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10/16/03 - SIX MONTHS AFTER IRAQ’S FREEDOM - 2003-10-17

Just over six months ago, the statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was pulled off its pedestal in the center of Baghdad. And with the help of a U.S.-led coalition, Iraq began its transition from tyranny to self-government.

The goal, says President George W. Bush, “is to help the Iraqi people build a stable, just, and prosperous country”:

“Coalition forces in Iraq are actively pursuing the terrorists and Saddam holdouts who desperately oppose freedom for the Iraqi people. Secondly, we are committed to expanding international cooperation in the reconstruction and security of Iraq. And third, we are working closely with Iraqi leaders as they prepare to draft a constitution, establish institutions of a civil society, and move toward free elections.”

For three decades, Iraq’s economy served the interests only of its dictator and his regime. Saddam built palaces and monuments to himself, while Iraqi’s infrastructure collapsed. Saddam Hussein built a massive war machine while the basic needs of the Iraqi people went unmet.

Iraq has a strong entrepreneurial tradition, and since liberation, thousands of new businesses have been launched. Store shelves are filled with goods, ranging from clothing and linens to air-conditioners and satellite dishes. But as Abdul Rahman Mustafa, the mayor of Kirkuk, said, “Our economic potential has barely been tapped.”

President Bush says, the U.S. and its allies “must help Iraq to meet that potential”:

“Under our strategy, Iraq will have employment centers to help people find jobs. We intend to establish computer training and English language instruction and vocational programs to help Iraqis participate fully in the global economy.”

Americans are providing this help, says President Bush, “not only because our hearts are good, but because our vision is clear. A stable, democratic Iraq will be an example of freedom’s power throughout the Middle East.”