to put a face on the terrorists — to define the enemy rather than paint with broad strokes anyone with whom his administration has a disagreement as a "terrorist."

Mr. Bush made some excellent points about the extreme Islamic radicals who continue to spread hate and death throughout the world. He correctly asserted that the terrorists would find justification for their atrocities even if we were not in Iraq.

We are not sure that Saddam Hussein's former regime in Iraq fell into Mr. Bush's more specific definition of "the enemy." He did acknowledge, though, that, since the war in Iraq, that troubled country has become a prime recruiting station for terrorism. Mr. Bush noted that Osama bin Laden and others have taken advantage of the unrest and uncertainty to recruit, train and deploy suicide bombers.

Mr. Bush also revealed for the first time that United States and allied efforts have thwarted at least 10 planned al-Qaida attacks worldwide since Sept. 11, 2001 — three of them on American soil. If true, these are major victories in the worldwide war on terror.

The president said his strategy against terrorism includes patience, constant pressure and building strong partners throughout the world.

We don't agree with the administration's regime-building policies in the Middle East and its continued insistence in placing American troops in harm's way in Iraq nearly two years after Saddam was captured. But Mr. Bush's new willingness to put a face on the enemy can only help persuade potential allies that our goals are justified and our cause is righteous.

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