Bush stressed in his address to the UN General Assembly today that the U.S.-led ousting of repressive regimes has boosted hopes in both states. He said the stability of both countries was vital to world security.
The U.S. president acknowledged the losses suffered by coalition forces in both campaigns but vowed to support the two states "until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled."
"Freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we must continue to show our commitment to democracies in those nations. The liberty that many have won at a cost must be secured. As members of the United Nations, we all have a stake in the success of the world's newest democracies," Bush said.
Bush also defended U.S. moves to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, saying they fulfilled the intent of a unanimous Security Council resolution passed in 2002.
"The dictator [former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] agreed in 1991, as a condition of a cease-fire, to fully comply with all Security Council resolutions -- then [he] ignored more than a decade of those resolutions. Finally, the Security Council promised serious consequences for his defiance. And the commitments we make must have meaning. When we say 'serious consequences,' for the sake of peace there must be serious consequences. And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world," Bush said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called the invasion illegal. Resentment over U.S. actions by other UN members has limited support for security and reconstruction in Iraq.
Annan, speaking before Bush today, made an appeal for states to commit themselves anew to the rule of law. He cited the humanitarian disaster in Darfur, Sudan, as well as the Beslan terrorist incident and ongoing attacks in Iraq.
Annan said rule of law must be strengthened by showing respect for the body of UN treaty law and UN resolutions improving enforcement mechanisms. "Every nation that proclaims the rule of law at home, must respect it abroad," he said. "And every nation that insists on it abroad, must enforce it at home. Yes, the rule of law starts at home."
Bush's speech focused on the wider goal of spreading democracy, especially in the Middle East. He linked the improvement of democratic rights with security. "In this young century, our world needs a new definition of security. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence or some balance of power," Bush said. "The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind. These rights are advancing across the world and, across the world, the enemies of human rights are responding with violence."
Bush proposed the establishment of a democracy fund within the United Nations to help countries lay the foundations of democracy by instituting the rule of law, independent courts, a free press, political parties, and trade unions.