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9/20/03 - LIBERATORS, NOT OCCUPIERS - 2003-09-22

The United States is a nation that liberates, not occupies, other countries. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, the U.S. and its coalition partners did not go to Iraq to be an occupying force:

"We came as liberators. We have experience being liberators. Our history over the last fifty, sixty years is quite clear. We have liberated a number of countries and we do not own one square foot of any of those countries except where we bury our dead."

In Iraq, said Mr. Powell, the coalition has "done a very good thing for the Iraqi people and for the world. We have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, one of the worst dictators on the face of the earth."

Secretary of State Powell said the coalition will return sovereignty to the Iraqi people as soon as a free, democratic government is in place:

"Everybody would like to accelerate this. Everybody wants this to go fast. We don't want to stay here a day longer. It is expensive. Our young soldiers would like to get home to their families. So we are not hanging on for the sake of hanging on. We are hanging on because it is necessary to stay with this task until a new government has been created, a responsible government. The worst thing that could happen is for us to push this process too quickly before the capacity for governance is there and the basis for legitimacy is there, and see it fail."

As Secretary of State Powell said, "We have to create a government. We have to create a parliament. We have to put in place a constitution. Legitimacy comes from having a constitution that's been ratified by the people. You then give legitimacy to a new government through elections, elections that represent the view of the people."

That has always been the coalition's goal: liberation. "We're keeping our word to the Iraqi people by helping them to make their country an example of democracy and prosperity throughout the region," said President George W. Bush. "This long-term undertaking is vital to peace in that region and to the security of the United States. Our coalition and the people of Iraq have made remarkable progress in a short time, and we will complete the great work we have begun."