This is a wonderful opportunity to speak to such a distinguished group of thinkers -- and to be able to do so on the soil of one of Americas oldest and truest allies is a special honor. I feel a personal affinity for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, because -- like the Institute -- I got my start studying strategic weapons and arcane terminology like throw weights and "MIRVs". And, like you, Ive subsequently branched out into other areas of strategic studies.
I was last in London when President Bush visited Prime Minister Blair in July of 2001 -- two years and what seems like a lifetime ago.
Since then the United States, the United Kingdom, and all civilized nations have been presented with unparalleled opportunities and tested by unprecedented challenges. No less than Pearl Harbor, September 11 forever changed the lives of every American and the strategic perspective of the United States. September 11 produced an acute sense of our vulnerability to attacks that come with no warning. In the terrifying hours and days following the attacks, we resolved that the only true defense against a threat of this kind is to root it out at its source and address it at its fundamental and ideological core.
A great coalition of freedom loving nations works everyday in many different ways to detect and defeat this menace. As we have been reminded in recent days, victory comes at great sacrifice, as British and American soldiers gave their lives in defense of freedom. With the help of our coalition partners, we have deposed two of the cruelest regimes of this or any time. The Al Qaeda network has been deprived of its chief sanctuary. Half its leadership has been captured or killed, and the rest is on the run -- permanently. Many nations are uniting around tougher measures to fight proliferation, and are determined to address the challenges posed by North Korea and Iran.
But these efforts will not succeed alone. To win the War on Terror, we must win also win a war of ideas by appealing to the decent hopes of people throughout the world . . . giving them cause to hope for a better life and brighter future . . . and reason to reject the false and destructive comforts of bitterness, grievance, and hate. Terror grows in the absence of progress and development. It thrives in the airless space where new ideas, new hopes and new aspirations are forbidden. Terror lives when freedom dies. True peace will come only when the world is safer, better and freer. That is why we are helping Afghans and Iraqis build representative governments that will serve the decent aspirations of their people.
That is why we are committed to building a global trading system that is more and more free, to expand the circle of prosperity into the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. That is why President Bush has proposed a 50 percent increase in U.S. development assistance, with new funding going to countries that govern justly, invest in the health and education of their people, and encourage economic liberty. That is why the President has announced -- and Congress has approved -- a $15 billion dollar commitment to fight AIDS, a disease that threatens whole societies and challenges our humanity.
And that is why the President has committed Americas influence to alleviating -- and, where possible, ending -- destructive regional conflicts, from the Middle East, to Kashmir, to the Congo, and beyond. Two years ago, President Bush told a European audience: We share more than an alliance. We share a civilization. Its values are universal, and they pervade our history and our partnership in a unique way.