US Department of State 

Dispatch, Vol 1, No 14, December 3, 1990


The Gulf: A World United Against Aggression

Bush Source: President Bush Description: Opening statement at a White House news conference, Washington, DC Date: Nov 30, 199011/30/90 Category: Speeches, Testimony, Statements Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Kuwait Subject: Military Affairs, Democratization [TEXT] We're in the gulf because the world must not and cannot reward aggression; we're there because our vital interests are at stake; and we're in the gulf because of the brutality of Saddam Hussein. We are dealing with a dangerous dictator all too willing to use force, who has weapons of mass destruction and is seeking new ones, and who desires to control one of the world's key resources--all at a time in history when the rules of the post-Cold War world are being written. Our objectives remain what they were since the outset. We seek Iraq's immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait; we seek the restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government; we seek the release of all hostages and the free functioning of all embassies; and we seek the stability and security of this critical region of the world. We are not alone in these goals and objectives. The United Nations, invigorated with a new sense of purpose, is in full agreement. The UN Security Council has endorsed 12 resolutions to condemn Iraq's unprovoked invasion and occupation of Kuwait, implement tough economic sanctions to stop all trade in and out of Iraq, and authorize the use of force to compel Saddam to comply.
Saddam Against the UN
Saddam Hussein has tried every way he knows to make this a fight between Iraq and the United States--and clearly, he has failed. Forces of 26 other nations are standing shoulder to shoulder with our troops in the gulf. The fact is that it is not the United States against Iraq; it is Iraq against the world. There has never been a clearer demonstration of a world united against appeasement and aggression. Yesterday's UN Security Council resolution [see p. 298] was historic. Once again, the Security Council has enhanced the legitimate peacekeeping function of the United Nations. Until yesterday Saddam may not have understood what he's up against in terms of world opinion. I'm hopeful that now he will realize that he must leave Kuwait immediately. I'm continually asked how effective are the UN sanctions that were put into effect on August 6. I don't know the answer to that question. Clearly, the sanctions are having some effect, but I can't tell you that the sanctions alone will get the job done. Thus, I welcome yesterday's UN action.
Damage to the Nations of the World
The fledgling democracies in Eastern Europe are being severely damaged by the economic effects of Saddam's actions. The developing countries of Africa and in our hemisphere are being victimized by this dictator's rape of his neighbor, Kuwait. Those who feel that there is no downside to waiting months and months must consider the devastating damage being done every day to the fragile economies of those countries that can afford it the least. As [Federal Reserve Board] Chairman Alan Greenspan testified just the other day, the increase in oil prices resulting directly from Saddam's invasion is hurting our country, too. Our economy, as I said the other day, is at best in a serious slowdown, and if uncertainty remains in the energy markets, the slowdown will get worse. I've spelled out once again our reasons for sending troops to the gulf. Let me tell you the things that concern me most. -- First, I put the immorality of the invasion of Kuwait itself. No nation should rape, pillage, and brutalize its neighbor. No nation should be able to wipe a member state of the United Nations and Arab League off the face of the earth. -- I'm deeply concerned about all the hostages--innocent people held against their will in direct contravention of international law. Then there's this cynical and brutal policy of forcing people to beg for their release--parceling out human lives to families and traveling emissaries like so much chattel. -- I'm deeply concerned about our own embassy in Kuwait. The flag is still flying there. A handful of beleaguered Americans remain inside the embassy unable to come and go. This treatment of our embassy violates every civilized principle of diplomacy. It demeans our people; it demeans our country. And I am determined that this embassy, as called for under Security Council Resolution 674, be fully replenished and our people free to come home. -- What kind of precedent will these actions set for the future if Saddam's violation of international law goes unchallenged? I'm also deeply concerned about the future of Kuwait itself. The tales of rape and assassination, of cold-blooded murder and rampant looting, are almost beyond belief. The whole civilized world must unite and say this kind of treatment of people must end, and those who violate it. The Kuwaiti people must be brought justice. -- I'm deeply concerned about Saddam's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Imagine his ability to blackmail his neighbors should he possess a nuclear device. We've seen him use chemical weapons on his own people. We've seen him take his own country, one that should be wealthy and prosperous, and turn it into a poor country--all because of insatiable appetite for military equipment and conquest.
Getting the Job Done
I've been asked why I ordered more troops to the gulf. I remain hopeful that we can achieve a peaceful solution to this crisis. But if force is required, we and the other 26 countries who have troops in the area will have enough power to get the job done. In our country, I know that there are fears about another Vietnam. Let me assure you, should military action be required, this will not be another Vietnam. This will not be a protracted, drawn-out war. The forces arrayed are different. The opposition is different. The resupply of Saddam's military would be very different. The countries united against him in the United Nations are different. The topography of Kuwait is different. And the motivation of our all-volunteer force is superb. I want peace. I want peace, not war. But if there must be war, we will not permit our troops to have their hands tied behind their backs. I pledge to you there will not be any murky ending. If one American soldier has to go into battle, that soldier will have enough force behind him to win, and then get out as soon as possible, as soon as the UN objectives have been achieved. I will never--ever--agree to a halfway effort. Let me repeat: We have no argument with the people of Iraq; indeed, we have only friendship for the people there. Further, I repeat that we have no desire to keep one single American soldier in the gulf a single day longer than is necessary to achieve the objectives set out above. No one wants to see a peaceful solution to this crisis more than I do. And, at the same time, no one is more determined than I am to see Saddam's aggression reversed. Lastly, people now caution patience. The United States and the entire world have been patient. I will continue to be patient. But yesterday's UN resolution, the 13th by the Security Council, properly says to Saddam Hussein: Time is running out. You must leave Kuwait, and we've given you time to do just exactly that.
The Extra Mile for Peace
Many people have talked directly to Saddam Hussein and to his foreign minister, Tariq Aziz. All have been frustrated by Iraq's ironclad insistence that it will not leave Kuwait. However, to go the extra mile for peace, I will issue an invitation to Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz to come to Washington at a mutually convenient time during the latter part of the week of December 10th to meet with me. I'll invite ambassadors of several of our coalition partners in the gulf to join me at that meeting. In addition, I'm asking Secretary Jim Baker to go to Baghdad to see Saddam Hussein. I will suggest to Iraq's president that he receive the Secretary of State at a mutually convenient time between December 15th and January 15th of next year. Within the mandate--within the mandate of the UN resolution, I will be prepared, and so will Secretary Baker, to discuss all aspects of the gulf crisis. However, to be very clear about these efforts to exhaust all means for achieving a political and diplomatic solution, I am not suggesting discussions that will result in anything less than Iraq's complete withdrawal from Kuwait, restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government, and freedom for all hostages.(###)