President Bush says a liberated Iraq could help bring peace and stability to the entire Middle East. In a Washington speech Wednesday night, Mr. Bush talked about his vision of a post Saddam Hussein Iraq, and prepared the American people for a possible war.
It was a speech with several objectives. Mr. Bush put pressure on Saddam Hussein, tried to reassure the Muslim world, and began the task of preparing America for the high cost of possible military action.
The president said a disarmed Iraq could have a positive impact on the region. He said the ouster of Saddam Hussein would set the stage for progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by drying up a key source of support for terrorists.
"America will seize every opportunity in the pursuit of peace. And the end of the present regime in Iraq will create such an opportunity," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush promised a sustained commitment to rebuild Iraq should war become necessary, and vowed to remain in that country only as long as necessary and not a day more.
"America has made and kept this commitment before in the peace that followed a world war," President Bush said.
The president said America did not leave behind occupying armies, but constitutions, parliaments and an atmosphere where democracy could thrive.