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United States "Opening a Path for the March of Freedom," Rice says

Political and economic reforms, democratic institutions key to progress

Posted: May 27, 2005 AUDIO      

The goal of U.S. foreign policy, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is not to impose democracy on others but to create conditions of “openness” around states that “encourage and nurture democratic reform."

Rice, speaking at the Commonwealth Club in California May 27, said the United States is not forcing others to adopt democratic principles because democracy, unlike tyranny, does not have to be imposed. “Democracy, a belief in liberty, a desire to be free is as natural as breathing,” she said.

Creating democracies is not easy, Rice said, and even long-established ones such as the United States can stumble at times. But by creating institutions that protect democratic principles, freedom remains secure even in challenging times, she said.

The United States is working to help countries in Latin America and Africa achieve openness and build democratic institutions through economic incentives, she said, adding that the passage of the free-trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic is one of the highest priorities of the Bush administration. Free trade, Rice said, energizes democracy and strengthens security by lifting people out of poverty.

Honduras and Nicaragua will also be receiving financial assistance from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), she said. To qualify for MCC funds, Rice explained, countries must demonstrate a commitment to governing transparently and wisely.

Eight countries in Africa already have financial assistance compacts with MCC and 37 African nations hold preferential trading status with the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which similarly requires a commitment to political and economic reform, Rice said.

In today’s world, the secretary said, the greatest threat to world peace comes from within nations, not between them. And the best antidote to tension and unrest within a country is more openness and more democracy, not less, Rice said, explaining that people need institutional channels through which their desires for change and progress can be directed.

During a question-and-answer session following her speech, Rice was asked about the continuing violence in Iraq. Terrorists, she said, are deliberately killing and maiming innocent people, including women and children. “This isn’t ‘resistance’,” she said. “This is bloody terror and you have to call it by name.”

The secretary said she believed that, despite all its challenges, Iraq would succeed in establishing a democracy. “It’s not going to look like the United States, but it’s not going to look like Saddam’s Iraq either. And thank God for that,” she said.

A transcript of the secretary’s remarks is available on the State Department’s Web site.


Rebecca Ford Mitchell
Washington File Staff Writer



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