Remarks by President Bush at Missourians for Matt Blunt and the Missouri Republican Party Breakfast

"Freedom is Powerful"

The President gave a great speech this morning. I'm going to include large excerpts of it, as it was a much longer speech and some of the best parts might get lost. What follows is a vision of foreign policy that I can wholeheartedly support, one I would be glad to fight for.

On today's elections:

There was voting time elsewhere in this world today. A marvelous thing is happening in Afghanistan. Freedom is powerful. Think about a society in which young girls couldn't go to school and their mothers were whipped in the public square. And today, they're holding a presidential election. The first person to vote in the presidential election, three years after the Taliban ruled that country with such barbarism, was a 19-year-old woman, an Afghan refugee, who fled her homeland during the civil war. Here's what she said: "I cannot explain my feelings, just how happy I am. I would never have thought I would be able to vote in this election." She's voting in this election because the United States of America believes that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.

And today is an appropriate day for Americans to remember and thank the men and women of our Armed Forces who liberated Afghanistan.

The people of Australia voted today, as well. And I want to congratulate my good friend, Prime Minister John Howard, who won a great victory.... Because we led, because we acted, Afghanistan is fighting terror and holding a presidential election today; Pakistan is capturing terrorists; Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests; Libya is dismantling its weapons programs; a army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's leaders and associates have been brought to justice.
On elections yet to come:
Over the next four years, we'll continue to spread freedom. And that's what's happening in Iraq. Last night I talked about the finance minister who came to see me. Let me recount some of that conversation I had with him. I thought it was really interesting and illustrative. He walks in full of confidence. He says, Mr. President, thank you for what you and your country have done for us, we're headed toward elections.

Think about that statement. A fellow shows up in the Oval Office of the President of the United States and says, we're headed for elections. For most of us, that doesn't sound like much. But for a person who used to live under the -- in a country that was ruled by a brutal tyrant, where there were torture rooms and mass graves, where people had no freedom at all, to say, "we're headed toward elections," is a powerful statement....

As an aside, you cannot lead a coalition in Iraq if you tell them, this is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine my opponent's grand idea of a global summit, and he walks in, and there are the leaders around the world, sitting there, waiting for the American President to speak. And he says, follow me into a great mistake. Nobody is going to follow. You must have optimism. You must believe in what you're doing if you expect to lead. And I believe in what we're doing in Iraq. And in January, Iraq will have elections, and that's important. You see, I believe in the power of liberty to transform societies.
On winning the peace:
But think about that for a minute. [Japan's Koizumi] and I are friends, and we're talking about different issues confronting the world. And the reason I say, think about it, is because it wasn't all that long ago that we were at war with Japan.

If you're 58 years old, like me, it seems like an eternity. But a lot of people in this country still remember that war. My dad does, Buck's brother. I'm sure you've got dads and grandads who fought against the Japanese. They were our sworn enemy.

And after we were victorious in World War II, Harry S. Truman, from the state of Missouri, believed that liberty could transform an enemy into an ally. And so did a lot of other citizens. Oh, there were some skeptics in those days, and you can understand why. We had just finished a war. A lot of people's lives had been hurt as a result of that war. A lot of Americans had lost a loved one. They weren't interested in worrying about Japan, they were interested in their own souls and their own hearts. I'm sure there was a lot of people here that said, it's just impossible for an enemy to become a friend.

But because my predecessor and other Americans believed in the power of liberty to transform societies, I sit at the table with Prime Minister Koizumi, talking about the peace we all want.

We'll get the job done in Iraq. Freedom is powerful. And when we succeed, an American President will be sitting down with a duly-elected leader of Iraq, talking about the peace that we all want, and we will have known, this generation of Americans will have known we have done our duty to our children and our grandchildren to leave behind a better world.

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