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10/13/03 - BUSH ON A FREE IRAQ - 2003-10-14

In Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition is conducting raids against terrorists and holdouts of the Saddam Hussein regime. “And at the same time,” says President George W. Bush, the coalition “is helping to improve the daily lives of the Iraqi people”:

“The old regime built palaces while letting schools decay. So we are rebuilding more than a thousand schools. The old regime starved hospitals of resources. So we have helped to supply and reopen hospitals across Iraq. The old regime built up armies and weapons, while allowing the nation’s infrastructure to crumble. So we are rehabilitating power plants, water and sanitation facilities, bridges and airports.”

The Iraqi people now enjoy a free press. Today, more than one-hundred-sixty newspapers, reflecting a wide variety of opinions, are being published. Radio and television stations are back on the air. Iraq’s telephone network is being restored. Schools are open and Iraqi women now have access to all university courses for the first time.

Now that the Saddam regime is no longer in power, Iraqis are free to practice their religion. Over forty-nine-thousand Iraqi police are on duty throughout the country. Twelve-thousand more Iraqis are in the Facility Protection Service and the Civil Defense Corps.

The primary goal of the coalition in Iraq, says President Bush, “is self-government for the people of Iraq”:

“This process must unfold according to the needs of the Iraqis, neither hurried, nor delayed by the wishes of other parties. Iraq now has a governing council, the first truly representative institution in that country. Iraq’s new leaders are showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires, and they are showing courage.”

As President Bush put it, “The Iraqi people are meeting hardships and challenges...yet their future promises lives of dignity and freedom.”