Mission to spread
liberty is noble policy


President Bush has called for the United States to spread liberty and democracy throughout the world

WHEN President Bush spoke in his inaugural address of promoting liberty and democracy throughout the world, he was not necessarily implying that the Iraq experience would be repeated elsewhere. Peaceful efforts to inject freedom into the politics of oppressive nations have been worthwhile in recent years and should be expanded.

Bush said the United States would be vulnerable "for as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny." He obviously was referring to Iraq and the Middle East, but his remark that "the best hope for peace in the world is the expansion of freedom in all the world" could be applied anywhere.

The president's policy "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture" was most recently successful in the so-called Orange Revolution in Ukraine. The Bush administration spent more than $65 million in the past two years to assist political organizations in Ukraine. That was part of the $1 billion the State Department spends annually on trying to build democracy worldwide.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin complained that the United States was meddling in Ukraine politics, Secretary of State Colin Powell responded, "What we have seen isn't interfering in democracy. What we have seen is the international community coming together to support democracy." In keeping with his withdrawal from democratic reforms, Putin had endorsed Viktor Yanukovych, a leftover from the Soviet era, for the Ukraine presidency.

An exit poll funded by embassies of the United States, seven European nations and four international foundations exposed the Ukraine elections in November as having been rigged in Yanukovych's favor. New, fair elections were held last month, and reformist Viktor Yushchenko was the clear winner.

A year earlier, the International Center for Nonviolent Conduct, a nonprofit organization that receives federal funding, showed Georgian reformists the hour-long PBS documentary, "Bringing Down a Dictator," about the peaceful overthrow of Serbian tyrant Slobodan Milosevic.

The reformists persuaded Georgia's independent television network to air the documentary twice leading up to Georgia's 2003 elections. In the end, the so-called Rose Revolution drove autocratic President Eduard Shevardnadze from office.

"Most important was the film," said Ivane Merabishvilli, the Georgia opposition movement's leader. "All the demonstrators knew the tactics of the revolution in Belgrade by heart because they showed the film on their revolution. Everyone knew what to do. This was a copy of that revolution, only louder."


Navy research lab
is no threat to UH


The University of Hawaii regents are nearing final approval of a Navy research laboratory on the Manoa campus.

MILITARY research on university campuses disturbs some scholars, but such work -- much of it classified -- has been conducted in ivy-draped laboratories since World War II without undermining academia. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is set to join four other prestigious institutions in conducting Navy research, and the plans should go forward despite complaints by antimilitary activists.

The UH Board of Regents has given preliminary approval of the creation of an Applied Research Center under a multiyear contract with the Navy. The center could generate up to $50 million in new research contracts. The regents are expected to make their final decision on the proposed center this spring.

The other four institutions that are home to University Affiliated Research Centers for the Navy are Johns Hopkins University, Penn State, the University of Texas and the University of Washington, all of which seem to have survived the military presence. The center should be a welcome addition to Hawaii, where the Navy has long been an important member of the community without posing a threat.

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