WASHINGTON - Declaring that "we're at war," President Bush braced Americans yesterday for an extended military campaign that would "smoke out" those responsible for the terrorist attacks on the United States.
"I will not settle for a token act," Bush said in his strongest words yet, speaking in his weekly radio address. "Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective."
For the first time, the president singled out Osama bin Laden, the Islamic militant, as a "prime suspect" in the devastating assaults Tuesday on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"If he thinks he can hide and run," Bush said, "he will be sorely mistaken."
The president made his most explicit assertion yet that U.S. citizens would have to bear some sacrifices once America begins carrying out a military retaliation.
"We have much to do, and much to ask of the American people," Bush said.
"You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength, because the course to victory may be long."
As the president spoke, Pakistan promised full support to any military action against the terrorists in neighboring Afghanistan, whose Taliban regime has harbored bin Laden.
Pakistani officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Pakistan had agreed to the full list of U.S. demands, including a multinational force to be based within its borders. They also said Pakistan has sought assurances from the United States that any ground force would be multinational. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell expressed gratitude yesterday for Pakistan's pledge of cooperation.
"I especially want to thank the president and the people of Pakistan for the support that they have offered and their willingness to assist us in whatever might be required in that part of the world, as we determine who these perpetrators are," Powell said.
In an effort to isolate the Taliban regime, the United States has urged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to sever their ties with the Taliban.
In addition, Iran has ordered its security forces to seal off the border with Afghanistan to prevent Afghan refugees from entering the country in case of a U.S. retaliation. Iran, which has had an acrimonious relationship with the Taliban, also has condemned the terrorist attacks.
Bush is spending the weekend at the secluded presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland, where he conferred yesterday with Vice President Dick Cheney and his national security team. A day after touring the rubble that was once the World Trade Center and leading an emotional prayer service in Washington, Bush's tone yesterday turned more combative.
His warning to those who planned or aided the deadly attacks: It is useless to hide.
"They run to the hills, they find holes to get in, and we will do whatever it takes to smoke them out," said the president. "We'll get them.
"There is no question about it," Bush added: "This act will not stand."
That appeared to be language borrowed from his father, former President George Bush, who in 1990 declared that Iraq's invasion of Kuwait "will not stand." The United States soon launched a military offensive against Iraq.
Yesterday, as Bush and his advisers explored their military options, the president repeated his vow to retaliate against not only the terrorists, but also any nations that aided them.
"We will not only deal with those who dare attack America," he said. "We will deal with those who harbor them, and feed them and house them."
In his radio address, Bush asserted that "those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction."
"We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism," he added.
The president seems to have won the support of most Americans for going to war. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, 85 percent believe the United States should use force to retaliate against whoever is responsible for the attacks.
Seventy-five percent of those people said military action should be mounted even if innocent people were killed.
The poll, conducted Thursday and Friday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Bush urged Americans, in the meantime, to go about their usual lives as best they could, and preparations were made for the resumption of trading tomorrow on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as on Nasdaq and the American Stock Exchange. Many securities firms in New York's financial district also plan to reopen.
At the same time, the president urged "a heightened sense of awareness that a group of barbarians have declared war on the American people."