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President Sees Progress Promoting Liberty Abroad

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2005 – President Bush today restated his commitment to promoting freedom.

"Because our own freedom is enhanced by the expansion of freedom in other nations, I set out the long-term goal of ending tyranny in our world," the president said in a White House news conference. "This will require the commitment of generations, but we're seeing much progress in our own time."

Bush cited the recent Afghan elections and the upcoming Iraqi national elections as two pieces of evidence of that progress.

Despite the recent increase in violence in Iraq, the president vowed, the elections would proceed as scheduled.

He called the attacks led by insurgents in Iraq a "war against democracy itself." This translates to a war against the Iraqi people themselves, Bush said.

Admitting that Iraqis may feel intimidated by insurgents' threats to kill anyone who votes Jan. 30, Bush said he still anticipates a healthy turnout.

"Surveys show that the vast majority of people do want to participate in democracy, and some are feeling intimidated," he said. "I urge people to defy these terrorists."

Bush said that those making the threats in Iraq are afraid of a free society and do not have the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart.

While he declined to give a number that would make the elections credible, he said that the fact Iraqis are voting is a success in itself. It is also the beginning of an on-going process, he said.

During the news conference, the president also addressed his plan to request $80 billion in supplemental funding for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I made the commitment to our troops we'll fund them," he said, "and that's exactly what we're doing.

"We've got people in harm's way," he continued. "I look forward to working with Congress to fund what is necessary to help those troops complete their mission."

Bush said "Mission Complete" will be achieved when Iraqis "take the initiative" and can fend off terrorist threats. That'll happen, he said, when the number of Iraqis in uniform is increased and their skills and capabilities are enhanced.

Until then, "obviously we're going to have (to maintain) the troop levels necessary to complete the mission," Bush said.

The president didn't directly address the number of troops that may remain in Iraq, nor did he make any concrete predictions on the length of their stay.

"The decisions we make today can affect how people live 30, 40 or 50 years from now," he said. "It (operations in the Middle East) is a long-term objective that is vital, and that is to spread freedom.

"Otherwise the Middle East will continue to be a cauldron of resentment and hate, a recruiting ground for those who have this vision of the world that is the exact opposite of ours."

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