Mon, Jan 24, 2005 - Page 9 News List

Bush faces wake up call on 'tyranny'

The promise in his inaugural speech to end tyranny might be difficult to implement while the US is dependent on its banker, China, and its gas station, Saudi Arabia


US President George W. Bush entered his second, four-year term Thursday pledging to set the US on a course to end tyranny in the world in a speech aimed at laying out his vision and defining his legacy.

In his second inaugural address, Bush spoke generally of expanding freedom throughout the world. He did not mention specific policies or countries, and unlike most of the president's foreign policy addresses, Iraq and the war on terrorism were not directly discussed.

Instead, the president outlined a broader, more idealistic agenda, framing the world as a struggle between freedom and the repression that breeds violence and insecurity and called for unity among free nations to spread liberty.

"For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny, prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power," Bush said.

"There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom," he said.

But the president, in working to achieve his vision, faces some tough realities. His message is likely to be viewed skeptically in Europe, where US intentions have been questioned -- mainly because of the war in Iraq and disdain for American hegemony.

Bush will have to manage tricky relationships with countries like China, on whom the US relies for trade, and Saudi Arabia, a key oil exporter, but two countries the US government regularly criticizes for human rights abuses.

Opinion polls have shown that the American public has also grown increasingly weary of the war in Iraq and worries that the president does not have a clear exit strategy as his administration tries to build a democratic government there in the midst of a bloody insurgency.

Bush sought to allay concerns about the overuse of American military power, saying force is not the only means for promoting democracy and that the US will not impose its will on other countries.

"This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary," he said.

"Freedom by its nature must be chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities."

"America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling," he said. "Our goal, instead, is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way."

But he also reminded allies that unity is essential for defeating threats and keeping borders secure.

"Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies," he said. "The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat."

Bush has expressed his willingness to reach out to countries like France and Germany, whose relations with the US have been frayed over Iraq. Bush is planning a trip next month to Germany, where he is sure to be greeted by thousands of protestors.

Bush will have a chance next month to discuss the specifics of his global vision when he delivers the annual State of the Union address.

One of his closest advisers, Karen Hughes, told CNN that Thursday's speech was aimed at laying out broad themes and that the president will get into the details in the State of the Union, which is traditionally a much longer address.

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