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Iran's Rulers Resist Freedom Tide

President George W. Bush says that "across the broader Middle East, the tide of freedom is surging:"

"The people of Afghanistan have embraced free government, after suffering under one of the most backward tyrannies on earth. The people of the Palestinian territories cast their ballots against violence and corruption of the past. The people of Lebanon are rising up to demand their freedom and independence…A critical mass of events is taking that region in a hopeful, new direction."

One country whose rulers are resisting the tide of freedom is Iran. "You have a group of unelected mullahs who are taking Iran in the other direction," says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. [And] "this is a place where the Iranian people have voiced their desire for democracy. This is a more open society, a society that has a great culture, where people travel and are refined educationally…It's hard to believe," says Ms. Rice, "that Iran is going to be immune to the changes that are taking place all around the Middle East region":

"The advance of freedom in one country or region gives strength and a widened sense of responsibility and possibility to those working for the cause of democratic reform in others."

One key to the democratic changes that are taking place in the Middle East, says Secretary of State Rice, is the recognition, on the part of the United States, that the peoples of the region have the same desire for freedom as people in other areas of the world:

"That people want to be able to say what they think, they want to be able to worship freely, they want to be able to educate their girls and their boys. These are universal aspirations. . . When you think about the fact that people seem to believe that things are possible today that they didn't think were possible before, -- why is that? In part, because we've changed the nature of the conversation to say, yes, those are legitimate aspirations; in part, because they've seen people in Iraq vote and people in Afghanistan vote, and people say, well, if there, why not here?"

Ms. Rice says that what seemed impossible a few months ago "now seems inevitable." "I don't know when it will be a transformed Middle East," says Secretary of State Rice, "but it's on its way, and I think it's happening more quickly than any of us would have thought."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.