THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Monday, February 16, 1998
STANDING FOR PEACE, SECURITY AND FREEDOM
"In this century, we found out through harsh experience that the only answer to aggression and outlaw behavior is firmness, determination and, if necessary, action... If we act as one, we can safeguard our immediate interests -- and send a clear message to every would-be tyrant and terrorist that the international community has the wisdom, the will and the way to protect peace and security in a new era."
President Bill Clinton
Today, President Clinton meets with Defense Secretary Bill Cohen and the Joint Chiefs to be briefed on the status of American forces in the Persian Gulf. Following the meeting, the President speaks to the American people to discuss the issues at stake in the current crisis and the steps the U.S. is taking in the region to protect peace, security and freedom.
NEW SECURITY CHALLENGES IN THE 21ST CENTURY. As we prepare to enter a new millennium, we must also prepare to face new threats to our peace, security and freedom; these include: the spread of weapons of mass destruction, reckless acts by outlaw states, and terrorists, international criminals and drug traffickers.
THREATENING PEACE AND STABILITY. There is no more immediate example of these new threats than Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Saddam has built up an arsenal, including chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. More important, Saddam has used these against combatants and civilians, against a foreign adversary and against his own people. His regime endangers the safety of Iraq's people, the stability of the region, and the security of the world. It also challenges much of what we are working for:
promotion of a just and lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors;
protection of the free flow of vital resources;
preservation of the stability and security of our friends in the region;
prevention of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction;
spread of prosperity and opportunity.
A PEACEFUL, DIPLOMATIC SOLUTION TO THE CURRENT CRISIS. The United States has repeatedly and unambiguously made clear that its preference is for a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the current crisis. At the end of the Gulf War, as a condition for the cease-fire, the United Nations demanded -- and Saddam agreed -- to declare in 15 days his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles. The U.N. set up a special commission of highly trained international weapons experts, called UNSCOM, to monitor Iraq's commitment. Over the last several years, these inspectors have uncovered and destroyed in Iraq more weapons of mass destruction capacity than were destroyed during the entire Gulf War. Now Saddam is trying again to thwart their mission.
To reach a genuine, diplomatic outcome, Iraq must agree, ver y soon, to free, full and unfettered inspection of all sites, everywhere in Iraq, with no dilution or diminishment of UNSCOM.
A COALITION STRATEGY. The United States is not acting alone. Our force posture in the region is possible only through the support of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the GCC states and Turkey. Many other friends and allies have agreed to provide forces, bases or logistical support, including: the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.