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2/20/03 - BUSH ON LIBERATION, NOT CONQUEST - 2003-02-21

The al-Qaida attacks of September 11th, 2001, showed what terrorists could do with four airplanes as weapons. And as President George W. Bush made clear, “We’re not going to wait and see what they can do with even deadlier weapons.”

The gravest danger today is outlaw regimes that seek or possess nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, or mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies.

Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi tyranny is such a regime. Twelve years ago, he agreed to disarm as a condition of suspending the Persian Gulf War. Three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave him a final chance. But as Mr. Bush said, “Saddam Hussein is not disarming; he is deceiving.”

At the U-N on February 5th, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the facts. Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons programs, and the means to use them. He has a biological weapons program, and the means to deliver those weapons. He has secretly attempted to obtain materials needed to produce nuclear weapons. And Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida.

“Military force is always [America’s] last option,” said President Bush. “Yet if force becomes necessary to disarm Iraq and enforce the will of the United Nations, if force becomes necessary to secure [the U.S.] and to keep the peace, America will act deliberately. . .[and] decisively.”

President Bush pointed out that America will be “acting with friends and allies. . . . Many nations have offered to provide forces or other support to disarm the Iraqi regime.” And Mr. Bush also expressed optimism “that the U-N Security Council will rise to its responsibilities, and this time ensure enforcement of what it told Saddam Hussein he must do.”

“If there is a conflict,” said Mr. Bush, “American forces will act. . .in the highest moral traditions of [the U.S.] Our military will be fighting the oppressors of Iraq, not the people of Iraq.” The U.S. is already putting plans and supplies into place so that food and other humanitarian relief will flow quickly to the Iraqi people. “America’s military,” said President Bush, “fights not to conquer, but to liberate.”