Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 9 News List

Countering terror in Afghanistan and Iraq

The top US diplomat in Taiwan says that his country will continue to take a central role in the fight against international terrorism after military success over two tyrannies

By Douglas Paal

ILLUSTATION: MOUNTAIN PEOPLE

win successes by a US-led coalition in Afghanistan and Iraq have created enormous opportunities for freedom and democracy to the people in those two nations -- but continued vigilance on the part of the international community is needed to counter other threats to peace and stability in the world.

In Afghanistan, allied forces destroyed a major terrorist training ground, and even now continue the process of liberating the country's long-suffering people from the dual tyranny of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, freeing a Muslim people and putting in place a representative Muslim government to lead them.

As Secretary of State Colin Powell has pointed out, the victory in Afghanistan does not mean that nation is on its way to becoming an American colony or a 51st state. On the contrary, as the secretary has noted, that country "is governed by the most representative government in its history and is on its way to full constitutional government."

For the first time in more than two decades, "the men and women of Afghanistan can look to the future with hope," he said.

The liberation that has just come to Iraq is, similarly, a great victory for freedom -- one that has rescued the Iraqi people from a vicious oppressor even as it has freed the world from the threat posed by the existence of a rogue regime with access to weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism.

With that liberation now achieved, the US along with its allies and others who are joining the effort are committed to helping the Iraqi people achieve a stable and united country under a representative government.

With the future of Iraq finally in the hands of its own people, the nation's great human talent can be employed, and its oil wealth used, for the benefit of all its citizens.

US President George W. Bush helped to underscore the new reality recently, remarking that "we are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools for the people."

The difficult work that lies ahead in Iraq includes bringing order and security to areas that remain dangerous, bringing to justice the leaders of those who are loyal to the defunct regime of president Saddam Hussein, locating hidden chemical and biological wea-pons, rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure after 30 years of devastation and standing by the Iraqi people as they establish a government that is of, by and for the Iraqi people.

However, this transformation from dictatorship to democracy in Iraq will take time, and the allies will stay until the work is done.

In line with that transformation, the international community -- the US, together with nations and organizations in Europe, in Asia, and throughout the world -- will now play its vital role in what Powell has called the "noble effort" to bring relief, recovery and reconstruction to the nation.

Taiwan has indicated its willingness to help in this enterprise. We are grateful for this offer of support, as National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said recently, "We ... applaud the people of Taiwan for supporting Iraq's liberation and reconstruction."

A new day has, indeed, begun in Iraq.

And the advent of that new day can, more broadly, serve as an example to the region and to the world of a state transformed from a threat to a contributor -- a contributor to international peace and security.

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