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Ultimatumsrede von Bush vom 17. März, 2003

My fellow citizens, events in Iraq have now reached the final
days of decision.

For more than a decade, the United States and other nations have
pursued patient and honorable efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime
without war. That regime pledged to reveal and destroy all of its
weapons of mass destruction as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf
War in 1991.

Since then, the world has engaged in 12 years of diplomacy. We have
passed more than a dozen resolutions in the United Nations Security
Council. We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the
disarmament of Iraq.

Our good faith has not been returned. The Iraqi regime has used
diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly
defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament.

Over the years, U.N. weapons inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi
officials, electronically bugged and systematically deceived. Peaceful
efforts to disarm the Iraq regime have failed again and again because
we are not dealing with peaceful men.

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt
that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most
lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of
mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It
has a deep hatred of America and our friends and it has aided, trained
and harbored terrorists, including operatives of Al Qaeda. The danger
is clear: Using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons
obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their
stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of
innocent people in our country or any other.

The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite
this threat, but we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of
drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety.

Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this
danger will be removed.

The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force
in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me as
commander of chief by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep.
Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress
voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against

America tried to work with the United Nations to address this threat
because we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully. We believe in the
mission of the United Nations.

One reason the U.N. was founded after the Second World War was to
confront aggressive dictators actively and early, before they can
attack the innocent and destroy the peace.

In the case of Iraq, the Security Council did act in the early 1990s.
Under Resolutions 678 and 687, both still in effect, the United States
and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons
of mass destruction. This is not a question of authority, it is a
question of will.

Last September, I went to the U.N. General Assembly and urged the
nations of the world to unite and bring an end to this danger. On
November 8th, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441,
finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations and vowing serious
consequences if Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm.

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it
will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power.

For the last four and a half months, the United States and our allies
have worked within the Security Council to enforce that council's
longstanding demands. Yet some permanent members of the Security
Council have publicly announced that they will veto any resolution
that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our
assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it.

Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act
against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering
to enforce the just demands of the world.

The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its
responsibilities, so we will rise to ours. In recent days, some
governments in the Middle East have been doing their part. They have
delivered public and private messages urging the dictator to leave
Iraq so that disarmament can proceed peacefully.

He has thus far refused.

All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam
Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to
do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our

For their own safety, all foreign nationals, including journalists and
inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately.

Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I
have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will
be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not
against you.

As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and
medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we
will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.

In free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your
neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents,
no more torture chambers and rape rooms.

The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.

It is too late for Saddam Hussein to remain in power. It is not too
late for the Iraq military to act with honor and protect your country,
by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate
weapons of mass destruction. Our forces will give Iraqi military units
clear instructions on actions they can take to avoid being attack and

I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services:
If war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your
own life.

And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully
to this warning: In any conflict, your fate will depend on your
actions. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to
the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass
destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes
will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no
defense to say, "I was just following orders." Should Saddam Hussein
choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure
has been taken to avoid war and every measure will be taken to win it.

Americans understand the costs of conflict because we have paid them
in the past. War has no certainty except the certainty of sacrifice.

Yet the only way to reduce the harm and duration of war is to apply
the full force and might of our military, and we are prepared to do

If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly
foe until the end.

In desperation, he and terrorist groups might try to conduct terrorist
operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks
are not inevitable. They are, however, possible.

And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the
threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world
will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed. Our
government is on heightened watch against these dangers. Just as we
are preparing to ensure victory in Iraq, we are taking further actions
to protect our homeland.

In recent days, American authorities have expelled from the country
certain individuals with ties to Iraqi intelligence services.

Among other measures, I have directed additional security at our
airports and increased Coast Guard patrols of major seaports. The
Department of Homeland Security is working closely with the nation's
governors to increase armed security at critical facilities across

Should enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift
our attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear. In this,
they would fail.

No act of theirs can alter the course or shake the resolve of this
country. We are a peaceful people, yet we are not a fragile people.
And we will not be intimidated by thugs and killers.

If our enemies dare to strike us, they and all who have aided them
will face fearful consequences.

We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater.
In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all
free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these
capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the
moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet
that threat now where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our
skies and cities.

The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and
undeniable realities. In the 20th century, some chose to appease
murderous dictators whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide
and global war.

In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear
terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind
never before seen on this earth. Terrorists and terrorist states do
not reveal these threats with fair notice in formal declarations.

And responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is
not self defense. It is suicide. The security of the world requires
disarming Saddam Hussein now.

As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the
deepest commitments of our country. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe
the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty, and when
the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle
East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.

The United States with other countries will work to advance liberty
and peace in that region. Our goal will not be achieved overnight, but
it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt
in every life and every land, and the greatest power of freedom is to
overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and
women to the pursuits of peace. That is the future we choose.

Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the
violent, and tonight, as we have done before, America and our allies
accept that responsibility.

Good night, and may God continue to bless America.

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