Bush Signs Resolution Authorizing U.S. Force Against Saddam
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2002 With a few pen strokes this morning, the chief executive set the nation on course for possibly another major military confrontation with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
President George W. Bush signs H.J. Resolution 114 authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell, center, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, right, also attended the signing. White House photo by Paul Morse.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Sporting a vivid crimson tie, President Bush signed Resolution 114, passed last week in bipartisan votes in both houses of Congress. The resolution authorizes the use of U.S. military power to make Iraq comply with U.N. resolutions it signed in 1991 to end the Persian Gulf War.
The U.S. resolution "symbolizes the united purpose of our nation, expresses the considered judgment of the Congress, and marks an important event in the life of America," Bush said at the White House ceremony.
Bush noted Iraq has steadfastly refused to jettison its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction programs. He called the Iraqi regime "a serious and growing threat to peace."
Under Saddam, Iraq has had "a history of mass murder, of striking other nations without warning, of intense hatred for America and of contempt for the demands of the civilized world," the president said. Saddam's regime, he said, has biological and chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, it promotes international terror, and it seeks nuclear weapons.
While Congress has now authorized the use of force to subdue Saddam, Bush emphasized he has not yet ordered the use of force.
"I hope the use of force will not become necessary," the president pointed out. However, he said confronting the threat of Saddam's Iraq now is necessary by whatever means.
"Either the Iraqi regime will give up its weapons of mass destruction or, for the sake of peace, the United States will lead a global coalition to disarm that regime," Bush explained.
Any doubters of American determination and resolve in this matter would be unwise to test it, Bush pointed out.
Action must be taken soon or Iraq will achieve greater destructive power, Bush noted. Under that scenario, other nations in the Middle East would face potential Iraqi blackmail, intimidation or attack, he said.
Ensuing instability in the Middle East -- due to Iraqi machinations, backed by its arms and terrorist-group ties -- would be felt in Europe and beyond and threaten the peace and security of many nations, Bush said.
The world can't live in denial of the Iraqi threat, Bush pointed out, while he urged the United Nations to press the world's case against Saddam.
"The time has arrived, once again, for the United Nations to live up to the purposes of its founding, to protect our common security," Bush said. "The time has arrived once again for free nations to face up to our global responsibilities and confront a gathering danger."
Iraq under Saddam has defied U.N. resolutions to give up its WMDs and to disarm for 4,199 days, Bush noted. U.N. weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq in 1998, and Bush pointed out that the Iraqis had "blocked effective inspections of so-called presidential sites -- actually 12 square miles with hundreds of structures where sensitive materials could be hidden."
Saddam's regime, he added, also forged documents, disabled surveillance cameras and developed mobile weapons facilities to keep ahead of any (weapons) inspector, Bush noted.
"For Iraq, the old weapons inspection process was little more than a game in which cheating was never punished," Bush said. "That game is over. The ploys and promises of the Iraqi regime no longer matter. The regime is free to continue saying whatever it chooses. Its fate depends entirely on what it actually does."
America's goal in confronting Saddam is not just to limit Iraq's violations of Security Council resolutions or to slow down its weapons program.
"Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America," Bush said. "Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action." To avoid military action, Iraq is obliged to prove its compliance with all the world's demands, he added.
Bush said Iraq must provide an "accurate and full and complete accounting for all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons materials, as well as missiles and other means of delivery anywhere in Iraq." Failure to do so, he noted, would be a "further indication of the Iraqi regime's bad faith and aggressive intent."
Weapons inspectors, he added, must have access to Iraqi sites at any time "without pre-clearance, without delay, without exceptions." Inspectors must be permitted to operate under new, effective rules, he emphasized, and the Iraqi regime must accept those rules "without qualification or negotiation."
To verify compliance, the Iraqis "must allow witnesses to its illegal activities to be interviewed outside of the country," Bush said. These witnesses, he continued, must be able to bring their entire families with them so they're beyond Saddam's reach.
Besides declaring and destroying all its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, in accordance with U.N. Security Council demands, must end its support for terrorism, Bush continued. As part of U.N. demands, Iraq must stop persecuting its civilian population, he said.
Bush said Iraq must also stop all illicit trade outside the oil-for- food program and account for all Gulf War personnel, including Navy pilot Cmdr. Michael Speicher, whose fate is unknown. Speicher's F/A-18 Hornet fighter was shot down by enemy fire during the first day of the air war over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991.
"We're working to build the broadest possible coalition to enforce the demands of the world on the Iraqi regime," Bush said.
He reminded the Iraqi people that the United States "has never sought to dominate, has never sought to conquer. We've always sought to liberate and to free. Our desire is to help Iraqi citizens find the blessings of liberty within their own culture and their own traditions."
He said the Iraqis cannot flourish under a dictator who oppresses and threatens them. With Saddam gone, by whatever means, "America, along with many other nations, will share a responsibility to help Iraq reform and prosper," Bush pledged.
As the U.S. military's commander in chief, Bush said he realizes the risks that war with Iraq pose to America and to service members who would have to face those risks. Yet, he emphasized, those risks will only increase with time if Saddam isn't confronted now.
Ignoring Saddam today would create a false sense of peace leading to a future in which millions live or die at the discretion of a brutal dictator. "That's not true peace, and we won't accept it," Bush said.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against America put the country on notice that it's not immune from the dangers and hatreds of the world, he said. The attacks have caused the nation to resolve to oppose every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden tragedy to the American people," Bush asserted.
"This nation will not live at the mercy of any foreign power or plot. Confronting grave dangers is the surest path to peace and security," he said. "This is the expectation of the American people and the decision of their elected representatives.
"I thank the Congress for a thorough debate and an overwhelming statement of support," he continued. "The broad resolve of our government is now clear to all, clear to everyone to see. We will defend our nation and lead others in defending the peace."