Just 2 hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets
in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I speak. Ground forces are
This conflict started August 2nd when the dictator of Iraq invaded
a small and helpless neighbor. Kuwait -- a member of the Arab League and
a member of the United Nations -- was crushed; its people, brutalized.
Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait.
Tonight, the battle has been joined.
This military action, taken in accord with United Nations resolutions
and with the consent of the United States Congress, follows months of constant
and virtually endless diplomatic activity on the part of the United Nations,
the United States, and many, many other countries. Arab leaders sought
what became known as an Arab solution, only to conclude that Saddam Hussein
was unwilling to leave Kuwait. Others traveled to Baghdad in a variety
of efforts to restore peace and justice. Our Secretary of State, James
Baker, held an historic meeting in Geneva, only to be totally rebuffed.
This past weekend, in a last-ditch effort, the Secretary-General of the
United Nations went to the Middle East with peace in his heart -- his second
such mission. And he came back from Baghdad with no progress at all in
getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.
Now the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf area have exhausted
all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful resolution -- have no choice
but to drive Saddam from Kuwait by force. We will not fail.
As I report to you, air attacks are underway against
military targets in Iraq. We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein's
nuclear bomb potential. We will also destroy his chemical weapons facilities.
Much of Saddam's artillery and tanks will be destroyed. Our operations
are designed to best protect the lives of all the coalition forces by targeting
Saddam's vast military arsenal. Initial reports from General Schwarzkopf
are that our operations are proceeding according to plan.
Our objectives are clear: Saddam Hussein's forces will leave Kuwait.
The legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored to its rightful place,
and Kuwait will once again be free. Iraq will eventually comply with all
relevant United Nations resolutions, and then, when peace is restored,
it is our hope that Iraq will live as a peaceful and cooperative member
of the family of nations, thus enhancing the security and stability of
Some may ask: Why act now? Why not wait? The answer is clear: The
world could wait no longer. Sanctions, though having some effect, showed
no signs of accomplishing their objective. Sanctions were tried for well
over 5 months, and we and our allies concluded that sanctions alone would
not force Saddam from Kuwait.
While the world waited, Saddam Hussein systematically raped, pillaged,
and plundered a tiny nation, no threat to his own. He subjected the people
of Kuwait to unspeakable atrocities -- and among those maimed and murdered,
While the world waited, Saddam sought to add to the chemical weapons
arsenal he now possesses, an infinitely more dangerous weapon of mass destruction
-- a nuclear weapon. And while the world waited, while the world talked
peace and withdrawal, Saddam Hussein dug in and moved massive forces into
While the world waited, while Saddam stalled, more damage was being
done to the fragile economies of the Third World, emerging democracies
of Eastern Europe, to the entire world, including to our own economy.
The United States, together with the United Nations, exhausted every
means at our disposal to bring this crisis to a peaceful end. However,
Saddam clearly felt that by stalling and threatening and defying the United
Nations, he could weaken the forces arrayed against him.
While the world waited, Saddam Hussein met every overture of peace
with open contempt. While the world prayed for peace, Saddam prepared for
I had hoped that when the United States Congress, in historic debate,
took its resolute action, Saddam would realize he could not prevail and
would move out of Kuwait in accord with the United Nation resolutions.
He did not do that. Instead, he remained intransigent, certain that time
was on his side.
Saddam was warned over and over again to comply with the will of
the United Nations: Leave Kuwait, or be driven out. Saddam has arrogantly
rejected all warnings. Instead, he tried to make this a dispute between
Iraq and the United States of America.
Well, he failed. Tonight, 28 nations -- countries from 5 continents,
Europe and Asia, Africa, and the Arab League -- have forces in the Gulf
area standing shoulder to shoulder against Saddam Hussein. These countries
had hoped the use of force could be avoided. Regrettably, we now believe
that only force will make him leave.
Prior to ordering our forces into battle, I instructed our military
commanders to take every necessary step to prevail as quickly as possible,
and with the greatest degree of protection possible for American and allied
service men and women. I've told the American people before that this will
not be another Vietnam, and I repeat this here tonight. Our troops will
have the best possible support in the entire world, and they will not be
asked to fight with one hand tied behind their back. I'm hopeful that this
fighting will not go on for long and that casualties will be held to an
This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great
progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before
us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a
new world order -- a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle,
governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful -- and we will be
-- we have a real chance at this new world order, an order in which a credible
United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and
vision of the U.N.'s founders.
We have no argument with the people of Iraq. Indeed, for the innocents
caught in this conflict, I pray for their safety. Our goal is not the conquest
of Iraq. It is the liberation of Kuwait. It is my hope that somehow the
Iraqi people can, even now, convince their dictator that he must lay down
his arms, leave Kuwait, and let Iraq itself rejoin the family of peace-loving
Thomas Paine wrote many years ago: "These are the times that
try men's souls.'' Those well-known words are so very true today. But even
as planes of the multinational forces attack Iraq, I prefer to think of
peace, not war. I am convinced not only that we will prevail but that out
of the horror of combat will come the recognition that no nation can stand
against a world united, no nation will be permitted to brutally assault
No President can easily commit our sons and daughters to war. They
are the Nation's finest. Ours is an all-volunteer force, magnificently
trained, highly motivated. The troops know why they're there. And listen
to what they say, for they've said it better than any President or Prime
Minister ever could.
Listen to Hollywood Huddleston, Marine lance corporal. He says, "Let's
free these people, so we can go home and be free again.'' And he's right.
The terrible crimes and tortures committed by Saddam's henchmen against
the innocent people of Kuwait are an affront to mankind and a challenge
to the freedom of all.
Listen to one of our great officers out there, Marine Lieutenant
General Walter Boomer. He said: "There are things worth fighting for.
A world in which brutality and lawlessness are allowed to go unchecked
isn't the kind of world we're going to want to live in.''
Listen to Master Sergeant J.P. Kendall of the 82nd Airborne: "We're
here for more than just the price of a gallon of gas. What we're doing
is going to chart the future of the world for the next 100 years. It's
better to deal with this guy now than 5 years from now.''
And finally, we should all sit up and listen to Jackie Jones, an
Army lieutenant, when she says, "If we let him get away with this,
who knows what's going to be next?''
I have called upon Hollywood and Walter and J.P. and Jackie and all
their courageous comrades-in-arms to do what must be done. Tonight, America
and the world are deeply grateful to them and to their families. And let
me say to everyone listening or watching tonight: When the troops we've
sent in finish their work, I am determined to bring them home as soon as
Tonight, as our forces fight, they and their families are in our
prayers. May God bless each and every one of them, and the coalition forces
at our side in the Gulf, and may He continue to bless our nation, the United
States of America.
President George Bush - January 16, 1991