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3/25/03 - OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - 2003-03-25

The United States-led coalition of more than forty countries is in the beginning phases of a campaign to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Following the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein had twelve years to destroy his weapons of mass destruction. He failed to do so. Now, said President George W. Bush, the mission “is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people:”

“The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

The U.S. and coalition forces are facing enemies who have no regard for the conventions of war or rules of morality. Iraq humiliates prisoners of war by having them interrogated on television. Iraqi officials have also placed troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent Iraqi men, women, and children as human shields. But as Mr. Bush said, “coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm.”

The war to disarm Saddam Hussein and free Iraq will not be easy and will not be without loss.

“A campaign on harsh terrain in a vast country could be longer and more difficult than some have predicted. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable, and free country will require our sustained commitment. Yet, whatever is required of us, we will carry out all the duties we have accepted.”

The U.S. and its many allies entered this war reluctantly, yet with a clear and firm purpose. “Now that conflict has come,” said President Bush, “the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. This will not be a campaign of half-measures...and we will accept no outcome but victory.”