For Immediate Release
February 13, 2003
Presidential Remarks 2/13/03
Click here for full transcript.
Today the gravest danger in the war on terror -- the gravest danger
facing America and the world -- is outlaw regimes that seek and possess
nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. These regimes could use such
weapons for blackmail, terror, mass murder. They could also give or
sell those weapons to terrorist allies who would use them without the
least bit of hesitation. That's the reality of the world we live in,
and that's what we're going to use every ounce of our power to defeat.
We have an obligation to protect America and the Americans. We
understand our responsibility, and jointly we'll do just that -- we'll
protect America and our friends and allies from these thugs.
The civilized world has awakened to the growing danger posed by the
Iraqi regime. Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein agreed to disarm as a
condition of suspending the Gulf War. Three months ago, the United
Nations Security Council gave him a final chance to meet that
obligation. Saddam Hussein is not disarming, he's deceiving.
America has laid out the facts for the world to see. Saddam Hussein
has chemical weapons programs, and the means to use them. Saddam
Hussein has a biological weapons program, and the means to deliver
those weapons. He has secretly attempted to obtain materials needed to
produce nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists,
including members of al Qaeda. He harbors a senior al Qaeda leader who
ordered the assassination of an American diplomat -- the same man who
plotted against Spain and Italy in the Republic of Georgia, and Russia,
and Great Britain, and France, and Germany. The Iraqi regime is engaged
in a massive campaign to conceal its weapons of mass destruction, and
its ties to terrorists. And that deception continues today.
At any moment during the last 97 days -- and during the last 12
years -- Saddam Hussein could have completely and immediately disarmed
himself. Instead, he's used all this time to build and to hide
weapons. He must be hoping that by stalling he'll buy himself another
12 years. He's wrong. (Applause.) This country will not accept a
serious and mounting threat to our nation, our people, and our friends
and allies. (Applause.)
Military force is always this nation's last option. Yet if force
becomes necessary to disarm Iraq and enforce the will of the United
Nations, if force becomes necessary to secure our country and to keep
the peace, America will act deliberately, America will act decisively,
and America will act victoriously with the world's greatest military.
America will also be acting with friends and allies. An
overwhelming majority of NATO members oppose the threat of Iraq, and
understand that tough choices may be necessary to keep the peace. Many
nations have offered to provide forces or other support to disarm the
Iraqi regime. Every nation of the Gulf Cooperation Council has agreed
to help defend and protect Kuwait. And now the world's most important
multilateral body faces a decision.
The decision is this for the United Nations: When you say something
does it mean anything? You've got to decide, if you lay down a
resolution, does it mean anything? The United Nations Security Council
can now decide whether or not it has the resolve to enforce it's
I'm optimistic that the U.N. Security Council will rise to its
responsibilities, and this time ensure enforcement of what it told
Saddam Hussein he must do. See, I believe when it's all said and done,
free nations will not allow the United Nations to fade into history as
an ineffective, irrelevant debating society. (Applause.) I'm optimistic
that free nations will show backbone and courage in the face of true
threats to peace and freedom.
If there is a conflict, American forces will act in the honorable
traditions of our military, and in the highest moral traditions of this
country. Our military will be fighting the oppressors of Iraq, not the
people of Iraq. (Applause.) America's military fights not to conquer,
but to liberate. (Applause.)
In case of conflict, this great nation is already putting plans and
supplies into place, so that food and other humanitarian relief will
flow quickly to the Iraqi people. You see, we seek more than the defeat
of terror; we seek an advance of freedom and a world at peace.
(Applause.) That is the charge that history has given us -- and that is
a charge we will keep. (Applause.)
In crucial hours, the success of our cause will depend on the men
and women of our military. You serve this nation's ideals, and you live
out those ideals in your code and in your character. I've seen your
love of country, and your devotion to a cause larger than yourself.
I've seen your discipline, your idealism, and your sense of honor. I
know that every mission you are given will be carried out with skill
and unselfish courage.
The first time the USS Enterprise was ever deployed in a crisis was
October 1962, when President John F. Kennedy ordered it to quarantine
Cuba, which was arming itself with nuclear missiles aimed at our
nation. President Kennedy understood that dangers to freedom had to be
confronted early and decisively. He said of the Cold War, "These are
extraordinary times. We face an extraordinary challenge. Our strength,
as well as our convictions have imposed upon this nation the role of
leader in freedom's cause."
Today, at the dawn of a new century, America is still the leader in
freedom's cause. (Applause.) And our generation is called to a central
role in this nation's history. As Americans, we can be confident: The
American people are strong and resolute. The American Armed Forces are
brave and ready. And in freedom's cause, we will prevail. (Applause.)
May God bless you all. (Applause.) May God bless our family -- your
families -- and may God continue to bless the United States of
END 12:20 P.M. EST