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President Bush Has Advanced Liberty And Democracy As The Great Alternatives To Repression And Radicalism
President Bush has kept his pledge to strengthen democracy and promote peace around the world. In his Second Inaugural Address, President Bush pledged America to the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world. He has promoted the spread of freedom as the great alternative to the terrorists' ideology of hatred, because expanding liberty and democracy will help defeat extremism and protect the American people. President Bush also acted quickly and decisively to help end international crises that arose during his term in office and to confront regimes that threatened our Nation and world security. By working to spread liberty in these volatile regions and combating the conditions that can breed extremism, the President has helped make the American people safer.
The President's Freedom Agenda Helped Emerging Democracies Build The Institutions That Sustain Liberty
Under President Bush's leadership, the United States and its partners freed 25 million Iraqis from the rule of Saddam Hussein, a dictator who murdered his own people, invaded his neighbors, and repeatedly defied United Nations resolutions. The Administration supported the creation of a freely elected Iraqi government that is operating under one of the most progressive constitutions in the Arab world and helped train and equip more than half a million Iraqi Army and police forces. U.S. and Iraqi forces have made significant progress in reducing sectarian violence, restoring basic security to Iraqi communities, and driving terrorists and illegal militias out of their safe havens. Iraqi Security Forces are now responsible for security in 13 of 18 provinces (including al-Qaeda in Iraq's former stronghold of Anbar Province), and this increase in security has helped clear the way for political and economic development. Iraq's parliament passed important laws on provincial powers, amnesty, and elections and also approved new strategic agreements with the United States. Iraq's economy will increasingly diversify, rely on private investment, and stand on its own. In their 2008 budget, Iraqi funding for reconstruction exceeded U.S. funding by more than ten to one, and American spending for large-scale reconstruction projects is approaching zero. The Iraqi people are looking forward to a new round of provincial elections in January and national elections later in 2009. The Administration successfully negotiated a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement with Iraq, which will further strengthen the relationship between our nations, provide the United States with vital protections and authorities to continue our mission to help stabilize Iraq, and establish a path for U.S. forces to reduce their presence in Iraq and return home on success.
President Bush helped establish an emerging democratic Afghan government and helped improve the lives of the Afghan people, especially women and children. Together, we worked to ensure a stable and safe environment to allow gains in local governance and economic development to be sustained. Thanks to the courage of the Afghan people and their international partners, a nation that was once a safe haven for al Qaeda is now an emerging democracy, and we are committed to its development and stability. More than six million children, approximately two million of whom are girls, are now in Afghan schools, compared to fewer than one million in 2001. In 2002, Presidents Bush and Karzai launched the US-Afghan Women's Council. Mrs. Bush is Honorary Chair of the Council, a public-private partnership that supports Afghan women in the areas of political and economic participation, literacy, and education, as well as legal awareness and access to health care.
President Bush generated international pressure to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and helped promote democracy and restore civilian rule in Pakistan. He strengthened our relationship with and support to a democratic Lebanon and called for parliamentary elections in Pakistan that reflected the will of the people and ended more than eight years of military rule.
President Bush laid the groundwork for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and a democratic Palestinian state by launching direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) at the Annapolis Conference and working with the PA to build accountable institutions. President Bush was the first U.S. President to call for a two-state solution, and he worked to secure Israeli, Palestinian, and international support and committed the United States to help create the conditions in which two democratic states can live side by side in peace and security.
President Bush urged valued partners like Saudi Arabia to move toward freedom. Saudi Arabia has taken action to confront extremists, along with some initial steps to expand media and religious freedoms. For example, in November 2008, Saudi King Abdallah held a UN meeting on Interfaith Dialogue, in which President Bush participated. Yet Saudi Arabia has a great distance still to travel. The United States will continue to press nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to open up their political systems, encourage greater religious tolerance, and give a greater voice to their people.
The President has helped to create international organizations to promote the spread of freedom abroad and more than doubled funding to promote democracy worldwide. The President helped to launch the Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership (APDP). The APDP will provide a venue in which free nations can work together to support democratic values, strengthen democratic institutions, and assist those who are working to build and sustain free societies across the Asia Pacific region.
President Bush supported the inspiring strides that Europe took toward a continent whole, free, and at peace. Over the past eight years, the United States supported nations from the Baltic to the Black Sea reach their goals of membership in NATO and the European Union. The Administration supported the emergence of democracies in Georgia and Ukraine through its support for civil society and democratic activists during the successful Rose Revolution in Georgia and Orange Revolution in Ukraine and continues to contribute to the strengthening of democracy in both countries. In the wake of Russia's August 2008 invasion of Georgia, President Bush supported Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and economic recovery, including a $1 billion economic and humanitarian support package. The Administration helped establish Kosovo as an independent, multi-ethnic democracy.
The United States Stood Up For People Suffering Under Oppression
The President met with human rights activists from more than 35 countries.
President Bush focused international attention and applied tough sanctions on oppressive regimes in Burma, Belarus, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and other nations and bolstered civil society activists in countries such as China, Cuba, and Venezuela. The United States imposed travel and financial sanctions on repressive regimes, select individuals, and those who provide them with material support. The President established the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba to reassure the Cuban people that the United States stands ready to help them transition toward democracy and provided more than $400 million to promote freedom and democracy in Cuba. He also supported pro-democracy forces in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.
The United States is leading the global response to the crisis in Darfur. The United States is the leading international donor to Sudan, providing more than $5 billion in assistance to Sudan since 2005, including $3.7 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping assistance to Darfur. In 2008, the United States provided half of the World Food Program's food aid request for more than 6 million people throughout Sudan and eastern Chad. In FY 2007, the United States gave more than $1 billion in assistance to the people of Sudan, including Darfur. Since 2004, direct and indirect U.S. support provided to peacekeeping operations in Darfur has totaled more than $600 million.
President Bush announced steps to help the Burmese people bring peaceful change and democratic transition to their country, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear. The President and First Lady Laura Bush have been leading advocates for human rights in Burma. The United States has increased its support for Burmese struggling for freedom. The United States has also tightened existing economic sanctions and levied new sanctions against the leaders of the regime and their financial backers; imposed sanctions on state-owned enterprises; imposed an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights, as well as their family members; called on the Government of Burma to uphold its obligations to the UN Security Council; and facilitated the efforts of humanitarian groups working to alleviate suffering in Burma. Mrs. Bush was also active in supporting the Burmese people's demands for reconciliation and basic human rights such as freedom of speech, worship, association, and assembly. Mrs. Bush hosted an event at the UN headquarters to draw international attention to human rights abuses in Burma.
It is in the best interests of our Nation to alleviate the despair that can allow extremism to take hold by fighting hunger and disease, supporting basic education initiatives, and advancing global economic development. President Bush has more than doubled official development assistance since 2001 and invested more than $6.7 billion in 35 countries around the world that govern justly, invest in their people, and respect economic freedom through the Millennium Challenge Account. President Bush took unprecedented steps to fight disease through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the President's Malaria Initiative, the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, and his initiative to combat neglected tropical diseases. In addition, the United States opened markets for trade and investment to create economic opportunity and lift people out of poverty and has expanded support for basic education initiatives. The President also increased the budget for the National Endowment for Democracy by more than 150 percent since 2001.
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