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Universal Desire for Liberty

People across the Middle East are defying car bombers and assassins to show the world that they want to live in liberty. President George W. Bush says that the region now stands, "at a pivotal moment in history":

"We see the universal desire for liberty in the twelve-million Iraqis who faced down the terrorists to cast their ballots, and elected a free government under a democratic constitution. We see the universal desire for liberty in eight million Afghans who lined up to vote for the first democratically chosen president in the long history of their country. We see the universal desire for liberty in the Lebanese people who took to the streets to demand their freedom and helped drive Syrian forces out of their country."

"The problem in the Middle East today is not that people lack the desire for freedom," says Mr. Bush, "the problem is that [the] young democracies that they have established are still vulnerable to terrorists and their sponsors":

"One vulnerability is that many of the new democratic governments in the region have not yet established effective control over all their territory. In both Lebanon and Iraq, elected governments are contending with rogue armed groups that are seeking to undermine and destabilize them. In Lebanon, Hezbollah declared war on Lebanon's neighbor, Israel, without the knowledge of the elected government in Beirut. In Iraq, al-Qaida and death squads engage in brutal violence to undermine the unity government. And in both these countries, Iran is backing armed groups in the hope of stopping democracy from taking hold.

The message is clear, says Mr. Bush: the U.S. "will stay on the offensive against al-Qaida. Iran must stop its support for terror. And the leaders of armed groups must make a choice: if they want to participate in the political life of their countries, they must disarm." Says President Bush, "elected leaders, cannot have one foot in the camp of democracy and one foot in the camp of terror."

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