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3/4/03 - U.S. WILL PROVIDE AID TO IRAQIS - 2003-03-04

If Saddam Hussein refuses to get rid of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as required by the United Nations, a U.S.-led coalition will do it for him. But this will be a war of liberation, not occupation. As President George W. Bush has said, “Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it, and the security of all nations requires it.”

Moreover, said President Bush on February 26th, the coalition stands ready “to help the citizens of a liberated Iraq. We will deliver medicine to the sick, and we are now moving into place nearly three-million emergency rations to feed the hungry.” In addition to food and medicine, the U.S. is stockpiling blankets, water containers, and other relief items. Much of this aid material is already in the region, and more is on the way.

To distribute the aid, the U.S. will work with the U-N and other international agencies, as well as such non-governmental groups as the Red Cross and Red Crescent. In cases where these groups are not yet ready, the U.S. will provide direct aid until they can take over. To coordinate aid activities, the U.S. is training a civilian disaster response team. The team will soon have representatives in Kuwait, Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar.

The U.S. will also work to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, which has been mismanaged and neglected for years by the Saddam Hussein regime. In addition to addressing the immediate need for medical care, early efforts will include restoring electricity and clean water. A critical part of the reconstruction effort will be to ensure that Iraq’s oil and other natural resources are protected from sabotage and used for the benefit of their rightful owners -- the Iraqi people.

Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including the U.S. But as President Bush stressed, “we will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more.” The U.S. will not seek to dictate to the people of Iraq what form their new government should take. That choice, said President Bush, “belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet, we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected.”