Bush: 'Freedom on the March' Throughout World
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2005 "Freedom is on the march, and the world is better for it," President Bush said here today, referring to Jan. 30 elections in Iraq and recent successful, peaceful elections in Afghanistan, Ukraine and the Palestinian territories.
"On Sunday, the Iraqi people will be joining millions in other parts of the world who now decide their future through free votes," Bush said at the State Department swearing-in ceremony for new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In comments following Bush's, Rice said that given America's history, it's only natural that this country would "associate itself with those around the world who also strive to secure freedom for themselves and for their children."
She said Sept. 11, 2001, made Americans see how their values and interests are linked with those of other peoples'. "That day of fire made us see that the best way to secure a world of peace and hope is to build a world of freedom. We do not simply seek the absence of terrorism; we seek a world where the aspirations for freedom of men and women triumph," she said.
Bush said that Rice, formerly his national security adviser, has "an abiding belief in the power of democracy to secure justice and liberty and the inclusion of men and women of all races and religions in the courses that free nations chart for themselves." Democracy taking hold in Iraq confirms these convictions, he said.
Good relations with other countries are vital to the cause of advancing freedom and democracy. "I know our nation will be really well served when the good folks at the State Department join with Condi Rice to face the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead," Bush said.
Rice agreed. "In all that lies ahead," she said, "the primary instrument of American diplomacy will be the Department of State, and the dedicated men and women of its foreign and civil services, and our foreign-service nationals."
Challenges facing the State Department under Rice's leadership include proliferation of dangerous weapons and materials, safeguarding and expanding the freedom of the international marketplace and free trade, advancing justice and fundamental human rights, fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and reducing poverty, Bush said.
"Each task will require good relations with nations around the world, and each will require a secretary who will lead by character and conviction and wisdom," he said. "To meet these times and tasks, America has its best in Dr. Condoleezza Rice, now Secretary Condoleezza Rice, our 66th secretary of state."
The president also used the event to praise outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, a retired Army four-star general who had previously served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Throughout a lifetime spent in public service, Colin Powell has asked nothing in return," Bush said. "For over four decades, millions at home and abroad have benefited from his bravery, his dignity and his integrity. He's left our nation a better place than it was when he began his career in public service as a second lieutenant in the United States Army."
Rice echoed those comments. "I'm indeed fortunate to succeed a man of the character and quality of Colin Powell, who served with such distinction, who's done so much to strengthen the State Department, so much to carry forward America's message and goals, and so much to help me personally in so many ways," she said.
"In the past four years, America has seen great trials and great opportunities," she continued. "Under your leadership, Mr. President, our nation has risen to meet the challenges of our time, fighting tyranny and terror and securing the blessings of freedom and prosperity for a new generation. Now it's time to build on those achievements to make the world safer and even more free.
"We must use American diplomacy to help create a balance of power that favors freedom. The time for diplomacy is now."