Pentagon, March 20, 2003On Monday night, President
George W. Bush, our Commander in Chief delivered an ultimatum to
Saddam Hussein: to leave Iraq within 48 hours. Refusal to do so
will result in military conflict. In rejecting the Presidents
ultimatum, the Iraqi regime has chosen war over peaceful disarmament.
Saddam Husseins regime will be now removed from power -- and
the Iraqi people will be liberated.
You are the men and women who will deliver on the Presidents
pledge. As you and coalition forces fulfill the mission youve
been assigned, know that you will carry the thoughts and prayers
of the American people with you into battle.
We fully recognize that lives are at stake -- American, coalition,
and Iraqi; military and civilian. War is a last resort, to be undertaken
only after every other alternative has been tried.
For twelve years, the international community sought to disarm
Iraq peacefully. We have tried economic sanctions, inspections,
and diplomacy -- all have failed. The Iraqi regime repeatedly refused
As the President said, the Iraqi regime is a grave and gathering
danger. With each passing day, Saddam Hussein advances his arsenal
of weapons of mass destruction, and could pass them along to terrorists.
If he is allowed to do so, the result could be the deaths not of
3,000 people, as on September 11th, but 30,000 or 300,000 or more
Our responsibility -- your mission -- is to prevent that from happening
and eliminate the Iraqi regime as a threat.
You are the best trained, strongest, and most capable military
in the world. We have full confidence in your ability, your courage
and your dedication to our country.
As you embark on this mission, know that you are not alone. Our
coalition includes dozens of countries that are helping in a variety
of different ways. You will fight alongside the forces of such stalwart
friends as Australia, Great Britain and many others.
You may face great challenges and dangers. Wars have their surprises.
The most difficult step a President can make is the decision to
send the Armed Forces of our nation into battle.
When I returned to the Pentagon after serving here a quarter century
ago, I wrote a series of guidelines to help guide my thinking regarding
the use of force. They included these questions:
- Is there a good reason to go to war?
- Have we engaged all instruments of national power in search of a peaceful solution?
- Is the objective achievable?
- Have we set forth clear goals?
- Does the objective merit risking American lives?
- Have we made available all the resources and military capabilities needed to achieve victory?
- Have we invested the effort and political capital to explain the need for action and to marshal and sustain public support?
- Have we been honest -- with ourselves and with the world -- about the risks of action, but also about the less obvious risks of inaction?
The President has made the case for Iraq clear. He has set forth what is at
stake, and invested the diplomatic and political effort needed to
exhaust all options short of war. We are at the point at which the
risk of not acting is too great to wait longer. The answers are
clear. It is essential to world peace and our security that we act
against the regime of Saddam Hussein.
As you prepare -- know that this war is necessary, it is just,
and that you have the resources and commitment you need to achieve
victory. You have the strong support of your Commander in Chief,
of the Congress and of the American people.
I thank you for all you do for our country. May God bless you,
and keep you, and guide you in the days ahead.