For Immediate Release
August 9, 2003
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Friday of this week was the 100th day since the end of major combat operations in Iraq. For America and our coalition partners, these have been 100 days of steady progress and decisive action against the last hold-outs of the former regime. And for the people of Iraq, this has been a period like none other in the country's history, a time of change and rising hopes after decades of tyranny.
Every day we are working to make Iraq more secure. Coalition forces remain on the offensive against the Baath Party loyalists and foreign terrorists who are trying to prevent order and stability. More and more Iraqis are coming forward with specific information as to the whereabouts of these violent thugs, enabling us to carry out raids to round them up and seize stockpiles of weapons.
We are working with Iraqis to establish a new Iraqi army and a new civil defense corps. In the city of Baghdad, 6,000 Iraqi police are patrolling the streets and protecting citizens. More than 20,000 more police are on duty in other towns and cities across Iraq.
Every day, Iraq is making progress in rebuilding its economy. In Baghdad, the banks have opened, and other banks will open across the country in the coming months. This fall, new bank notes will be issued, replacing the old ones bearing the former dictator's image. And Iraq's energy industry is once again serving the interests of the Iraqi people. More than a million barrels of crude oil and over 2 million gallons of gasoline are being produced daily.
Every day, Iraq draws closer to the free and functioning society its people were long denied. We're recovering hundreds of millions of dollars from the old regime and are using those funds to pay civil servants. Teachers, health care workers, police and others performing essential services are also receiving salaries from our coalition. In fact, teacher pay is four times higher than under the old regime.
Life is returning to normal for the Iraqi people -- hospitals and universities have opened, and in many places, water and other utility services are reaching pre-war levels. Across Iraq, nearly all schoolchildren have completed their exams. And for the first time in many years, a free press is at work in Iraq. Across that country today, more than 150 newspapers are publishing regularly.
Most important of all, the Iraqi people are taking daily steps toward democratic government. The Iraqi Governing Council, whose 25 members represent all of that diverse country, is meeting regularly, naming ministers and drawing up a budget for the country. Soon, representatives of the people will begin drafting a new constitution and free elections will follow.
At the local level, all major Iraqi cities and most towns have municipal councils. Freedom is taking hold in that country, as people gain confidence that the former regime is never coming back.
One hundred days is not enough time to undue the terrible legacy of Saddam Hussein. There is difficult and dangerous work ahead that requires time and patience. Yet, all Americans can be proud of what our military and provisional authorities have achieved in Iraq.
Our country and the nations of the Middle East are now safer. We're keeping our word to the Iraqi people by helping them to make their country an example of democracy and prosperity throughout the region. This long-term undertaking is vital to peace in that region and to the security of the United States. Our coalition and the people of Iraq have made remarkable progress in a short time, and we will complete the great work we have begun.
Thank you for listening.