The Saddam Hussein regime that once brutalized all of Iraq now controls only a shrinking portion of the country. But the regime’s enforcers continue their brutal tactics.
There are reports that prisoners-of-war captured by Iraqi forces have been brutalized and killed. Iraqis who refuse to fight for Saddam Hussein have been murdered. Some Iraqi soldiers have pretended to surrender and then opened fire on coalition forces.
Given the nature of the Saddam Hussein regime, the U.S. and its allies expect its members to commit such war crimes and atrocities, but the coalition will not excuse them. As President George W. Bush said, “War criminals will be hunted relentlessly and judged severely”:
“Every atrocity has confirmed the justice and urgency of our cause. Against this enemy, we will accept no outcome but complete and final victory.”
The U.S.-led coalition has cleared mines to allow ships to bring in humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people. The coalition, said President Bush, is safeguarding for the Iraqi people more than six-hundred oil wells and has begun to put out the few oil well fires set by those still loyal to the Saddam Hussein regime:
“Our efforts to protect the wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people are paying off. And we have prevented the dictator from launching missiles from key sites in western Iraq. We are now fighting the most desperate units of the dictator’s army. The fighting is fierce and we do not know its duration, yet we know the outcome of this battle: The Iraqi regime will be disarmed and removed from power. Iraq will be free.”
The U.S. has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq’s new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. However, the U.S. is committed to ensuring that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government of Iraq. And all citizens must have their rights protected.