The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called on all free nations to help advance democratic progress in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Last October," she said, "the people of Afghanistan voted to set their country on a democratic course. And on January 30th, the people of Iraq voted not for a government, but for a democratic future." The men and women who voted in Iraq, said Ms. Rice, "defied suicide bombers, mortar attacks and threats of beheading to exercise a basic right as a citizen:"
"Millions of Iraqi men and women defied the terrorist threats and delivered a clarion call for freedom. Individual Iraqis risked their lives. One policeman threw his body on a suicide bomber to preserve the right of his fellow citizens to vote. They cast their free votes and they began their nation's new history."
Now that the election has been held, says Secretary of State Rice, the United States and Europe will help provide Iraq with the security to develop its political institutions and its economy. The Iraqi people have set a challenge, she said, and it must be met: "They have shown us extraordinary bravery and determination. We must show them solidarity and generosity in equal measure. We must support them as they form their political institutions. We must help them with economic reconstruction and development. And we must stay by their side to provide security until Iraqis themselves can take full ownership of that job."
"In Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and throughout all of the broader Middle East and North Africa, the nature of the political conversation is changing," said Secretary of State Rice. "Ordinary citizens are expressing thoughts and acting together in ways that they have not done before. These citizens," she said, "want a future of tolerance, opportunity and peace, not of oppression. Wise leaders, said Secretary of State Rice, are opening their arms to embrace reform and we must stand with them and their societies as they search for a democratic future."