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Bush Compares Efforts in Iraq To Fight Against Communism

By David Stout

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

President Bush on Thursday likened the campaign to install a stable, representative government in Iraq with the long Cold War struggle against Communism and said America must be committed to promoting democracy in the Middle East “for decades to come.”

“Because we and our allies were steadfast, Germany and Japan are democratic nations that no longer threaten the world,” Bush told an audience at the National Endowment for Democracy just before signing an $87.5 billion aid package for Iraq and Afghanistan. “The global nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union ended peacefully, as did the Soviet Union.”

“Every nation has learned, or should have learned, an important lesson,” Bush told members of the endowment, which tries to promote democracy around the world and is celebrating its 20th anniversary. “Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for, and standing for, and the advance of freedom leads to peace.”

The president named some countries that do not have representative government: Cuba, Burma, China, North Korea and several others.

“Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come,” Bush went on. “In many nations of the Middle East, countries of great strategic importance, democracy has not yet taken root.”

Finally, he came to Iraq. “Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands,” he said. “American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations.”

At another point Bush said, “The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, and increase dangers to the American people and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region.

“Iraqi democracy will succeed, and that success will send forth the news from Damascus to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.”