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II. Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity

A. Summary of National Security Strategy 2002

The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States Government will work to advance human dignity in word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals.

B. Successes and Challenges since 2002

Since 2002, the world has seen extraordinary progress in the expansion of freedom, democracy, and human dignity:

  • The peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq have replaced tyrannies with democracies.
    • In Afghanistan, the tyranny of the Taliban has been replaced by a freely-elected government; Afghans have written and ratified a constitution guaranteeing rights and freedoms unprecedented in their history; and an elected legislature gives the people a regular voice in their government.
    • In Iraq, a tyrant has been toppled; over 8 million Iraqis voted in the nation’s first free and fair election; a freely negotiated constitution was passed by a referendum in which almost 10 million Iraqis participated; and, for the first time in their history, nearly 12 million Iraqis have elected a permanent government under a popularly determined constitution.
  • The people of Lebanon have rejected the heavy hand of foreign rule. The people of Egypt have experienced more open but still flawed elections. Saudi Arabia has taken some preliminary steps to give its citizens more of a voice in their government. Jordan has made progress in opening its political process. Kuwait and Morocco are pursuing agendas of political reform.
  • The "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan have brought new hope for freedom across the Eurasian landmass.
  • Democracy has made further advances in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, with peaceful transfers of power; growth in independent judiciaries and the rule of law; improved election practices; and expanding political and economic rights.

The human desire for freedom is universal, but the growth of freedom is not inevitable. Without support from free nations, freedom’s spread could be hampered by the challenges we face:

  • Many governments are at fragile stages of political development and need to consolidate democratic institutions – and leaders that have won democratic elections need to uphold the principles of democracy;
  • Some governments have regressed, eroding the democratic freedoms their peoples enjoy;
  • Some governments have not delivered the benefits of effective democracy and prosperity to their citizens, leaving them susceptible to or taken over by demagogues peddling an anti-free market authoritarianism;
  • Some regimes seek to separate economic liberty from political liberty, pursuing prosperity while denying their people basic rights and freedoms; and
  • Tyranny persists in its harshest form in a number of nations.

C. The Way Ahead

The United States has long championed freedom because doing so reflects our values and advances our interests. It reflects our values because we believe the desire for freedom lives in every human heart and the imperative of human dignity transcends all nations and cultures.

Championing freedom advances our interests because the survival of liberty at home increasingly depends on the success of liberty abroad. Governments that honor their citizens’ dignity and desire for freedom tend to uphold responsible conduct toward other nations, while governments that brutalize their people also threaten the peace and stability of other nations. Because democracies are the most responsible members of the international system, promoting democracy is the most effective long-term measure for strengthening international stability; reducing regional conflicts; countering terrorism and terror-supporting extremism; and extending peace and prosperity.

To protect our Nation and honor our values, the United States seeks to extend freedom across the globe by leading an international effort to end tyranny and to promote effective democracy.

1.  Explaining the Goal: Ending Tyranny

Tyranny is the combination of brutality, poverty, instability, corruption, and suffering, forged under the rule of despots and despotic systems. People living in nations such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma, and Zimbabwe know firsthand the meaning of tyranny; it is the bleak reality they endure every day. And the nations they border know the consequences of tyranny as well, for the misrule of tyrants at home leads to instability abroad. All tyrannies threaten the world’s interest in freedom’s expansion, and some tyrannies, in their pursuit of WMD or sponsorship of terrorism, threaten our immediate security interests as well. Tyranny is not inevitable, and recent history reveals the arc of the tyrant’s fate. The 20th century has been called the “Democracy Century,” as tyrannies fell one by one and democracies rose in their stead. At mid-century about two dozen of the world’s governments were democratic; 50 years later this number was over 120. The democratic revolution has embraced all cultures and all continents.

Though tyranny has few advocates, it needs more adversaries. In today’s world, no tyrant’s rule can survive without the support or at least the tolerance of other nations. To end tyranny we must summon the collective outrage of the free world against the oppression, abuse, and impoverishment that tyrannical regimes inflict on their people – and summon their collective action against the dangers tyrants pose to the security of the world.

An end to tyranny will not mark an end to all global ills. Disputes, disease, disorder, poverty, and injustice will outlast tyranny, confronting democracies long after the last tyrant has fallen. Yet tyranny must not be tolerated – it is a crime of man, not a fact of nature.

2. Explaining the Goal: Promoting Effective Democracies

As tyrannies give way, we must help newly free nations build effective democracies: states that are respectful of human dignity, accountable to their citizens, and responsible towards their neighbors. Effective democracies:

  • Honor and uphold basic human rights, including freedom of religion, conscience, speech, assembly, association, and press;
  • Are responsive to their citizens, submitting to the will of the people, especially when people vote to change their government;
  • Exercise effective sovereignty and maintain order within their own borders, protect independent and impartial systems of justice, punish crime, embrace the rule of law, and resist corruption; and
  • Limit the reach of government, protecting the institutions of civil society, including the family, religious communities, voluntary associations, private property, independent business, and a market economy.

In effective democracies, freedom is indivisible. Political, religious, and economic liberty advance together and reinforce each other. Some regimes have opened their economies while trying to restrict political or religious freedoms. This will not work. Over time, as people gain control over their economic lives, they will insist on more control over their political and personal lives as well. Yet political progress can be jeopardized if economic progress does not keep pace. We will harness the tools of economic assistance, development aid, trade, and good governance to help ensure that new democracies are not burdened with economic stagnation or endemic corruption. Elections are the most visible sign of a free society and can play a critical role in advancing effective democracy. But elections alone are not enough – they must be reinforced by other values, rights, and institutions to bring about lasting freedom. Our goal is human liberty protected by democratic institutions.

Participation in elections by individuals or parties must include their commitment to the equality of all citizens; minority rights; civil liberties; voluntary and peaceful transfer of power; and the peaceful resolution of differences. Effective democracy also requires institutions that can protect individual liberty and ensure that the government is responsive and accountable to its citizens. There must be an independent media to inform the public and facilitate the free exchange of ideas. There must be political associations and political parties that can freely compete. Rule of law must be reinforced by an independent judiciary, a professional legal establishment, and an honest and competent police force.

These principles are tested by the victory of Hamas candidates in the recent elections in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian people voted in a process that was free, fair, and inclusive.

The Palestinian people having made their choice at the polls, the burden now shifts to those whom they have elected to take the steps necessary to advance peace, prosperity, and statehood for the Palestinian people. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union (EU) because it has embraced terrorism and deliberately killed innocent civilians. The international community has made clear that there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state. The international community has also made clear that a two-state solution to the conflict requires all participants in the democratic process to renounce violence and terror, accept Israel’s right to exist, and disarm as outlined in the Roadmap. These requirements are clear, firm, and of long standing. The opportunity for peace and statehood – a consistent goal of this Administration – is open if Hamas will abandon its terrorist roots and change its relationship with Israel.

The elected Hamas representatives also have an opportunity and a responsibility to uphold the principles of democratic government, including protection of minority rights and basic freedoms and a commitment to a recurring, free, and fair electoral process. By respecting these principles, the new Palestinian leaders can demonstrate their own commitment to freedom and help bring a lasting democracy to the Palestinian territories. But any elected government that refuses to honor these principles cannot be considered fully democratic, however it may have taken office.

3. How We Will Advance Freedom: Principled in Goals and Pragmatic in Means

We have a responsibility to promote human freedom. Yet freedom cannot be imposed; it must be chosen. The form that freedom and democracy take in any land will reflect the history, culture, and habits unique to its people. The United States will stand with and support advocates of freedom in every land. Though our principles are consistent, our tactics will vary. They will reflect, in part, where each government is on the path from tyranny to democracy. In some cases, we will take vocal and visible steps on behalf of immediate change. In other cases, we will lend more quiet support to lay the foundation for future reforms. As we consider which approaches to take, we will be guided by what will most effectively advance freedom’s cause while we balance other interests that are also vital to the security and well-being of the American people.

In the cause of ending tyranny and promoting effective democracy, we will employ the full array of political, economic, diplomatic, and other tools at our disposal, including:

  • Speaking out against abuses of human rights;
  • Supporting publicly democratic reformers in repressive nations, including by holding high-level meetings with them at the White House, Department of State, and U.S. Embassies;
  • Using foreign assistance to support the development of free and fair elections, rule of law, civil society, human rights, women’s rights, free media, and religious freedom;
  • Tailoring assistance and training of military forces to support civilian control of the military and military respect for human rights in a democratic society;
  • Applying sanctions that designed to target those who rule oppressive regimes while sparing the people;
  • Encouraging other nations not to support oppressive regimes;
  • Partnering with other democratic nations to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights in specific countries and regions;
  • Strengthening and building new initiatives such as the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative’s Foundation for the Future, the Community of Democracies, and the United Nations Democracy Fund;
  • Forming creative partnerships with nongovernmental organizations and other civil society voices to support and reinforce their work;
  • Working with existing international institutions such as the United Nations and regional organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the African Union (AU), and the Organization of American States (OAS) to help implement their democratic commitments, and helping establish democracy charters in regions that lack them;
  • Supporting condemnation in multilateral institutions of egregious violations of human rights and freedoms;
  • Encouraging foreign direct investment in and foreign assistance to countries where there is a commitment to the rule of law, fighting corruption, and democratic accountability; and
  • Concluding free trade agreements (FTAs) that encourage countries to enhance the rule of law, fight corruption, and further democratic accountability.

These tools must be used vigorously to protect the freedoms that face particular peril around the world: religious freedom, women’s rights, and freedom for men, women, and children caught in the cruel network of human trafficking.

  • Against a terrorist enemy that is defined by religious intolerance, we defend the First Freedom: the right of people to believe and worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, free from the coercion of the state, the coercion of the majority, or the coercion of a minority that wants to dictate what others must believe.
  • No nation can be free if half its population is oppressed and denied fundamental rights. We affirm the inherent dignity and worth of women, and support vigorously their full participation in all aspects of society.
  • Trafficking in persons is a form of modern-day slavery, and we strive for its total abolition. Future generations will not excuse those who turn a blind eye to it.

Our commitment to the promotion of freedom is a commitment to walk alongside governments and their people as they make the difficult transition to effective democracies. We will not abandon them before the transition is secure because immature democracies can be prone to conflict and vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists. We will not let the challenges of democratic transitions frighten us into clinging to the illusory stability of the authoritarian.

America’s closest alliances and friendships are with countries with whom we share common values and principles. The more countries demonstrate that they treat their own citizens with respect and are committed to democratic principles, the closer and stronger their relationship with America is likely to be.

The United States will lead and calls on other nations to join us in a common international effort. All free nations have a responsibility to stand together for freedom because all free nations share an interest in freedom’s advance.