President Bush Addresses the Nation
The Oval Office
10:16 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and
coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to
disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave
On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets
of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage
war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted
campaign. More than 35 countries are giving crucial support -- from
the use of naval and air bases, to help with intelligence and
logistics, to the deployment of combat units. Every nation in this
coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honor of serving in
our common defense.
To all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces now in
the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an
oppressed people now depend on you. That trust is well placed.
The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery.
The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of
the American military. In this conflict, America faces an enemy who
has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality. Saddam
Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment in civilian areas,
attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for his
own military -- a final atrocity against his people.
I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces
will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A
campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could
be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis
achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained
We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great
civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no
ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that
country to its own people.
I know that the families of our military are praying that all those
who serve will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans are
praying with you for the safety of your loved ones and for the
protection of the innocent. For your sacrifice, you have the gratitude
and respect of the American people. And you can know that our forces
will be coming home as soon as their work is done.
Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose
is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies
will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace
with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our
Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have
to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on
the streets of our cities.
Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is
to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign
of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory.
My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will
be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the
work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to
others and we will prevail.