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11/29/03 - TWO YEARS OF PROGRESS - 2003-12-01

On September 11th, 2001, terrorists struck the United States, murdering more than three-thousand people from more than ninety nations. Since then, U.S-led coalitions have taken the war to the enemy. The road ahead will not be easy. “There will be successes,” says Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “but there will also be setbacks and, regrettably, a price to be paid in lives and treasure”:

“But consider what has already been accomplished. Our country has helped to liberate twenty-three million people in Afghanistan and another twenty-three million people in Iraq.”

Today in Afghanistan, an internationally recognized government is in power, a new constitution is expected to be ratified in December, and national elections are planned for next June. And today in Iraq, nearly every city, town, village, and province has a government or a local council chosen or run by local Iraqis. More than one-hundred-thirty thousand Iraqi security forces are helping to ensure the security of their country. For the first time in decades, Iraq has a generally free press with one-hundred-fifty newspapers, and a wide variety of opinions being published.

In addition, the U.S. is working with the Iraqi Governing Council to establish a provisional government so that responsibility and sovereignty can be transferred to the Iraqi people next year: But, says Mr. Rumsfeld, problems remain:

“Those attempting to prevent the Iraqi people from taking hold of their country and determining their future have launched many new attacks –- attacks on coalition forces, to be sure, but also attacks on Iraqis themselves. There are certainly a great many Iraqis being killed by the remnants of the regime that’s trying to take back the country. These attacks will not deter the coalition from its mission. The coalition will stay the course -- thirty-four countries strong now. And they will stay and work and succeed.”

The stakes are high. The U.S., says Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, is taking a stand that global terrorism and its “creed of fear, of hatred, of violence and intolerance” will not replace liberty and opportunity.