President Bush says he believes liberty will overcome oppression in the Middle East, with Afghanistan and Iraq ultimately serving as examples for the rest of the region. He spoke at a ceremony honoring Britain's World War II prime minister, Winston Churchill.
The president said Winston Churchill left a legacy for those who lead today. He said the new challenges of the 21st century are not all that different from those of the World War II era. "The outcome of the war on terror depends on our ability to see danger and to answer it with strength," he said.
"We are," he said, "heirs of a tradition of liberty. Others before us have shown bravery and moral clarity in this cause. The same is asked of us."
Mr. Bush said he sees the spirit of Winston Churchill in the current British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been his strongest ally in Iraq. He said the success of freedom in both Iraq and Afghanistan will set an example for other nations in their region. "As in Germany and Japan and Eastern Europe, liberty will overcome oppression in the Middle East," he said.
He said Iraq is on the path to democracy, and the man who ruled through tyranny is now in a prison cell. Mr. Bush said Iraqi's neighbors no longer need to fear ruthless aggression from Saddam Hussein, describing him as a dictator who had both the intent and capability to inflict great harm. "Because the Baathist regime is history, Iraq is no longer a grave and gathering threat to free nations. Iraq is a free nation!"
The president spoke at the opening of a new exhibit on the life of Winston Churchill at the Library of Congress, the largest collection of books and other reference materials in the United States. With members of the Churchill family looking on, he spoke repeatedly of the wartime prime minister's strength under fire, and his commitment to a vision of freedom for all.
"When great striving is required of us, we will always have an example in the man we honor today. Winston Churchill was a man of great personal gifts, but his greatest strength was his unshakable confidence in the power and appeal of freedom," said the president.
Winston Churchill served as Britain's prime minister from 1940 until 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. He died in 1965.