Bush Says Raid Sends Message to Hussein
By Gerry Gilmore and Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2001 President Bush said Feb. 22 that recent coalition air attacks against Iraq sent a strong message to Saddam Hussein that “this administration will remain engaged” in Southwest Asia.
Bush, speaking at his first White House press conference, also said the Feb. 16 raid was designed to get Saddam Hussein’s attention and to degrade his capacity to harm coalition pilots patrolling the no-fly zones.
Bush said Secretary of State Army Gen. (Ret.) Colin Powell would address the issue of Iraq during an upcoming Middle East trip. “The Secretary of State is going to listen to our allies as to how to best effect a policy, the primary goal of which will be to say to Saddam Hussein, we won’t tolerate you developing weapons of mass destruction, and we expect you to leave your neighbors alone,” Bush said.
Bush said Powell would review the sanctions policy with Gulf states. He said sanctions that work are sanctions that “reflect the collective will of the region.”
Bush said he is investigating whether Chinese workers are helping Iraq construct military facilities. “It’s troubling that [the Chinese would] be helping Iraq develop a system that will endanger our pilots,” Bush said. While not proven, evidence indicates the Chinese may be helping lay fiber optic cable that links Iraqi air defense assets together. Bush said it has risen to the level that the United States will discuss the situation with the Chinese.
News reports indicate U.S. munitions missed several radars in the attacks around Baghdad. Reporters asked Bush about whether the mission was successful. “My job as Commander- in-Chief is to get input from the commanders in the field, and we will do everything needed to protect our pilots, to protect the men and women who wear the uniform,” Bush said.
At the Pentagon, spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley would not comment on what munitions did not work, but did say the raid was effective. “Of the various radars that were struck on Friday as part of that overall strike, we have seen only two of them be turned back on subsequent to the strike on Friday,” Quigley said.
He said he does not know whether the radars are not working because of the strike or because the Iraqis are fearful of another strike. In either case, it is immaterial. “I'm not so sure that it matters, at the end of the day,” he said. “If my goal is to protect the coalition air crews from being shot at as they patrol the no-fly zone, then whether or not we have destroyed a system or they simply don't use it, my objective has been accomplished.”