Posted 2:15p.m. Feb. 27
by Carolyn Polinsky
U-WIRE Washington Bureau
President Bush set out his vision of a “liberated Iraq” in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday night, saying that bringing about a postwar nation without Saddam Hussein would bring hope to the people of the Middle East region and set the stage for a democratic Palestinian state. He declared that “the safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat.”
“We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed,” Bush said.
“Hussein is a tyrant with ties to terrorist organizations that have weapons that cannot be ignored or wished away,” Bush said. “The dangers of our time must be confronted actively and forcefully, before we see them again in our skies and in our cities.”
Regarding the war’s aftermath, he said the United States and its allies would “stand ready to help the citizens of a liberated Iraq.”
Bush said the U.S. and its allies would deliver medicine to the sick and the government is currently moving three million emergency rations there to feed the hungry.
He promised that Iraq’s 55,000 food distribution sites would be stocked and opened as soon as possible and said the U.S. and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to groups that will give emergency aid to the Iraqi people.
“We meet here during a crucial period in the history of our nation, and of the civilized world. Part of that history was written by others; the rest will be written by us. America’s interests in security, and America’s belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq.”
The U.S. would neither choose the precise form of Iraq’s new government nor allow one dictator to replace another, but would remain in Iraq as long as necessary to ensure peace, he said.
America has acted similarly in rebuilding other postwar nations, he said. Iraq would be like Japan and Germany, in finding a way toward democracy after a war.
“A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region,” Bush said.
He opposed the idea that the Muslim culture is somehow different than that of the rest of the world and not open to peace.
A truly democratic Palestinian state could be brought about with “the passing of Saddam Hussein’s regime,” he said, because it “will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers.”
Israel and other Arab states would be expected to support a viable Palestinian state that opposes terrorism. Bush said the United States is committed to helping the two nations to live peacefully side-by-side.
The U.S. president called upon the United Nations to answer the threat of Iraq, using force if necessary, and said one nation alone could not confront the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The United Nations Security Council would be severely weakened if it failed to respond to a resolution declaring Iraq in defiance of the body for continuing to harbor weapons of mass destruction, he said.
The military, Bush added, is ready to fight for liberty in the Middle East, and understands that action could be necessary for the stability of the region and safety of Americans.