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Bush: Failure of Iraqi Democracy Would Cheer Global Terrorists

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2003 – If democracy doesn't take hold in Iraq, that failure "would embolden terrorists around the world," President George Bush said here today.

Bush was speaking at the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, which, he noted "is promoting women's rights and training Iraqi journalists and teaching the skills of political participation" in Iraq.

A failure of democracy in Iraq, Bush noted, would also "increase dangers to the American people and extinguish the hopes of millions in the (Middle East) region."

However, "Iraqi democracy will succeed," the president pledged, adding such a success "will send forth the news from Damascus (Syria) to Tehran (Iran) that freedom can be the future of every nation."

Establishing and nurturing a free and democratic Iraq within the heart of the Middle East, Bush predicted, "will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."

Since the 1970s the number of democratic nations in the world has tripled to around 120, he pointed out, noting, "over time, free nations grow stronger and dictatorships grow weaker."

Communist and militaristic governments, "and rule by the capricious and corrupt," he said, "are the relics of a passing era."

The advance of global freedom continues, Bush noted, pointing to ongoing democratic initiatives in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Morocco, Kuwait and Bahrain.

"These are the stirrings of Middle East democracy, and they carry the promise of greater things to come," he predicted.

And in Iran, "the demand for democracy is strong and broad," Bush said, pointing to the welcome home received by Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ibadi.

Iran's current regime, Bush noted, "must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people or lose its last claim to legitimacy."

Under President Hamid Karzai, Afghanis "are building a modern and peaceful" democratic government, Bush said. Although Afghanistan is wrestling with economic and security issues, he said that nation is facing those challenges "as a free and stable democracy."

Bush conceded that ongoing security and reconstruction efforts in Iraq represent "a massive and difficult undertaking."

However, the mission to establish democracy in Iraq, the president emphasized, "is worth our effort. It is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes" in confronting and countering global terrorism.

Consequently, Bush said the United States "has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East."

He pointed out that as in Europe, Asia and other regions across the globe, "the advance of freedom leads to peace."

And freedom, he noted, is not for Americans alone. "It is the right and the capacity of all mankind," he concluded.

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