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President Bush to Outline Plans for Post-war Iraq - 2003-02-27


President Bush will outline his plans for a post-war Iraq and peace in the Middle East during a speech later in Washington. It is part of the president's campaign to rally support for possible military action in Iraq.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president will give a "big picture" speech looking at peace, disarmament, and security in Iraq, as well as its implications for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

President Bush will again discuss the threats posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his violation of U.N. resolutions demanding that he disarm.

Mr. Fleischer says the president will also explain the humanitarian role Washington intends to play to bring "aid and comfort" to the Iraqi people, if Mr. Bush decides military force is necessary to disarm Iraq.

In remarks at a meeting of Hispanic leaders, President Bush said he will continue to work with the United Nations to disarm Iraq, but is ready to lead his own coalition if the Security Council fails to act.

"The use of our military is the absolute last option," he said. "It is the last alternative for the president. But the risk of doing nothing, the risk of assuming that Saddam Hussein will change, the risk of thinking and hoping for the best for the American people far outweighs the risk of committing troops if we have to. The choice is Saddam Hussein's to make."

Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction and believes President Bush is determined to attack the country, regardless of what the United Nations decides.

President Bush will stress the important role the United Nations has to play in building a more stable region if U.S. force is used to drive Saddam Hussein from power.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is looking for votes in the Security Council for a U.S., British, and Spanish resolution warning of serious consequences if Iraq fails to disarm.

The president's National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, says the Security Council's legitimacy is at stake if it allows Iraq to continue violating more than a decade of resolutions without consequence.

"It is the enforcement mechanism that gives the international community a way to stand up to the horrible dictators, to those who are proliferating weapons of mass destruction, to those who are threatening peace and security," she said. "It is the Security Council that gives the international community the ability, as one, to stand up to that. And if we allow Saddam Hussein to continue to defy the Security Council in the way that he has, the Security Council will be severely weakened."

In an interview with VOA Tuesday, Ms. Rice said a French, German, and Russian plan to continue U.N. inspections would only help the Iraqi leader further divide the Security Council and hide illegal weapons.