Justifications for a War Against Iraq


Date Justification Policy
20 January 2001:
Inaugural Address
"We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors." Containment--No Changes Specified
16 February 2001:
Press Conference with Vicente Fox
"Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone, both south and north. Our intention is to make sure that the world is as peaceful as possible. And we're going to watch very carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction, and if we catch him doing so we'll take the appropriate action." Containment--No Changes Specified
22 February 2001:
Press Conference
"...the primary goal is to make it clear to Saddam that we expect him to be a peaceful neighbor in the region and we expect him not to develop weapons of mass destruction. And if we find him doing so, there will be a consequence."
Containment with Improved Sanctions
23 February 2001:
Press Conference with Tony Blair
"We spent a lot of time talking about our mutual interests in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and from our perspective, as you know, I made the famous statement that our sanctions are like Swiss cheese. That means they're not very effective. And we're going to work together to figure out a way to make them more effective.

But I think the Prime Minister and I both recognize that it is going to be important for us to build a consensus in the region to make the sanctions more effective. Colin Powell left today, after lunch, to move around the Middle East, collect thoughts and to listen, with a policy of strengthening our mission to make it clear to Saddam Hussein that he shall not terrorize his neighbors, and not develop weapons of mass destruction."

Containment with Improved Sanctions
27 February 2001:
State of the Union
"Our nation also needs a clear strategy to confront the threats of the 21st century -- threats that are more widespread and less certain. They range from terrorists who threaten with bombs to tyrants in rogue nations intent upon developing weapons of mass destruction. To protect our own people, our allies and friends, we must develop and we must deploy effective missile defenses. " Missile Defense

1 May 2001:
Speech at National Defnse University

'Today's world requires a new policy, a broad strategy of active nonproliferation, counterproliferation and defenses. We must work together with other like-minded nations to deny weapons of terror from those seeking to acquire them. We must work with allies and friends who wish to join with us to defend against the harm they can inflict. And together we must deter anyone who would contemplate their use."
Missile Defense

25 May 2001:
Speech at Naval Academy

"Today, nearly one-third of our naval forces are forward-deployed overseas. The USS Constellation carrier battle group and its 10,000 sailors are plying the waters of the Persian Gulf, enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq."

"Another 3,800 sailors and Marines stand guard nearby with the Boxer amphibious ready group, deterring and mischief Saddam might contemplate."

12 June 2001:
Press Conference with Spanish President Aznar
"Those new threats are terrorism, based upon the capacity of some countries to develop weapons of mass destruction, and therefore, hold the United States and our friends hostage." Missile Defense
17 July 2001:
Interview with Foreign Press
"I've spoken very clearly to the President [Putin] that it's time for new leadership to develop a new strategic framework for peace. The threats that the ABM Treaty addressed no longer exists; no longer exists. There are new threats, new forms of terror: cyberterrorism, fundamentalist extremists, extremism that certainly threatens us, threatens Israel, who is our strong ally and friend, threatens Russia. We've got to deal with it. The threat in Europe at sometime, perhaps. We must deal with that issue. And one way to do that is coordinate security arrangements, is to talk about how to -- as to how to deal with the new threats, but also is to be able to have the capacity to rid the world of blackmail, terrorist blackmail"
Missile Defense
7 August 2001:
Press Conference
"As I said, Saddam Hussein is a menace, he's still a menace and we need to keep him in check, and will.
Q Are they ratcheting it up, though? We've had a lot of incidents lately.
THE PRESIDENT: No -- are they, the Iraqis? He's been a menace forever, and we will do -- he needs to open his country up for inspection, so we can see whether or not he's developing weapons of mass destruction."
24 August 2001:
Remarks on the Appointment of Myers as Chairman, JCS
"One of the threats that faces America is the threat of blackmail as a result of some rogue nation having a weapon of mass destruction. And that not only is a threat to our own land, it's also a threat to our forward-thinking foreign policy. Take, for example, some nation in the Middle Eastern area developing a weapon of mass destruction and then threatening the United States if we were to move troops into an area to protect an ally."
Missile Defense
20 September 2001:
Speech to Congress
"This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion." No Proposed Action
21 October 2001:
Press Conference with President Putin
The events of September the 11th make it clearer than ever that a Cold War ABM treaty that prevents us from defending our people is outdated, and I believe dangerous. Missile Defense
8 November 2001:
Speech on Terrorism, Atlanta
No Mention of Iraq No Proposed Action
10 November 2001: Speech to the United Nations No Mention of Iraq No Proposed Action
13 December 2001:
Speech on National Missile Defense
"We know that the terrorists, and some of those who support them, seek the ability to deliver death and destruction to our doorstep via missile. And we must have the freedom and the flexibility to develop effective defenses against those attacks. Defending the American people is my highest priority as Commander in Chief, and I cannot and will not allow the United States to remain in a treaty that prevents us from developing effective defenses." Missile Defense
31 December 2001:
Remarks to the Press on Foreign Policy, Crawford, TX
No Mention of Iraq No Proposed Action
29 January 2002:
State of the Union Address
"Axis of Evil" Speech

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world."

"We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security."

Containment, Missile Defense, Unilateral Action
13 February 2002:
Press Conference with President Musharaf
I meant what I said the other night, that there are some nations in the world which develop weapons of mass destruction with one intention, and that is to hold America hostage and/or harm Americans and/or our friends and allies. And I also meant what I said, that I look forward to working with the world to bring pressure on those nations to change their behavior. But make no mistake about it, if we need to, we will take necessary action to defend the American people.

And I think that statement was clear enough for Iraq to hear me. And I will reserve whatever options I have, I'll keep them close to my vest. President -- or Saddam Hussein needs to understand I'm serious about defending our country.

Containment, Unilateral Action
16 February 2002:
Speech to the Troops in Alaska

"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to the future of our nation is that these kind of terrorist organizations hook up with nations that develop weapons of mass destruction. One of the worst things that could possibly happen to freedom-loving people, whether it be the United States or our friends or allies, is to allow nations that have got a dark history and an ugly past to develop weapons of mass destruction like nuclear weapons or chemical weapons, or biological weapons which could, for example, be delivered by long-range missile, to become a part of the terrorist network. And there are such nations in the world."

"And so we expect them -- and so do other freedom-loving countries -- to change their behavior. But if they do not, the United States will do what it takes to defend our freedom. Make no mistake about it."

Containment, Unilateral Action
18 February 2002:
Press Conference with Prime Minister Koizumi
"We want to resolve all issues peacefully, whether it be Iraq, Iran or North Korea, for that matter. And as you know, I'm going to the Korean Peninsula to talk about that very subject. On the one side of a parallel we've got people starving to death, because a nation chooses to build weapons of mass destruction. And on the other side there's freedom. And it's important for those of us who love freedom to work with nations to convince them to choose freedom."

"But I've also said that they should make no mistake about it, that we will defend our interests, and I will defend the American people. And that's what we talked about. "

Containment, Dialogue, Unilateral Action

20 February 2002:
Press Conference with President Kim Dae-Jung
"As to how any dialogue were to begin, it obviously takes two willing parties. And as people in our government know, last June, I made the decision that we would extend the offer for dialogue. We just haven't heard a response back yet. And how we end up doing that is a matter of the diplomats. The great Secretary of State will be able to handle the details. But the offer stands, and if anybody's listening involved with the North Korean government, they know that the offer is real, and I reiterate it today."

Containment Possible in Korea

Offer of Dialogue

21 February 2002:
Press Conference with President Jiang Zemin
"That was constructive leadership. I then told him that the offer I made yesterday in Seoul was a real offer, and that we would be willing to meet with a North Korean regime. And I asked his help in conveying that message to Kim Jong-il if he so chooses. If he speaks to the leader of North Korea, he can assure him that I am sincere in my desire to have our folks meet."

"My point is that not every theater in the war against terror need be resolved with force. Some theaters can be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue."

Containment Possible in Korea

Offer of Dialogue

13 March 2002:
Press Conference
"We are going to consult. I am deeply concerned about Iraq. And so should the American people be concerned about Iraq. And so should people who love freedom be concerned about Iraq."

"This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons; a man who won't let inspectors into the country; a man who's obviously got something to hide. And he is a problem, and we're going to deal with him. But the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that's exactly what we're doing. "

17 April 2002:
Speech at VMI
"And, finally, the civilized world faces a grave threat from weapons of mass destruction. A small number of outlaw regimes today possess and are developing chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. They're building missiles to deliver them, and at the same time cultivating ties to terrorist groups. In their threat to peace, in their mad ambitions, in their destructive potential and in the repression of their own people, these regimes constitute an axis of evil and the world must confront them."

"America, along with other nations, will oppose the proliferation of dangerous weapons and technologies. We will proceed with missile defenses to protect the American people, our troops and our friends and allies. And America will take the necessary action to oppose emerging threats."

Containment, Unilateral Action
26 May 2002:
Press Conference with President Chirac
"Let me start with the Iraqi regime. The stated policy of my government is that we have a regime change. And as I told President Chirac, I have no war plans on my desk. And I will continue to consult closely with him. We do view Saddam Hussein as a serious, significant -- serious threat to stability and peace."
Regime Change
1 June 2002:
Speech at West Point
"For much of the last century, America's defense relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies."

"We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long."

Pre-emptive Attack
16 August 2002:
Press Conference, Crawford, TX
"There should be no doubt in anybody's mind this man [Hussein] is thumbing his nose at the world, that he has gassed his own people, that he is trouble in his neighborhood, that he desires weapons of mass destruction. I will use all the latest intelligence to make informed decisions about how best to keep the world at peace, how best to defend freedom for the long run."

"We'll continue to consult. Listen, it's a healthy debate for people to express their opinion. People should be allowed to express their opinion. But America needs to know, I'll be making up my mind based upon the latest intelligence and how best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies."

Containment, Unilateral Action
7 September 2002:
Press Conference with Prime Minster Blair
"Well, as you know, our government in 1998 -- action that my administration has embraced -- decided that this regime was not going to honor its commitments to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton administration supported regime change. Many members of the United States Senate supported regime change. My administration still supports regime change. There's all kinds of ways to change regimes.

This man is a man who said he was going to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. And for 11 long years, he has not fulfilled his promise. And we're going to talk about what to do about it. We owe it to future generations to deal with this problem, and that's what these discussions are all about. "

Regime Change
12 September 2002, Address to the United Nations "My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power." Regime Change
14 September 2002:
Radio Address
"By supporting terrorist groups, repressing its own people and pursuing weapons of mass destruction in defiance of a decade of U.N. resolutions, Saddam Hussein's regime has proven itself a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take." Regime Change
19 Septmber 2002:
Press Conference
"At the United Nations Security Council it is very important that the members understand that the credibility of the United Nations is at stake, that the Security Council must be firm in its resolve to deal with a truth threat to world peace, and that is Saddam Hussein. That the United Nations Security Council must work with the United States and Britain and other concerned parties to send a clear message that we expect Saddam to disarm. And if the United Nations Security Council won't deal with the problem, the United States and some of our friends will." Containment, Unilateral Action
23 September 2002:
Speech in NJ
"But I also told them that if they would not act, if they would not deal with this true threat we face in America, if they would not recognize that America is no longer protected by oceans and that this man is the man who would use weapons of mass destruction at the drop of a hat, a man who would be willing to team up with terrorist organizations with weapons of mass destruction to threaten America and our allies, if they wouldn't act, the United States will -- we will not allow the world's worst leaders to threaten us with the world's worst weapons". Containment, Unilateral Action
24 September 2002:
Press Conference, Washington, DC
"And I again call for the United Nations to pass a strong resolution holding this man to account. And if they're unable to do so, the United States and our friends will act, because we believe in peace; we want to keep the peace. We don't trust this man -- and that's what the Blair report showed today." Containment, Unilateral Action

27 September 2002:
Speech in Colorado

"There's no negotiations, by the way, for Mr. Saddam Hussein. There's nothing to discuss. He either gets rid of his weapons and the United Nations gets rid of his weapons -- he can either get rid of his weapons and the United States can act, or the United States will lead a coalition to disarm this man. Disarmament

28 September 2002:
Speech in Arizona

"And so I went to the United Nations, and I said to the United Nations, you need to deal with him. You, the collective body of freedom-loving countries, need to deal with him. For 11 years he's made fun of you. You can either be the United Nations and be effective, or you can be the League of Nations -- your choice. I hope they're the United Nations. I hope they're a robust United Nations. I hope they're capable of helping to keep the peace. That's their choice."

"Saddam Hussein has got a choice, and that is, he can disarm. There's no negotiations, by the way. There's nothing to negotiate with him. He told the world he would disarm 11 years ago, and he's lied to the world. It's their choice to make. He must disarm, just like he said he would do. And the United Nations, in order to be effective, must disarm him. But for the sake of our freedom, for the sake of our future, if nothing happens, the United States will lead a coalition to hold him to account and to disarm Saddam Hussein. We owe it to the world to do so."

Containment, Unilateral Action
5 October 2002:
Radio Address
"American security, the safety of our friends, and the values of our country lead us to confront this gathering threat. By supporting the resolution now before them, members of Congress will send a clear message to Saddam: His only choice is to fully comply with the demands of the world. And the time for that choice is limited. Supporting this resolution will also show the resolve of the United States, and will help spur the United Nations to act." Disarmament, Unilateral Action
7 October 2002:
Cincinnati, Ohio

"We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons."

"Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans."

"I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands."

Containment Under UN Auspices
10 October 2002:
Press Statement
"The House of Representatives has spoken clearly to the world and to the United Nations Security Council: the gathering threat of Iraq must be confronted fully and finally. Today's vote also sends a clear message to the Iraqi regime: it must disarm and comply with all existing U.N. resolutions, or it will be forced to comply. There are no other options for the Iraqi regime. There can be no negotiations. The days of Iraq acting as an outlaw state are coming to an end." Disarmament
21 October 2002:
Press Conference, Washington, DC
"We've tried diplomacy. We're trying it one more time. I believe the free world, if we make up our mind to, can disarm this man peacefully.

But, if not -- if not, there's -- we have the will and the desire, as do other nations, to disarm Saddam. It's up to him to make that decision and it's up to the United Nations. And we'll determine here soon whether the United Nations has got the will, and then it's up to Saddam to make the decision. "

25 October 2002:
Press Conference with President Jiang Zemin
"I made it clear to the President of China that I am interested in seeing to it that the United Nations is effective -- effective in disarming Saddam Hussein. That's what the United Nations has said for 11 years, that Saddam ought to disarm. And, therefore, any resolution that evolves must be one which does the job of holding Saddam Hussein to account. That includes a rigorous, new and vibrant inspections regime, the purpose of which is disarmament, not inspections for the sake of inspections." Disarmament
20 November 2002:
Press Conference With President Havel
"We did talk about Iraq. There is universal recognition that Saddam Hussein is a threat to world peace. There's clear understanding that he must disarm in the name of peace. We hope he chooses to do so. Tomorrow we'll discuss the issue. We'll consider what happens if he chooses not to disarm. But one thing is certain; he'll be disarmed, one way or the other, in the name of peace." Disarmament
28 January 2002:
State of the Union Address
"In all these efforts, however, America's purpose is more than to follow a process -- it is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world. All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attacks. And we're asking them to join us, and many are doing so. Yet the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others. Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people." Disarmament, Unilateral Action
26 February 2002:
Speech on the Future of Iraq, AEI
"The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away. The danger must be confronted. We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed."

"The safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat. Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world. The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq. "

Disarmament, Regime Change