For Immediate Release
February 25, 2003
President's Remarks to Reporters Following National Economic Council Meeting 2/25/03
Click here for full transcript.
Q Mr. President, what would it take at this point to avoid a
war with Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: Full disarmament.
Q Any particular stand on that, sir? I mean, what --
THE PRESIDENT: There's only one thing, that's full disarmament.
The man has been told to disarm. For the sake of peace, he must
completely disarm. I suspect we'll see him playing games; that he
will -- the world will say disarm, and he will all of a sudden find a
weapon that he claimed he didn't have.
Q Happened this morning, as a matter of fact.
THE PRESIDENT: I suspect that he will try to fool the world one
more time. After all, he has had a history of doing that for 12
years. He's been successful at gaming the system. And our attitude is
it's now time for him to fully disarm. And we expect the Security
Council to honor its word by insisting that Saddam disarm. Now is the
Q Mr. President, one of the uncertainties about the economy
is the possibility of a war. Do you have any idea how much a war might
cost and how it might affect our economy here at home?
THE PRESIDENT: David, there is all kinds of estimates about the
cost of war. But the risk of doing nothing, the risk of the security
of this country being jeopardized at the hands of a madman with weapons
of mass destruction far exceeds the risks of any action we may be
forced to take.
There are people who worry about the future. I understand that.
And I worry about the future. I worry about a future in which Saddam
Hussein gets to blackmail and/or attack. I worry about a future in
which terrorist organizations are fueled and funded by a Saddam
Hussein. And that's why we're bringing this issue to a head.
Q Will the outcome of any U.N. Security Council vote have any
effect on whether or not we go to war in Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, we'd like to have a positive
vote. That's why we've submitted a Security Council resolution, along
with Great Britain and Spain. But as I said all along, it would be
helpful and useful, but I don't believe we need a second resolution.
Saddam Hussein hasn't disarmed. He may play like he's going to disarm,
but he hasn't disarmed. And for the sake of peace and the security of
the American people, he must disarm.
Q Sir, how big and exactly what kind of sacrifices will be
asked of the U.S. troops, their families, the American public should
you decide to go to war?
THE PRESIDENT: Any time you put a troop into harm's way, that in
itself is a sacrifice. First of all -- and that's why war is my last
choice. That's why I've said all along I would hope that the world
would come together to convince Saddam to make the decision to disarm.
Perhaps the biggest risk in the theater, if we were to commit our
troops, is Saddam, himself. He shows no regard for human life in his
own country. After all, he's gassed them, he's used the weapons of
mass destruction on his own people that he now claims he doesn't have.
He tortures people. He brutalizes them. He could care less about
human condition inside of Iraq.
And so I think one of the biggest dangers we face -- if we go to
war -- is how he treats innocent life. And it is important for the
Iraqi leadership and Iraqi generals to clearly understand that if they
take innocent life, if they destroy infrastructure, they will be held
to account as war criminals.
END 11:21 A.M. EST