Rice: Supporting Democracy 'Only Realistic Response' to Challenges
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2005 The U.S. military's promotion of democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe is America's "only realistic path" to preserve and protect U.S. national security in a dangerous and hostile world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today.
"Supporting the growth of democratic institutions in all nations is not some moralistic flight of fancy; it is the only realistic response to our present challenges," Rice wrote in an op-ed published in today's Washington Post.
The secretary acknowledged "this is admittedly a bold course of action." However, she contended, "it is consistent with the proud tradition of American foreign policy (espoused by) such recent presidents as Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan."
American support of democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere will succeed, "not simply because it is optimistic and idealistic but also because it is premised on sound strategic logic and a proper understanding of the new realities we face," Rice said.
She said these new realities include the growing unlikelihood of war between major countries and the increasing threat posed by weak and failing states.
"Weak and failing states serve as global pathways that facilitate the spread of pandemics, the movement of criminals and terrorists, and the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons," she said. Consequently, U.S. policy aims "to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."
The secretary pointed to the myriad problems that, she said, have long been festering in the Middle East -- terrorism, corruption, weapons proliferation, tyranny, and oppression -- as illustrative of the failures of foreign policy "realism."
"Who truly believes, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that the status quo in the Middle East was stable, beneficial and worth defending?" Rice said. "How could it have been prudent to preserve the state of affairs in a region that was incubating and exporting terrorism; where the proliferation of deadly weapons was getting worse ... where authoritarian regimes were projecting their failures onto innocent nations and peoples?
"It is sheer fantasy," Rice continued, "to assume that the Middle East was just peachy before America disrupted its alleged stability." To the contrary, she said, the Middle East has made "unprecedented progress" since U.S. troops arrived in Iraq.
The secretary cited Lebanese independence from foreign occupation and democratic reforms there, the Palestinian Authority's election of a leader who openly calls for peace with Israel, multiparty elections in Egypt, full citizenship for the women of Kuwait, and the drafting of a constitution and elections in Iraq.
"At this time last year," Rice said, "such unprecedented progress seemed impossible. One day it will all seem to have been inevitable. This is the nature of extraordinary times" in which we live.