Bush: A Free Iraq Will Lead to a More Secure United States
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 30, 2003 A free and democratic Iraq will show other countries in the region that "prosperity and dignity are found in representative government and free institutions," President Bush said at the White House this morning.
"They are not found in tyranny, resentment and support for terrorism," Bush said during a press conference on a wide range of topics, including progress in the war on terrorism.
In the long run, expanding democracy in the Middle East will bring about a more secure America. "As freedom advances, those societies will be less likely to produce ideologies of hatred and produce recruits for terror," the president said.
To reach these ends, coalition forces in Iraq have gone on the offensive "in an unrelenting campaign that is bringing daily results," he said.
Bush noted that Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay didn't escape the July 22 raid that aimed to capture or kill them. "And neither will other members of that despicable regime," he said.
Taking leaders of the former regime out of commission is one step in assuring the Iraqi people that democracy is theirs for the taking and in enlisting their help in finding evidence of weapons of mass destruction. "As the blanket of fear is lifted (and) as Iraqis gain confidence that the former regime is gone forever, we will gain more cooperation in our search for the truth in Iraq," Bush said.
He explained that there are teams of investigators "hard at work" in Iraq to uncover such evidence. "We know that Saddam Hussein produced and possessed chemical and biological weapons, and he has used chemical weapons," Bush said. "We know that. He also spent years hiding his weapons of mass destruction programs from the world."
Speaking on the hunt for Hussein, the president said he doesn't know how close American forces are to catching the former dictator, "but we're on the hunt." He remarked that had reporters asked him the day before Uday and Qusay were killed how close forces were to catching them, the answer would have been the same.
"We're making progress, slowly but surely making progress bringing those who terrorize their fellow citizens to justice," he said.
Regarding alleged ties between Hussein's government and the al Qaeda terrorist network, Bush said, "It's going to take time for us to gather the evidence and analyze the mounds of evidence literally the miles of documents that we have uncovered."
He added that he's "confident the truth will come out."
The president also spoke of progress the Iraqi people have made in moving toward their own form of representative government. "The Iraqi Governing Council is meeting regularly. Local police forces are now being trained. And citizens are being recruited into a new Iraqi military, a military that will protect the Iraqi people instead of intimidating them," Bush said. "Soon, representatives of the people will begin drafting a new constitution, and free elections will follow."
Still, he cautioned patience from those who would like to see Iraq transformed quickly. "I remind some of my friends that it took (the United States) awhile to go from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution," Bush said. "Even in our own experiment with democracy, it didn't happen overnight. I never would have expected Thomas Jefferson to emerge in Iraq in a 90-day period."
Bush also assured the people of Iraq and Afghanistan that the United States will stand with them through this transition period.
"We'll keep our word to the peoples of those nations," he said. "We'll wage war on terror against every enemy who plots against our forces and our people. I will never assume the restraint and good will of dangerous enemies when lives of our American citizens are at risk."