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Bush: International Community Has Obligation to Help Rebuild Iraq - 2003-09-27


President Bush says the international community has an obligation to help rebuild Iraq, because a peaceful government there will make the world a safer place. The president used his weekly radio address to re-emphasize many of the themes from Tuesday's speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

President Bush wants a new U.N. resolution establishing a multinational security force under U.S. command, and getting more nations to help pay for Iraq's reconstruction.

He continued that effort in private meetings with world leaders and in his weekly radio address, in which he said the world is safer because of U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"In the struggle between terrorist killers and peaceful nations, there is no neutral ground," he said. "All nations must join in confronting this threat where it arises - before the terrorists can inflict even greater harm and suffering. And all nations should stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, as they build a future based on freedom and democracy."

Many U.N. members are still mistrustful of the president's decision to invade Iraq, without U.N. approval. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the unilateral action sets a dangerous precedent, and represents a fundamental challenge to U.N. principles.

In his U.N. speech, French President Jacques Chirac denounced the U.S.-led invasion, saying no one can accept the anarchy of a lawless society. Mr. Chirac wants a timetable for a return to self-rule.

President Bush says the process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis. Washington is suggesting that work on a new constitution be completed within six months.

Congressional Democrats say the president's request for $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan should not come at the expense of U.S. domestic priorities. Washington (state) Senator Patty Murray says Mr. Bush and other Republicans have turned a blind eye to the needs of average Americans, as more than three million people have lost their jobs since the president came to office.

"We all understand the importance of helping the Iraqi people, but it need not come at the expense of our schools, roads, health care and jobs," senator Murray said.

Senator Murray says Americans are sacrificing to help with post-war Iraq, especially members of the U.S. military there continue to come under attack.

"While they are fighting for us, we must continue to fight for them. We have to make sure they come back to a country that has jobs that can support them, health care they can count on, retirement they can look forward to, and education and opportunity for their children," she said.

Senator Murray says investments must be made in America first, not last.

President Bush says U.S. action in Iraq is in America's interest, because it will help stabilize the Middle East and decrease the likelihood of terrorist attacks.

"If freedom and progress falter in the Middle East, that region will continue to export violence that takes lives in America and around the world," the president warned. "If democracy and tolerance and peace advance in that region, it will undermine the bitterness and resentment that feed terrorism. The terrorists understand this -- so they have chosen to fight against order and liberty in Iraq."

Mr. Bush says those terrorists will be defeated, and he is confident more nations will rally to the side of Iraq to build a free and peaceful nation.

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