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William Jefferson Clinton started the Iraq war over Weapons Of MassDestruction (WMD's for you libtards.)
CLINTON: Good evening.
Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike
military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by
British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons programs and its military
capacity to threaten its neighbors.
Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United
States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle
East and around the world.
Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or
the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.
I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous
recommendation of my national security team, to use force in
Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.
Six weeks ago, Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer
cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors called
UNSCOM. They are highly professional experts from dozens of
countries. Their job is to oversee the elimination of Iraq's
capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass
destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild
The inspectors undertook this mission first 7.5 years ago at the
end of the Gulf War when Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its
arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.
The international community had good reason to set this
requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction
and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big
difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly.
Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a
decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against
civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi
Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy,
but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in
The international community had little doubt then, and I have no
doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these
terrible weapons again.
The United States has patiently worked to preserve UNSCOM as
Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the
inspectors. On occasion, we've had to threaten military force,
and Saddam has backed down.
Faced with Saddam's latest act of defiance in late October, we
built intensive diplomatic pressure on Iraq backed by
overwhelming military force in the region. The UN Security
Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam's actions and to
demand that he immediately come into compliance.
Eight Arab nations -- Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman -- warned that
Iraq alone would bear responsibility for the consequences of
defying the UN.
When Saddam still failed to comply, we prepared to act
militarily. It was only then at the last possible moment that
Iraq backed down. It pledged to the UN that it had made, and I
quote, a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation
with the weapons inspectors.
I decided then to call off the attack with our airplanes already
in the air because Saddam had given in to our demands. I
concluded then that the right thing to do was to use restraint
and give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to
I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation
meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq's own
commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great
Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to
cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay,
diplomacy or warning.
Now over the past three weeks, the UN weapons inspectors have
carried out their plan for testing Iraq's cooperation. The
testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM's
chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to UN Secretary-
The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.
In four out of the five categories set forth, Iraq has failed to
cooperate. Indeed, it actually has placed new restrictions on
the inspectors. Here are some of the particulars.
Iraq repeatedly blocked UNSCOM from inspecting suspect sites.
For example, it shut off access to the headquarters of its
ruling party and said it will deny access to the party's other
offices, even though UN resolutions make no exception for them
and UNSCOM has inspected them in the past.
Iraq repeatedly restricted UNSCOM's ability to obtain necessary
evidence. For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM's effort to
photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program.
It tried to stop an UNSCOM biological weapons team from
videotaping a site and photocopying documents and prevented
Iraqi personnel from answering UNSCOM's questions.
Prior to the inspection of another site, Iraq actually emptied
out the building, removing not just documents but even the
furniture and the equipment.
Iraq has failed to turn over virtually all the documents
requested by the inspectors. Indeed, we know that Iraq ordered
the destruction of weapons-related documents in anticipation of
an UNSCOM inspection.
So Iraq has abused its final chance.
As the UNSCOM reports concludes, and again I quote, "Iraq's
conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the
fields of disarmament.
"In light of this experience, and in the absence of full
cooperation by Iraq, it must regrettably be recorded again that
the commission is not able to conduct the work mandated to it by
the Security Council with respect to Iraq's prohibited weapons
In short, the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay
in Iraq, their work would be a sham.
Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of
the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the
This situation presents a clear and present danger to the
stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people
everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last
chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam
has failed to seize the chance.
And so we had to act and act now.
Let me explain why.
First, without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to
retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear
weapons programs in months, not years.
Second, if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and
get away with it, he would conclude that the international
community -- led by the United States -- has simply lost its
will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his
arsenal of destruction, and someday -- make no mistake -- he
will use it again as he has in the past.
Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a
chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the
credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be
destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the
inspection system that controls his weapons of mass destruction
program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force
that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.
That is why, on the unanimous recommendation of my national
security team -- including the vice president, the secretary of
defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the
secretary of state and the national security adviser -- I have
ordered a strong, sustained series of air strikes against Iraq.
They are designed to degrade Saddam's capacity to develop and
deliver weapons of mass destruction, and to degrade his ability
to threaten his neighbors.
At the same time, we are delivering a powerful message to
Saddam. If you act recklessly, you will pay a heavy price. We
acted today because, in the judgment of my military advisers, a
swift response would provide the most surprise and the least
opportunity for Saddam to prepare.
If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman
Butler's report, we would have given Saddam more time to
disperse his forces and protect his weapons.
Also, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this weekend. For
us to initiate military action during Ramadan would be
profoundly offensive to the Muslim world and, therefore, would
damage our relations with Arab countries and the progress we
have made in the Middle East.
That is something we wanted very much to avoid without giving
Iraq's a month's head start to prepare for potential action
Finally, our allies, including Prime Minister Tony Blair of
Great Britain, concurred that now is the time to strike. I hope
Saddam will come into cooperation with the inspection system now
and comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
But we have to be prepared that he will not, and we must deal
with the very real danger he poses.
So we will pursue a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its
weapons of mass destruction and work toward the day when Iraq
has a government worthy of its people.
First, we must be prepared to use force again if Saddam takes
threatening actions, such as trying to reconstitute his weapons
of mass destruction or their delivery systems, threatening his
neighbors, challenging allied aircraft over Iraq or moving
against his own Kurdish citizens.
The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual
use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam's weapons of
mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent
another Gulf War.
Second, so long as Iraq remains out of compliance, we will work
with the international community to maintain and enforce
economic sanctions. Sanctions have cost Saddam more than $120
billion -- resources that would have been used to rebuild his
military. The sanctions system allows Iraq to sell oil for food,
for medicine, for other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi
We have no quarrel with them. But without the sanctions, we
would see the oil-for-food program become oil-for-tanks,
resulting in a greater threat to Iraq's neighbors and less food
for its people.
The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he
threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region,
the security of the world.
The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new
Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its
neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people.
Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will
strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi
opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently.
The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American
forces are placed in harm's way, we risk the loss of life. And
while our strikes are focused on Iraq's military capabilities,
there will be unintended Iraqi casualties.
Indeed, in the past, Saddam has intentionally placed Iraqi
civilians in harm's way in a cynical bid to sway international
We must be prepared for these realities. At the same time,
Saddam should have absolutely no doubt if he lashes out at his
neighbors, we will respond forcefully.
Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against
the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to
respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam
will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own
And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction.
He will deploy them, and he will use them.
Because we're acting today, it is less likely that we will face
these dangers in the future.
Let me close by addressing one other issue. Saddam Hussein and
the other enemies of peace may have thought that the serious
debate currently before the House of Representatives would
distract Americans or weaken our resolve to face him down.
But once more, the United States has proven that although we are
never eager to use force, when we must act in America's vital
interests, we will do so.
In the century we're leaving, America has often made the
difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in
the new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a
future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong
against the enemies of peace.
Tonight, the United States is doing just that. May God bless and
protect the brave men and women who are carrying out this vital
mission and their families. And may God bless America.
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