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Global War on Terror

Location: Washington, DC

GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR -- (House of Representatives - November 07, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, a number of news sources have recently dedicated space and air time to headlines concerning our progress in the war on terror, such as ``What the New York Times doesn't tell you.''

Indeed, as we all have had occasion to note in some of our Nation's widely read news publications, the editorial rule is often there is no news like bad news. But in these Halls of Congress, no such rule abounds, so truth-telling must begin here.

Since the brutal terrorist attacks of September 11, the United States has responded with policies that offer a pragmatic approach to the challenges that we face in the region today. These have included taking the fight to the terrorists and their supporters, denying them the resources and safe sanctuaries, keeping them on the run so that they cannot target us at home, all while simultaneously assisting the developing Middle East democracies so that they can become a bastion of stable, free market democratic societies and as a means of addressing the root causes of terrorism and Islamic extremism.

As Chair of the House Subcommittee on Central Asia and the Middle East, I am proud of the success that these policies have enjoyed, particularly in the frontline states in the war on terror of Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, if we are to fully grasp where both countries are now, and where both are heading politically, we must understand what these nations have endured under brutal regimes that systemically denied the Iraqi and the Afghan people their freedom and shackled their hopes and aspirations.

Saddam Hussein's terrorist regime wreaked havoc on Iraq society and stunted the country's growth and development.

The mass graves are but one sad example of how this brutal ruler destroyed Iraqi lives. He indiscriminately slaughtered Iraqis, regardless of background, with an estimated 300,000 having disappeared from the time that Saddam took power in 1979 until his removal almost 25 years later.

Thus, the progress achieved thus far by the Iraqi people toward establishing a true democratic government, just a few years after the termination of his regime, is nothing short of miraculous.

Within this past year alone, the people of Iraq have not only held free elections and approved a new Iraqi constitution this past October, but they are diligently preparing for nationwide elections on December 15.

Today, the Iraqi people remain engaged in a political process aimed at creating a unified and democratic Iraq, to the envy of the neighboring countries such as Iran and Syria, and to the chagrin of those tyrannical regimes.

In particular, the women of Iraq who, under the Hussein regime were routinely subject to public execution, under the pretext of fighting prostitution and widespread rape and abuse, are now fully participating in the nation's political life.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Iraq as part of a historic all-female congressional delegation, during which we met with women from all sectors and educational backgrounds. They now have a voice in charting the path for their country's future and in helping to ensure that this course is toward a vibrant and prosperous Iraqi nation.

Likewise, in Afghanistan, U.S. efforts have also contributed to significant positive changes in the lives of women in Afghanistan where the Taliban's brutality and blatant disregard for the lives and well-being of the Afghan people impacted all the people of that country.

The shroud of misery placed upon the people of Afghanistan when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 was removed in 2002 by the United States with the help of our allies and the Afghan people themselves.

As a nation whose recent history has been marked more by war than by peace, more by upheaval than by progress, Afghanistan's transition to democracy has also been nothing short of miraculous.

In a state of effective war for most of the last quarter century, Afghanistan was allowed to fester for most of the 1990s, ultimately hosting al Qaeda and enduring the extremist Taliban regime.

In liberating the Afghan people, we brought an end to the deplorable human rights violations under the Taliban regime, which included the barbaric practices of beatings, tortures, rapes, executions that were carried out by Taliban's Department of Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Today, the Afghan people are determined to take steps to ensure Afghanistan's survival as a free and democratic nation. We are on the road to victory, and the selfless dedication of our men and women in uniform should always be congratulated.

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