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Advancing Middle East Democracy

The terrorist attack on the United States on September 11th, 2001, was an assault by a global Islamic extremist ideology that seeks to exploit the oppression and despair of the modern Middle East. "For sixty years," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "we often thought that we could achieve stability without liberty in the Middle East. And ultimately," she said," we got neither.":

"We must recognize, as we do in every other region of the world, that liberty and democracy are the only guarantees of true stability and lasting security."

There are those who think that freedom in the Middle East will only give new opportunities to religious extremists. In fact, says Ms. Rice, "the opposite is true. A political culture of transparence and openness is not one in which extremist beliefs can ultimately thrive." When there is no political space for people to advance their interests, they retreat into the shadows and become prone to radical temptations.

Supporting democracy in the Middle East requires a belief in the appeal of certain basic rights, says Secretary of State Rice:

"When given a truly free choice, human beings will choose liberty over oppression; the right to own property over random search and seizure. Human beings will choose the natural right to life over the constant fear of death. And human beings will choose to be ruled by the consent of the governed, not by the coercion of the state; by the rule of law, not the whim of rulers."

There will always be those who oppose liberty because it threatens their ability to oppress others. That's why democratic principles need to be backed with power in all its forms: political, economic, cultural, moral, and, at times, military. "Any champion of democracy who promotes principle without power," said Ms. Rice, "can make no real difference in the lives of oppressed people."

People in the Middle East deserve democratic freedoms. Often the road to achieving those freedoms is not easy. But "if you are certain of your values," said Secretary of State Rice, "and you act upon them with confidence and with strength, it is possible to have an outcome where democracy spreads and peace and liberty reign."

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