George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the International Democratic Union Leaders Dinner

June 10, 2002

If I may have your attention for a minute, please. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome the International Democratic Union's members and its new chairman, Prime Minister of Australia John Howard. And it's my pleasure to thank the outgoing chairman, William Hague, for his outstanding leadership.

With us this evening are IDU members from 40 nations, including five current heads of state or government, and nine former heads of state or government. The presence of so many distinguished world leaders is a remarkable testament to the power and attractiveness of our ideas.

More than a century ago, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir William Harcourt, declared, "We're all socialists now." [Laughter] Today, it's fair to say, we're all democratic capitalists now. The democratic capitalists' vision of a free and just and compassionate society has captured the imagination of the world. Free markets, free governments, and free societies are not American ideas; they're not European or Western ideas; they're universal ideas. And they inspire all the member parties of the International Democratic Union.

The historical record is clear: Economic systems that put freedom first have achieved greater levels of equality and well-being than systems that seek to strengthen the power of the state and stifle economic liberty. That's the record. But while the ideas the IDU stands for have made unprecedented gains, the free societies we love face unprecedented threats.

We face coldblooded killers that hate the freedoms we cherish, and with the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology, freedom's enemies could attain catastrophic power. And there's no doubt that they would use that power to attack us and to attack the values we uphold.

It is our commitment to freedom and human dignity and the strong belief that each individual matters that sets our enemies against us and draws our friends together in a great coalition of liberty. We will oppose the new totalitarians with all our power. We will hunt them down, one by one, and bring them to justice.

And we must never hate—hesitate to speak for what we believe. We believe we fight an enemy that is barbaric and that is evil. We believe targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong; and political, social, and economic freedoms are always and everywhere right.

The war on terror will be long and it will be dangerous. It will require us to be patient and steadfast and clear about what we're fighting for. We fight for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: The rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; respect for private property; and free speech and equal justice and religious tolerance.

And so I'd like you to join me in a toast for the ideas which we all share, and for the great hope to replace poverty and repression and resentment with the promise of a better day for everyone who inhabits this Earth.

May God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:03 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the International Democratic Union Leaders Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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