Bush Shifts War Justification To Democracy

Addressing the National Endowment for Democracy, George W. Bush said that "the United States must commit itself to a decades-long transformation of the Middle East and termed the U.S. occupation of Iraq a turning point in the future of worldwide democracy," the Washington Post reports. "Bush's speech was the latest effort by the administration to stop the slipping support for the U.S. occupation of Iraq at home and abroad. Though he had previously mentioned the spread of Mideast democracy as a justification for the invasion of Iraq, Bush elevated that rationale to primacy yesterday, making no mention of weapons of mass destruction and only passing reference to national security and terrorism." But Washington has a "long-standing credibility problem" in the Middle East. "In the past, every time a U.S. official has talked about democracy and responsible government, people in the region have looked at them and said, 'You're running against a 50-year legacy of doing the opposite.' We grew up understanding that the United States would not tolerate real democracy as we'd end up with governments or leaders or ideologies that were not compatible with the West," Hisham Melhem, an Arab journalist and commentator, told the Post.