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Bush Touts Strength of Democracy in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2005 – Iraqi insurgents fear democracy, and that is why they are attacking innocent people in that country, President Bush said during a White House news conference today.

Bush said he is confident that Iraqi troops will be "up to the task of defeating the insurgents."

More than 40,000 Iraqi security forces -- 10 army battalions and 11 Special Police battalions -- have deployed in and around Baghdad to disrupt the ability of anti-coalition forces to field car bombs and improvised explosive devices. May was a deadly month for coalition forces and innocent Iraqi civilians. Press reports indicate that insurgents killed about 700 Iraqi civilians in an intimidation campaign.

"What the insurgents fear is democracy, because democracy is the opposite of their vision," Bush said. "Their vision is one where a few make the decision for many, and if you don't toe the line, there's serious consequences."

The Iraqi government is "plenty capable" of dealing with the insurgents, Bush said. Coalition forces are helping train and equip the Iraqi military and police, and the United States will continue with that effort.

The Iraqi government calling up the 40,000 troops to deal with the insurgency is a positive sign, not only militarily, but from a political standpoint as well, the president said. "It's a sign that ... the Iraqi leaders understand they are responsible for their security ultimately, and that our job is to help them take on that responsibility," Bush said.

Bush said he is pleased with the progress in Iraq, but said it is important to continue to the end of the mission. "Because a free Iraq is in our nation's long-term interests," he said. "A democracy in the heart of the Middle East is an essential part of securing our country and promoting peace for the long run."

A free, stable and democratic Iraq will set a powerful example in the Middle East, Bush said.

The Iraqi government must continue on its path toward peaceful, democratic self-rule. The government must now write a constitution, hold a referendum, and elect a government under the new constitution. "We, of course, will help them, as will many countries around the world," Bush said.

Bush also said an Amnesty International report accusing the United States of setting up a new system of gulags is "absurd." The report criticizes U.S. detainee operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The United States ... promotes freedom around the world," the president said. "When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation."

Bush said there is one thing that both he and the terrorists agree on -- the power of democracy. "The problem is that I not only see the benefits of democracy, but so do the terrorists," he said. "That's why they want to blow people up, indiscriminately kill in order to shake the will of the Iraqis or perhaps create a civil war or to get us to withdraw early.

"That's what they're trying to do, because they fear democracy," he said.

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