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I have followed my conscience, says Bush

January 16, 2009 10:22 IST

US President George W Bush has said America continues to face grave threat from terrorists, who are not only determined but also are patiently waiting to strike back.

"While our Nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack," Bush said in his farewell address to the nation on Wednesday.

The outgoing president would hand over the presidency to Barack Obama on January 20.

"Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again," Bush said in his nationally televised live speech in which he recollected the 9/11 attack and the decisions he took in its aftermath to protect the US from terrorists.

"America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard," he said.

Recollecting the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on US, the outgoing president said, "This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house  September 11, 2001."

This was the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor as nearly 3,000 people died. "I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock," he said.

Bush said seven year since the attack, most Americans might have been able to return to normal life as it had been before, but he has not. "I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our Nation. And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe."

Under his presidency, not only the US has been secured by taking necessary measures to protect the country, but also the fight has been taken to the home of these terrorists, he said. "With strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them," Bush said.

"Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school. Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States," Bush said.

Bush, however, conceded that there was legitimate debate about many of his decisions. "But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil," he said.

Bush attributed this to those who toil day and night to keep the United States safe  law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the American Armed Forces.

ALWAYS ACTED IN BEST INTERESTS

Bush has asserted that all the decisions he took, during the eight years of his presidency, were in the best interest of the country.

Bush acknowledged that he did experience setbacks during his eight years at White House and would have taken some of the decisions differently if given a chance, but all of them were in the best interest of the nation.

"Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance.  Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind," Bush said.

"I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right.  You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made.  But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions," said the outgoing US President in his farewell address from White House.

All this was in an apparent response to those who have accused him of imposing two wars on the nation and leading the country into an economic recession, the worst after the great depression of the last century.

In his speech, Bush cautioned that country might have to take hard decisions in the years to come. "The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course," he said.
Bush argued that the US must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose.

"In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led," Bush argued.

Reading out the words of the former President Thomas Jefferson, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past," Bush said he shares this optimism as he leaves the White House in five days from now.

"America is a young country, full of vitality, constantly growing and renewing itself. And even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead," Bush said.

A MOMENT OF HOPE

Bush has said the election of Barack Obama as the next president of the country is a "moment of hope and pride" for the United States of America.

 "Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people," Bush said.

"Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose story reflects the enduring promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole Nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls," Bush said.

Bush, one of the most controversial president of the United States, said it has been an honour for him to serve the people of America as their President for eight years.

"The first decade of this new century has been a period of consequence,  a time set apart. Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey we have traveled together and the future of our nation," he said.

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