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For Immediate Release
October 1, 2002
President Stresses Need for Strong Iraq Resolution
Excerpts from October 1, 2002 Presidential Remarks following Meeting with Members of Congress. Click here to read entire transcript.
Q: Thank you, sir. There's a resolution being circulated by Senators Biden and Lugar, an alternative resolution on authorizing force in Iraq. What's wrong with that alternative?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I -- first of all, I appreciate all the members of Congress working to come up with a resolution. It sends a clear signal to the world that this country is determined to disarm Iraq, and thereby bring peace to the world. Members in both parties are working to get a consensus. Secondly -- and we'll continue to work with members of Congress. But I don't want to get a resolution which ties my hands, a resolution which is weaker than that which was passed out of the Congress in 1998. The Congress in 1998 passed a very strong resolution. They wisely recognized that Saddam Hussein is a threat -- was a threat in '98, and he's more of a threat four years later.
My question is, what's changed? Why would Congress want to weaken a resolution? This guy's had four years to lie, deceive, to arm up. He's had four years to thumb his nose at the world. He is stockpiling more weapons. So I'm not sure why members would like to weaken the resolution.
But we'll work with the members, and I'm confident we can get something done. And we'll be speaking with one voice here in the country, and that's going to be important for the United Nations to hear that voice. It's going to be important for the world to hear that voice. All of us recognize military option is not the first choice. But disarming this man is, because he faces a true threat to the United States. And we've just got to work together to get something done.
Q: Mr. President, increasingly, investment fund managers are saying that the prospect of war with Iraq has contributed to the third-quarter performance this year, the worst since the crash in 1987. Are you concerned, first of all, about the shrinking investment and retirement portfolios for Americans? And do you think the U.S. economy is strong enough to withstand a war with Iraq, should we end up in war in that region?
THE PRESIDENT: Of course, I haven't made up my mind we're going to war with Iraq. I've made up my mind we need to disarm the man.
Secondly, yes, I think the U.S. economy is strong. Obviously, there's some -- some rough spots in our economy. But we'll deal with them. Interest rates are low, inflation's low, productivity's high. This great country is going to recover. And, yes, we're strong enough to handle the challenges ahead.
Q: Mr. President, the Permanent Five of the Security Council are meeting as you speak, and France is holding fast to its position of wanting a two-stage resolution. Are you willing to modify your position, sir, and come in line with France's position, in the spirit of cooperation, to achieve a tough U.N. resolution?
THE PRESIDENT: What I won't accept is something that allows Saddam Hussein to continue to lie, deceive the world. He's been doing that for 11 years. For 11 years, he's told the United Nations Security Council, don't worry, I accept your resolution; then he doesn't follow through. And I'm just not going to accept something that is weak. It is not worth it. It's -- the United Nations must show its backbone. And we will work with members of the Security Council to put a little calcium there, put calcium in the backbone, so this organization is able to more likely keep the peace as we go down the road.
Q: Are you suggesting the French proposal is weak?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm suggesting that the same old stuff isn't going to work, John. And we won't accept the status quo. There needs to be a strong new resolution in order for us to make it clear to the world -- and to Saddam Hussein, more importantly -- that you must disarm.
And I look forward to looking at all their proposals. Just like we're dealing with everybody concerned, we will listen to points of view. But the final bottom line has got to be a very strong resolution, so that we don't fall into the same trap we have done for the last 11 years, which is nothing happens.
Saddam Hussein has thumbed his nose at the world. He's a threat to the neighborhood. He's a threat to Israel. He's a threat to the United States of America. And we're just going to have to deal with him. And the best way to deal with him is for the world to rise up and say, you disarm, and we'll disarm you. And if not -- if, at the very end of the day, nothing happens -- the United States, along with others, will act.
END 10:32 A.M. EDT