For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 19, 2003
Bush Addresses the Nation
The Oval Office
10:16 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and
coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations
to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from
On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected
targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability
to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad
and concerted campaign. More than 35 countries are giving crucial
support -- from the use of naval and air bases, to help with intelligence
and logistics, to the deployment of combat units. Every nation
in this coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honor
of serving in our common defense.
To all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces now
in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes
of an oppressed people now depend on you. That trust is well placed.
The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery.
The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent
spirit of the American military. In this conflict, America faces
an enemy who has no regard for conventions of war or rules of
morality. Saddam Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment
in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children
as shields for his own military -- a final atrocity against his
I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces
will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm.
A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California
could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping
Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require
our sustained commitment.
We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great
civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have
no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control
of that country to its own people.
I know that the families of our military are praying that all
those who serve will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans
are praying with you for the safety of your loved ones and for
the protection of the innocent. For your sacrifice, you have the
gratitude and respect of the American people. And you can know
that our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done.
Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose
is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies
will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens
the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat
now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines,
so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters
and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.
Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration
is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be
a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but
My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world
will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and
carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will
bring freedom to others and we will prevail.
May God bless our country and all who defend her.
END 10:20 P.M. EST