London (CNSNews.com) - President Bush used the keynote speech of his trip to Britain on Wednesday to call for democracy in the Middle East, reaffirm his support for a strong transatlantic alliance and defend the use of force in Iraq and elsewhere.
"Great responsibilities have fallen once again to the great democracies. We will face these threats with open eyes and we will defeat them," he said.
"Together, our nations are standing and sacrificing for this high goal in a distant land at this very hour," he said.
In an address peppered with historical references, Bush praised the "old and tested alliance" between the U.S. and Britain and said that "the peace and security of nations now rests on three pillars."
The president said that cooperation with international institutions, the willingness to use force and the encouragement of democracy were the vital elements of global security.
"Our first choice and our constant practice is to work with other responsible governments," he said.
But Bush, in Britain as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II, also cited a 1919 trip to London by Woodrow Wilson and warned that the United Nations may go the way of Wilson's post-WWI project, the League of Nations.
"It's not enough to meet the dangers of the world with resolutions," he said. "We must meet them with resolve."
"In some cases, the measured use of force is all that protects us from a chaotic world ruled by force," he said.
His speech also focused on the Middle East. He acknowledged that the United States and the United Kingdom had often tolerated "oppression for the stake of stability" in the region but said that such policies "did not bring stability or make us safe."
"If the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation and anger and violence for export," he said.
"We must shake off decades of failed policy," he said.
The president cited positive developments for democracy, freedom of speech and women's rights in an "arc of reform" from Morocco to Jordan to Qatar.
He defended military operations in Iraq and reasserted U.S. determination to see the nation-building project through to the end.
"Democracy will succeed in Iraq because our will is firm, our word is good and the Iraqi people will not surrender their freedom," Bush said.
He also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and spoke of a "new Palestine" that could be created with new leaders. He repeated U.S. demands tied to the peace process, including a freeze on building Israeli settlements and an end to "public and private support" for terrorism by Arab governments.
Sir Timothy Garden of the Royal Institute of International Affairs said Bush would be judged in Britain by how his broad statements about democracy in the Middle East are put into action.
"It's not entirely clear what model of democracy the U.S. is pushing in the region," Garden said. "(Plus) there is a great deal of skepticism both in the region and more widely that you can do anything very fast."
The ideals set out in the speech would appeal to Britons, Garden said, but commentators would be watching the U.S. administration's actions in the Middle East very closely.
"To use a British phrase, 'Fine words butter no parsnips,'" he said. "In other words, it's very easy to come forth with this rhetoric, but results are something else."
Bush acknowledged the protests surrounding his visit by leading off with a joke about a recent stunt by illusionist David Blaine.
"The last noted American to visit London stayed in a glass box dangling over the Thames (River)," he said. "A few might have been happy to provide similar arrangements for me. I thank Her Majesty the Queen for interceding. We're honored to be staying at her house."
The president and the first lady are staying at Buckingham Palace before a trip to Prime Minister Tony Blair's home district in northern England and their return to Washington on Friday.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.