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Bush 'Determined' to Confront Saddam, Disarm Iraq - 2003-03-01

President Bush, in his Saturday radio address, continued to prepare the American people for a possible war in Iraq. The president outlined plans to feed the Iraqi people and help establish democracy in the country, if he decides to use force to remove Saddam Hussein.

President Bush says he is determined to confront Saddam Hussein and destroy suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

"This dictator will not be allowed to intimidate and blackmail the civilized world, or to supply his terrible weapons to terrorist groups, who would not hesitate to use them against us," Mr. Bush said. " The safety of the American people depends on ending this threat."

In his weekly radio address, the president did not mention Iraq's agreement in principle to meet U.N. demands that it begin destroying missiles that exceed U.N. limits. Instead, he discussed plans for a post-war Iraq, promising to support efforts to feed Iraqi civilians and refugees.

After Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bush says, Iraqis will be free to choose new leaders, but only those, he says, who are inclusive and respect human rights and the rule of law.

"The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people," the president said. " Yet, we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected."

With more than 180,000 troops in the region, Mr. Bush says he is ready to use force against the Iraqi leader, if he does not comply with U.N. demands to disarm.

Mr. Bush says he is determined to enforce the demands of the U.N. Security Council. But there is considerable difference among the Council's permanent members about what those demands entail. All agree Iraq should disarm, but there is nothing in existing U.N. resolutions calling for a change of leadership.

Britain is ready to join a war against Iraq. But the Council's other permanent members France, Russia, and China currently oppose the use of force, and say U.N. disarmament demands can still be met through peaceful weapons inspections.

While the White House insists the president has still not decided whether to use force, Mr. Bush now speaks of a post-war Iraq, as if it were inevitable.

"It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war," he said. " Yet, the security of our nation and the hopes of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time."

In the Democratic party's response to the president's radio address, Washington Senator Patty Murray said President Bush should not let his focus on Iraq distract from domestic challenges, including a weak economy.

"As we confront challenges abroad, we cannot ignore what's happening here at home," she said. " To feel secure about our future, we need to do more than address global conflicts. We must strengthen our homeland security and improve our stagnant economy."

Democrats say the president's tax cut plan unfairly favors the rich. Mr. Bush says it is meant to stimulate the economy by putting more cash in people's pockets.