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Bush Rallies Support for Military Action in State of the Union Address

President Bush says Iraq's Saddam Hussein is deceiving not disarming and that the United States will provide evidence to that next week, at the United Nations. In his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation, Mr. Bush sought to rally support at home and abroad for possible military action.

It was perhaps the most important speech of his presidency - a State of the Union address designed to prepare a nation for war and to build confidence in the administration and its policies.

Point by point, President Bush detailed the Iraqi threat and made the case for action. He says Saddam Hussein has defied international disarmament demands and must be held to account.

"Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm," the president said. "He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations and for the opinion of the world."

The president says there is evidence of ties between Iraq and terrorists - adding that Saddam Hussein wants weapons of mass destruction to dominate, intimidate and attack. He announced Secretary of State Colin Powell will go before the United Nations, next Wednesday, to provide proof to the Security Council.

"Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraq's illegal weapons programs; its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors; and its links to terrorist groups," he said.

Mr. Bush says the United States will consult the United Nations. But he made clear, once again, that, if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force. He says, if war is necessary, the full might of the U.S. military will come into play and America will prevail.

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent," Mr. Bush said. "Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?"

But, although he talked about a possible military response to Iraq, he emphasized that North Korea's nuclear weapons program warrants a different strategy. He says his administration is working with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia to find a peaceful solution.

Mr. Bush also stressed that, while the United States is taking steps to make the world safer, it is acting to make it better. To that end, he announced plans for a $15 billion initiative to fight the disease AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

"This nation can lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature," he said. "And, this nation is leading the world in confronting and defeating the man-made evil of international terrorism."

Last year, Mr. Bush began his State of the Union address with comments on terrorism, and the rogue nations that form, what he called an "axis of evil." This time, the president began with remarks on domestic issues perhaps a response to public opinion surveys that show most Americans do not approve of his handling of the economy.

Mindful of the lessons of his father who lost a bid for re-election after the 1991 Gulf War, because of economic concerns, the president went out of his way to demonstrate his commitment to tackling the issues that affect the everyday lives of most Americans.

"Our first goal is clear: we must have an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job," he said.

The Democratic Party response to the speech touched on many of the same issues. It was delivered by Gary Locke, the governor of the western state of Washington. He urged the president to continue to approach world problems by working with other nations.

"We need allies today in 2003, just as much as we needed them in Desert Storm, and just as we needed them in D-Day in 1944 when American soldiers, including my father, fought to vanquish the Nazi threat," he said.

Governor Locke said the Bush administration must remember that the United States is far stronger when it stands with other nations than when it stands alone.