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8/8/04 - BULGARIA IS STAYING THE COURSE - 2004-08-09

Dozens of hostages are being held under threat of death by kidnappers in Iraq. Several governments have already caved in to the demands of the terrorists. A notable exception is Bulgaria. It has vowed to stay the course in Iraq in spite of the fact that two Bulgarian nationals were kidnapped and murdered. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Bulgaria’s decision:

“We must not be faint-hearted in the face of current challenges. We must not waver or lose patience. We must stay the course for freedom in the course and in the face of danger.”

Bulgaria is contributing a light infantry unit of nearly five-hundred soldiers. They are stationed in the southern Iraqi town of Karbala and are under Polish command. Bulgaria has also sent troops to Afghanistan. In a recent interview, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman said Bulgaria is a “fundamental ally within the coalition, and not just in the coalition against terrorism in Iraq, but in the coalition for all the values that the United States and Bulgaria share.”

The United States does not negotiate with terrorists and it does not pay ransoms. The result has been that fewer Americans have been taken hostage around the world.

The Bulgarian government has sent a powerful message to the Islamic extremists. The message is: the tactics of the extremists will not prevail. Those countries that are willing to stand up to terrorists have taken the first step toward defeating them.

Other members of the U.S.-led coalition have been threatened by Islamic extremists. British, Italian, and Polish forces have all received warnings from terrorist organizations that they would be targets of attack. But like Bulgaria, Britain, Italy, and Poland are choosing to stay the course in Iraq, determined to defeat the terrorists and bring peace and security to the Iraqi people. As Under Secretary of State Grossman said, “Isolated we’re all going to be defeated. But together, I think we can defeat terrorism and I think we can defeat extremism.”