If Saddam Hussein does not disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction as required by the United Nations, the United States and other willing nations will disarm Iraq. In the words of President George W. Bush, "If war is forced upon us, we will liberate the people of Iraq from a cruel and violent dictator."
Iraq was required to relinquish its weapons of mass destruction and to end all programs to develop such weapons under the terms of the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But Iraq did not comply. Last November, the U-N Security Council unanimously adopted resolution fourteen-forty-one, which gave Iraq one last chance to disarm peacefully or “face serious consequences.”
For twelve years, Saddam Hussein has failed to account for a vast arsenal of deadly biological and chemical weapons. For twelve years, his regime has worked to conceal its weapons materials and to hide or intimidate key Iraqi scientists. For twelve years, Saddam has continued to try to obtain the equipment needed to produce chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
And then there is Iraq's connection to terrorists. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document-forgery experts to work with al-Qaida. Iraq has provided al-Qaida with chemical and biological weapons training. The great danger is that Saddam Hussein might pass on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who would not hesitate to use them.
The question of war or peace is up to Saddam Hussein. His choice is clear -- immediately disarm or face the consequences. "Military action is this nation's last option," Mr. Bush said, but "trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not an option. Denial and endless delay in the face of growing danger is not an option."
"America and our allies," said President Bush, "are called once again to defend the peace against an aggressive tyrant, and we accept this responsibility. We don't believe freedom and liberty are America's gift to the world; we believe they are the Almighty's gift to mankind, and for the oppressed people of Iraq, people whose lives we care about, the day of freedom is drawing near."