September 8, 2003
President Bush's Address to the
is a transcript of President Bush's address to the nation last night, as
recorded by The New York Times:
Good evening. I have asked for this
time to keep you informed of America's actions in the war on terror.
Nearly two years ago, following
deadly attacks on our country, we began a systematic campaign against
terrorism. These months have been a time of new responsibilities and sacrifice
and national resolve and great progress.
America and a broad coalition acted
first in Afghanistan, by destroying the training camps of terror and removing
the regime that harbored Al Qaeda. In a series of raids and actions around the
world, nearly two-thirds of Al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or
killed, and we continue on Al Qaeda's trail. We have exposed terrorist front
groups, seized terrorist accounts, taken new measures to protect our homeland,
and uncovered sleeper cells inside the United States. And we acted in Iraq,
where the former regime sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass
destruction, and for 12 years defied the clear demands of the United Nations
Security Council. Our coalition enforced these international demands in one of
the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history.
For a generation leading up to
September the 11th, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked
innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and
serious response. The terrorists became convinced that free nations were
decadent and weak. And they grew bolder, believing that history was on their
side. Since America put out the fires of September the 11th and mourned our
dead and went to war, history has taken a different turn. We have carried the
fight to the enemy. We are rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization,
not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power.
This work continues. In Iraq, we
are helping the long-suffering people of that country to build a decent and
democratic society at the center of the Middle East. Together we are
transforming — transforming a place of torture chambers and mass graves into a
nation of laws and free institutions. This undertaking is difficult and costly
— yet worthy of our country, and critical to our security.
The Middle East will either become
a place of progress and peace, or it will be an exporter of violence and
terror that takes more lives in America and in other free nations. The triumph
of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan and beyond would be a grave
setback for international terrorism. The terrorists thrive on the support of
tyrants and the resentments of oppressed peoples. When tyrants fall and
resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the
ideologies of terror and turn to the pursuits of peace. Everywhere that
freedom takes hold, terror will retreat.
Our enemies understand this. They
know that a free Iraq will be free of them, free of assassins and torturers
and secret police. They know that as democracy rises in Iraq, all of their
hateful ambitions will fall like the statues of the former dictator. And that
is why, five months after we liberated Iraq, a collection of killers is
desperately trying to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country into
Some of the attackers are former
members of the old Saddam regime, who fled the battlefield and now fight in
the shadows. Some of the attackers are foreign terrorists, who have come to
Iraq to pursue their war on America and other free nations. We cannot be
certain to what extent these groups work together. We do know they have a
common goal: reclaiming Iraq for tyranny.
Most, but not all, of these killers
operate in one area of the country. The attacks you have heard and read about
in the last few weeks have occurred predominantly in the central region of
Iraq, between Baghdad and Tikrit — Saddam Hussein's former stronghold. The
north of Iraq is generally stable and is moving forward with reconstruction
and self-government. The same trends are evident in the south, despite recent
attacks by terrorist groups.
Though their attacks are localized,
the terrorists and Saddam loyalists have done great harm. They have ambushed
American and British service members who stand for freedom and order. They
have killed civilian aid workers of the United Nations who represent the
compassion and generosity of the world. They have bombed the Jordanian
embassy, the symbol of a peaceful Arab country. And last week they murdered a
respected cleric and over 100 Muslims at prayer, bombing a holy shrine and a
symbol of Islam's peaceful teachings.
This violence is directed, not only
against our coalition, but — but against anyone in Iraq who stands for decency
and freedom and progress.
There is more at work in these
attacks than blind rage. The terrorists have a strategic goal. They want us to
leave Iraq before our work is done. They want to shake the will of the
civilized world. In the past, the terrorists have cited the examples of Beirut
and Somalia, claiming that if you inflict harm on Americans, we will run from
a challenge. In this, they are mistaken.
Two years ago, I told the Congress
and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different
kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places. Iraq is now the central
front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there and there they
must be defeated. This will take time and require sacrifice. Yet we will do
what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential
victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation
America has done this kind of work
before. Following World War II, we lifted up the defeated nations of Japan and
Germany, and stood with them as they built representative governments. We
committed years and resources to this cause. And that effort has been repaid
many times over in three generations of friendship and peace. America today
accepts the challenge of helping Iraq in the same spirit, for their sake and
Our strategy in Iraq has three
objectives: destroying the terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations
for a free Iraq and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense
and their own future.
First, we are taking direct action
against the terrorists in the Iraqi theater, which is the surest way to
prevent future attacks on coalition forces and the Iraqi people. We are
staying on the offensive, with a series of precise strikes against enemy
targets increasingly guided by intelligence given to us by Iraqi citizens.
Since the end of major combat
operations, we have conducted raids seizing many caches of enemy weapons and
massive amounts of ammunition, and we have captured or killed hundreds of
Saddam loyalists and terrorists. So far, of the 55 most wanted former Iraqi
leaders, 42 are dead or in custody. We're sending a clear message: Anyone who
seeks to harm our soldiers can know that our soldiers are hunting for them.
Second, we are committed to
expanding international cooperation in the reconstruction and security of
Iraq, just as we are in Afghanistan. Our military commanders in Iraq advise me
that the current number of American troops, nearly 130,000, is appropriate to
their mission. They are joined by over 20,000 service members from 29 other
countries. Two multinational divisions, led by the British and the Poles, are
serving alongside our forces. And in order to share the burden more broadly,
our commanders have requested a third multinational division to serve in Iraq.
Some countries have requested an
explicit authorization of the United Nations Security Council before
committing troops to Iraq. I have directed Secretary of State Colin Powell to
introduce a new Security Council resolution, which would authorize the
creation of a multinational force in Iraq, to be led by America.
I recognize that not all our
friends agreed with our decision to enforce the Security Council resolutions
and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Yet we cannot let past differences
interfere with present duties.
Terrorists in Iraq have attacked
representatives of the civilized world and opposing them must be the cause of
the civilized world. Members of the United Nations now have an opportunity,
and the responsibility, to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes
a free and democratic nation.
Third, we are encouraging the
orderly transfer of sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people. Our
coalition came to Iraq as liberators and we will depart as liberators.
Right now Iraq has its own
Governing Council, comprised of 25 leaders representing Iraq's diverse people.
The Governing Council recently appointed cabinet ministers to run government
departments. Already more than 90 percent of towns and cities have functioning
local governments, which are restoring basic services.
We are helping to train civil
defense forces to keep order and an Iraqi police service to enforce the law, a
facilities protection service, Iraqi border guards to help secure the borders
and a new Iraqi army. In all these roles, there are now some 60,000 Iraqi
citizens under arms, defending the security of their own country, and we are
accelerating the training of more.
Iraq is ready to take the next
steps toward self-government. The Security Council resolution we introduce
will encourage Iraq's Governing Council to submit a plan and a timetable for
the drafting of a constitution and for free elections. From the outset, I have
expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi people to govern themselves.
Now they must rise to the responsibilities of a free people and secure the
blessings of their own liberty.
Our strategy in Iraq will require
new resources. We have conducted a thorough assessment of our military and
reconstruction needs in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan. I will soon submit to
Congress a request for $87 billion. The request will cover ongoing military
and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which we
expect will cost $66 billion over the next year.
This budget request will also
support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their
own nations, after decades of oppression and mismanagement. We will provide
funds to help them improve security. And we will help them to restore basic
services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads and
This effort is essential to the
stability of those nations, and therefore to our own security. Now and in the
future, we will support our troops and we will keep our word to the more than
50 million people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Later this month, Secretary Powell
will meet with representatives of many nations to discuss their financial
contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Next month, he will hold a
similar funding conference for the reconstruction of Iraq. Europe, Japan and
states in the Middle East all will benefit from the success of freedom in
these two countries, and they should contribute to that success.
The people of Iraq are emerging
from a long trial. For them, there will be no going back to the days of the
dictator, to the miseries and humiliation he inflicted on that good country.
For the Middle East and the world, there will be no going back to the days of
fear, when a brutal and aggressive tyrant possessed terrible weapons.
And for America, there will be no
going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001, to false comfort in a
dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the
use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. And the
surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he
lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so
that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities.
The heaviest burdens in our war on
terror fall, as always, on the men and women of our armed forces and our
intelligence services. They have removed gathering threats to America and our
friends, and this nation takes great pride in their incredible achievements.
We are grateful for their skill and courage, and for their acts of decency,
which have shown America's character to the world. We honor the sacrifice of
their families. And we mourn every American who has died so bravely, so far
The Americans who assume great
risks overseas understand the great cause they are in. Not long ago I received
a letter from a captain in the Third Infantry Division in Baghdad. He wrote
about his pride in serving a just cause and about the deep desire of Iraqis
"I see it," he said, "in the eyes
of a hungry people every day here. They are starved for freedom and
opportunity." And he concluded, "I just thought you'd like a note from the
`front lines of freedom.' "
That Army captain, and all of our
men and women serving in the war on terror, are on the front lines of freedom.
And I want each of them to know, your country thanks you and your country
Fellow citizens: We've been tested
these past 24 months and the dangers have not passed. Yet Americans are
responding with courage and confidence. We accept the duties of our
generation. We are active and resolute in our own defense. We are serving in
freedom's cause and that is the cause of all mankind.
Thank you, and may God continue to