Bush: We will prevail
President promises 'full force' in event of war
By Joe Havely
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has braced Americans and the rest of the world for a possible war with Iraq, warning that America was determined in its resolve to see Saddam Hussein disarmed.
In a powerful State of the Union address Tuesday evening, he spoke of "decisive days" ahead and said that America was not prepared to accept the "serious and mounting threat" posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.
Time, he said, was fast running out and America was prepared to act alone if necessary.
"Our faith is sure, our resolve is firm and our union is strong," he said to the first of many standing ovations.
Looking determined and focused, the president told a joint session of the United States Congress that Saddam Hussein had shown "his utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world."
"If war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military -- and we will prevail," he said in a speech designed as a rallying call for action.
Although the initial portion of the speech focused on the president's domestic economy agenda, the tone of his address was clearly directed at a global audience, particularly those in America and elsewhere who have spoken out against military intervention in Iraq. (More on domestic agenda)
Challenging doubters over the urgent need for action, Bush called on members of the U.N. Security to convene on February 5 when he said Secretary of State Colin Powell would present evidence about Iraq's weapons programs and its links to terrorist groups.
Although he offered no new evidence, the president said intelligence sources, secret communications and statements from suspects in custody revealed that Saddam Hussein "aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda."
To illustrate the reality of the threat he painted a nightmare scenario of terrorists armed with some of the hundreds of tons of chemical and biological agents he said Iraq had failed to account for.
Overall, the emphasis of the speech was that America was prepared to act to disarm Iraq with or without U.N. backing and the time for weapons inspections would not be unlimited.
"We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him," Bush said.
'Not an option'
"America's purpose is more than to follow a process, it is to achieve a result," he said. "Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."
Speaking a day after international weapons inspectors presented a mixed progress report to the U.N. Security Council, Bush made it clear he did not believe Iraqi claims of compliance.
"The dictator of Iraq is not disarming -- on the contrary, he is deceiving," he said.
Turning to the people of Iraq, facing a massive build-up of U.S. military forces in the region, he said that if there was a war it would bring about their liberation.
"Your enemy is not surrounding you, your enemy is ruling you," Bush said.
"The day he is removed from power will be the day of your liberation."
Focusing on the on-going war on terrorism, Bush said that new threats were being reported every day. Nevertheless, he said, "the war goes on and we are winning."
"One by one the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice."
Notably absent from the speech however was the phrase "axis of evil" -- the term used by the president in his 2002 address grouping Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the greatest threat to world peace. (Axis of evil: One year on)
Nonetheless Bush left no doubt that his administration was committed to "confound the designs of evil men."
Speaking of the twentieth century threats of Hitlerism, militarism and communism, he said that "the ideology of power and domination" had appeared again.
"The gravest danger, he said, came from "outlaw regimes" that could sell weapons of mass destruction to terrorist allies who would use them "without the least hesitation."
"Once again, this nation and our friends are all that stand between a world at peace, and a world of chaos and constant alarm," Bush said, appealing to a sense of history.
"Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind."
Pointing to Iraq Bush said America and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to emerge.
North Korea, he said, had "deceived the world" about its nuclear weapons program but, he warned, America would not be blackmailed.
Concluding a speech that lasted just short of an hour, Bush laid out America's position in the world saying that "the call of history" had come to the right country.
Recalling the founding principles of the United States he sought to portray America's mission in Iraq not just as countering a threat to the United States but also as a fight to bring liberty to the people of Iraq.
"We exercise power without conquest," he said, "and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers."
Pointing to the American-led intervention in Afghanistan, a role he said would continue, Bush said America would "bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom."