Bush Tells America: Delaying War 'Not Peace, But Pretense'
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 6, 2003 U.N. weapons inspectors need only answer a single question when they go before the Security Council in New York March 7: "Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed?"
The answer, President Bush said this evening, has to be, "No."
During a prime-time national address from the White House, Bush said the nation has "arrived at an important moment" in efforts to force Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to disarm.
He called Iraq's effort to destroy a handful of Al Samoud 2 missiles nothing more than "a public show."
"Our intelligence shows that even as he is destroying these few missiles, he has ordered the continued production of the very same type of missiles," Bush added.
He said Iraqi operatives are moving biological and chemical agents to different locations every 12 to 24 hours or hiding them in vehicles in residential neighborhoods to avoid their detection by U.N. inspectors.
Even though Iraqi scientists have submitted for interviews by the inspectors in recent days, Bush said, they are being forced to wear recording devices and to speak in "bugged" hotel rooms.
"These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming," the president said. "These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade."
Bush repeated his contention that more time and more inspectors will do no good if Iraq is not cooperating and willingly disarming.
"Token gestures are not acceptable," he said. "The only acceptable outcome is the one already defined by a unanimous vote of the Security Council: total disarmament."
He noted that even 200,000 American troops poised on his borders have not convinced Hussein to give up his weapons.
Bush again tied Iraq to international terrorism, saying Saddam Hussein provides "funding and training and safe haven" to terrorists.
"The attacks of September the 11th, 2001, showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes," Bush said. "We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states will do with weapons of mass destruction."
He said it's important that the American people understand it's as important to deal with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as it is to fight al Qaeda.
The president warned he would not leave the American people "at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons."
He repeated America's pledge to do what is possible to protect civilian lives, provide humanitarian aid, and help the Iraqi citizens form a representative government.
"The form and leadership of that government is for the Iraqi people to choose," Bush said. "Anything they choose will be better than the misery and torture and murder they have known under Saddam Hussein."
The president thanked the men and women in America's armed forces and their families. "I know their deployment so far from home is causing hardship for many military families," he said.
In a message directly to troops around the world, Bush said, "We appreciate your commitment, your idealism and your sacrifice. We support you, and we know that if peace must be defended, you are ready."
The president said he understands that the possibility of war creates anxiety in the American public, but that it's his job to protect that public.
"Nobody likes war," he said. "The only thing I can do is assure the loved ones of those who wear our uniform that if we have to go to war, if war is upon us because Saddam Hussein has made that choice, we will have the best equipment available for our troops, the best plan available for victory, and we will respect innocent life in Iraq.
"The risk of doing nothing," Bush added, "the risk of hoping Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow inaction will make the world safer is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people."