Remarks at American Embassy Baghdad
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
May 15, 2005
CHARGE D'AFFAIRS JEFFREY: Let me introduce someone you know, the Secretary of State, Dr. Rice.
(Applause and cheers)
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, thank you. First, just let me say what a thrill to be in Baghdad. I can't even tell you how
excited I've been about coming, how delighted I am to be here. I just took the helicopter ride in -- this is a
spectacular city, it really is.
I want to start by thanking Jim Jeffrey for his leadership of this embassy over the last couple of months. I know that
he is a dedicated servant, I see him on our video conferences from time to time, and he has given wonderful leadership
and I want to thank him for that and I want to thank him and -- (applause) -- thank all of you -- now I want to thank
every single one of you, and I want to start by thanking our men and women in uniform.
(Applause and cheers)
SECRETARY RICE: You know, you are truly on freedom's front lines, and we just can't thank you enough for your service.
I know that there are people here who are active duty, I know there are reservists here, I know that you're away from
family and friends and that you're in harm's way, but I just want you to know that, just some times even walking down
the street, in the United States, you just hear how proud people are, for the job that you're doing here, thank you
very, very much.
SECRETARY RICE: And I want to thank our diplomats on the front lines of freedom, too. Our foreign service, civil
service, the foreign nationals who work with us, the folks who are here from other governmental agencies, and I know
that there are a lot of them because we're doing a lot. I want to thank the contractors. You're really representing the
United States so very well, and I just want to thank you for your efforts here.
Now, this is a tough environment sometimes, maybe all of the time, but I want you to stay focused on what it is that we
are doing here. You see, this war came to us, not the other way around. The United States of America, when it was
attacked on September 11, realized that we lived in a world in which we cannot let threats gather, and that we lived in
a world in which we had to have a different kind of Middle East if we were ever to have a permanent peace. It just could
not continue to be a Middle East in which dictators like Saddam Hussein paraded around, lived in great palaces, and yet
tortured, and oppressed, and just made mincemeat of this wonderful infrastructure here in Iraq. We just couldn't let
that stand, a man who had been a danger to this region for his entire reign.
And we had to have a chance to work with people in the Middle East who wanted a different kind of life, because the
absence of freedom in the Middle East, the freedom deficit, is what has produced the ideologies of hatred that led
people to fly airplanes into a building on a fine September day.
People don't want to be suicide bombers, people don't want to be suicide hijackers, but somehow the ideologies of
hatred in this region have become so great that human beings have been willing to do that to other human beings. The
answer to that, as the President has said, is to give people a chance at freedom and liberty. And for many many years,
the United States, along with the rest of the free world, believed somehow that people in this region didn't care about
freedom. We cared about stability, and what we got was neither freedom nor stability. We got a malignancy that was
growing, that came to haunt us on that fine September day.
Now as we work with the people of Iraq to develop a strong and vibrant and vital democracy here in the heart of the
Middle East, we can do so assured that these values are universal. There is no point on the Earth where people do not
want to be able to say what they think, where people do not want to be able to worship as they please, where people do
not want to educate their children, boys and girls, and where people do not want to be free of the knock of the secret
police at night.
Those are universal values, and America has always been at its best when it is securing, and providing for, and
bringing those values to the rest of the world. Because you know something, when freedom is on the march, America is
more secure, and when freedom is in retreat, America is more vulnerable.
I was just recently in the Netherlands at the anniversary of -- the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II,
and we looked at the many sacrifices there, at the cemetery where the President spoke, of Americans who had gone a
continent away to free Europe from tyranny, and free Europe from Nazism.
And you know, in 1946 or 1947 nobody would have guessed, nobody would have dared wager, that you were going to have a
Europe today that is whole, free, and at peace and democratic, and a Europe where nobody can even imagine a war between
the Europeans and us. It doesn't even seem imaginable today. And you know, because of the work you do every day, because
of your support for democracy here in Iraq, because of the sacrifices that you've endured, that day's going to come in
the Middle East too.
And our children, and our children's children, will look back, and they will say, we are so grateful that there were
Americans willing to sacrifice, so that the Middle East could be whole, and free, and democratic, and at peace. And that
never again would we have to fight terrorists on our soil, in America.
So thank you for what you do every day, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I bring you greetings from your
commander-in-chief. And I thank the men and women in uniform, I thank the diplomats here and all the others, who are
making the dream of freedom possible for Iraqis. And you know, they deserve it. They showed us when they went out and
voted in large numbers, that they want it. They deserve it, you're helping them to get it, and we all appreciate your
service. Thank you very very much.
Released on May 15, 2005