|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
February 20, 2003
Presidential Remarks 2/20/03
Presidential Remarks from Kennesaw, Georgia
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It's important -- it's very important for our citizens to understand the significant change that took place on September the 11th, 2001. Obviously, it changed a lot of people's lives and we still mourn for the families who lost life. But it used to be that oceans -- we thought oceans could protect us, that we were guarded by the oceans; and that if there was a threat overseas, as a result of the protection from the oceans, we could decide whether to be involved or not. It might affect us overseas, but it couldn't affect us at home. And therefore, we have the luxury of kind of picking and choosing gathering threats.
That changed on September the 11th, 2001. Because the stark reality of 2001 is that America is now a battlefield, that the war has come home. And therefore, this nation must also confront not only shadowy terrorist networks, but the gravest danger in the war on terror, outlaw regimes arming to threaten the peace with weapons of mass destruction.
After Secretary of State Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council, the world knows that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, even though he said he didn't, and that he is not complying with the United Nations demands to destroy them. He is actively deceiving the inspectors. He is actively hiding the weapons. And so the Security Council, earlier on, gave Saddam Hussein one final chance to disarm, and he's throwing that chance away.
If military force becomes necessary to disarm Iraq, this nation, joined by others, will act decisively in a just cause and we will prevail. (Applause.)
Military action is this nation's last option. And let me tell you what's not an option: Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not an option. (Applause.) Denial and endless delay in the face of growing danger is not an option. (Applause.) Leaving the lives and the security of the American people at the mercy of this dictator and his weapons of mass destruction, not an option. (Applause.)
America and our allies are called once again to defend the peace against an aggressive tyrant, and we accept this responsibility. (Applause.)
We defend the security of our country, but our cause is broader. If war is forced upon us, we will liberate the people of Iraq from a cruel and violent dictator. (Applause.) The Iraqi people today are not treated with dignity, but they have a right to live in dignity. The Iraqi people today are not allowed to speak out for freedom, but they have a right to live in freedom. We don't believe freedom and liberty are America's gift to the world; we believe they are the Almighty's gift to mankind. (Applause.) And for the oppressed people of Iraq, people whose lives we care about, the day of freedom is drawing near.
A free Iraq can be a source of hope for all the Middle East. Instead of threatening its neighbors and harboring terrorists, Iraq can be an example of progress and prosperity, in a region that needs both. If we liberate the Iraqi people, they can rest assure that we will help them build a country that is disarmed and peaceful, and united, and free. (Applause.)
The disarmament of Iraq will also demonstrate that free nations have the will and resolve to defend the peace. By defeating this threat, we will show other dictators that the path of aggression will lead to their own ruin. By defeating the threat of Iraq we will show the world -- we will show that the world is able and prepared to meet future dangers wherever they arise.
Our goal is peace. And achieving peace requires resolve and action by free nations. In a more peaceful world, the American people will not live in fear, and the Iraqi people will not live in oppression.
The United States of America, joined by many nations -- by many nations -- is committed to building a world at peace and bringing a better day. There is no question in my mind -- no question in my mind -- that because of the strength of this country, the heart and soul of the American people, the courage of the American people, the determination of the American people, and the values of the American people, that we can have a more peaceful world, a more just society, and a more hopeful America.
May God bless you all. (Applause.)