My fellow Americans.
I come to you now, gravely aware that what I am about to say will radically change the course of what we have, for nearly five long years now, called the war on terror.
For almost as long as I have held this office, I have been leading this war. On my watch, the United States sent troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and drive Al Qaeda from the safe haven it used to plan attacks on our country. On my watch, we sent troops into Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein and break this link in the terrorism food chain. On my watch, the United States spearheaded an ambitious drive to bring democracy to regions of the Middle and Near East as part of an effort to touch brutalized peoples with the salve of freedom and see them recover their free will, forever strengthened by what we in America prize as God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.I made this democratization process the centerpiece of my second term, the core of my political strategy against global terrorism, because history has taught us that democracies don't make war, or support terrorist attacks, on one another. I didn't, as one predecessor of mine famously put it, simply want "to make the world safe for democracy." I wanted to make the world -- that part of the world from which terrorism mainly springs -- democratic, and therefore, safe.
Over the past few years, then, the United States has supported fledgling democracies in Afghanistan Iraq and the Palestinian Authority. We have proudly assisted in making free and fair elections possible in these places, and with excellent results -- at least with regard to the freeness and the fairness of the elections. But the fact is, when these peoples have spoken, what we have heard, or should have been hearing, in the expression of their collective will is that the mechanics of democracy alone (one citizen, one vote) do not automatically manufacture democrats -- if by democrats we mean citizens who believe first and foremost in the kind of liberty that guarantees freedom of conscience and equality before the law.
On the contrary, each of these new democracies has produced constitutions that enshrine Islamic law. Because Islamic law, known as "sharia," does not permit equality between the sexes or among religions, it is anything but what we in American consider "democratic." Indeed, sharia law endows Muslims, and Muslim men in particular, with a superior position in society. It also outlaws words and deeds that oppose this inequitable power structure for being "un-Islamic." From this same Islamic legal tradition comes the mandate for jihad (holy war, usually against non-Muslims) and dhimmitude, the official state of inferiority of non-Muslims under Islam.
With their devotion to Islamic tradition, then, these new democracies have, in effect, peacefully voted themselves into the same doctrinal camp as the many terror groups that violently strike at the non-Muslim world in the name of jihad for the sake of a caliphate -- a Muslim world government ruled according to sharia.
So be it. What I mean by that is, it is neither in the national interest nor in the national will for the United States of America to attempt to reshape such a culture to conform to our notions of liberty and justice for all. It is neither in the national interest nor in the national will to attempt to reform a belief system that animates this culture to conform to our notions of freedom of worship. It is, however, in our national interest, and must become a part of our national will, to ensure that Islamic law does not come to our own shores, whether by means of violent jihad terrorism as practiced by the likes of Al Qaeda or Hezbollah, or through peaceful patterns of migration, such as those that have already Islamized large parts of Europe.
The shift I am describing -- from a pro-democracy offensive to an anti-sharia defensive -- means a national course correction. Rather than continuing to emphasize the democratization of the Muslim Middle East as our key tool in the war on terror, I will henceforth emphasize the prevention of sharia from reaching the West as our key tool in the war on terror.
This will entail the immediate adoption of the following steps.
(To be continued)