Former President George W. Bush praised the Arab spring and said the United States should stand with dissidents during a rare appearance in Washington on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Speaking ahead of the launch of his presidential institute's "Freedom Collection," Bush said, "America does not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. It only gets to choose what side it is on," according to the AP.
"These are extraordinary times in the history of freedom," Bush said, according to Foreign Policy. "In the Arab Spring, we have seen the broadest challenge to authoritarian rule since the collapse of Soviet communism. Great change has come to a region where many thought it impossible. The idea that Arab people are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever."
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Bush said choosing stability over democratic change was unrealistic, according to MSNBC. He said, "It is not realistic to presume that so-called stability enhances our national security. Nor is it within the power of America to indefinitely preserve the old order, which is inherently unstable."
"America's message should ring clear and strong," Bush continued. "We stand for freedom -- and for the institutions and habit that make freedom work for everyone," according to MSNBC.
Politico noted that though Bush said the word "freedom" nearly two dozen times, he did not mention Iraq, Afghanistan or President Barack Obama.
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The George W. Bush Presidential Center is collecting interviews with dissidents from around the world, to document their struggles, according to Bloomberg. Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid introduced Bush, saying, "The collection shows freedom advocates are not alone."
Nobel laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi also addressed the conference via satellite, telling the audience that her country still had a long way to go to democratization. She added, "The democratization process is not irreversible," according to Bloomberg.
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