Remarks by the President and United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony
Blair in Press Availability
April 16, 2004
11:57 A.M. EDT
BUSH: Thank you, all. Mr. Prime Minister — Tony, as I like to
call you — Cherie Blair, thanks for coming, it’s great to see
you. Laura and I are pleased to welcome you once again to America
and to the White House.
Throughout the last century, the United Kingdom
and the United States have stood together when liberty was assaulted
and free people were tested. And now in this century our nations
see clearly the dangers of our time, and we share a determination
to meet them.
Since our two countries shared the loss of September
the 11th, 2001, we’ve joined in a global manhunt for terrorist
killers. We’ve removed the terrorist camps of Afghanistan and
the brutal government that sheltered them. We’ve enforced the
demands of the United Nations in Iraq and removed a dangerous
threat to the region and to the world.
We’ve worked together to end the WMD programs
of Libya, and bring that country back into the community of nations.
We’re engaged in difficult and necessary work of helping Iraqis
build their own democracy, for the sake of our security and to
increase the momentum of freedom across the greater Middle East.
The stakes in Iraq are clear: Iraq will either
turn back the challenges to democracy, or return to the camp of
tyranny and terror; Iraq will either be an example of a region
that is weary of poverty and oppression, or will be a threat to
the region and to our own people.
Our nations face a stark choice, as well. Britain
and America and our allies can either break our word to the people
of Iraq, abandon them in their hour of need and consign them to
oppression — or we can help them defeat the enemies of a free
Iraq and build the institutions of liberty. The Prime Minister
and I have made our choice: Iraq will be free; Iraq will be independent;
Iraq will be a peaceful nation; and we will not waver in the face
of fear and intimidation.
The past few weeks have been hard, and the days
ahead will surely bring their own challenges. What we’re seeing
in Iraq is an attempted power grab by extremists and terrorists.
They will fail. The extremists will fail because our coalition
will not allow Iraq’s future to be stolen by a violent few. They
will also fail because they are not widely supported by the Iraqi
people, who have no desire to trade one tyrant for another.
Many Iraqi leaders are showing great personal
courage in helping to build a free Iraq. And we stand with them
and we appreciate their courage. And troops from our countries
and other coalition friends are showing great personal courage
as they help Iraq move toward democracy. And we appreciate their
sacrifice and courage, as well.
One of the essential commitments we’ve made to
the Iraqi people is this: They will control their own country.
No citizen of America or Britain would want the government of
their nation in hands of others, and neither do the Iraqis. And
this is why the June 30th date for the transfer of sovereignty
will be kept. This transfer will demonstrate to the Iraqi people
that our coalition has no interest in occupation. On that date,
the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist. But coalition
forces will remain in Iraq to help the new government succeed.
This week we’ve seen the outlines of a new Iraqi
government that will take the keys of sovereignty. We welcome
the proposals presented by the U.N. Special Envoy Brahimi. He’s
identified a way forward to establishing an interim government
that is broadly acceptable to the Iraqi people. Our coalition
partners will continue to work with the U.N. to prepare for nationwide
elections that will choose a new government in January of 2005.
We thank the U.N. and Secretary General Annan
for helping Iraqis secure a future of freedom. We’re grateful
that Mr. Brahimi will soon return to Iraq to continue his important
work. A free Iraq will stand as an example to the Middle East,
encouraging reform and hope by demonstrating what life in a free
society can be like. At the same time, we must also work to end
longstanding sources of bitterness and conflict in the Middle
Our commitment to freedom and peace in that region
requires us to make every effort to help resolve the conflict
between Israel and Palestine. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister
of Israel presented his plan to withdraw from Gaza and some parts
of the West Bank. I support that plan. It’s a good opportunity.
It gives the Palestinians a chance to create a reformed, just
and free government. Palestinian leadership must rise to the challenge.
It gives all sides a chance to reinvigorate progress on the road
map. I’m committed to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine,
living side-by-side, in peace and security.
As I said Wednesday, all final status issues
must still be negotiated between the parties. I look forward to
the day when those discussions can begin, so the Israeli occupation
can be ended and a free and independent and peaceful Palestinian
state can emerge.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, in a future Palestinian
state, and across the greater Middle East, the best hope for lasting
stability, security and peace is the advance of human freedom.
When men and women live in societies that reward their hopes and
recognize their dignity, they are far less likely to dwell on
resentments and turn to violence. This is not an easy task. For
whole nations to construct free institutions after decades of
terror and tyranny requires patience and courage and the help
Yet, this difficult work is also necessary work.
In the Middle East, as elsewhere, the path to peace is the path
of liberty. And all who choose that path will have the strong
support of the United States and the United Kingdom. In all these
efforts, the American people know that we have no more valuable
friend than Prime Minister Tony Blair. As we like to say in Crawford,
he’s a stand-up kind of guy. He shows backbone and courage and
strong leadership. I thank him and Cherie for coming. I thank
the British people for their strength and their unyielding commitment
to the cause of liberty.
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you very much, Mr.
President. George and Laura, thank you very much for welcoming
myself and Cherie back to the White House. The many years that
— particularly most recently, since September the 11th — our
two countries have been friends and allies standing side-by-side,
and we will continue to do so.
Let me restate the historic nature of what we’re
trying to achieve in Iraq. It is to take a state that, under Saddam
Hussein and his family, was a merciless tyranny that brutalized
the country over many decades, that used chemical weapons against
his own people, a state that threatened its neighbors in the wider
world, that caused two wars with over a million casualties, that
funded and supported terrorism; a country where, already, the
remains of 300,000 innocent men, women and children have been
found in mass graves in Iraq; a state that under Saddam was without
human rights, civil liberties, or the rule of law. And our task
is to take this state and turn it into a democracy, stable and
prosperous, a symbol of hope to its own people and throughout
the whole of the Middle East.
Against us in this task ranged every variety
of reactionary forces: sympathizers of Saddam Hussein, outside
terrorists, religious fanatics. We know the future that they have
in mind for the people of Iraq, and we reject it utterly, as do
the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people.
It was never going to be easy, and it isn’t now.
I pay wholehearted tribute to the American and British troops
and troops from all the different coalition countries; and to
the civilians, also, from many nations. We mourn each loss of
life, we salute them and their families for their bravery and
And our promise to them, in turn, is very clear.
It is to succeed, to get the job done, to ensure their courage
and their sacrifice has not been in vain. And our plan to do this
is clear, and we shall see it through.
Our strategy, political and military, is as follows.
First, we stand firm; we will do what it takes to win this struggle.
We will not yield, we will not back down in the face of attacks
either on us or on defenseless civilians. Second, we hold absolutely
to the 30th of June timetable for the handover of sovereignty
to the Iraqis, themselves. Third, we will redouble our efforts
to build the necessary capability of the Iraqis, themselves, to
take increased responsibility for security and law and order;
the measures for recruiting, training and equipping Iraqi police
and civil defense corps will be intensified. Fourth, we will carry
forward the plan for reconstruction and investment in Iraq so
that all parts of Iraq — Sunni, Shia and Kurdish — know that
they have a place and a future in the new Iraq that is being created.
Fifth, the U.N. will have a central role, as now, in developing
the program and machinery for political transition to full Iraqi
democracy. And we will seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution
to embody the political and security way forward.
It follows from this that the political and military
strategies will reinforce each other, as they do now. The purpose
of the military action is to create the security environment in
which the political aims can be achieved. And of course there
will be resistance. We have resistance now by assorted terrorists
in Fallujah, by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf. We shall
deal with both with the right balance of firmness in the face
of terror and a clear offer to all people in Iraq, including those
who might be tempted to support lawbreaking.
The new Iraq will give opportunities to all its
citizens, whatever their ethnic or religious background, but it
will not tolerate or compromise with those who want to wreck the
future for the law-abiding majority in Iraq.
Alongside this strategy for Iraq, we will seek
to broaden the agenda for international action and cooperation.
The G8 gives us the chance, under the chairmanship of the United
States this year and Britain the next, to construct such an agenda;
to allow us to defeat the security threat, but also to confront
the issues upon which the terrorists prey; to tackle the poverty,
conflict, religious and ethnic strife which mar so much of the
In this regard, we reaffirm again the importance
of a solution for the Middle East peace process. We welcome the
Israeli proposal to disengage from the Gaza and parts of the West
Bank. We want the Quartet to meet as soon as possible to discuss
how it can support the Palestinian Authority in particular, economically,
politically, and in respect of security, to respond to that offer.
We reaffirm that this is part of a process to get us back into
the road map, which we continue to believe offers the only realistic
route to the two states, Israel and Palestinian, living side-by-side
We have, therefore, an agenda for Iraq, for change
and for democracy in Iraq. We have, also, an agenda to help overcome
the problems in our world, the problems not just of terrorism,
but the problems in the breeding grounds of terrorism. And I believe
that our two countries will continue to play a role as allies
and friends in securing not just a decent future for the people
of Iraq, but a decent future of people everywhere in our world
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you,
sir. We will take three questions a side, and so why don’t you
ask one question to each of us.
You can start, Mr. Hunt.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, did
you ask Secretary Rumsfeld to draw up war plans against Iraq in
November, 2001, just as the military action was getting underway
in Afghanistan? Why couldn’t Iraq wait?
And Mr. Prime Minister —
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I thought — one question
apiece. Not one question or one question apiece.
You know, I can’t remember exact dates that far
back. I do know this, that at a key meeting at Camp David, the
subject of Iraq — this was on September the —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Fifteenth. We had been attacked
on September the 11th, obviously. On the 15th, we sat down, I
sat down with my national security team to discuss the response,
and the subject of Iraq came up. And I said as plainly as I possibly
could, we’ll focus on Afghanistan. That’s where we’ll focus. I
explained this to the Prime Minister, as well, in a subsequent
meeting. That was about the 20th of September, I think, we came
and talked about the response we were going to take in dealing
with the attacks on our country.
So I don’t remember in times of — what was being
developed or not being developed. But I do know that it was Afghanistan
that was on my mind. And I didn’t really start focusing on Iraq
until later on, particularly about the time I started going to
the United Nations with this message. To the United Nations, I
said, let’s uphold the demands of the world, finally, after decades
of — after a decade of threats to Saddam — you know, if you
don’t do this, this will happen — why don’t we finally just say
something that we mean?
And it was at that point in time, when a President
steps up in front of the United Nations and you say, either take
care of business or we, others will, you better mean it. And I
meant it when I went up in front of the United Nations at that
point in time.
Q I was asking you about November.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I can’t remember. I’d have to
get back to you about a specific moment. But I can tell you, in
September, I said, let us focus on Afghanistan, let us make sure
that we do this job and do it well.
Q Prime Minister, the — Prime Minister, the
handover of power is just, what, 80 days away, and yet the killing
is going on, there is still kidnapping. Do you accept it was an
error not to involve the U.N. much more early in the process?
And I wonder, Mr. President, if I could ask you
if that’s a mistake that you’re prepared to accept, as well?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: First of all, we have been
involving the U.N. throughout. And, actually, the work that Mr.
Brahimi has done, we’ve both made it clear that we welcome. And
I can tell you from the conversations I had with Kofi Annan last
night that I think there’s a common approach. Obviously, we have
to discuss the details in particular with the Iraqi groups, themselves,
as to how this political transition is to come about.
But let me just say one thing to you about the
violence and the killing there. There was always going to be resistance
to transition to democracy. And, in particular, as the date for
transition to a sovereign Iraqi government that’s going to be
broad based as that date draws near. There’s going to be violence.
There’s going to be violence from people who don’t want an Iraqi
future different from the past. And I don’t think we should be
surprised at this. There will be religious fanatics, outside terrorists,
former Saddam people who will come together and they will kill
innocent civilians, they will try and kill coalition troops, they
will kill Iraqis — they’ll kill anyone who stands in their way.
And the reason that they’re doing this is because they don’t want
a democratic Iraq.
Now, what is the response of ourselves, and,
indeed, the whole of the world community, regardless of whether
you support the war in Iraq or not? The response has got to be
that we hold firm, we keep to the political transition, we keep
to the timetable, and we do everything we humanly can to build
up the capability of the Iraqis to take control of their own affairs.
Because in Iraq there will be all sorts of people — that vast
majority of people out there who aren’t terrorists, who don’t
want to kill people, who want to lead an ordinary life, raise
their family, have a job, have some prosperity, have some freedom
— as other people in the world do — and they will be sitting
there, watching and waiting for one thing: do we have the will
and the determination to finish the job.
And what you’re hearing from myself and the President
of the United States is, we will stay there and we will get the
job done, because that’s what we promised to do. And we will continue
until it’s finished.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Steve.
Q Hosni Mubarak is saying the new U.S. policy
on the West Bank could escalate violence. How do you respond to
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think this is a fantastic opportunity
— the fact that Ariel Sharon said, we’re going to withdraw from
territory, is an historic moment. And it creates a chance for
the world to come together to help develop a Palestinian state
based upon a solid foundation, a foundation where the institutions
are bigger than the people, just like our respective governments
It’s a chance to provide a framework for international
aid that will help a Palestinian economy grow. It’s a chance for
people to come together to work on measures that will enable people
to live in peace — security measures. This is an historic moment,
and I think people need to view it as such, and seize the moment,
and help a Palestinian state become a reality, a Palestinian state
that can live at peace with its neighbors.
And, you know, there’s a lot of talk about the
final status discussions. And that’s all and good. The problem
is, is people, by doing so, don’t pay attention to the moment.
It’s a moment we’ve got to seize. The final status discussions
will become a lot plainer — and by the way, we’re not going to
prejudge the final status discussions. But the answers will become
a lot plainer once there is a peaceful state that’s committed
to fighting off terror and a state that’s capable of providing
hope for its people.
I think it’s possible. And the Prime Minister
and I have spent a lot of time on this subject. And I’m not going
to put words in his mouth, but he thinks it’s possible. And we
look forward to working together to make it possible. But it’s
going to require a commitment by the Palestinian people to find
leadership that is committed to peace and hope. And it’s going
to require a commitment by people in the neighborhood to support
the emergence of a state.
This is an historic moment, and I appreciate
the Prime Minister of Israel coming here to announce it. And we
intend to seize the moment and to take advantage of an opportunity.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I think what’s happening
here is that despite all the reaction — some of which I think
it’s expected and natural that always rebound around the world
when a statement like this is made — let’s just go back and see
what the opportunity is here. If there is disengagement by Israel
from the Gaza and from parts of the West Bank, that then gives
us the opportunity — and this is where the international community
has got to play its role — that gives us the opportunity to help
the Palestinian Authority with the economic, the political and
the security measures they take, and they need to take, in order
to get to the point where the concept of a viable Palestinian
state becomes a real possibility — not something that’s put in
a document and talked about, or discussed in resolutions or speeches,
but actually is a real, live possibility. And I see this not in
any shape or form as pushing the road map to the side. On the
contrary, I see it as a way back into the road map.
Now, I know there’ll be all sorts of issues to
do with the final status negotiations. And as the President said,
no one is prejudging those. But, you know, let’s not look this
particular opportunity in the eye and then turn away. It is an
opportunity for people.
And what I want to say to, not just to the Palestinians
and the Israelis, but to the international community is, whatever
the doubts and worries, get involved now, because there is a possibility
when that disengagement happens, the Palestinian Authority have
got to have the wherewithal in political, in economic, in security
terms to start running the land, the territory that will be, then,
under their control, and use that as the basis of getting back
into a proper road map negotiation.
Because we — this is a — we deal with many
difficult issues — Cyprus, we discussed earlier, Northern Ireland,
that I’m dealing with. The one advantage that you have in this
situation — which is as well to keep in mind, even at this difficult
moment — is that there is now an agreement that there should
be two states, an Israeli and a Palestinian state, and that Palestinian
state should be viable. And I can assure you, and I believe this
very strongly from the conversations I’ve had with the President,
that if the Palestinians are willing to make that effort and the
international community helps in doing so, then they will find
all of us, then, ready to engage and ensure that the proper discussion
and settlement of these issues takes place. We will be ready to
step up and do that.
Yes, Mark, sorry.
Q Mr. Sharon says this agreement by the President
has ended the dreams of Palestinians. Many Palestinians seem to
agree with that, as well. Why do you two not see it in that light?
The Israelis see it as a victory for their side.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I don’t — I haven’t
come across those particular words, and I would like to see the
context of that. But I don’t think that this ends anyone’s dream.
I think what it does is give us at least the possibility of moving
What have people been asking for years? They’ve
been asking for the Israelis to withdraw from the occupied territories.
Now, this is not the final end of it. This is not — this is not
a unilateral attempt to impose a settlement. But it does at least
give the Palestinians, if they’re able, then, to seize this opportunity,
the ability to construct in the Gaza and those parts of the West
Bank that will be under their control, with the settlements removed
from there. And, remember, I can’t remember exactly how many people
it is, it’s maybe 7,000 people that there are in the Gaza part
of — and those settlements withdrawn.
Now, forgive me, but I’ve been dealing with this
for almost a decade. And it’s been very, very difficult ever to
get a situation where an Israeli Prime Minister is prepared to
say, we’re actually going to take these settlements away — and
make that not conditional on something that the Palestinians are
doing, but say, we’re just going to do that.
Now, of course, there’s a whole string of things
that, then, have to be decided. All these issues have to be negotiated.
We have to get back into the road map and get on a proper process
towards a resolution of those issues.
But if that disengagement takes place, surely
the intelligent thing, not just for the Palestinians, but for
the international community, is to be ready to respond. And here’s
where the Quartet can play a part, the other part that’s in this
process. The European Union, for example. We put money into reconstruction
in the Palestinian Authority. I believe that there is a real possibility
if we can get the right political system there, the European Union
putting money in to help reconstruct the country, to help build
the proper security capability.
These are — these are things, however difficult,
that offer opportunities. That’s all I’m saying, and I think we
should seize them.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me say one quick thing about
this. I haven’t seen the context in which he said it, either.
But I can tell you what he told me. He told me he supported a
Palestinian state. He thinks it’s in Israel’s interest that there
be a Palestinian state. Obviously there’s a caveat. He wants a
peaceful Palestinian state. And he wants somebody who will promote
peace, not violence, somebody who’s willing to join with a lot
of us to fight off terror.
He also recognizes that it’s important that there
be hope in his neighborhood. And a peaceful Palestinian state
that gets help from the world is a state that can help small businesses
grow, help an education system develop, help a health care system
develop that provides basic services to its people. I think this
is a great opportunity. And you’re going to have to ask him exactly
what — whether that was in context or not.
But the impression I got, from having sat with
the man right upstairs here in the White House, was he views this
as a hopeful moment, as well, and made it clear that it’s a part
of the road map process, and knows what I know, that as we gain
confidence in a Palestinian leadership and a Palestinian state
that’s committed itself to peace, further progress will be made
— further progress will be made on territory. And, therefore,
the final status discussions — and I repeat, which are not being
prejudged by the American government, as stated clearly on Wednesday
— will be easier to deal with. And that’s what’s important.
We’ll seize the moment, is what the Prime Minister
Let’s see, April.
Q Mr. President, some of your critics are saying
that it’s a political ploy by you to stand firm to this June 30th
deadline, especially that you don’t have an Iraqi organization
to transfer power over to. What do you say to that? And for —
what organization would you like to see transferred power over
to, both of you, if you could answer that?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I appreciate that. I guess,
it’s a political year, everything I’m going to say is being —
they’re going to say is political. What’s important is that we
honor our word and honor our commitments to the Iraqi people.
I suspect that if you look deep into the soul of the Iraqi people,
they’d be saying, we don’t know if we can trust America and Great
Britain to be tough and hang in, hang in with us. And one of the
things we’ve said is, we’ll transfer sovereignty on June the 30th,
and we’re going to.
If they believe that we’ll cut and run — in
other words, if times get tough, and we’ll just say, see you later
— nobody is going to take a stand for freedom and liberty; they’re
afraid of getting killed or tortured or maimed. These are — I
said the other night that a year seems like a long time for Americans
and people in Great Britain. But a year is not much when you’re
trying to shed yourself from the habits of tyranny and torture.
Remember where these people came from. They came from a society
where if they dared speak their mind, it’s likely they’d end up
in a mass grave or in a torture room. If they criticized Saddam
Hussein in any way, they would be maimed or killed. And that’s
a hard thing to forget.
See, it’s easy for us to not recognize that fear
because, fortunately, our societies are such that we don’t have
to live with it. They did. And if they think that we will be leaving
because of politics, then they won’t take a risk toward freedom.
We’re not leaving because of politics, April. We’re standing firm
on our word because it’s right, and it’s in the long-term interests
of our countries that we stand firm, because a free Iraq is an
historic opportunity to change the world for the better.
There’s a lot of talk about the war on terror,
and can we win the war on terror. Of course we can win the war
on terror in the long run. We can do a lot of things in the short-term
to protect ourselves, starting with staying on the offensive.
But in the long-term, it’s the spread of freedom that will win
the war on terror.
See, the great thing about our two countries
is we believe in the power of free societies. And we don’t say
freedom is only — is consigned to one group of people or one
religion. We believe freedom is universal. And free societies
are peaceful societies. And freedom will be the cure for those
who harbor deep resentment and hatred in their heart. And I appreciate
the Prime Minister understanding that vision, as well. It’s a
wonderful feeling to have a strong ally in believing in the power
of free societies and liberty. And that’s why we’re going to stay
the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq,
we’re going to do it, because we want there to be a free society.
It’s in our long-term interests. It’s in the interests of our
children and our grandchildren that Iraq be free.
Q Mr. Prime Minister —
Q Who is going to —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Hold on for a second. That’s
going to be decided by Mr. Brahimi. That’s the recommendation
of Brahimi. He’s in the process — you’re watching a process unfold.
And you won’t have to ask that question on July the 1st.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: That’s absolutely right.
And what will happen is there will be discussions, obviously,
that Mr. Brahimi is conducting. But the idea will be to have a
broad-based government, and then next year to move to a new constitution,
and then, finally, to democratic elections. And that’s the —
so who’s going to end up governing Iraq ultimately? It’s going
to be the Iraqi people with a proper democratic constitution.
PRESIDENT BUSH: One final point on this — thank
you, April, for bringing it up. Transitional administrative law
that had been written is a — this is an historic document. And
it’s a wonderful opportunity. It is for the people of Iraq to
say, here’s how civilized people must live. Here’s how you protect
minority rights. Here’s how you protect the rights of religious
people. And here’s how civilized people should live if they’re
going to provide hope for the future.
And there doesn’t seem to be much focus on that,
what we call the TAL these days. And yet, it is a — it is the
cornerstone for what is going to be a free and hopeful society.
Go ahead, final question.
Q If I could just ask you about Iraq again. The
fact of the matter is that weapons of mass destruction have not
been found, that a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda has
not been proved; and that the year on, troop numbers are going
up, not coming down. So however determined you are to make a better
Iraq, isn’t the awkward fact for both of you that you misled your
peoples in taking troops to war and shedding blood as a result?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: First of all, I just remind
you that when, in November of 2002, we passed the United Nations
resolution calling upon Saddam to comply fully with the United
Nations inspectors, we did that on the basis of an understanding
that wasn’t confined simply to Great Britain and America, but
was right across the hall of the Security Council, that Saddam
Hussein was a threat — and, indeed, it would difficult to conclude
otherwise given that his was a regime that actually used chemical
weapons, weapons of mass destruction against their own people.
And yes, a year on, we have faced some difficult
times. We’ll face difficult times again in the future. But one
of the most interesting things to me is when I go and I actually
talk to other leaders out in that region — and some of them have
got very difficult politics over this issue, as you all know,
for very obvious reasons — but I’m struck by how much more secure
they feel with Saddam Hussein gone. And whatever their differences
over the conflict, they know how important it is to their region
and their stability and, actually, their chance of changing their
own country, that Iraq does become a stable and democratic state.
And this is one of these situations where —
you know, people often say to me, well is it — is the world safer,
given all the difficulty and violence that you have in Iraq? And
I say to them, well, first of all, don’t think that violence wasn’t
happening every day in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, it was. But,
secondly, when you take on and you deal with these issues, yes,
of course, you face difficult times. You’re bound to have them.
But the question is, is the aim and objective you’re trying to
secure one that if you do secure will make the world, indeed,
safer and better. And that’s why — I find now, whatever the differences
people have over the wisdom of the conflict — and that’s a debate
that will go on, and go on for many, many years, no doubt; the
historians can all pour over it — but everybody should recognize
the common interest today in making sure that Iraq achieves the
aim that we have set out and that everybody of any sense in the
international community supports, because if —
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: No, because I believe the
important thing is to make the world more secure as a result of
Saddam Hussein going, as a result of that threat, then, from Saddam
and his regime, the threat that they carried out in their own
region. I just listed for you two wars in which there were over
a million casualties; hundreds of thousands of his own people
Now, this is an historic struggle, and we’re
at a very, very crucial moment. And I think, for many, many people
in Iraq, I think what the President said just a moment ago is
absolutely right. Of course they’re going to be sitting there
asking, after all the decades of tyranny we’ve had, after all
the promises that the international community gave us, and frankly
let us down on, are these people going to stay the course?
And we are, and we want the international community
to work with us in doing that. We’re not setting aside the United
Nations or that process at all. We’re actually trying to work
with the U.N. now, because everybody understands the importance
of fulfilling that objective. And you just imagine an Iraq, stable
and prosperous and democratic, and think of the signal that would
send out. Think of the instant rebuttal of all that poisonous
propaganda about America, about it all being an attack on Muslims
or it being part of a war on civilization — Iraq, run by the
Iraqis, the wealth of that country owned by the Iraqis, and a
symbol of hope and democracy in the Middle East.
Now, for me this is a cause that any person of
good will and good heart should be able to support.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good job, Prime Minister. Thank
END 12:37 P.M. EDT