Tags: Bush | Hopes | Iraqi | Democracy | Will | Inspire | Neighbors

Bush Hopes Iraqi Democracy Will Inspire Neighbors

Monday, 19 December 2005 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Iraq's democratic transformation will inspire reformers in neighboring countries, and he credited the country's rapid transition away from tyranny to the Iraqi people's desire to "live in a free society."

Speaking Monday at a press conference in the White House, Bush said a free Iraq will serve as an "optimistic and hopeful example for reformers from Tehran to Damascus," and will "help lay the foundation of peace for generations.

"[W]hat you're seeing now is an historic moment because I believe democracies will spread. I believe when people get the taste for freedom or see a neighbor with a taste for freedom, they will demand the same thing because I believe in the universality of freedom. I believe everybody has the desire to be free," Bush said.

Bush said Iraq's December 15 elections do not end the challenges or violence that the country faces. He pledged continued U.S. support to the Iraqi people as ballot results are tallied, and elected officials set about the task of forming Iraq's first permanent government since the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"[W]e'll want to make sure we're monitoring and involved with that part," he said, adding, "involvement doesn't mean telling the sovereign government what to do; ... [it] means giving advice as to how to move forward."

Recounting a conversation with an Iraqi woman who did not feel the former Iraqi leader deserved a trial, Bush said he told her that the legal proceedings against Saddam Hussein were a sign of Iraq's return to the rule of law.

"I said to her, ‘Don't you see that the trial itself stands in such contrast to the tyrant that that in itself is a victory for freedom and a defeat for tyranny, just the trial alone? And it's important that there be rule of law,'" Bush said.

The president defended the decision to take military action against Iraq, saying Saddam Hussein continued to have the capacity and the intention to build weapons of mass destruction. "He was dangerous then. It's the right decision to have removed Saddam," Bush said.

However, the president noted that pre-war intelligence concerning Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction was incorrect. "[W]hen the weapons weren't there, like many Americans, I was concerned and wonder[ed] why," he said, and he decided to set up the Silberman-Robb commission to investigate intelligence shortfalls.

The intelligence failure, which Bush said was shared by intelligence services all around the world, caused those agencies to "step back and re-evaluate" their intelligence gathering and analysis. He acknowledged that there would be some difficulty in rebuilding their credibility, even as the international community must confront issues such as North Korea's and Iran's nuclear activities.

The president said he wants the nuclear standoff with Iran "to be solved diplomatically," and wants Iranian authorities to hear the United States and others in the international community as "a unified voice."

"I think there's universal agreement that we don't want them to have a weapon, and there is agreement that they should not be allowed to learn how to make a weapon," Bush said, especially in light of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad's recent statement calling for the annihilation of Israel.

As a first step, Bush called for "a diplomatic effort to get the Iranians to comply with the demands of the free world," but added that if current diplomatic efforts fail, "there's always the United Nations Security Council."

The president also addressed U.S. domestic issues pertaining to national security and the War on Terror.

Bush also addressed concerns over revelations that the National Security Agency has been listening to the phone calls of some U.S. citizens, and said that the program targeted only those with known links to al Qaida.

"We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to al Qaeda here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives," Bush said.

He also warned that, due to a Senate filibuster, provisions in the Patriot Act are due to expire at the end of December, and he called on lawmakers to renew the legislation which he said is designed to provide necessary law enforcement tools to authorities seeking to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States.

"[T]he Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act. In the War on Terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," he said.


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WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Iraq's democratic transformation will inspire reformers in neighboring countries, and he credited the country's rapid transition away from tyranny to the Iraqi people's desire to "live in a free society." Speaking Monday at a press...
Monday, 19 December 2005 12:00 AM
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