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Iraqi lives, freedom ‘matter greatly,’ Bush says in listing Iraq relief plans

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush outlined ways the United States and its coalition stand ready to help the citizens of a liberated Iraq when he spoke at the American Enterprise Institute annual dinner in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26.

“America’s interests in security and America’s belief in liberty both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq,” Bush said. “The first to benefit from a free Iraq would be the Iraqi people themselves. Today they live in scarcity and fear under a dictator who has brought them nothing but war and misery and torture. Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein, but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us.”

Bush also reiterated his stance on the need to confront the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons, a danger that cannot be ignored or wished away.

“On a September morning, threats that had gathered for years, in secret and far way, led to murder in our country on a massive scale. As a result, we must look at security in a new way because our country is a battlefield in the first war of the 21st century,” Bush said. “We learned a lesson: The dangers of our time must be confronted actively and forcefully before we see them again in our skies and in our cities.”

Recognizing that bringing stability and unity to a free Iraq will not be easy, Bush said that is no excuse for leaving the Iraqi regime’s torture chambers and poison labs in operation.

“Any future the Iraqi people choose for themselves will be better than the nightmare world that Saddam Hussein has chosen for them,” he said.

Among the plans Bush mentioned for a liberated Iraq:

— The United States and coalition forces will deliver medicine to the sick and are now moving into place nearly 3 million emergency rations to feed the hungry.

— Liberation forces will ensure that Iraq’s 55,000 food distribution sites, operating under the Oil for Food program, are stocked and open as soon as possible. The United States and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to the U.N. High Commission on Refugees and to such groups as the World Food Program and UNICEF to provide emergency aid to the Iraqi people.

— The United States will lead in carrying out the urgent and dangerous work of destroying chemical and biological weapons.

— U.S. troops will seek to protect Iraq’s natural resources from sabotage by a dying regime and ensure those resources are used for the benefit of the owners — the Iraqi people.

— The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq’s new government but will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another.

“It is presumptuous and insulting to suggest that a whole region of the world — or the one-fifth of humanity that is Muslim — is somehow untouched by the most basic aspirations of life,” Bush said. “Human cultures can be vastly different. Yet the human heart desires the same good things everywhere on earth.

“In our desire to be safe from brutal and bullying oppression, human beings are the same. In our desire to care for our children and give them a better life, we are the same. For these fundamental reasons, freedom and democracy will always and everywhere have greater appeal than the slogans of hatred and the tactics of terror.”

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