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Make-or-Break Speeches of U.S. Presidents
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George W. Bush, Sept. 20, 2001

"This is the world's fight"

In the first, confusing hours after al Qaeda terrorists flew airliners into the Twin Towers, President George W. Bush was out of contact with Washington and the American public. An anxious nation awaited his address to Congress nine days later. Bush set the stage for the invasion of Afghanistan and the broader mission he envisioned, and he warned nations that "you are either with us or you are with the terrorists." He stressed American charity and urged respect for Muslims in general. Some of the speech's themes would later prove contentious—his talk of a wider war foreshadowed the invasion of Iraq, and critics slammed his failure to seek sacrifice beyond those in the military. Partisan rancor quickly returned to Washington, stronger than ever.

Photographer: Eric Draper/White House