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8/13/03 - PROGRESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST - 2003-08-14

At the end of the Second World War, the United States committed itself to help build a prosperous and democratic Europe. White House National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice says that the U.S and its allies have made a similar commitment to the Middle East:

"It is a region suffering what leading Arab intellectuals call a political and economic 'freedom deficit.' And it is a region where a sense of hopelessness provides a fertile ground for ideologies that convince promising youth not to aspire to a university education, a career, and a family, but to blowing themselves up -- taking as many innocent lives with them as possible. These ingredients are a recipe for great instability -- and pose a direct threat to America's and the world's security."

The U.S. is working toward the establishment of democracy, tolerance, prosperity, and freedom in the Middle East. Ms. Rice says the liberation of Iraq was a major step in that direction:

"Saddam Hussein's regime posed a threat to the security of the United States and the world. This was a regime that had pursued, had used, and possessed weapons of mass destruction. The regime had links to terror, had twice invaded other nations, defied the international community and seventeen United Nations resolutions for twelve years and gave every indication that it would never disarm and never comply with the just demands of the world. That threat could not be allowed to remain."

The "transformation of the Middle East will not be easy and will take time." But, said National Security Adviser Rice; it is in everyone's interest:

"This resolve to work for a world that is both safer and better is captured in President Bush's national security strategy that was issued almost a year ago. The strategy calls on America to use our position of unparalleled strength and influence to create a balance of power that favors freedom. To create, in President Bush's words 'the conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty.'"

Americans believe that the people of the Middle East, given the chance, will choose freedom.