[DEBATE] : Land of the Free home of the Brave.. Bush Blair Harper and Uribe
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Wed Jan 14 09:08:15 GMT 2009
Bush awards medal to three "true friends" of the US
Published: Tuesday January 13, 2009
President George W. Bush praised three "true friends of the United
States" as he awarded the nation's highest civilian honor to Tony Blair,
John Howard and Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe.
The three men were given the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony
at the White House in the final days of Bush's presidency.
"This afternoon I'm pleased to award the Medal of Freedom to three
extraordinary leaders," Bush said of his Colombian counterpart, former
British prime minister Blair and former Australian leader Howard.
Each of the men was "a true friend of the United States who met historic
challenges with great tenacity, and who provides a lasting example of
statesmanship at home and abroad," he said.
Blair and Howard were Bush's staunchest allies in the 2003 US-led
invasion of Iraq, and the outgoing president paid lengthy tribute to
each of them and their "firm adherence to the principles of freedom and
"They're the sort of guys who look you in the eye and tell you the truth
and keep their word," he said.
Blair, who is now the special envoy to the Middle East, "was there in a
moment of trial to affirm the special relationship between the United
States and the United Kingdom," Bush said, referring to the September
11, 2001 attacks.
"Under Tony Blair's leadership, the might and the moral authority of
Great Britain have been applied to the war on terror from the first day.
"The former prime minister of the United Kingdom will stand tall in
Blair said later on CNN about the award that "really for me it's about
the people who work with me and their sacrifice, and that commitment."
Bush was just as lavish in his praise of Howard, who he said "never
wavered in his support for liberty, and free institutions, and the rule
of law as the true and hopeful alternatives to ideologies of violence
"He's a man of honesty and moral clarity. He can make a decision, he can
defend it, and he stands his ground. That's why I called him a Man of
Steel," Bush added.
But the US president made no mention of the controversy surrounding
Howard's visit and his stay in Blair House, which denied incoming
president-elect Barack Obama and his family the chance of staying in
official residence for a couple of weeks.
As for Uribe, Bush said the Colombian leader had bravely confronted the
problem of drug-trafficking in his country. Early in this decade, the
Republic of Colombia was near the point of being, at best, a failed
state -- or, at worst, a narco-state," Bush said.
"In those conditions, it took more than ambition and ideals to run for
political office -- it required immense personal courage and strength of
Bush told the three leaders they would always be welcome in the United
States and invited them to visit him on his Texas ranch after he moves
out of the White House on January 20.
"The opportunity to know them and work with them has been among the
great satisfactions of my time as president. I respect them and I admire
them," he added.
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