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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Bush in Congress: How did he perform?
The US President George W Bush has given the most crucial speech of his presidency about the US campaign against terrorism in an address to both houses of Congress.

Mr Bush received a standing ovation after his address, in which he paid tribute to the acts of heroism of rescuers who had fought to save people from the ruins of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

He urged the American people to be "calm and resolute" while US armed forces embarked on a prolonged campaign against those responsible for last week's attacks.

He also issued a blunt warning to every nation of the world, saying they had to decide whether they were with the US or with the terrorists.

So how do you think President Bush performed? Did his speech live up to expectations, or will it provoke further hostility from those who fear America's campaign?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


This is a no-win situation

Kevin Mathews, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
I am reading these comments with disbelief! When the United States acts without consulting its partner nations, we're ridiculed. Now we are savagely attacked, 7000 people are killed, we consult with the world and do not offer a knee-jerk reaction and what happens? We are ridiculed. This is a no-win situation. Why is it we are the worst nation on the face of the earth until our scientific, educational, economic or military might is needed? Americans will not forget your turning of your backs in our time of need.
Kevin Mathews, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

I think Bush is leading us all into a war we will all regret. This "if you're not with us you're against us" rubbish is an appalling affront to many nations and I'm one UK citizen that will not stand with him! This Hollywood style rhetoric is making me quite sick to be honest, and perhaps he should look back to when a real president spoke: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate" JFK There is just no good reason to kill more innocent people! Intelligence and negotiation is the way forward, not war. We've been there before.
Simon Blake, UK

It was the right speech for the right time. Most Americans are not in the mood to accept this trite opinion that our nation deserved this mass murder of innocent people because of its foreign policy and "arrogance". I hope that this frightful justification that I'm reading is not representative of the majority opinion. The President's speech and demeanour was and is, appropriate, reassuring and inspirational.
Kristine Wood, USA

Pres. Bush was superb. Finally we have a president who cares more about the country than himself. After 8 years of Clinton cowardice we finally have someone with guts. Americans have had enough - it is time to fight back, and we support President Bush 100%. 8 Yrs of the pathetic "I feel your Pain" Clinton biting his lower lip worrying more about his legacy - well thank God it is over.
Helen McReynolds, USA

I am deeply troubled by what sounded like crass jingoism. A terrorist is an extremely angry person - so does the President believe he can simply remove all extremely angry people without making more - and more, and more - in the process? Yes, let's have justice, but yesterday's sight of an aircraft carrier sailing to eliminate those armed with nothing more significant than their own passions filled me with foreboding.
Martin Sheppard, UK

A highly charged speech, and judging by the reaction of the Americans to this poll, one that was demanded by the people, as - it seems - is an overt attack against somebody. Americans ought to be careful that their response doesn't smack of fundamentalism also. There are international organisations that should be seen as the figurehead in these reprisals, otherwise if things escalate out of control the United States will be blamed for a lack of foresight.

While an overt reprisal may be demanded by the majority of US nationals it is imperative, although difficult, coming from a terrorist free and wealthy nation, that they understand what has driven these attacks against them in particular
Killian, Ireland

I think he's missing the point when he says: "They hate what we see right here in this chamber, a democratically elected government." I doubt most people care about the internal form of the US government - they're much more concerned with the impact of its foreign policy on their own home populations.
Alan young, UK


His audience seemed to like it

Malk Williams, England
I only saw the highlights, but I thought it was rather trite actually. Still, his audience seemed to like it. A standing ovation for every soundbite, what speechmaker could want more?
Malk Williams, England

It was an emotional speech, but it played on what American people seem to WANT to hear at the minute i.e. "let's go to war". I think Mr Bush has got to realise that showing TV pictures of missiles raining down on Afghanistan may appease some US citizens as it shows action, but it is NOT the way to fight terrorism.
Geoff, Northern Ireland

I thought the speech was very well done. He said all the right things. I don't think he meant to leave the Canadians out. I've lived in America all my life and I've never thought of us as a bunch of murderous thugs.
Greg Anderson, USA

Someone wrote Bush a very good speech, pilfered from many other good speeches, and he delivered it competently - though less competently than Ronnie Reagan in similar circumstances. Actions speak louder than words, however, and Bush's track record on action is so far abysmal. We should all thank God that Powell has his hand on the tiller.
Tom, UK


I am a Democrat but I thought it was an excellent speech

Dennis, USA
I am a Democrat but I thought it was an excellent speech. We need a Churchill, not a Chamberlain, at this point in history. Now is no time for negotiation and appeasement. It is a time for action. In response to the Canadians: Yes, we know you are there and we appreciate your support. Mr. Bush's remarks were directed to the UK because Mr. Blair was in the audience. Also, I must point out, the British have lent far more support in the past than our good neighbour to the north.
Dennis, USA

I think it was an insult to the hardworking Canadians that sent fire fighters and other help to NYC, happily received US planes and patients at home, and grieved along with US citizens to not be thanked or even mentioned in what was otherwise a great unifying speech by Bush.
Allen, Canada


I wonder if all the American people know that their government created terrorists such as Bin Laden

Dastan Shawais, UK, London
I wonder if all the American people know that their government created terrorists such as Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein...! The US created "monsters" like Saddam Hussein and now the monsters they created are out of control.
Dastan Shawais, UK, London

He performed badly. He is trying to outdo Bin Laden by killing more.
David, UK


The speech was highly reprehensible, as he tried to divide the world into two blocs

Ali Muhammad, Peshawar-Pakistan
The speech was highly reprehensible, as he tried to divide the world into two blocs. The ones supporting him to combat selected terrorism are his friends and those who refuse to extend help to him are terrorists. How can he justify that position? Terrorism must be eliminated at all cost, but not in the way the US is doing.
Ali Muhammad, Peshawar-Pakistan

It depends where you are coming from. If you are coming from a Western perspective, then he did a superlative job. But if you are one of the innocent Afghans whose lives will be threatened by American arrogance, then the speech was nothing but a death knell.
Arnie Trinidad, Philippines

The speech was too planned! It may have sounded very patriotic to Americans, but it was obviously very Hollywood-like to the rest of the world. The American People need to wake up! The policies of this and past governments around the world got us here, and unfortunately Bush failed to explain that, i.e. tell you the truth!
Abu Abdulrahman, Saudi Arabia

Bush's speech was excellent. I look forward now to the steps he will take to stop his fellow Americans funding IRA terrorism against UK citizens.
Mike, UK


The hurtful remarks aimed at our President at this time of tragedy are unbelievable

Karen, USA
I am heartbroken to read some of the opinions posted to this page today. The hurtful remarks aimed at our President at this time of tragedy are unbelievable. Tell me, how does one go about avenging the murder of so many? What is the correct action to take on behalf of thousands of children deprived of a parent, men and women torn from spouses, parents whose spirits are forever shattered by this satanic act?
Karen, USA

Bush clearly is a warmonger and this tragedy has given him the excuse to start yet another war. When will we ever learn the USA is first and last ONLY for the USA? It is a pity real people like Tony Blair have once again pledged the lives of our UK soldiers to satisfy this man's lust for revenge. His speech was for nothing as are his policies. He will lead the USA and others to disaster.
Alan, Poland

His term 'if you are not with the US, then you are with the terrorists', is inappropriate. I am sure that nations not supporting terrorism will have many reasons for not wanting military action and Mr. Bush is openly telling them, 'you are terrorists'. This will only create more animosity towards the US. Instead of making such statements, Mr. Bush should spend his time and effort in finding answers to 'of all the nations in the world, why only America'?
Shahul Hameed, India

I thought he made a fine speech, but I am also sorry he omitted mentioning Canada. To my neighbours to the north, you are an amazing country, and a true friend to the US. Thank you for your support and encouragement.
Kelley, Texas, USA

I personally feel that Bush is playing on the emotions of the American people and through our blind patriotism at this moment, we are entering a severe phase of global 'blowback' and violence which result from American imperialist foreign policies of the past. Terrorism must be addressed but it must be done via an international tribunal and court of law - not via an American regime.
Teresa Williams, U.S.


Saying that any country which is not with the US are with the terrorists was outrageous!

Taumal, Japan
I think Bush's speech, in general, was OK. But saying that any country which is not with the US are with the terrorists was outrageous! It clearly demonstrates the "big brother" attitude of the US and this is why they are so much hated.
Taumal, Japan

I believe that Bush said what he needed to say. If we do nothing to stop this, the terrorists will think that the nations of freedom are weak and the attacks will continue. When a child does something bad do we not punish them, when a criminal does a crime do we not sentence them? During WWII we all fought against the same evil that is being seen here. It was needed then and it is needed now.
Adam, United States of America

First of all I would like to thank Mr Bush for his speech which was wonderful and full of emotions for the people of America. Although I do not believe in war, sometimes because of the situation, one has to react.
Samir , India

Our fine President has given a magnificent speech and in doing so has charged the world with a daunting and noble mission: Rid the world of all terrorists and those who support them! He named names. He spoke forcefully. He challenged America and our allies with a serious and difficult mission that, if executed properly, will do well for our generations to come. Why should we have to accept terrorism as part of life? Our President made it clear last night that we will not!
Gene, United States of America


The president's speech was the best I have ever heard from a president

Tom Hulbert, United States
The president's speech was the best I have ever heard from a president. I think the reason he didn't single out Canada, is because we in the US don't think of you as just friends. We think of you as family and maybe take you too much for granted. Sorry.
Tom Hulbert, United States

It was a good speech; however I doubt that Bush wrote a word of it (must admit he is reading a lot better, though). He covered the situation very well but I didn't care for the "if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists" comment. Sounded too much like a not-so-veiled threat to other countries - things like this are why we are so hated in the first place.
Arthur, USA

It lived up to MY expectations - sadly. I don't support any kind of knee-jerk indiscriminate attack on Afghanistan, but according to Bush this makes me a terrorist! The man is a fool.
Garth Weston, UK

President Bush has given a great speech. His administration didn't rush into a military situation and is taking his time to combat the threat of terrorism and deal with those who are responsible. It is terrible that things had to come to this, but this is really our first major catastrophe and it has awakened America. Mass innocent lives taken cannot be sacrificed at the behest of the terrorist.

I would also like to say that I extend my thanks to the British people and their government leaders - before I had a bit of disdain for Britain and its dislike for America, but I see now you have joined with us during this crisis, as we would be there for you in a likewise situation.
David Burrow, United States of America


He was just re-iterating what he has been saying all week

Irene Campbell, UK
I thought George Bush's speech was just what the world expected. He was just re-iterating what he has been saying all week. The sad thing was that he did not say what really has caused these terrible attacks. I really do not think the countries in the East care about or are jealous or our freedom or our democratic society.

The fact is that many years of suppression has caused them to act out in such a way. They cannot take any more of the control of America or any other western state running their countries into the ground for the price of a dollar. America and Europe should release the grip they have over them. Look for the root cause, and he should stop saying statements like freedom and what we stand for - treat them as equals and respect their religion. George Bush, and Tony Blair for that matter, should credit their people with a little more intelligence. Time for honesty please, then we might get somewhere.
Irene Campbell, UK

Addressing Congress is all very well but where is the UN in all of this? It appears that it is being completely sidelined in favour of Nato (again).
Richard Kirkham, Wales

I highly approve of President Bush's political and personal endeavour. In his statement to congress, he esteemed Britain as a true friend to the USA, suggesting that there is no other in the ranking of such a country as the UK in. I agree fully. I do see another in the same light, Canada. I will always have high regard for these two countries, with which I always feel great oneness.
Allen Dula, USA


A government protects no one's rights by denying those rights to others

Celia West, US
Bush continued to drivel on about how this was unacceptable (which it is) but made no reference to the terror which has been perpetrated by the US and other powers in the past. As horrific and wrong what happened at the WTC is, those of us in the US have now experienced what many in other parts of the world experience every day. He and his associates in the government also seem bent on saving Americans rather than saving America. A government protects no one's rights by denying those rights to others.
Celia West, US

I thought the speech was great. I want to thank the British, Canadians, Mexicans, French, Germans, Pakistanis, Australians, and ... for their support and I grieve for their lost. I wish Pres. Bush could have thanked each country for their support and mourned their loss. I ask the world to understand that as much as we try we can't be all things to all people all the time. So for our best friend, Canada, from one American, thank you for your support and my deepest sympathies for the families and friends of the lost Canadians.
Michael Miller, USA

Well, it's clear that Bush is building up the propaganda campaign - the media can be used as a powerful weapon. As for the content of his speech, it wasn't entirely true - especially the part about "why they hate us..." These groups hate the US because of US foreign policy, not only because of democracy. Call me anti-American, but I don't think an all out war against Afghanistan is going to solve anything.

As for the rest of his speech, it was properly placed, and positive according to the situation. Americans, and the world, need to hear the sound of confidence more than anything at a time such as this. I have no doubt that the US will win this war - I suppose that it is the lesser of two evils... "All that evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing."
Daniel Frome, Canada


I thought he made a fine speech

Anne Niven, USA
I usually can't "stand" Bush Jr but I thought he made a fine speech, far better than I could have anticipated. I was especially impressed by the international nature of the call to stand together as a civilisation and the relative lack of jingoism, hate- speech and rhetorical tricks. (I'm a lifelong Democrat, by the way, and my husband is a British citizen.)
Anne Niven, USA

What a load of nonsense to say we have to choose between the terrorists and US administration with its vile policies in the Middle East. Why can't we say they are both a murderous set of thugs?
Ian Sellen, New Zealand

I think it was a "brilliant" speech. It summed up how America feels and our response to this terror in our lives. I am frightened by the prospect of a global war (my husband is an officer in the Air Force Reserves. He is ready to go). But it is necessary for us to rid the world of this evil.
Terri Schurr, USA


Bush's speech was a powerful call to action

Andre Bernier, USA
Bush's speech was a powerful call to action but one that lacked a crucial ingredient: an attempt to recognise and understand what really motivates the terrorists. Until US action explicitly addresses this, it is hard to feel fully confident that the effort will succeed, or that it will make more friends than enemies in the end.
Andre Bernier, USA

Although by political affiliation I am a Democrat and a Liberal, with no qualms about saying so, I think Mr Bush gave a very good speech. He said what needed to be said to fellow citizens and the citizens of the world. My only criticism would be I would have liked the speech to be even more forceful.
David Hopper, USA

I am not a fan of President Bush, but I have to say that I thought he did a great job - he spoke from the heart to the world.
Rose (British ex-pat), Canada

Bush did a superlative job. The enemies of the US and Britain had best beware.
Mark McMillan, USA

I thought President Bush's speech was excellent. However, I wish he would have called on the Israelis and Palestinians to show restraint and settle their differences, since it was their conflict and our blind support of Israel that was the underlying reason for Arab hatred of the US in the first place.
Thomas, Houston, TX, USA


I disagree that the entire world should participate

Sam Malone,
USA
I think the speech was defiant, charged and a clear message to the American people and to the rest of the world. But it was almost as if America is setting the world order. "Either you are with us or with the terrorists" . I disagree that the entire world should participate. Some countries would just not want to participate because their priorities are something else. There was no mention of UN or security council or a body that sets the world order. It's almost a nation abusing its super power status
Sam Malone, USA

I heard the president say Britain was their best friend, what about the country to the north?
Rick, Canada

I thought it was a fantastic speech. I've had doubts about George W Bush and his ability to handle this crisis, especially considering some of his previous policies, but he is showing remarkable restraint as well as inspirational leadership. The way he singled out Tony Blair and the NYC mayor for praise was commendable, and the unequivocal statements directed towards the Taleban should give them no more room for brinkmanship either. Personally, I believe that this is a turning point in his presidency - George W Bush finally made the transition from a leader, to a world statesman.
Mark Tinsley, United Kingdom

I think Bush performed very well, he was very informative, respectful, and inclusive. I'm afraid that those who fear America's campaign and those who will respond in a hostile fashion may not have seen, heard, or had access to the President's address. They will receive a twisted report of this address by their leaders which will, yes, illicit a hostile response.
Bonnie-Jean, Canada


I was very proud that we finally have a real president with brains and courage!

Charles Hagan,
United States
I was very proud that we finally have a real president with brains and courage!
Charles Hagan, United States

That was just the speech we needed. He clearly defined the path America is pursuing, that we seek justice, not retaliation as so many claim. He took a tough stance against the Taleban and Bin Laden, clearly stating that the teachings of Islam are peaceful, but what Bin Laden and his followers advocate is nothing more than a perversion of Islam. He also expressed great appreciation and thanks to world leaders, in particular Prime Minister Blair, who has been our biggest supporter across the Atlantic. That is something we will not forget. I for one, am proud of our president.
Ryan Corcoran, Austin, Texas, USA

George Bush looks as if he is enjoying himself, and is thinking ahead to a second term in office, but how does one fight an unknown enemy? As the British found to their cost, the Afghans are fierce fighters, and I do not think bombing their country into the ground will accomplish anything but will foster greater hatred. Bombing Iraq has done little to dislodge Saddam Hussein. Sanctions have only punished the poor people in Cuba. I do not have an answer, but I do not want war.
Anne, United States


Americans, including Bush, seem totally unaware of the existence of Canada. In his speech, Bush mentioned many countries but omitted his closest neighbour

Maureen Elvin,
Canada

It was very emotional, patriotic and moving. A very good speech I would say. I just seriously hope that he knows what he's doing in Afghanistan.
Theo Stauffer, Switzerland

I think it was brilliant, touching, moving and empowering. I do not personally believe in war as a solution to any issue, however I think there are moments in history when one has take on the weapons and lead the way. May God bless America and its leader.
Liviu, Canada

Americans, including Bush, seem totally unaware of the existence of Canada. In his speech, Bush mentioned many countries but omitted his closest neighbour.
Maureen Elvin, Canada


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