Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush Escalates War-on-Terror Rhetoric ; He Warns of 'Totalitarian' Terrorists - as Other Officials Attack His Critics as 'Defeatists' and 'Appeasers.'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush Escalates War-on-Terror Rhetoric ; He Warns of 'Totalitarian' Terrorists - as Other Officials Attack His Critics as 'Defeatists' and 'Appeasers.'

Article excerpt

As the nation fights wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seeks to keep the American homeland safe, another sort of conflict is heating up: a war of rhetoric.

Thursday, President Bush launched a series of speeches aimed at building support for efforts to combat terrorism and for the Iraq war. His address before the American Legion in Salt Lake City followed tough speeches this week by other top administration officials that characterized Iraq war opponents as "defeatists" and "appeasers," likening the threat of Islamic fundamentalist-driven terrorism to "fascism."

With the death toll mounting in Iraq, Mr. Bush has moved away from trying to portray a sense of progress there to warning of the consequences of pulling out. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks - and a little more than two months before crucial congressional elections - Bush appears intent on framing all the wars as part of the larger war on terrorism.

"They're playing to [an issue] that's one of the few things they've got going for them," says John Mueller, an expert on war and public opinion at Ohio State University.

Bush and the Republicans made terrorism a winning electoral issue in 2002 and 2004, but it's not clear that strategy will work for them again. A majority of Americans no longer see the Iraq war as part of the larger war on terror, according to a CBS-New York Times poll released last week.

Bush: 'They dream to destroy'

In his speech Thursday, the president pushed his message on terrorism hard. He laid out differences between the Sunni Muslims of Al Qaeda and the Shiite Muslims adhering to groups like Hizbullah, noting the state sponsorship of Syria and Iran. "Still others are homegrown terrorists, fanatics who live quietly in free societies. They dream to destroy," he continued.

Despite their differences, "these groups form the outlines of a single movement: the worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology," the president said.

On Wednesday, Bush maintained that his series of speeches, which will culminate in an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. …

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