Propaganda techniques have been used for centuries to manipulate people's emotions and prey on deep-seated fears to accomplish an agenda. In 1937, The Institute for Propaganda Analysis was created to educate the American public on the use of specific techniques used by Axis countries to sway public opinion. These techniques are still being used today. This paper deconstructs a political speech given by President Bush that uses blatant propaganda devices to exploit the publics' fears.
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
-Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Propaganda has been a part of society for centuries: the walls of Pompeii were found to have been covered in election appeals, Frederick the Great used propaganda to influence European public opinion, and revolutionary heroes such as Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams used propaganda to convince the colonies to declare independence from England. Jackall writes, “Propaganda is the product of intellectual work that is itself highly organized; it aims at persuading large masses of people about the virtues of some organization, cause or person. It can be as obvious as a swastika or as subtle as a joke” (1995, p. 2).
Propaganda is used in a variety of ways from selling soda to attempting to sway voter allegiance. As long as people have contact with society, they will have exposure to propaganda in all its many forms. Many people do not even realize they are being manipulated by the bombardment of propagandistic messages almost every waking moment. Harold Lasswell writes that propaganda is “the one means of mass mobilization that is cheaper than violence, bribery or other possible control techniques…in the broadest sense, it is the technique of influencing human action by the manipulation of representations” (1934, p. 13).
The word propaganda originally comes from the Roman Catholic Church. On June 22, 1622, Pope Gregory XV issued the Papal Bull Inscrutabili Divinae establishing the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide whose mission was to spread the gospel to pagan lands and fight Protestant heresy (Jackall, 1995). In the 1930’s, the Nazi’s gave propaganda a “bad name” and the term became synonymous with deceitful manipulations of words and symbols.
In 1937, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis was created to educate Americans on the insidious nature of the political propaganda coming out of Axis countries. According to the Institute, propaganda analysis is the search behind propagandists’ words to see what they are trying to accomplish: how they are attempting to influence people to think and act in a specific way.
This group made up of social scientists and journalists identified seven basic devices of propaganda. These devices are Name Calling, Glittering Generality, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, Card Stacking and Band Wagon. (Lee & Lee, 1939) The goal of the Institute was to make Americans aware of the tricks used by propagandists and to teach critical thinking skills so the public would think independently without being influenced by German rhetoric. One of the educational tools employed was the use of morality plays. One such play was titled Snow White and the Seven Propaganda Devices with “the gullible public as Snow White. The seven dwarfs of propaganda gave her a rough time until she was rescued by her Prince Charming, none other than Critical Thinking” (Lee & Lee, 1939, p. x). Instead of singing “hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go,” (1937) the dwarfs would sing the following:
Oh we are the seven devices,
We turn up in time of crisis;
We play upon your feeling,
We set your brain a-reeling.
We are the seven active contrabanders,
We are the seven clever propaganders
(Lee & Lee, 1939, p. x).
Propaganda serves a general purpose by manipulating peoples’ thoughts and actions by way of playing upon the emotions and fears of the public. Fear is a powerful emotion and an effective motivator. During World War II, propaganda was used to accomplish specific goals. It was used “to exhort the society and the military troops to victory, to demoralize the enemy, to strengthen morals and to win allies among the non-committed or ‘neutral’ nations or people” (Porter, 1980, p. 75). Today, almost 70 years later, these same propagandist techniques used during World War II are still being implemented and for the same purpose. This paper will focus on the attempted manipulation of peoples’ fears using the specific propagandist techniques of Name Calling, Glittering Generality, Transfer and Bandwagon as used in President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address on October 7, 2002. (See Appendix)
Tricks of the Trade
The Institute for Propaganda Analysis wrote in 1937:
Bad names have played a tremendously powerful role in the history of the world and in our own individual development. They have ruined reputations, stirred men and women to outstanding accomplishments, sent others to prison cells and made men mad enough to enter battle and slaughter their fellowmen. (Lee & Lee, 1939, p. 26)
The Name-Calling technique attempts to link an idea or a person to a negative symbol or word. Fritz Hipler, Adolf Hitler’s leading propaganda writer, was quoted as saying, “propaganda has to show the enemy on the other side as the devil” (Grubin, 1982). Name-Calling usually uses derogatory terms that dehumanize the enemy. This redefinition does several things; it uses terms that evoke emotional responses such as fear, anger and hatred; and it distances the audience, making it easier to accept a course of action toward the enemy that would usually be objectionable.
In Bush’s speech, referring to Saddam Hussein as a “murderous tyrant” and a “homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction” is a classic example of the Name-Calling technique. Bush is linking Hussein with concepts usually reserved for anti-social psychopaths and compulsive drug users, terms that may elicit feelings of fear and helplessness against such an aggressive and unpredictable man. Bush is hoping that his audience will reject Hussein based upon the negative connotation of the adjectives he uses.
Bush also repeatedly refers to the Iraqi government as a “merciless regime”. This description of the Iraqi government contrasts the American system of government, which promises liberty and justice for all. This example would remind Bush’s audience of the differences between the two governments and what Americans would lose if Hussein were to win the conflict. This difference is shown so that the American public will agree with his proposal to overthrow Hussein and set up a more co-operative administration that would not threaten Americans and their way of life.
Another effective form of Name Calling is the use of atrocity stories, which manipulates the public’s fear and demonizes the enemy. Bush uses this technique quite a bit in his speech. He consistently reminds the audience of the probability of Hussein's possession of a nuclear weapon. By stating, "before the Gulf War, the best intelligence indicated that Iraq was eight to ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon," and that "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons," Bush is preying on the people’s deep-seated fear of nuclear war and extrapolating that because Hussein had attempted these things in the past, he is doing so now.
Bush also uses the same technique when he tells the American public that the Iraqi regime had admitted to "[producing] more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other biological agents." He continues by saying that inspectors concluded that Iraq might have produced more than what was disclosed and that this stockpile was never accounted for after the Gulf War. By using a fact and then a conjecture, prefaced by the word “might”, Bush is trying to legitimize his claim that this amount of the deadly virus does exist. This would make his audience fearful about its existence and terrified that it will be used against them. Bush then went on to name several more specific biological agents, each one deadlier than the last, in an effort to manipulate the growing fears of his audience by making the people think about the agonizing death they could be facing in the near future. Using this example is an attempt to prove Bush’s claim that Hussein is a “murderous tyrant, who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people.”
Bush told his audience that Hussein had "ordered chemical attacks on Iran and on more than 40 villages in his own country…[killing] or [injuring] at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September 11,2001." Bush is implying that since Hussein ordered the use of biological weapons on his own people, he will have no problem using these same weapons against the United States, a country he professes to hate. This further demonizes Hussein and would most likely bring up strong emotions remembrance of 9/11. These feelings may stir Americans to action and to agree with Bush's grandiose statement to "confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America." By making several references to the September 11 tragedy throughout his speech, Bush is also attempting yet another propaganda device, Transfer, which will be discussed further on.
Another technique used by propagandists is the use of Glittering Generalities, which is very similar to Name-Calling. Glittering Generalities refer to the use of “virtue words” (Lee & Lee, 1939, p. 47) such as civilization, good, patriotism, liberty, obligation, freedom and democracy. In contrast, virtue words can also be negative such as violate, evil, deceit, horror and dictator. These words have a variety of meanings and can be used in many different ways depending on the discourse community in which the word is being used. Because a person will assume that a word is being used in the sense s/he thinks it is, a Glittering Generality can make an audience approve and accept a concept or person or, conversely, disapprove a concept or person based upon what s/he thinks s/he is hearing without examining all of the evidence. (Lee & Lee, 1939)
President Bush uses the Glittering Generality technique when he states, “the Iraqi regime has violated [its] obligations.” An obligation is a vague term that means different things to different people. Furthermore, by using a strong, negative verb such as violated, Bush is attempting to stir people on an emotional level; he wants to make the situation seem as severe as possible so as to create more support for his proposal.
Bush continues using this device by stating in his speech, “ Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons, despite international sanctions, U.N. demands and isolation from the civilized world.” President Bush is saying that Iraq is not a part of the “civilized world” and is therefore uncivilized. He is implying that only a barbarian, an uncivilized person, would continue to hold onto weapons when the United Nations and the rest of the international community has forbidden him to do so. By using the Glittering Generality of civilized, Bush dehumanizes the people of Iraq, Hussein in particular, to a level beneath the rest of the “civilized world”, i.e. Bush’s audience. Setting his audience above Hussein will make it easier for Bush to create an “us against them” mentality and gain the support he needs for his proposal to oust the “ruthless and aggressive dictator.”
Transfer is a technique where the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something or someone society respects and reveres to something a propagandist would have his audience accept. (Lee & Lee, 1939) Bush uses this device when he draws a parallel between himself and President John F. Kennedy, an American hero for his role in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Bush quoted Kennedy in his State of the Union address as saying:
Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation’s security to constitute maximum peril. (2002)
President Bush is linking his proposal to use force to disarm Hussein with the decision that Kennedy faced to use force to disarm Cuba; Bush is attempting to Transfer the support of the American public that President Kennedy received during the missile crisis for his own crisis.
Not only is Bush linking himself with an American icon, he is reminding the public of the Cuban missile crisis including all the fear and anxiety associated with it. He is exploiting the fear and terror people had about the threat of imminent nuclear war and is drawing a parallel between the two situations: Bush wants people to feel as if there are nuclear warheads sitting only a few miles off the coast pointed directly at the United States.
The Transfer technique can also be used negatively to Transfer the disapproval or dislike of something or someone to something or someone else the propagandist would have society condemn. President Bush attempts to do this when he states, “We must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September 11, 2001, America felt its vulnerability.” Bush is reminding his audience of events that elicit emotions of fear, sadness, anger, resentment and hatred toward their perpetrator. He is attempting to Transfer this emotional response from Osama Bin Laden to Hussein thereby linking Hussein with terrorism, and making it acceptable to use force against him because it was acceptable to use force against Osama Bin Laden.
Bush goes on to say: “the lives of the Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban.” This statement reminds the audience of the deplorable conditions Afghanistan’s people lived in during Taliban rule, and it attempts to Transfer the emotions associated with that situation to Iraq and its people under Hussein’s rule. Using Bush’s logic, it was acceptable for America to use force to liberate Afghanistan’s people; therefore, it is acceptable to liberate Iraq’s people using force.
The Band Wagon technique uses many of the propaganda devices in concert in an attempt to flatter the audience or to capitalize on the fears and prejudices of the audience so they will accept the propagandist’s program without examining the evidence. This device uses a theme of “everybody’s doing it. Why not you?” (Lee & Lee,1939, p.105). Band Wagon implies that if someone does not agree with the idea being proposed, not only is that person standing alone in his/her opinion, they are also against the values being used to manipulate them; therefore, they are siding with the enemy. This technique works best with groups of people who share common ties such as similar experiences, similar principles or similar political viewpoints. The fear of not belonging to the group, being a social pariah, is what is being exploited in this instance.
President Bush uses the Band Wagon device in his speech when he states, “the entire world has witnessed Iraq’s 11-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.” This statement implies that everyone on the planet has been paying attention to the situation in Iraq; if specific members of the audience were not aware of the problems over the last decade, they should have been as they were so appalling, the rest of the world witnessed them.
Bush continues by saying, “We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gasses and atomic weapons. Since we agree on this goal, the issue is ‘how best can we achieve it?’ ” This is a rhetorical statement. Bush is saying that the statement that everyone agrees that Hussein should not be allowed to keep weapons is true, therefore, his idea of disarming him must also be true and is the best way to accomplish the common goal of the world: the way to “best achieve” this common goal is to follow his recommendation to disarm Hussein by force. When there is someone in the audience who does not agree with this goal, this statement is made to make them feel as if they were an outsider and against the goals of the rest of the world. Not only would this make this person anti-social, this would place them on the same side as the enemy.
Bush goes on to say, “America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights — to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery; prosperity to squalor; self-government to the rule of terror and torture.” This statement not only uses the Band Wagon device, it uses many Glittering Generalities as well. Bush is inferring that the way people live in Iraq under Hussein’s rule and the way Americans live under democratic rule are complete opposites; this type of dualistic thinking is attempting to show the situation as an either/or thing: black or white, win or lose, live or die. This may cause the audience to believe that if Bush’s proposal were not implemented, Hussein would win and Americans would be forced to live the way Bush is implying all of the Iraqi people live.
President Bush’s speech is an emotional appeal to the American people for support on an issue he feels strongly about. He attempts to manipulate his audience by using propagandist devices that are designed to exploit people’s fears: the fear of nuclear war, the fear of biological warfare, the fear of a painful death, the fear of not belonging, and the fear of losing precious freedom and the American way of life.
The propaganda used throughout Bush’s entire speech is glaringly apparent. This lack of subtlety brings up some interesting questions regarding the President and his opinion of the people he purports to serve. Does Bush believe that the American public will be persuaded to side with his proposal by using these techniques? Does he believe that the public is uneducated and therefore will not notice the propaganda for what it is? Does he believe that the public is gullible and will be effectively motivated by the manipulation of their emotions? Does he believe that the public is too self-absorbed to pay attention to his speech? Does he believe that those people who do notice these techniques will idly stand by and say nothing? All of these questions are upsetting and offensive: yet, the most disturbing question is, is Bush’s assessment of the American public a correct one? Is the public uneducated, gullible, distracted or just too busy to care if they are manipulated in this fashion?
The American public needs to be familiar with the role of propaganda in their lives, especially in regards to our government and its political agenda. The public needs to educate itself and know about propaganda devices so as to not be seduced by them. The only way to combat the continual onslaught of propaganda is to become aware of its existence and to become skilled in critical analysis. The American public needs to be less complacent and more independent in its thinking.
Political propaganda is nothing new, especially during times of war or conflict. President Bush uses techniques in his State of the Union Address that were identified by social analysts decades ago. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests asking a few basic questions when confronted by propaganda. What is the propagandist’s proposal stated as simply as possible? What is the propaganda device being used? Once the device is identified and removed, what are the merits of the proposal in question? (Lee, 1939). By becoming aware of these propagandist devices and how to defend against them, the American public can begin to make informed decisions based on facts and not on emotional appeals or faulty logic.
Good evening. Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.
The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror.
Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction "to cease all development of such weapons" and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's 11-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.
We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On Sept. 11, 2001, America felt its vulnerability — even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then and we are resolved today to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.
Members of the Congress of both political parties and members of the United Nations Security Council agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. 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. Since we all agree on this goal, the issue is: "How can we best achieve it?"
Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: About the nature of the threat. About the urgency of action — and why be concerned now? About the link between Iraq developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror. These are all issues we have discussed broadly and fully within my administration. And tonight, I want to share those discussions with you.
First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone — because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant, who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning and holds an unrelenting hostility towards the United States.
By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique. As a former chief weapons inspector for the UN has said, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime itself: Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."
Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today — and we do — does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?
In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for and is capable of killing millions. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas and VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran and on more than 40 villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of Sept. 11. And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it has used to produce chemical and biological weapons.
Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons, despite international sanctions, U.N. demands and isolation from the civilized world.
Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles — far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and other nations — in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for missions targeting the United States. And of course, sophisticated delivery systems are not required for a chemical or biological attack — all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.
And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. 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 twenty countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.
We know that Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al-Qaida leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq.
These include one very senior al-Qaida leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We have learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb making, poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after Sept. 11, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.
Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliances with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.
Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to the Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them or provide them to a terror network.
Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both. And the United States military is capable of confronting both.
Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. We don't know exactly, and that is the problem. Before the Gulf War, the best intelligence indicated that Iraq was eight to 10 years away from developing a nuclear weapon; after the war, international inspectors learned that the regime had been much closer. The regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993. The inspectors discovered that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a workable nuclear weapon and was pursuing several different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities, including three uranium-enrichment sites. That same year, information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue.
The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" — his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed. Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression.
He would be in a position to dominate the Middle East. He would be in a position to threaten America. And Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists.
Some citizens wonder: After 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now? There is a reason. We have experienced the horror of Sept. 11. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing — in fact they would be eager — to use a biological or chemical weapon or, when they have one, a nuclear weapon.
Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. As President Kennedy said in October of 1962: "Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world," he said, "where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril."
Understanding the threats of our time, knowing the designs and deceptions of the Iraqi regime, we have every reason to assume the worst and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.
Some believe we can address this danger by simply resuming the old approach to inspections and applying diplomatic and economic pressure. Yet this is precisely what the world has tried to do since 1991. The U.N. inspections program was met with systematic deception. The Iraqi regime bugged hotel rooms and offices of inspectors to find where they were going next. They forged documents, destroyed evidence and developed mobile weapons facilities to keep a step ahead of inspectors. Eight so-called presidential palaces were declared off-limits to unfettered inspections. These sites actually encompass 12 square miles, with hundreds of structures, both above and below the ground, where sensitive materials could be hidden.
The world has also tried economic sanctions and watched Iraq use billions of dollars in illegal oil revenues to fund more weapons purchases, rather than providing for the needs of the Iraqi people.
The world has tried limited military strikes to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, only to see them openly rebuilt, while the regime again denies they even exist.
The world has tried no-fly zones to keep Saddam from terrorizing his own people ... and in the last year alone, the Iraqi military has fired upon American and British pilots more than 750 times.
After 11 years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.
Clearly, to actually work, any new inspections, sanctions or enforcement mechanisms will have to be very different. America wants the U.N. to be an effective organization that helps to keep the peace. That is why we are urging the Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough, immediate requirements. Among those requirements, the Iraqi regime must reveal and destroy, under UN supervision, all existing weapons of mass destruction. To ensure that we learn the truth, the regime must allow witnesses to its illegal activities to be interviewed outside of the country. And these witnesses must be free to bring their families with them, so they are all beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein's terror and murder. And inspectors must have access to any site, at any time, without pre-clearance, without delay, without exceptions.
The time for denying, deceiving and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself — or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.
Many nations are joining us in insisting that Saddam Hussein's regime be held accountable. They are committed to defending the international security that protects the lives of both our citizens and theirs. And that is why America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously. Those resolutions are very clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. And it must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown.
By taking these steps, and only by taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. These steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. Unfortunately, at least so far, we have little reason to expect it. This is why two administrations — mine and President Clinton's — have stated that regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation.
I hope this will not require military action, but it may. And military conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished. If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully, we will act with the full power of the United States military, we will act with allies at our side and we will prevail.
There is no easy or risk-free course of action. Some have argued we should wait — and that is an option. In my view, it is the riskiest of all options — because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I am convinced that is a hope against all evidence. As Americans, we want peace — we work and sacrifice for peace — and there can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator. I am not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein.
Failure to act would embolden other tyrants; allow terrorists access to new weapons and new resources; and make blackmail a permanent feature of world events. The United Nations would betray the purpose of its founding and prove irrelevant to the problems of our time. And through its inaction, the United States would resign itself to a future of fear.
That is not the America I know. That is not the America I serve. We refuse to live in fear. This nation — in World War and in Cold War — has never permitted the brutal and lawless to set history's course. Now, as before, we will secure our nation, protect our freedom and help others to find freedom of their own.
Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse for world security and for the people of Iraq.
The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban. The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control within his own cabinet and within his own army and even within his own family. On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.
America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights — to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery; prosperity to squalor; self-government to the rule of terror and torture. America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end and an era of new hope will begin. Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time.
If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.
Later this week the United States Congress will vote on this matter. I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. The resolution will tell the United Nations and all nations that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something. Congress will also be sending a message to the dictator in Iraq: that his only choice is full compliance — and the time remaining for that choice is limited.
Members of Congress are nearing an historic vote, and I am confident they will fully consider the facts and their duties.
The attacks of Sept. 11 showed our country that vast oceans no longer protect us from danger. Before that tragic date, we had only hints of al-Qaida's plans and designs. Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined — and whose consequences could be far more deadly. Saddam Hussein's actions have put us on notice — and there is no refuge from our responsibilities.
We did not ask for this present challenge, but we accept it. Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our resolve, we will give strength to others. By our courage, we will give hope to others. By our actions, we will secure the peace and lead the world to a better day.
Thank you, and good night.
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