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Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Bush says US will strike first
George W Bush (file)
The US 'must be ready' in case of further attacks
US President George W Bush has emphasised his commitment to taking pre-emptive action against potential threats - striking before suspected terrorists have the chance to do so themselves.

In an address to graduating army officers at West Point, America's top military school, Mr Bush declared that if the United States waited for threats fully to materialise, it would have waited too long.


Our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for pre-emptive action, when necessary, to defend our liberty and to defend our lives

President Bush
He also reiterated his warning to Americans to be on their guard against terrorist attacks.

He said security required the modernisation of the military, and of intelligence agencies like the FBI.

His comments come amid criticism of the Bush administration's handling of intelligence about possible terrorist attacks before 11 September.

On Saturday, the president said he would not leave the safety of the United States and of the planet to the mercy of a few "unbalanced dictators" who are suspected of working to develop weapons of mass destruction.

World Trade Center
About 3,000 people died in the 11 September attacks

"We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best," said the US leader.

"In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action, and this nation will act."

The speech did not specifically name the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a target, although Mr Bush has repeatedly said he wants him removed from power.

Mr Bush also said the twin Cold War strategies of deterrence and containment would not be enough to win America's war on terror.

Volunteer programme

On Saturday, the US president also proposed an unprecedented expansion of volunteer programmes.

These include the new Citizen Corps to help fight terrorism at the local level, an expanded Peace Corps for overseas service, and a Senior Corps for older Americans - in a bid to tap into the wave of patriotism generated by the 11 September strikes.

"It's graduation time on many college campuses," Mr Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"Members of my administration are travelling around the country to challenge the class of 2002 to make serving their neighbour and their nation a central part of their lives."


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18 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
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