WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush reiterated his willingness to proceed with force against Iraq regardless of the U.N. Security Council’s final decision during a nationally televised prime-time news conference March 6.
“We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise,” he said. “I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons.”
Bush also said the United States will call for a Security Council vote on a resolution seeking the use of force to disarm Iraq now that Saddam Hussein’s violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 is obvious.
“No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote,” he said. “We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council…. It’s time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.”
But regardless of the outcome of a vote, the president said he is confident the American people understand that when it comes to the United States’ security, if America needs to act, it will act.
“And we really don’t need United Nations approval to do so,” he said. “When it comes to our security, we really don’t need anybody’s permission.”
Bush was adamant about the reality of the threat and his administration’s intention to squelch terrorism wherever it rises, especially in the Iraqi regime.
“My job is to protect America, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” he said. “People can ascribe all kinds of intentions. I swore to protect and defend the Constitution; that’s exactly what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath, and that’s exactly what I am going to do.”
When specifically asked how his faith is guiding him, Bush said his faith sustains him because he prays daily for guidance, wisdom, strength and peace. If the United States commits troops to war, he said he will pray for their safety as well as the safety of innocent Iraqi lives.
“One thing that’s really great about our country,” he said, “is there are thousands of people who pray for me that I’ll never see and be able to thank. But it’s a humbling experience to think that people I will never have met have lifted me and my family up in prayer. And for that I’m grateful…. It’s been a comforting feeling to know that is true.”
During the 52-minute news conference, talk did not sway far from Iraq. No questions concerning Osama bin Laden, homeland security or the economy came from the scripted list of journalists. The only question off the subject of Iraq was about whether the president would change his thinking on North Korea if the nation restarts its plutonium plant. The president responded by saying North Korea is a regional issue, and China, South Korea, Japan and Russia must join the United States and “stand up to their responsibility” to convince Kim Jong-Il that the development of a nuclear arsenal is not in his nation’s interest.
Back on the subject of Iraq, Bush concluded by reminding the nation that the decision of whether the United States goes to war falls on Saddam Hussein.
“It’s Saddam’s choice. He’s the person that can make the choice of war and peace,” Bush said. “Thus far, he’s made the wrong choice. If we have to, for the sake of the security of the American people, for the sake of peace in the world, and for freedom to the Iraqi people, we will disarm Saddam Hussein.”
To view the full transcript of the presidential news conference, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030306-8.html. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WITH FAITH AND CONVICTION.