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President Bush Emphasizes US Policy On Burma Democracy - 2003-11-08


President Bush says U.S. commitment to democracy is tested in Burma--in his words--one of the outposts of oppression in our world.

He made these comments at the National Endowment for Democracy's 20th anniversary celebrations on November 6. This Washington-based group supports movements for democratic change around the world.

In his keynote speech, President Bush talked about U.S.policy of promoting democracy around the world including Burma:

"Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea and Zimbabwe, outposts of oppression of our world. The people in these nations live in captivity and fear and silence. Yet these regimes cannot hold back freedom forever, and one day, from prison camps, and prison cells and from exile, the leaders of new democracies will arise."

President Bush also emphasized that it is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy:

"Men and women knew that the whole world was not sharing their own nightmare. They knew of at least one place, a bright and hopeful land, where freedom was valued and secure. And they prayed that America would not forget them or forget the mission to promote liberty around the world."

The world's foremost leader of democracy also said democracy is not perfect and it takes time to develop one, citing America as an example:

"And working democracies always need time to develop, as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice, and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey. There are, however, central principles common to every successful society in every culture."

Mr. Bush said allowing citizens all the basic freedoms and free commerce with the rights of property are the cardinal ingredients of a democratic society, the mark of successful societies means compliance of other obligations as well:

"Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military so that governments respond to the will of the people and not the will of the elite … and instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people."

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