Presidential Radio Address - 27 September 2003
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Earlier this week, I spoke to the United Nations -- which has become, like our country, a target of terrorism. In the past month, terrorists have made two bombing attacks on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing Iraqi citizens, U.N. officials, and international aid workers. On Tuesday, I conveyed the sympathy of our country for the losses of the U.N., and the gratitude of our country for the relief efforts of the U.N. in Iraq. I also expressed America's determination to fight and win the war on terror -- for the safety of our own people and for the benefit of all mankind.
The world is safer today because, in Afghanistan, our broad coalition destroyed the training camps of terrorists and removed the brutal regime that sponsored terror. The world is safer today because we continue to hunt down al Qaeda and its terrorist allies, and have captured or killed nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders and key facilitators. The world is safer today because, in Iraq, our coalition ended a regime that cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. And for the safety of the people of Iraq and of all free nations, our forces are now conducting a systematic campaign to defeat holdouts of the old regime and other terrorists who have joined them.
In the struggle between terrorist killers and peaceful nations, there is no neutral ground. All nations must join in confronting this threat where it arises -- before the terrorists can inflict even greater harm and suffering. And all nations should stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build a future based on freedom and democracy.
Our coalition is helping the Iraqi people to build a secure, hopeful, and self-governing nation which will stand as an example of freedom to all the Middle East. We are rebuilding more than a thousand schools, supplying and reopening hospitals, rehabilitating power plants, water and sanitation facilities, bridges and airports. We are training Iraqi police, border guards, and a new army, so that the Iraqi people can assume full responsibility for their own security. Iraq now has its own Governing Council, has appointed interim government ministries, and is moving toward elections. Iraq's new leaders are showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires -- and also the courage. Yet every young democracy needs the help of friends. America is providing that help to Iraq, and all nations of goodwill should do their part, as well.
Our goal is a free Iraq, where the Iraqi people are responsible for their own affairs. We want Iraq's governmental institutions to be strong, and to stand the test of time. So I called on the United Nations to take up vital responsibilities in this effort. America is now working with friends and allies on a new Security Council resolution which will expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq. As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution, training civil servants, and conducting free and fair elections. Many U.N. members -- from the Philippines to Poland and now Germany -- have expressed their commitment to helping build a democratic and stable Iraq.
The stakes in Iraq are high, for the Middle East and beyond. If freedom and progress falter in the Middle East, that region will continue to export violence that takes lives in America and around the world. If democracy and tolerance and peace advance in that region, it will undermine the bitterness and resentment that feed terrorism. The terrorists understand this -- so they have chosen to fight against order and liberty in Iraq. They must, and they will, be defeated. And I am confident that more nations will rally to the side of the Iraqi people and help them to build a free and peaceful nation.
Thank you for listening.