There have always been small groups willing to use random murder to shock and intimidate. Yet in crucial respects, the 21st-century terrorism threat presents a new and far greater peril.
Today, we face a sophisticated global network of terrorists who are opposed to the values of liberty, tolerance and openness that form the basis of our societies. Their hatred and sense of grievance are not directed at any one government or nation or religion, but against all governments, nations and people that stand in their way.
Today's terrorists send young men and women on missions of suicide and murder and call it martyrdom. They would as readily kill 300,000 innocents as they killed 3,000, and they are seeking the means to do exactly that. From materials seized by coalition forces in Afghanistan, and interrogations of captured terrorists, we know they are doing everything they can to develop or acquire chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons.
We must act with all urgency that this danger demands. Civilized people must do everything in our power to defeat terrorism and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
These tasks are tasks that we'll face far into the future. Our success will depend on meeting three fundamental responsibilities. First, we must confront the ideologies of violence at the source, by promoting democracy throughout the greater Middle East and beyond.
Second, we must meet these dangers together. Co-operation among our governments, and effective international institutions, are even more important today than they have been in the past.
Third, when diplomacy fails, we must be prepared to face our responsibilities and be willing to use force if necessary. Direct threats require decisive action.