Presidential Radio Address - 21 June 2003
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Ten weeks have passed since the fall of the Iraqi regime. Since that time, our work in Iraq has focused on two goals. First, we are working to make Iraq secure for its citizens and our military. Second, we are working to improve the lives of the Iraqi people after three decades of tyranny and oppression.
Making Iraq secure is vitally important for both Iraqi citizens and our own forces. The men and women of our military face a continuing risk of danger and sacrifice in Iraq. Dangerous pockets of the old regime remain loyal to it and they, along with their terrorist allies, are behind deadly attacks designed to kill and intimidate coalition forces and innocent Iraqis.
Our military is acting decisively against these threats. In Operation Peninsula Strike and Operation Desert Scorpion, our forces have targeted Baath party loyalists and terrorist organizations. In Baghdad, more than 28,000 American combat forces and military police are enforcing the law and arresting criminals. We are also training Iraqis to begin policing their own cities.
As we establish order and justice in Iraq, we also continue to pursue Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Military and intelligence officials are interviewing scientists with knowledge of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and are poring over hundreds of thousands of documents.
For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world. And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned. Yet all who know the dictator's history agree that he possessed chemical and biological weapons and that he used chemical weapons in the past.
The intelligence services of many nations concluded that he had illegal weapons and the regime refused to provide evidence they had been destroyed. We are determined to discover the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes.
To date, the United States has provided Iraq with more than $700 million in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. This month the World Food Program is distributing food rations to about 25 million Iraqis. America and our partners are also repairing water treatment plants to provide more clean water. Each week, through our efforts, more electricity is made available to more people throughout the country. And after years of neglect, Iraq's 4.2 million children under the age of five are receiving vaccinations against diseases such as polio, measles and tuberculosis.
Iraq's long-term success also depends on economic development. Our administrator in Iraq has announced a $100 million fund to pay Iraqis to repair buildings and utilities. Billions of dollars taken from Iraqis by a corrupt regime have been recovered and will be spent on reconstruction projects. Iraq is already in the process of selling oil on world markets, which will bring in much needed revenue to help the Iraqi people. This week the port at Umm Qasar opened to commercial traffic, and Baghdad International Airport is expected to reopen next month.
For the first time in over a decade, Iraq will soon be open to the world. And the influence of progress in Iraq will be felt throughout the Middle East. Over time, a free government in Iraq will demonstrate that liberty can flourish in that region.
American service-members continue to risk their lives to ensure the liberation of Iraq. I'm grateful for their service, and so are the Iraqi people. Many Iraqis are experiencing the jobs and responsibilities of freedom for the first time in their lives. And they are unafraid. As one Iraqi man said, "We are ready to rebuild our country." For the people of free Iraq, the road ahead holds great challenges. Yet at every turn, they will have friendship and support from the United States of America.
Thank you for listening.