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Radio Address by the President - March 1

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 1, 2003

Radio Address by the President to the Nation

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. America is determined to enforce the demands of the United Nations Security Council by confronting the grave and growing danger of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. This dictator will not be allowed to intimidate and blackmail the civilized world, or to supply his terrible weapons to terrorist groups, who would not hesitate to use them against us. The safety of the American people depends on ending this threat.

But America's cause is always larger than America's security. We also stand for the advance of freedom and opportunity and hope. The lives and freedom of the Iraqi people matter little to Saddam Hussein, but they matter greatly to us.

Saddam Hussein has a long history of brutal crimes, especially in time of war -- even against his own citizens. If conflict comes, he could target civilians or place them inside military facilities. He could encourage ethnic violence. He could destroy natural resources. Or, worst of all, he could use his weapons of mass destruction.

In order to minimize the suffering of Iraq's people, the United States and our coalition partners stand ready to provide vital help. We will deliver medicine to the sick, and make sure that Iraq's 55,000 food distribution sites, operating with supplies from the oil-for-food program, are stocked and open as soon a possible. We are stockpiling relief supplies, such as blankets and water containers, for one million people. We are moving into place nearly three million emergency rations to feed the hungry. The United States and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and to such groups as the World Food Program and UNICEF, so they will be ready to provide emergency aid to the Iraqi people.

We will also lead in carrying out the urgent and dangerous work of destroying chemical and biological weapons. We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos, or settle scores, or threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq. And we will seek to protect Iraq's natural resources from sabotage by a dying regime, and ensure they are used for the benefit of Iraq's own people.

The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected.

Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own. We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more. America has made and kept this kind of commitment before -- in the peace that followed World War II. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies; we left constitutions and parliaments. We did not leave behind permanent foes; we found new friends and allies.

There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. They were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They, too, are mistaken. The nation of Iraq -- with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people -- is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom.

It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. Yet the security of our nation and the hopes of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time.

Thank you for listening.

END

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