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Recently Liberated Are Among the Nations Exporting Freedom

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2003 – Many nations recently under the heels of despots are among the leaders in bringing freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon press conference today.

Rumsfeld also said the $20 billion the Bush administration is requesting to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan will be money well spent.

"Because of the $90 billion the United States invested through the Marshall Plan after World War II, freedom took root across Europe," he said. "The liberated nations of Europe then joined with the United States to form the NATO alliance. Together the allies stood up to the forces of communist tyranny, and by the end of the 20th century, liberty had spread across the entire continent."

Now many of those nations are assuming the lead in bringing freedom to Iraq. Poland -- once a member of the Warsaw Pact -- is leading the Multinational Division in Hillah, Iraq. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bulgaria are among the 32 nations contributing troops to the effort in Iraq.

The Bush administration has requested $20 billion for the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004 for stability, democracy and self-government. Rumsfeld said this is expensive, but it is something the United States should do because "it is in our national interest, just as the Marshall Plan was in our national interest."

Helping to create a stable Iraq could have the same effect a stable Western Europe had on that continent. "If we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, we shall have additional allies in the battle for freedom and moderation in the Middle East," he said.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a new Iraq resolution calling for nations to cooperate and contribute to stabilization in Iraq and the rebuilding of that country. Rumsfeld said it is a "good thing it passed," and that the resolution should have a favorable effect in countries that wanted an additional U.N. Security Council resolution.

The secretary would not speculate on whether this might mean more international troops for the coalition in Iraq. He said the United States is in discussions with seven countries.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said the United States had listened carefully and worked with many countries to pass the resolution.

"The end result of our dialogue is a strengthened resolution, a resolution that will enlarge the international community's participation in Iraq's stabilization and reconstruction," he said, following passage of the resolution. "Extending both hands to a country in a strategic region will serve our mutual interests in peace and security."

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