Bush to Form 'Vast Coalition' Against Iraqi Regime
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush intends to put together a vast coalition of countries that understand the threat of Saddam Hussein.
"Military option is my last choice, not my first," the president said Thursday. "But Saddam has got to understand -- the United Nations must know that the will of this country is strong."
Bush talked about the economy and jobs, the need for terrorist insurance, and the war against terrorism in an address to Hispanic leaders at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "War on terror is more than just al Qaeda," the president stressed. "The war on terror has to deal with nations who have terrorized their own people and who have intention(s) to terrorize us."
Bush said he has decided to deal with Iraq within the international community. He has called on other nations to join the United States in the effort to disarm Iraq.
"My intent, of course, is for the United Nations to do its job," Bush said. "I think it will make it easier for us to keep the peace." The president said he wants the world to understand that its Saddam Hussein's obligation to disarm like he said he would.
Bush noted that both House and Senate leaders have expressed their support for a strong bipartisan congressional resolution against Iraq. He said these leaders have joined with the administration to send a clear signal that when it comes to defending the nation's freedom, the United States of America will stand united and strong.
"The choice is up to the United Nations to show its resolve," Bush said. "The choice is up to Saddam Hussein to fulfill his word. And if neither of them acts, the United States, in deliberate fashion, will lead a coalition to take away the world's worst weapons from one of the world's worst leaders."
Along with the threat from Iraq, Bush said, America continues to confront the threat posed by global terrorist groups. "There's an enemy which still hates America," he said, "and they want to hit us. That's the reality."
He said terrorists hate America for its freedoms, its diversity and the value Americans place on every life. "They are willing to take innocent life and at the same time, hijack a great religion," Bush said. "And so long as they are out there, we must do everything we can to defend the homeland."
The president stressed the need for a new Department of Homeland Security to consolidate the more than 100 federal agencies involved with homeland defense. Bush said he needs the authority and flexibility necessary to succeed in the critical mission.
"We've got to have the ability to put the right people at the right place at the right time in order to protect America," he said. "We can't be constrained by work rules that prevent us from doing a better job."
The best way to protect America, Bush said, is to hunt down the killers. The war against terrorism involves an international manhunt to bring the terrorists to justice one by one. So far, thousands have been hauled in, he noted, including one who was going to be the 20th hijacker.
"He's no longer available for action with the enemy," Bush said.
Calling on Congress to get a defense appropriations bill on his desk before they recess, the president noted that he's asked for the largest increase in defense spending since President Reagan was president. His goal is to provide America's troops the best pay, training and equipment possible.
"And I want to send a message to the world," Bush said. "When it comes to the defense of our freedoms, there's no artificial time line. When it comes to defending America, civilization, (and) the ability for our children to grow up in a free society, it doesn't matter how long it takes. This great nation will stay the course."