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Bush steadfast on disarming Iraq, faith initiatives in State of Union

WASHINGTON (BP)–In a speech filled with religious imagery, President Bush remained steadfast in his threat of military action against Saddam Hussein while delivering sweeping proposals on key components of his compassionate conservative agenda during the Jan. 28 State of the Union address.

“For so many in our country — the homeless, the fatherless, the addicted — the need is great,” Bush said of his goal to apply the compassion of America to the greatest problems facing the nation. “Yet there is power — wonder-working power — in the goodness, and idealism, and faith of the American people.”

The president spoke forcefully and somberly as he told Americans he will defend the nation against terrorist threats.

“Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option,” the president said.

Bush announced that he was sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations Feb. 5 to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world. The president stood determined in the face of criticism from Germany and France.

“We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him,” Bush said.

The president said Powell will “present information and intelligence” to buttress White House contentions that Hussein had deceived United Nations inspectors and that he had secret links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

The core of his argument rested on the questions that Hans Blix, the co-leader of the United Nations inspection team, said on Jan. 27 were still unanswered. The president spoke of 25,000 liters of anthrax — “enough doses to kill several million people” — that remain unaccounted for. He asked for evidence that 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, which causes respiratory failure, has been destroyed.

The president did, however, leave open the possibility that Hussein could avoid war by immediately complying with the U.N. weapons inspectors.

“The dictator of Iraq is not disarming,” Bush said. “To the contrary, he is deceiving.”

In response to critics of America’s military force, the president said the United States would provide humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people.

“We exercise power without conquest,” he said, “and sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.”

Some of the president’s most passionate remarks were directed at military personnel serving in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

“In those hours, the success of our cause will depend on you,” Bush said. “Your training has prepared you. Your honor will guide you. You believe in America and America believes in you.”

In his closing remarks, the president sounded themes of faith and honor, reminding Americans that they “are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world, and to ourselves.

“Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation,” Bush continued. “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.

“We Americans have faith in ourselves — but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.”

Bush opened his speech with an emphasis on domestic issues — including a ban on partial-birth abortions and support for his faith-based initiatives.

“I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of birth, and end the practice of partial-birth abortion,” Bush said. “And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity and pass a law against all human cloning.”

Bush also addressed healthcare, volunteerism and additional funding for AIDS research.

“We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, other presidents and other generations,” the president said. “We will confront them with focus, and clarity, and courage.”

His address had several surprises, among them a call for a $15 billion program — including $10 billion in new money — to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. In a televised interview, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the senate’s only physician, called the announcement a welcomed surprise.

Bush proposed the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — a work of mercy to the people of Africa. “This comprehensive plan will prevent 7 million new AIDS infections, treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs, and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS,” the president said.

Bush said his “first goal” was to revive the economy, which after showing signs of recovery last year appears to be stalling again. He said the best way to do this is passage of his $670 billion tax cut plan, including its provision to end taxation of most stock dividends.

The president also promised to dedicate $400 billion over the next decade to overhauling the Medicare system and adding to it prescription drug coverage for some retirees.

He said his budget plan for next year, which he will submit to Congress on Feb. 3, would ask for $6 billion for a new program to produce more and better vaccines and treatments against bio-terrorism.

The president proposed a new $600 million program to help an additional 300,000 Americans receive drug treatment over the next three years. He recognized Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, La., for their efforts in drug treatment.

“A man in the program said, ‘God does miracles in people’s lives, and you never think it could be you.’ Tonight, let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this message of hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you.”

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes