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Bush Addresses Troops

Aired January 3, 2003 - 12:05   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, right now, in Texas, the president of the United States, the commander in chief, is addressing the troops at Fort Hood. Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... fight this war on many fronts with many tools. Our intelligence operations are tracking the terrorists. We're sharing intelligence with other countries that share our desire for peace. Our allies are keeping the peace and helping us keep the peace in Afghanistan.

We're hunting the terrorists on every continent. See, they're in over 60 different countries.

We've got a vast coalition of people bound by this principal: "Either you're with us or you're with the enemy. Either you're with those who love freedom, or you're with those who hate innocent life." Our coalition is strong. And we're keeping it strong.

And we're on the hunt. We're chasing them down one by one.

And as well, we're confronting the threat of outlaw regimes who seek weapons of mass destruction. Different circumstances require different strategies, from the pressure of diplomacy to the prospect of force. Yet in every case the resolve of our nation is the same: We must and we will protect the American people and our friends and allies from catastrophic violence, wherever the source, whatever the threat.

In the case of North Korea, the world must continue to speak with one voice to turn that regime away from its nuclear ambitions.

In the case of Iraq, the world has already spoken with one voice. The Iraqi regime has a duty under Security Council resolutions to declare and destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction.

That's what the world has said. That's what the United States expects from Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi regime is a great threat to the United States. The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American and to threats (sic) who are friends of America.

Why do I say that? Well, first of all, the leader in Iraq has publicly proclaimed his hatred for our country and what we stand for. The Iraqi regime has a record, a record of torturing their own people, a brutal record, and a record of reckless aggression against those in their neighborhood.

The Iraqi regime has used weapons of mass destruction. They not only have weapons of mass destruction, they used weapons of mass destruction. They use weapons of mass destruction on people in other countries. They have used weapons of mass destruction on their own people. That's why I say Iraq is a threat, a real threat.

Four years ago, U.N. inspectors concluded that Iraq had failed to account for large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapon; weapons capable of killing millions. In last month's declaration, Iraq, again, failed to account for those weapons.

The Iraqi dictator did not even attempt to submit a credible declaration. We can now be certain that he holds the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council and its resolutions in contempt. He really doesn't care about the opinion of mankind. Saddam Hussein was given a path to peace; thus far he has chosen the path of defiance.

The fate of the Iraqi regime is being determined by its own decisions. Saddam Hussein knows precisely what he can and must do to avoid conflict.

We have made that clear. The world has spoken with one voice.

And even now he could end his defiance and dramatically change directions. He has that choice to make.

We certainly prefer voluntary compliance by Iraq. You see, the use of military force is this nation's last option, its last choice.

Yet if force becomes necessary to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and enforce the will of the United Nations, if force becomes necessary to secure our country and to keep the peace, America will act deliberately, America will act decisively and America will prevail because we've got the finest military in the world.


We are ready. We're prepared. And should the United States be compelled to act, our troops will be acting in the finest traditions of America. Should we be forced to act, should Saddam Hussein seals his fate by refusing to disarm, by ignoring the opinion of the world, you'll be fighting not to conquer anybody, but to liberate people.

See, we believe in freedom. No matter what their oppressors may say, the people of Iraq have no love for tyranny. Like all human beings, they desire and they deserve to live in liberty and to live in dignity.

America seeks more than the defeat of terror. We seek the advance of human freedom in a world at peace. That is the charge history has given us, and that is the charge we will keep.

In crucial hours, the success of our cause will depend upon you. As members of our military, you serve this nation's ideals and you demonstrate those ideals in your code and in your character. As commander in chief, I have come to know the men and women who wear America's uniform. I have seen your love of country and your devotion to a cause larger than yourself. I have seen your discipline, your idealism and your sense of honor.

I know that every order I give can bring a cost. I also know, without a doubt, that every order I give will be carried out with skill and unselfish courage.

Some crucial hours may lie ahead. We know the challenges and the dangers we face. Yet this generation of Americans is ready. We accept the burden of leadership. We act in the cause of peace and freedom. And in that cause we will prevail.

Thank you for your service. May God bless you, may God bless your families and may God bless America.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Rousing response there from the troops gathered there at Fort Hood, Texas, largest military base in the United States. The president getting an official tour of the troops today and of some of their equipment, along with the first lady at his side right now, and giving them a good sense of the kinds of things they'd like to hear to get ready for possible invasion of Iraq.

Obviously, those troops might play a part.


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