For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 29, 2003
President Discusses Iraqi Freedom Progress in Radio Address
Radio Address by the President to the Nation
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I welcomed Prime Minister Tony Blair to Camp David, where we discussed the progress being made in the war to disarm Iraq, end the dictatorship, and liberate the Iraqi people. Thanks to our fighting forces, the regime that once terrorized all of Iraq now controls a small portion of that country. American and coalition troops have continued a steady advance, and are now less than 50 miles from Baghdad.
In recent days, we have cleared mines from the water and taken control of a key port city, to allow humanitarian aid to begin flowing into the country. We have secured more than 600 oil wells and have begun putting out the few oil well fires set by the enemy. Our efforts to protect the wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people are paying off.
And we have prevented the dictator from launching missiles from key sites in western Iraq. We are now fighting the most desperate units of the dictator's army. The fighting is fierce and we do not know its duration, yet we know the outcome of this battle: The Iraqi regime will be disarmed and removed from power. Iraq will be free.
In the last week the world has seen firsthand the cruel nature of a dying regime. In areas still under its control, the regime continues its rule by terror. Prisoners of war have been brutalized and executed. Iraqis who refuse to fight for the regime are being murdered. An Iraqi woman was hanged for waving at coalition troops. Some in the Iraqi military have pretended to surrender, then opened fire on coalition forces that showed them mercy.
Given the nature of this regime, we expect such war crimes, but we will not excuse them. War criminals will be hunted relentlessly and judged severely.
In the last week, the world has also seen the nature of the young men and women who fight on our behalf. They are showing kindness and respect to the Iraqi people. They are going to extraordinary lengths to spare the lives of the innocent. Our forces are delivering food and water to grateful Iraqi citizens in Safwan and Umm Qasr. The contrast could not be greater between the honorable conduct of our liberating force and the criminal acts of the enemy.
Every atrocity has confirmed the justice and urgency of our cause. Against this enemy, we will accept no outcome but complete and final victory. To meet this objective, we must give our armed services the support and resources they require. I have asked Congress for a nearly $75 billion wartime supplemental appropriations bill. This funding would provide fuel for ships, aircraft, and tanks, supplies for our troops in the theater of operations, and new high-tech munitions to replace the ones we have used in the war. The supplemental would also provide funds to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq, and to help protect the American homeland in this time of high alert. I hope the Congress will act quickly to pass this essential measure.
The people who serve in the military are giving their best to this country. We have the responsibility to give them our full support as they fight for the liberty of an oppressed people, for the security of the United States, and for the peace of the world.
Thank you for listening.