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State of the Union 2008

Keeping America Safe By Fostering The Freedom Agenda
U.S. Is Promoting Liberty As A Hopeful Alternative To Violent Extremism

Tonight, President Bush will reaffirm his commitment to advancing freedom and justice as hopeful alternatives to the violent extremism embraced by America's enemies.  The fight against the forces of violent extremism is the great ideological struggle of our time.  In this fight, free nations have a weapon more powerful than bombs or bullets - the universal desire for freedom and justice.  Expanding freedom is therefore not only a moral imperative but also the only path to a safe and secure America. 

The United States Will Be A Partner In Building A Middle East That Is Growing In Peace And Prosperity 

The U.S. believes that lasting stability is built on freedom and justice.  Advancing the cause of freedom and justice in the Middle East will marginalize extremists by empowering millions of parents who want the same opportunities for their children that we have for ours.  The President has renewed America's strong commitment to the security of the Gulf countries.

  • We will continue to work with the international community to halt Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, counter their lethal activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories, and shut down their support for terrorism.

The United States Is Supporting Citizens In Iraq, Afghanistan, And Lebanon Who Have Made The Choice For Democracy

  • In Iraq, the U.S. is supporting more than 80,000 "Concerned Local Citizens" who decided to reject al Qaeda and other violent extremists, and cooperate with Coalition forces to keep their communities safe.  Since our surge of operations reached full strength in June, violence in Iraq has significantly decreased in virtually every category, including civilian casualties, coalition casualties, IED events, suicide attacks, and ethno-sectarian violence.  Iraqi forces have assumed responsibility for security in nine of 18 Iraqi provinces, and brave Iraqis are increasingly taking responsibility for their own security throughout the country.

  • The United States is working with courageous Afghan and international Forces to stand up to the Taliban.  Together, they are working to ensure a stable and safe environment to allow our gains in local governance and economic development to take hold and be sustained. Thanks to their courage, a nation that was once a safe haven for al Qaeda is now an emerging democracy.

    • To ensure these successes continue, U.S. is adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan to fight the terrorists and train the Afghan national security forces.

  • The United States has been a stalwart ally of those fighting for Lebanon's freedom.  We have provided economic and security assistance to the Lebanese Government, committed $7 million to the UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon, imposed sanctions against those working to obstruct Lebanon's democratic processes, and publicly stressed our ongoing support for those seeking to defend Lebanon's freedom and sovereignty.

America Is Using Its Influence To Foster Peace And Reconciliation In The Holy Land 

The President returned less than two weeks ago from a successful trip to the Middle East, during which he reiterated that the U.S. is committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians achieve peace.  The President also reminded leaders in the region that, in order for there to be peace, nations in the Middle East must support both the Palestinians and the Israelis. 

  • The President's recent Middle East trip built on progress made at the Annapolis Conference to lay the groundwork for peace in the Middle East.  This international conference brought together Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, members of the Arab League Follow-on Committee, permanent members of the UN Security Council, members of the G-8 and other key international actors, to signal international support for peace and begin negotiations toward establishing a Palestinian state.

  • President Bush is encouraged by the fact that the Israelis and Palestinians each understand that the only way to realize their own goals is by helping one another.  The Israelis understand that an independent, viable, democratic, and peaceful Palestinian state is not just the hope of Palestinians but also the best guarantee of peace for all its neighbors.

  • By supporting the legitimate aspirations of both sides, the U.S. will encourage reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian people and between Israelis and Arabs.  We will build a foundation for lasting peace that will contribute to the security of every state in the Middle East.

The United States Will Continue To Stand Up For People Suffering Under Dictatorship

President Bush has announced a series of steps to help the Burmese people bring peaceful change to their country, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear.  Mrs. Bush also continues to remain active in supporting the Burmese people's demands for reconciliation and basic human rights such as freedom of speech, worship, association, and assembly.  The United States has:

  • Tightened existing economic sanctions and levied new sanctions against the leaders of the regime and their financial backers. 
  • 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.
  • Continued to support Burmese who seek a peaceful, democratic transition.
  • Facilitated the efforts of humanitarian groups working to alleviate suffering in Burma.
  • Tightened the Commerce Department's export control regulations for Burma.

The United States continues to insist on the release of all political prisoners, free speech, free assembly, and ultimately, free and competitive elections in Cuba as the nation transitions from the long dictatorship of Fidel Castro.  In October, President Bush demanded the release of all political prisoners and announced measures to help prepare Cuba for transition to a democratic future, including a new initiative to develop an international multi-billion dollar Freedom Fund to help the Cuban people rebuild their economy and make the transition to democracy.

The United States continues to call for freedom for the people of Zimbabwe.  President Robert Mugabe's government has cracked down violently on peaceful calls for reform and forced millions to flee their homeland. 

The United States reaffirms its commitment to helping the victims of genocide in Sudan.  The U.S. has provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping aid to Darfur since 2005 and has responded to the repression in Sudan and genocide in the Darfur region with tough sanctions against those responsible for the violence. 

President Bush Remains Committed To Supporting The Foundations Of Freedom By Advancing An Agenda Of Compassion Worldwide

It is in the best interests of our Nation to alleviate the despair that allows extremism to take hold by fighting hunger and disease, supporting basic education initiatives, and advancing global economic development.  The United States leads the world in food assistance and is taking unprecedented steps to fight disease through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative.  In addition, the United States continues to support free trade as the best mechanism to lift people out of poverty and has expanded support for basic education initiatives.