- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

BUCHAREST, Romania Romania and the other new members of NATO, all former communist nations, must help America disarm Iraq because they know from experience that "dictators cannot be appeased," President Bush said yesterday.
"The world has suffered enough from fanatics who seek to impose their will through fear and murder," Mr. Bush told 100,000 cheering Romanians in the city's rain-soaked central square where the body of communist dictator Nicolai Ceausescu was strung up in 1989 after his execution.
"The people of Romania understand that aggressive dictators cannot be appeased or ignored. They must always be opposed.
"An aggressive dictator now rules in Iraq," the president added. "By his search for terrible weapons, by his ties to terror groups, by his development of prohibited ballistic missiles, the dictator of Iraq threatens the security of every free nation, including the free nations of Europe."
After congratulating the seven nations for their ascension into NATO on Thursday, Mr. Bush promptly pressed them into service against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Every nation must confront danger," the president said. "Every free nation has a responsibility to play its full and responsible role."
Mr. Bush said NATO's newest members, all of which were part of the communist bloc dominated by the Soviet Union until a dozen years ago, bring "moral clarity" to an alliance dominated by nations that have been free for more than half a century.
Critics say such freedom has made some Western European nations complacent, prompting them to resist military action in Iraq.
"You value freedom because you have lived without it," Mr. Bush said. "You know the difference between good and evil because you have seen evil's face."
Although Romania and the other new NATO members Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia have minimal military capabilities, Mr. Bush believes they stiffen the spine of the alliance.
"In this square, we see monuments to Romanian patriots who lost their lives and liberty for the liberty of your nation," the president said in Revolution Square. "And here in December of 1989, you broke the silence of your captivity."
Gesturing under a steady rain, he added: "From that balcony, the dictator heard your voices and faltered and fled. Two generations of bitter tyranny ended, and all the world witnessed the courage of Romania, the courage that set you free."
Mr. Bush spoke from a podium that faced the balcony where Ceausescu, who ruled Romania with an iron fist for 25 years, made his fateful last appearance in December 1989. To the dictator's surprise, the crowd shouted him down, starting a bloody revolt that led to his execution.
The crowd that came yesterday to hear Mr. Bush's speech, after waiting in the rain for hours, greeted the president with a thunderous ovation and frenzied waving of American and Romanian flags.
"Salut," Mr. Bush began after being introduced by Romanian President Ion Iliescu. "As we started speaking, a rainbow appeared. God is smiling on us today."
The president made his speech one day after visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called NATO's expansion to Russia's border unnecessary and problematic. Yesterday, Mr. Bush asked Romania to help him assuage Moscow's concerns.
"In the peaceful future we are building, Romania will strengthen our alliance in another way as a bridge to a new Russia," he said. "For centuries, Romania's geography was a source of danger. Now, you can help our alliance to extend the hand of cooperation across the Black Sea."
He added: "Russia has nothing to fear from the growth of NATO, because Russia needs peaceful, stable neighbors like Romania."
Romania was the second new NATO nation that Mr. Bush visited yesterday. Earlier in the day, he welcomed Lithuania into the alliance during a speech in the capital, Vilnius.
"Many doubted that freedom would come to this country, but the United States always recognized an independent Lithuania," Mr. Bush said to a smaller crowd in a town square. "We knew that this continent would not remain divided.
"We knew that arbitrary lines drawn by dictators would be erased, and those lines are now gone," he added. "No more Munichs. No more Yaltas. The long night of fear, uncertainty and loneliness is over."
Mr. Bush emphasized that in return for NATO members' backing the United States in such places as Iraq, Americans will protect even the smallest of the alliance's members.
"Our alliance has made a solemn pledge of protection, and anyone who would choose Lithuania as an enemy has also made an enemy of the United States of America," Mr. Bush said. "In the face of aggression, the brave people of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will never again stand alone."
"Aciu, aciu, aciu," the crowd cried in thanks.
"You're welcome," Mr. Bush said. "You are needed in the NATO alliance. You will contribute to our common security."
After traveling from Lithuania to Romania, Mr. Bush headed back to Washington, ending a five-day journey through Eastern Europe.


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