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11/16/03 - DEMOCRACY FOR AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ - 2003-11-17

Fifty million people, who recently lived under dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq, are working, with U.S. assistance, to set up democratic governments. “The work we are doing,” says President George W. Bush, “is not easy. Yet it is essential”:

“The failure of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq would condemn every advocate of freedom in those two countries to prison or death, and would extinguish the democratic hopes of millions in the Middle East. The failure of democracies in those two countries would provide new bases for the terrorist network and embolden terrorists and their allies around the world. The failure of democracy in those two countries would convince terrorists that America backs down under attack, and more attacks on America would surely follow.”

The U.S. is confident that democracy will succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq, says President Bush:

“A democratic revolution that has reached across the globe will finally take root in the Middle East. The stagnation and isolation and anger of that region will give way to progress and opportunity. America and the world will be safer from catastrophic violence because terror is not the tool of the free.”

In Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition is helping to build a free and stable government, while continuing the difficult task of tracking down and destroying Taleban and al-Qaida remnants. In Iraq, says President Bush, Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists are trying to “test our resolve”:

“Their violence is concentrated in a relatively small area of that country. Yet, the terrorists are dangerous. For the sake of Iraq's future, for the sake of America’s security, these killers must be defeated.”

As President Bush puts it, “Two years into the war on terror, the will and resolve of America are being tested, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.... We will be steadfast. We will finish the mission we have begun.”