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Rice Explains How Iraq Fits in Terror War

By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2005 – Critics of the Iraq War allege that there was no connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice maintains the attack and actions in Iraq are linked.

Rice spoke on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert, today.

"When we were attacked on Sept. 11," Rice said, "we had a choice to make: We could decide that the proximate cause was al Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into the buildings, ... or we could take a bolder approach, which would say that we had to go after the root causes of the kind of terrorism" produced in the Middle East.

The United States, Rice said, decided to take this bolder approach, which involves transforming the Middle East along freer and more democratic lines. A freer and more democratic Middle East, she explained, is far less likely to produce terrorists who will forever threaten catastrophic damage on the United States.

"There is no one who could have imagined a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein still in power," she noted.

Rice acknowledged the difficulty of transforming the Middle East, but said that real progress is being made. "We have ahead of us the prospect - and I think the very good prospect - of a foundation for a democratic and prosperous Iraq that can solve its differences by politics and compromise," she said. That type of country could be "an anchor" and and example for the nations in the region.

Rice cited recent progress in Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. "This is a Middle East that is in transformation to something far better than we have experienced for the last 60 years when we thought that we could ignore democracy and get stability - and in fact we got neither," Rice said.

If the United States were to give up on Iraq, she added, then we would "condemn generations of people in the Middle East to despair ... [and] generations of Americans to fear and insecurity."

The Iraqis are taking this [democratic] process seriously," Rice said, "and we just need to help them have a chance."

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