As the United States prepares to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, President George W. Bush has spoken directly to Iraq's military -- and to the Iraqi people.
In an address broadcast around the world, Mr. Bush said:
"It is too late for Saddam Hussein to remain in power. It is not too late for the Iraqi military to act with honor and protect your country by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services, do not fight for a dying regime that isn't worth your own life."
"All Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning," said President Bush. "In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say 'I was just following orders.' "
Mr. Bush also spoke directly to the Iraqi people. "The military campaign will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you," he said. "As [the] coalition takes away [the regime's] power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free."
"In a free Iraq," Mr. Bush said, "there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."
Unlike Saddam Hussein, the United States believes the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty. As President Bush said, "When the dictator has departed, [the Iraqi people] can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation."