For Immediate Release
March 17, 2003
"All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end."
- President George W. Bush, March 17, 2003
Events in Iraq Have Now Reached the Final Days of Decision. the Iraqi Regime has used diplomacy as a ploy. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi
regime have failed because we are not dealing with peaceful men.
The Iraqi regime continues to conceal some of the most lethal
weapons ever devised. It has used weapons of mass destruction. It has a history of reckless aggression and a deep hatred for America and our friends. And it
has aided terrorists, including al-Qaida. Using chemical, biological, or one
day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, terrorists could kill
thousands, or more.
The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or
invite this threat, but we will do everything to defeat it. Under UN
Resolutions 678 and 687 - both still in effect - we are authorized to use force in
ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a question of authority;
it is a question of will.
On November 8th, the Security Council unanimously passed
Resolution 1441, finding Iraq in material breach and vowing serious consequences if
Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm. Today, no nation claims that Iraq
Some permanent members of the Security Council announced they will
veto any resolution that compels disarmament. The Security Council has not
lived up to its responsibilities - so we will rise to ours.
In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have delivered
messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq, so that disarmament can proceed
Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their
refusal to do so will result in military conflict.
In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against
neighbors...no more poison factories...no more executions of dissidents...no more
torture chambers and rape rooms.
Iraqi military units will receive clear instructions on how they
can avoid being attacked. I urge them: If war comes, do not fight for a
dying regime that is not worth your own life. Do not destroy oil wells, a
source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey use weapons of mass
Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people
can know every measure has been taken to avoid war - and every measure will be
taken to win it.
If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a
deadly foe until the end. In desperation, he and terrorist groups might try to
conduct terrorist operations.
We are acting to protect our homeland. Should enemies strike our
country, they would be attempting to shift our attention with panic, and weaken
our morale with fear. In this, they would fail. We are acting now because
the risks of inaction would be far greater.
The greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence,
and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace. Free
nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent. America
and our allies accept that responsibility.