February 03, 2005

Syria and Iran

To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act - and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror - pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. That country is a vital front in the war on terror, which is why the terrorists have chosen to make a stand there. Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home. And the victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war on terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region, and thereby lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Nothing really new on Iran. On Syria, a country that normally doesn't get big billing in SOTU's, the rhetoric hotted up a bit. This is, in my view, mostly a result of concerns about the Syrian-Iraqi border remaining too porous and that a good number of Iraqi Baathists have found refuge in Syria and are funneling cash back to insurgents in Iraq. This was a very public warning to Bashar, on top of many he has already been getting from a variety of American visitors to Damascus. Still, and like with Egypt and Saudi, I see some policy adjustments, but no major new initiatives with regard to either Syria or Iran in the next year. That said, it was interesting to see Bush note that the Iranian "regime" must give up it's nuclear program--not Iran writ large. This was smart, as it set up a sharper contrast between his call for the Iranian "people" to claim their liberty from the "regime." The enemy, put differently, is not some 'axis of evil' country but, very specifically, the hard-line Mullahs. But would Bush tolerate a secularist, democratic and nuclear Iran?

Posted by Gregory at February 3, 2005 03:38 AM | TrackBack (48)

We tolerate a secular, sometimes democratic nuclear Pakistan.

Posted by: Kevin Murphy at February 3, 2005 07:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I could see Bush saying "If you held elections, allowed inspections and joined the WTO, you can keep your nukes"

Posted by: Shane at February 3, 2005 07:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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