(CNSNews.com) - President George W. Bush on Monday night gave Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq before a U.S.-led military coalition tears down his "apparatus of terror."
During a 15-minute televised address from the White House, the president said that America and other nations had been engaged in "patient and honorable efforts" for more than 12 years to resolve the conflict with the Iraqi dictator peacefully. However, these attempts "have failed again and again" since diplomacy has been used by Hussein as "a ploy to gain time and advantage."
Bush also noted that the Iraqi regime "has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East" and "has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda." Using chemical, biological or - one day - nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, terrorists could kill thousands - or hundreds of thousands - of people who have done nothing to deserve such a fate.
"This danger will be removed," the president stated.
After citing Congressional support and United Nations resolutions as providing the authority needed to deal with Iraq, he referred to threatened vetoes of a new U.N. Security Council resolution by stating that some governments "share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it."
The president then said Hussein and his sons had two days to leave the country or they would face "military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing."
Bush stated that all foreign nationals, including journalists and inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately "for their own safety."
He called on the Iraqi people and military not to "fight for a dying regime" by destroying oil wells or following orders to use weapons of mass destruction.
Turning his attention to the American people, the president stated that actions are being undertaken to protect our country in case of terrorist attack. "We are a peaceful people, yet we're not a fragile people," Bush noted, "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."
Since terrorists and terrorist states don't give "fair notice" of when they'll strike, the president said that "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," he added.
As he did before Bush gave his State of the Union Address in January, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) gave a "pre-buttal" during a speech to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees earlier on Monday.
"I'm saddened," Daschle said, "saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country. But we will work, and we will do all we can to get through this crisis like we've gotten through so many."
However, fellow Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) used the occasion of Bush's remarks to express his support of U.S. troops.
"It's time to come together and support our great American men and women in uniform and their commander-in-chief," the Democratic contender for the 2004 presidential nomination stated.
"If military action is necessary, the fault will clearly be Saddam Hussein's," Lieberman added, urging other nations to "stand strong and together." Still, he faulted "the Bush administration's unilateralist, divisive foreign policy, which has pushed a lot of the world away."
Many Republicans quickly spoke out in support of the president, including Rep. Tom DeLay (Texas), who called for an end to any debate about how to proceed with Iraq.
"There is a proper time and place for vigorous debate, but now is the time for America to speak with one voice," DeLay said in a statement. "In the weeks and months ahead, let us rededicate ourselves to our common mission, the defense of freedom."
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