President Bush vowed Thursday in his second inauguration address to spread freedom around the globe and to target the world’s tyrannies.
Bush pledged to purge the world of undemocratic governments saying “Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors.”
Bush said the spread of liberty around the world was the “calling of our time.”
He mentioned the words liberty and freedom more than 40 times but he never directly mentioned the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said Bush deliberately focused on liberty instead of human rights.
Roth said “It’s easy to say I’m for liberty but difficult to say I’m for human rights when he’s overseeing what we know is a conscious policy of coercive interrogation, including inhuman treatment and sometimes torture.”
The Washington Post noted that some of the administration’s closest allies in the war against terrorism — including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan — are ranked by the State Department as among the worst human rights abusers.
Bush Speech Called “Most Combative” in 50 Years
Julian Borger of the Guardian described the speech as a radical address and “arguably the most combative inauguration speech in 50 years.” Borger writes “Bush nailed his colors once and for all to the neoconservative mast, committing himself to an activist foreign policy.”
Bush spoke shortly after being sworn in by the ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Senator Trent Lott served as the master of ceremonies for the inauguration.
While Bush was vowing to spread freedom around the globe, law enforcement agents were hauling off several demonstrators who attempted to protest during the speech.
Some 10,000 protesters marched in a demonstration organized by the DC Anti-War Network. Thousands more lined the parade route holding signs accusing Bush of war crimes and calling for the end of the Iraq war.
Members of the Black Bloc also successfully blocked many Bush supporters from reaching their seats after they forced the police to shut down two entry points to the seating area.
Police reported making 14 arrests during the inauguration celebrations but targeted many more people with pepper spray.
Another 65 were arrested last night after a group of anarchists staged an unpermitted march through the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Participants in the march shattered the front door of a Riggs Bank.
Protests were also held across the country including in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tucson, Atlanta, Denver, Sacramento, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Portland, Oregon,
Cheney: Israel May Attack Iran
Hours before the inauguration, Vice President Cheney warned that Iran had become the top threat to world peace. He accused Iran of building a “fairly robust new nuclear program.” Cheney didn’t rule out a U.S. attack but suggested that Israel might strike Iran first.
He said “Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.” Israel has carried out such attacks before. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor.
Cheney’s comments come just days after the New Yorker magazine reported that the US has already sent troops into Iran to search for possible sites to attack.
On Tuesday Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice named Iran as one of six so-called “outposts of tyranny.” Also named were North Korea, Burma, Cuba, Belarus and Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile Cheney made a rare admission that mistakes had been made in Iraq. He said the U.S. miscalculated what a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq would look like saying “I thought things would have recovered more quickly.”
In other Iraq news, CNN is reporting intelligence sources estimate 150 car bombings and 250 suicide attacks are being planned over the next week to disrupt the Jan. 30 election. On Wednesday, 10 car bombings were reported. Earlier today, a car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque in Baghdad killing at least 14 and injuring 40 people.
On Thursday, an audio recording purportedly by militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi warned that the war against the US presence in Iraq would last for years.
Meanwhile the Washington Post reports the US is now holding nearly 8,000 Iraqis in prison marking the highest total since March.