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5/30/03 - PRINCIPLES FOR A FREE IRAQ - 2003-05-30

Freedom-loving countries have a great stake in the successful transition of Iraq to a market-oriented democracy. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “If Iraq. . .is able to move to the path of representative democracy, the impact in the region and the world could be dramatic.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said the ideals of freedom and self-government can be powerful forces for change in the world:

“They give us hope for further development in the Muslim world, a development that will benefit every nation throughout the world and bring us important allies in the war against terror.”

By no longer supporting terrorists or threatening its neighbors, Iraq can become a model of a moderate Muslim state. In the battle against extremism taking place in the Muslim world today, such models are surely needed.

The U.S. and its allies have no intention of imposing a particular form of democracy on Iraq. But the U.S.-led coalition will oppose those who attempt to replace Saddam Hussein’s tyranny with some other form of dictatorship. Iraqis working to build a new government must also protect the rights of minorities, develop a market economy, and provide justice through an independent judiciary and rule of law.

The goal of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is to put political authority in the hands of Iraqis as soon as possible. Self-appointed leaders will not be tolerated. The coalition will continue to provide security, in part, by hiring and training Iraqi police.

The transition to democracy in Iraq may not always be smooth. In Central and Eastern Europe, the process has taken time, but it is succeeding. The fact that there are obstacles to overcome in Iraq should come as no surprise, said U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

“No nation [that] has made the transition from tyranny to a civil society has been immune to difficulties and challenges of taking that path.”

Iraqis have a historic opportunity to build a free and civil society. The U.S.-led coalition is committed to helping them succeed.