Rice: U.S., Australian Alliance Built on Love of Freedom
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 17, 2006 Australia has been a strong U.S. ally for decades in a relationship based on common values and belief in the virtue of democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today in Melbourne, Australia.
"The Australian people have, indeed, been good friends and good allies," Rice said to Australian troops at Victoria Barracks. "And that is represented by the tremendous friendship and alliance of our military forces, because military forces can't be allies and friends if the peoples are not allies and friends, particularly in great democracies."
Australia went with the United States to the fight in Afghanistan and helped to liberate the people from one of the most terrible regimes of the 20th and 21st centuries, Rice said. Because of the sacrifices that U.S., Australian and other coalition troops have made, the Afghan people now have hope for a future, she said.
"You have to be proud of what we've done to give the Afghan people a chance to have that spirit emerge," she said. "In defeating the terrorists in Afghanistan and in giving the Afghan people a chance to build a stable democracy, we not only have given the people of Afghanistan a chance, we've made ourselves more secure."
Australia also was one of the first four liberators of Iraq, along with the United States, Great Britain and Poland, Rice said. Through the war in Iraq, the coalition has given the Iraqi people a chance to come out from under a history of brutal repression, she said. The democratic process in Iraq will take time, she said, but it is giving the people a chance to resolve their differences in a dignified manner and work toward a unified future.
"We have to express confidence in them, that they are going to take this opportunity for a better future," she said. "They also are coming together from a variety of backgrounds and a variety of experiences, and when there is an Iraq that is stable and democratic, it's going to be a very, very different kind of Middle East."
The United States and Australia also worked together in providing relief efforts for the December 2004 tsunami in South Asia, Rice said. Relief operations in stricken areas not only saved peoples' lives, but showed the people there that the world cared, she said.
"We saw that the armed forces of Australia and the armed forces of the United States are not just there when you have to defend freedom by force of arms, but there when you have to rescue fellow human beings by the force of compassion," she said. "It said that we are a people who believes in freedom, a people who believes in compassion, a people who believes that we're at our best when power and principle and compassion go together."
Rice thanked the Australian troops for their service, saying that they stand for the very best of their country.
"We know that whenever we're on the line, whenever we need a friend, that we've got a great friend in Australia," she said.