Condoleezza Rice: 'Given our history, the US has no cause for false pride'

From a speech by the Secretary of State of the United States, delivered at the American University, in Cairo
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The Independent Online

In our world today, a growing number of men and women are securing their liberty. And as these people gain the power to choose, they are creating democratic governments in order to protect their natural rights. For 60 years, my country pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region - here, in the Middle East - and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

Securing these rights is the hope of every citizen and the duty of every government. In my own country, the progress of democracy has been long and difficult. And given our history, the United States has no cause for false pride and we have every reason for humility. After all, the United States was born half free and half slave. And it was only in my lifetime that my government guaranteed the right to vote for all of its people.

Here in the Middle East, that same long, hopeful process of democratic change is now beginning to unfold. Millions of people are demanding freedom for themselves and democracy for their countries. In Lebanon, supporters of democracy are demanding independence from foreign masters. And it is not only the Lebanese people who desire freedom from Syria's police state. The Syrian people themselves share that aspiration.

In Iran, people are losing patience with an oppressive regime that denies them their liberty and their rights. The appearance of elections does not mask the organized cruelty of Iran's theocratic state.

In Saudi Arabia, brave citizens are demanding accountable government. Yet many people pay an unfair price for exercising their basic rights. Three individuals, in particular, are currently imprisoned for peacefully petitioning their government. That should not be a crime in any country.

Now, here in Cairo, President Mubarak's decision to hold multi-party elections is encouraging. President Mubarak has unlocked the door for change. Now, the Egyptian Government must put its faith in its own people.