Hussein given 48 hours
Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2003
In a speech to the American public, and the world, President George W. Bush issued Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein one final ultimatum - leave the country within 48 hours, or the United States and its allies will remove Hussein by force.
In his address, Bush said, "the world has engaged in 12 years of diplomacy. We have passed more than a dozen resolutions in the United Nations Security Council. We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the disarmament of Iraq. Our good faith has not been returned. The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage."
The President said efforts to disarm Iraq peacefully have failed because, "we are not dealing peaceful men," and that United States intelligence reports, as well as reports from other countries have shown that Iraq continues to hold weapons of mass destruction and, as Bush said, "conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," and it has already used weapons against its own people and neighboring countries.
Bush also added that Hussein and his government has links to terrorists who have already attacked the United States.
"The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda," Bush said. "The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other."
President Bush said the United States, nor any other nation, and performed any actions that deserved the threat of terrorism, but that the U.S. and its allies will end the threat before it continues any further.
"Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed," Bush said, referring to Hussein and terrorist organizations.
Bush said America had tried to resolve the situation peacefully, but since Iraq continued to disobey UN resolutions, the time for a peaceful solution had come to an end, and that Hussein and his sons "must leave Iraq within 48 hours" in order to avert war.
"The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours," he said, regarding it is the will of the world for Hussein and his regime to leave immediately.
In a statement directed at the Iraqi people, available to many through a translated radio broadcast, Bush told them that any military campaign would not be directed at them, but instead against the "lawless men who rule your country
The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."
Bush said it is too late for Hussein to remain head of the Iraqi government, and that it is not too late for Iraq's military to act peacefully and allow coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
"I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services, if war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own life," President Bush told the Iraqi citizens. "In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people.
It will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders.'"
Following the speech, several members of Alabama's Congressional delegation commented on President Bush's speech.
"In this post-September 11th world. We can no longer wait for our enemies to strike first," said U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby in response to the president's address to the nation. "The president is right - we must take action in Iraq. Saddam Hussein and his regime pose an immediate danger to the United States and our allies. He is in possession of weapons of mass destruction - biological and chemical - and he is steps away from developing nuclear capacities.
"Either we fight him today, on our own terms, or we fight him later, on his terms and with nuclear arms. Unless he is removed from power, he will remain a threat to the entire world. Every moment we delay allows him to grow stronger.
"We must not hesitate in our efforts to protect the American people."
Congressman Terry Everett issued the following statement in response to the President's address to the Nation:
"Tonight, President Bush made one of the most important speeches of his Presidency.
He informed the nation and the world that diplomacy has failed to force Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction. He issued an ultimatum to Saddam to disarm and leave Iraq or face certain military action.
"I am fully supportive of the President's decision and agree that diplomacy has reached an end.
It is regrettable that the French have used their veto threat to prevent a majority vote in the U.N. Security Council.
I do not believe that Saddam will voluntarily surrender his control of Iraq.
It will be only a matter of days before military action is taken.
"It is very likely that Saddam will try to launch preemptive attacks against his neighbors and I understand that he has already armed his troops with chemical shells. Saddam has been given a final warning. There will be no more Iraqi deceit and delay.
The next step - war or peaceful resolution - is entirely up to Saddam Hussein."
Alabama's junior Senator, Jeff Sessions said, "The United States has given Saddam Hussein every opportunity to avoid this day. Our superb military is making every effort to minimize our casualties and to avoid civilian casualties. The Saddam Hussein regime is deceitful, brutal and a danger to the world. He will be removed."