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In a live report from the Oval Office, President George H.W. Troops were sent to the Arab nation to deter further Iraqi aggression after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
Imperialist in Chief: A Critical History of George H. W. Bush’s War on Iraq
The U.S. media haven’t been shy about lionizing the late President George H. W. Bush in their reflections on his life and legacy. This behavior is hardly surprising we saw the same worship of the late Republican Senator John McCain via the erasure of any discussion of U.S. war crimes and genocidal violence in Vietnam, in favor of the predictable “war hero” narrative.
On CNN, Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars celebrates the “sheer humility” and “decency” of the elder President Bush, while the Washington Post emphasizes his “steady hand” at the Cold War’s end, at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The New York Timesfawns over Bush as a “restrained and seasoned leader,” while celebrating the 1991 U.S. assault on Iraq. “If Mr. Bush’s term helped close out one era abroad [the Cold War], it opened another. In January 1991, he assembled a global coalition to eject Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, sending hundreds of thousands of troops in a triumphant military campaign that to many helped purge the ghosts of Vietnam.”
Portraits of late-heads of state and other prominent American leaders typically portray them as freedom-loving patriots who sacrificed for the good of their nation and in the fight for freedom, justice, and democracy abroad. For those with a critical awareness of Bush the elder’s time in office, little in this narrative is worth defending. Bush demonstrated a brazen commitment to realpolitik and enhancing American imperial power, particularly in U.S. policy in the Middle East. But this inconvenient truth simply “won’t do” in a sycophantic media system where journalists worship myths about the U.S. as global protector and savior.
What follows is a much-needed corrective of the hagiographies that follow the passing of U.S. heads of state. Bush’s administration, particularly via the 1991 Iraq war, pursued one of the most blatant and dishonest propaganda campaigns in modern history. To borrow from Chomsky and Herman, the success of this campaign speaks to the effectiveness of official and journalistic efforts to “manufacture consent” in the selling of U.S. imperial war.
The Invasion of Kuwait: The Onset of the U.S. Propaganda Campaign
With the 1991 Gulf War, President George H. W. Bush utilized propaganda on multiple fronts to build support for war. After Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait in August 1990, the Bush administration quickly went to work portraying Hussein as a global threat and menace. Both Iraq and Kuwait are rich in oil, prompting American concerns with Hussein’s expansionist ambitions in a part of the world holding one-quarter of known oil reserves.
Hussein had a history of aggressive foreign policy. He invaded Iran and fought a war from 1980 to 1988 – with U.S. support – that ended in a bloody stalemate. Various estimates suggest the war caused from hundreds of thousands to a million deaths on both sides. Hussein’s motives for attacking Iran derived from a border dispute, in addition to concern that the Iranian revolution (1979) would motivate Iraq’s own citizens (its Shia majority) to rebel against Saddam’s dictatorship. After the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war, Hussein turned his attention to Kuwait, listing numerous grievances against its ruling royal family. Among them included: charges that Kuwait was slant-drilling into Iraq’s southern Rumaila oil field, the claim that Kuwait was using the oil to flood the international market, thereby driving down global oil prices, anger that Kuwait was demanding repayment of an $80 billion loan funding the Iran-Iraq war, and the claim that the borders between Iraq and Kuwait were artificially drawn by colonial powers, and that unification of Iraq and Kuwait under Hussein was necessary to Arab unity. None of these reasons were compelling to U.S. officials, who (correctly) viewed the attack on Kuwait as an assault on an oil-rich ally.
In selling the American people on war, Bush offered several reasons for why the U.S. should force Iraq from Kuwait. These included the following: Hussein violated international law by invading Kuwait Hussein was a brutal dictator who killed his own people Hussein committed human rights atrocities in Kuwait and Iraq was a threat to American national security. Regarding international law, Bush condemned Hussein for an “outrageous and brutal act of aggression,” deriding him for “threatening his neighbors.” He warned that the invasion of Kuwait would empower Hussein to commit future acts of aggression:
“We must recognize that Iraq may not stop using force to advance its ambitions. Iraq has amassed an enormous war machine on the Saudi border capable of initiating hostilities with little or no additional preparation. Given the Iraqi government’s history of aggression against its own citizens as well as its neighbors, to assume Iraq will not attack again would be unwise and unrealistic.”
The president dismissed the “puppet regime imposed from the outside…Saddam Hussein’s forces will leave Kuwait. The legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored to its rightful place, and Kuwait will once again be free.”
Human rights were a prominent theme in Bush’s rhetoric. Highlighting a history of executions and “routine torture” against dissenters, Bush referred to Hussein as “Hitler revisited,” promising that “America will not stand aside. The world will not allow the strong to swallow up the weak.” Central to human rights rhetoric was the claim that Iraqi troops brutalized premature babies in Kuwaiti hospitals. At the heart of this claim was testimony in Congress from a 15-year old Kuwaiti girl known simply as “Nayirah,” in October 1990, who claimed that she personally witnessed Iraqi troops “come to the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators. They took the incubators and left the babies to die on the cold floor.” This story was cited by President Bush as a primary justification for war. As Bush recounted: “They had kids in incubators, and they were thrown out of the incubators, so that Kuwait could be systematically dismantled.” Bush cited the incubator story at least ten times in subsequent weeks, and was quick to emphasize human rights issues, rather than U.S. oil interests, as he stated that “it isn’t oil that we’re concerned about, it is aggression. And this aggression is not going to stand…What we are looking at is good and evil, right and wrong. And day after day, shocking new horrors reveal the true nature of terror in Kuwait.”
President Bush also referred to Hussein’s history of using chemical weapons, and his supposed development of nuclear weapons, as evidence that the U.S. needed to act. Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds in the northern city of Halabja in 1988, resulting in 6,800 deaths (mostly civilians), and he had ordered the torture and mass killing of any Iraqis challenging his authority. Bush warned: “while the world waited, Saddam sought to add to the chemical weapons arsenal he now possesses, an infinitely more dangerous weapon of mass destruction – a nuclear weapon.” The president promised to “knock out Hussein’s nuclear bomb potential,” and his “chemical weapons facilities.”
Following the invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. introduced wide-ranging sanctions against Iraq, while mobilizing U.S. military forces for war. The U.S.-allied attack began on January 17, 1991 and culminated with the rapid military defeat of Iraq and its forced expulsion from Kuwait, in addition to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Hundreds of thousands of civilians more died in the aftermath of war, as the U.S.-supported sanctions prevented Iraq from rebuilding vital infrastructure, including its electric grid and water purification facilities. President Bush briefly admitted in the pre-war period that “Iraq is already a rich and powerful country that possesses the world’s second largest reserves of oil” and that “our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence. Much of the world is even more dependent upon imported oil and is even more vulnerable to Iraqi threats.” However, Bush insisted that oil was not a serious reason for the war, despite his admission. In his speeches throughout the fall of 1990, Bush focused almost entirely on issues of human rights, national security, and state sovereignty when making the case for war, not on oil concerns.
President Bush’s pro-war rhetoric galvanized public support for war throughout the fall and winter of 1990. Gallup surveys found that, while feelings that the U.S. should “begin military action against Iraq” stood at just 21 percent in August, the number had risen to 41 percent by December, and 49 percent by January 1991 – a growth 28 percentage points. When asked if Americans believed it was “worth going to war,” 45 percent said yes in August 1990, compared to 51 percent in November 1990, and 71 percent by late-January 1991 once fighting began. The twin factors of pro-war rhetoric from officials and the media, and the onset of military conflict, worked in tandem to aid the administration in cultivating and maintaining war support.
Rhetoric versus Reality in the Iraq War
The lofty rhetoric employed by the president hardly matched the history of U.S.-Iraqi relations. Numerous distortions were presented as fact, and inconvenient truths were ignored by political elites and the media. One of the highest profile distortions was the claim that Iraqi troops threw Kuwaiti premature babies to the floor, while stealing their incubators. Reporting by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found there was no evidence these events occurred. What of the testimony from the Kuwait girl, Nayirah? This 15-year old girl was not a neutral bystander, but the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. She was part of the Kuwaiti government’s effort to get back into power, and was coached to deliver her lines in front of the Congressional committee by the U.S. public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, as part of the “Citizens for a Free Kuwait” astroturf “movement” funded by the Kuwaiti government, which allocated millions of dollars to a propaganda campaign aimed at cultivating public war support. In reaction to this deception, Amnesty International condemned President Bush for his “opportunistic manipulation of the international human rights movement.” However, the details of this deception emerged too late to make a difference in deterring support for war.
What about the comparison between Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler, and the claim that Iraq threatened U.S. national security? Although Iraq did retain a nuclear program prior to the 1991 Gulf war, there was little evidence one way or another in the early 1990s regarding the state of the program. The lack of details meant the Bush administration had little direct insight into whether a nuclear threat existed, despite public claims otherwise. President Bush also warned that Iraq was amassing massive numbers of troops along the Iraq-Saudi border, and that potential aggression against Saudi Arabia merited war. Commercial satellite photos from 1990, however, revealed that there was no confirmable build-up of Iraqi troops on the Saudi border at the time.
Bush’s comparison of Hussein to Hitler was also propagandistic. There’s no doubt that Hussein was an aggressive, repressive dictator, as seen in his attacks on Iran, Kuwait, and his own people. But Hussein’s criminality was minor league compared to the most criminal authoritarian regimes in history. Hussein was a regional aggressor, not a global one. The Nazis were the largest existential threat the U.S. faced in its history. By contrast, although Iraq possessed the fourth largest military in the world in 1990, that military was technologically three-quarters of a century behind the U.S. military. The dominant tactic used by the Iraqis in the conflict with Iran was trench warfare, which had not been used by the U.S. and its allies since World War I. Iraqis hiding in trenches were no match for U.S. stealth bombers, fighter-jets, and tanks. U.S. tanks, fitted with plows, rode up to the trenches, burying Iraqi troops alive, and killing hundreds. Thousands more died on the “Highway of Death” between Iraq and Kuwait. Retreating Iraqi military convoys were savaged by U.S. fighter-jets, leading to mass incinerations and an image of devastation that became an enduring symbol of the war’s one-sided destructiveness, wrought almost entirely against Iraqis. U.S. fighter jets referred to their attack runs against Iraqi vehicles as a “Turkey shoot,” indicating the severity of the slaughter. While an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Iraqi troops were killed in the conflict, 147 U.S. deaths in were recorded – translating into an imbalance of between 68-to-1 to 82-to-1. The 1991 Gulf War and the Second World War were also radically different in their duration. The U.S. defeated Iraq in just five weeks of fighting in 1991. In contrast, the Second World War spanned from 1939 to 1945, and the U.S. involvement extended for three-and-a-half years, from late 1941 through mid-1945. In short, Bush’s comparison of Hussein and Hitler was an incredible achievement of propaganda.
The Bush administration also deceived the public on Iraq’s chemical weapons. The U.S. provided billions in military and economic aid to Iraq during the 1980s, up until Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. was a supporter of Hussein’s regime during the worst of his atrocities, before, during, and after the gassing of Halabja in 1988. The issue barely appeared in the news in the run-up to the Gulf War, but it was more often reported following the invasion of Kuwait, since the gassing played into the United States’ own narrative that it was concerned with human rights in Kuwait.But the U.S. was anything but concerned with the victims of Hussein’s crimes when the deaths occurred – his victims were pawns in a geopolitical power game between the U.S. and Iraq.
Looking at past support for Hussein, one sees U.S. fingerprints all over the Iraqi chemical attacks on the Kurds and against Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war. President Bush, working with Senators such as Republican Bob Dole, fought against the instituting of sanctions against Iraq after the Halabja gassing. Furthermore, as reported by the New York Times in 2002, discussions with “senior military officers” revealed that the Reagan administration secretly provided “critical battle planning assistance [to Iraq against Iran] at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war.” ABC’s Nightline reported in 1992 that the “Reagan/Bush administrations permitted – and frequently encouraged – the flow of money, agricultural credits, dual use technology (allowing Iraq to develop chemical weapons), chemicals, and weapons to Iraq.” In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, U.S. officials removed thousands of pages from U.N. reports that documented how the U.S. supplied the components for developing chemical weapons. As the German newspaper Die Tageszetung reported:
“The missing pages [of the U.N. report] implicated twenty-four U.S. based corporations and the successive Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. administration in connection with the illegal supplying of Saddam Hussein government with myriad weapons of mass destruction and the training to use them.”
The Bush administration enabled the chemical weapons atrocities committed by Hussein. Widespread recognition of this harsh reality, however, did not materialize in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, as it threatened to undermine the narrative that the U.S. was concerned with human rights in Iraq.
Finally, what of President Bush’s insistence that oil was not a significant interest of the U.S.? Available evidence shows this claim was a lie, told to obscure U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East. Now-declassified government documents reveal that oil interests were of central concern to the president. National Security Directive 26, signed by President Bush in 1989, stated that
“Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states in the area [of which Iraq was one in 1989] are vital to U.S. national security. The United States remains committed to defending its vital interests in the region, if necessary and appropriate through the use of U.S. military force, against the Soviet Union or any other power with interests inimical [contrary] to our own.”
At the time, Bush wrote that “normal relations between the U.S. and Iraq would serve our longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle East.” National Security Directive 54, which Bush signed in January 1991, also declared that Middle East oil was vital to U.S. national security and that it remained committed to using force to defend “its” interest [Iraqi oil presumably belongs to the United States]. The Bush administration reversed course, however, declaring in the document that “Iraq, by virtue of its unprovoked invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and its subsequent brutal occupation, is clearly a power with interests inimical to our own.” The two NSD documents reveal that the primary U.S. concern in Iraq was oil, and that Bush was willing to marginalize Iraqi human rights atrocities in pursuit of neocolonial interests. The documents also revealed that the U.S. was committed to the use of force in the name of dominating Iraqi oil, contrary to President Bush’s public lies.
Getting Beyond the Grand Men of History
Media eulogies of President Bush will focus on the “greatness” of the former president as a man of honor, determination, and resolve. But U.S. imperialism is not about one man, a personality, or about the power of the will. To strip away this mystique from the way we talk about U.S. presidents, however, would expose the naked neocolonial ambitions of U.S. foreign policy. There is nothing noble about the brutal motives that drive U.S. foreign policy, and few Americans will be willing to defend criminal foreign wars if they are made aware of the dirty details that define these conflicts. It’s the job of the “stenographers to power” in the press, to borrow a phrase from David Barsamian, to echo the propaganda claims of U.S. officials. Considering this task, journalists much prefer romantic notions of American altruism to more sober assessments of the president as imperial manipulator. And by emphasizing the legacy of George H. W. Bush independent of presidential propaganda, the media marginalize the central issues of U.S. militarism and imperialism in the Middle East.
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The Lies We Are Told About Iraq
The Bush administration’s confrontation with Iraq is as much a contest of credibility as it is of military force. Washington claims that Baghdad harbors ambitions of aggression, continues to develop and stockpile weapons of mass destruction and maintains ties to Al Qaeda. Lacking solid evidence, the public must weigh Saddam Hussein’s penchant for lies against the administration’s own record. Based on recent history, that’s not an easy choice.
The first Bush administration, which featured Dick Cheney, Paul D. Wolfowitz and Colin L. Powell at the Pentagon, systematically misrepresented the cause of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the nature of Iraq’s conduct in Kuwait and the cost of the Persian Gulf War. Like the second Bush administration, it cynically used the confrontation to justify a more expansive and militaristic foreign policy in the post-Vietnam era.
When Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the first President Bush likened it to Nazi Germany’s occupation of the Rhineland. “If history teaches us anything, it is that we must resist aggression or it will destroy our freedoms,” he declared. The administration leaked reports that tens of thousands of Iraqi troops were massing on the border of Saudi Arabia in preparation for an invasion of the world’s major oil fields. The globe’s industrial economies would be held hostage if Iraq succeeded.
The reality was different. Two Soviet satellite photos obtained by the St. Petersburg Times raised questions about such a buildup of Iraqi troops. Neither the CIA nor the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency viewed an Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia as probable. The administration’s estimate of Iraqi troop strength was also grossly exaggerated. After the war, Newsday’s Susan Sachs called Iraq the “phantom enemy”: “The bulk of the mighty Iraqi army, said to number more than 500,000 in Kuwait and southern Iraq, couldn’t be found.”
Students of the Gulf War largely agree that Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was primarily motivated by specific historical grievances, not by Hitler-style ambitions. Like most Iraqi rulers before him, Hussein refused to accept borders drawn by Britain after World War I that virtually cut Iraq off from the Gulf. Iraq also chafed at Kuwait’s demand that Iraq repay loans made to it during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Administration officials seemed to understand all this. In July 1990, U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad April Glaspie told Hussein that Washington had “no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait,” a statement she later regretted.
The National Security Council’s first meeting after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was equally low key. As one participant reportedly put it, the attitude was, “Hey, too bad about Kuwait, but it’s just a gas station -- and who cares whether the sign says Sinclair or Exxon?”
But administration hawks, led by Cheney, saw a huge opportunity to capitalize on Iraq’s move against Kuwait. The elder Bush publicly pronounced, “a line has been drawn in the sand,” and he called for a “new world order . free from the threat of terror.” His unstated premise, as noted by National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, was that the United States “henceforth would be obligated to lead the world community to an unprecedented degree” as it attempted “to pursue our national interests.”
The administration realized that a peaceful solution to the crisis would undercut its grand ambitions. The White House torpedoed diplomatic initiatives to end the crisis, including a compromise, crafted by Arab leaders, to let Iraq annex a small slice of Kuwait and withdraw. To justify war with Hussein, the Bush administration condoned a propaganda campaign on Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait. Americans were riveted by a 15-year-old Kuwaiti so-called refugee’s eyewitness accounts of Iraqi soldiers yanking newborn babies out of hospital incubators in Kuwait, leaving them on a cold floor to die.
The public didn’t know that the eyewitness was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, and that her congressional testimony was reportedly arranged by public relations firm Hill & Knowlton and paid for by Kuwait as part of its campaign to bring the United States into war.
To this day, most people regard Operation Desert Storm as remarkably clean, marked by the expert use of precision weapons to minimize “collateral damage.” While American TV repeatedly broadcast pictures of cruise missiles homing in on their targets, the Pentagon quietly went about a campaign of carpet bombing. Of the 142,000 tons of bombs dropped on Iraq and Kuwait in 43 days, only about 8% were of the “smart” variety.
The indiscriminate targeting of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure left the country in ruins. A United Nations mission in March 1991 described the allied bombing of Iraq as “near apocalyptic” and said it threatened to reduce “a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society . to a preindustrial age.” Officially, the U.S. military listed only 79 American soldiers killed in action, plus 59 members of allied forces.
A subsequent demographic study by the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that Iraq probably suffered 145,000 dead -- 40,000 military and 5,000 civilian deaths during the war and 100,000 postwar deaths because of violence and health conditions. The war also produced more than 5 million refugees. Subsequent sanctions were estimated to have killed more than half a million Iraqi children, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and other international bodies.
The Gulf War amply demonstrated the merit of two adages: “War is hell” and “Truth is the first casualty.” To date, nothing suggests that a second Gulf War would prove any less costly to truth or humans.
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“From the outset, acting hand in hand with others, we’ve sought to fashion the broadest possible international response to Iraq’s aggression. The level of world cooperation and condemnation of Iraq is unprecedented.”
Reflecting broad public support for the president’s Iraq policies, Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), the House majority leader, said, “Here at home, the sense of unity and the absence of widespread opposition to this action in the Persian Gulf testify to our powerful, instinctive feeling that this is a cause worth standing and fighting for.”
On Jan. 8, 1991 — one week before the Jan. 15 deadline issued to Iraq to withdraw its forces specified in the Nov. 29, 1990, United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 — Bush requested a congressional joint resolution authorizing him to use force against the Iraqi military.
Initially acting without congressional authorization, the Pentagon had deployed more than 700,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region in the preceding five months in response to Iraq's Aug. 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait. (In all, 147 were eventually killed by enemy action.)
The Senate approved the resolution on Jan. 12 by a vote of 52 to 47. Two Republicans, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mark Hatfield of Oregon, voted against the resolution while five Democrats supported it.
On the same day, the House, by a vote of 250 to 183, passed the resolution. The air attack to expel the invaders from Kuwait — under the umbrella of a broad coalition based in Saudi Arabia that included both Syrian and Egyptian forces — began on Jan. 17.
Six weeks after Iraq invaded Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush went before a joint session of Congress on this day in 1990 to lay out the administration’s response to the attack.
With a large U.S. military buildup already under way in the Middle East, the president outlined a series of goals. They included the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces, the restoration of the Kuwaiti government, the promotion of security and stability in the region and the safety of U.S. citizens trapped in Kuwait and Iraq.
“Iraq will not be permitted to annex Kuwait,” Bush told the lawmakers in the presence of foreign diplomats, including the Iraqi ambassador. “And that’s not a threat, not a boast. It’s just the way it’s going to be.”
“Out of these troubled times,” Bush went on to say, “. a new world order can emerge: a new era, freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace.”
The president used the crisis to urge the Democratic-led Congress to approve a stalled budget agreement and to support enhanced domestic oil exploration and production.
Reflecting broad public support for the president’s Iraq policies, Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), the majority leader, said, “Here at home, the sense of unity and the absence of widespread opposition to this action in the Persian Gulf testify to our powerful, instinctive feeling that this is a cause worth standing and fighting for.”
In early 1991, by a vote of 250-183, the House passed the Persian Gulf Resolution, authorizing Bush to use force against the Iraqi military. This soon led to a successful effort to expel the invaders from Kuwait — under the umbrella of a broad coalition based in Saudi Arabia that included Syrian and Egyptian forces.
George Bush's speech to the UN general assembly
The United Nations was born in the hope that survived a world war, the hope of a world moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear.
The founding members resolved that the peace of the world must never again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man.
We created a United Nations security council so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes.
After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties and squandered lives, we've dedicated ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all and to a system of security defended by all.
Today, these standards and this security are challenged. Our commitment to human dignity is challenged by persistent poverty and raging disease. The suffering is great. And our responsibilities are clear.
The United States is joining with the world to supply aid where it reaches people and lifts up lives, to extend trade and the prosperity it brings, and to bring medical care where it is desperately needed.
As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will return to Unesco.
This organisation has been reformed, and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning. Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts, ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable.
In the Middle East there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides.
America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people,
Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices.
My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.
Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions.
In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive intentions of our enemies. This threat hides within many nations, including my own.
In cells, in camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction and building new bases for their war against civilisation.
And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale.
In one place and one regime, we find all these dangers in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to confront.
Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources.
Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.
To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear to him and to all, and he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.
He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge, by his deceptions and by his cruelties, Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.
In 1991, security council resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities, which the council said threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.
Last year, the UN commission on human rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights and that the regime's repression is all-pervasive.
Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape.
Wives are tortured in front of their husbands children in the presence of their parents and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.
In 1991, the UN security council, through resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise.
Last year, the secretary-general's high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwaiti, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.
In 1991, the UN security council through resolution 687 demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism and permit no terrorist organisations to operate in Iraq.
Iraq's regime agreed. It broke its promise. In violation of security council resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organisations that direct violence against Iran, Israel and western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder.
In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American president. Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of September 11. And al-Qaida terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.
In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long range missiles and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections.
Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge. From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons.
After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of litres of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs and aircraft spray tanks.
UN inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared and has failed to account for more than three metric tonnes of material that could be used to produce biological weapons.
Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.
United Nations inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.
And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf war.
We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.
Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program, weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, and accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance.
Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon.
Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminium tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.
And Iraq's state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.
Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with ranges beyond the 94 miles permitted by the UN Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long range missiles that can inflict mass death throughout the region.
In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with security council resolutions.
In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials.
He blames the suffering of Iraq's people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself and to buy arms for his country.
By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens. In 1991, Iraq promised UN inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long range missiles.
Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading and harassing UN inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely.
Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the security council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations.
The security council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations.
The security council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations, and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behaviour totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.
As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the last UN inspector set foot in Iraq - four years for the Iraqi regime to plan and to build and to test behind the cloak of secrecy.
We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left?
The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger.
Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?
The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective and respectful and successful.
We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime.
Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it - as all states are required to do by UN security council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmens and others - again, as required by Security council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf war personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues as required by security council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept UN administration of funds from that program to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq and it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis, a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty and internationally supervised elections.
The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal.
The people of Iraq deserve it. The security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest. And open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq. We can harbour no illusions - and that's important today to remember.
Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel.
His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and 40 Iraqi villages.
My nation will work with the UN security council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account.
We will work with the UN security council for the necessary resolutions.
But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted.
The security council resolutions will be enforced, the just demands of peace and security will be met or action will be unavoidable and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.
Events can turn in one of two ways. If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission.
The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbours, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear.
The regime will remain unstable - the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom and isolated from the progress of our times.
With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow.
And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September 11 would be a prelude to far greater horrors.
If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity.
They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world.
These nations can show by their example that honest government and respect for women and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.
Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather.
We must stand up for our security and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind.
By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.
The Nayirah testimony was a false testimony given before the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990 by a 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah. The testimony was widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States senators and President George H. W. Bush in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah's last name was Al-Ṣabaḥ (Arabic: نيرة الصباح ) and that she was the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign, which was run by the American public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah's testimony has come to be regarded as a classic example of modern atrocity propaganda.  
In her emotional testimony, Nayirah claimed that after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die.
Her story was initially corroborated by Amnesty International, a British NGO, which published several independent reports about the killings  and testimony from evacuees. Following the liberation of Kuwait, reporters were given access to the country. An ABC report found that "patients, including premature babies, did die, when many of Kuwait's nurses and doctors . fled" but Iraqi troops "almost certainly had not stolen hospital incubators and left hundreds of Kuwaiti babies to die."  Amnesty International reacted by issuing a correction, with executive director John Healey subsequently accusing the Bush administration of "opportunistic manipulation of the international human rights movement". 
In Reality, The Bush Administration's Rationale For Invading Iraq Depended On Claim Of An Active Weapons Program
New York Times: Bush Insisted That Iraq Was Hiding An Active Weapons Program. In its report, The New York Times clarified that the discovery of the old chemical weapons “did not support the government's invasion rationale”:
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world's risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims. [The New York Times, 10/15/14]
Washington Post: The Bush Administration "Staked Its WMD Claims On An Active, On-Going Program." The Washington Post fact checked whether the NYT report reflected what the Bush administration claimed about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, pointing out that the Times report says the “weapons were manufactured before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait,” but the Bush administration “staked its WMD claims on an active, on-going program that was restarted after the Kuwait conflict.” [The Washington Post, 10/15/14]
President Bush: Iraq "Possesses and Produces Chemical And Biological Weapons." In a 2002 speech President Bush claimed that Iraq had violated its obligation to “destroy its weapons of mass destruction” and “to cease all development of such weapons.” He went on to state that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.” Bush also asserted that “surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.” [White House Archives, 10/7/02]
Colin Powell: Iraq's Deadly Weapons Programs Are A "Real And Present" Danger. In a speech to the United Nations Security Council in 2003, Colin Powell, the Secretary of State at the time, argued that weapons programs in Iraq were an imminent threat:
The facts on Iraqis' behavior - Iraq's behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort -- no effort -- to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.
The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world. Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs and describe why they are real and present dangers to the region and to the world. [The Guardian, 2/5/03]
Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?
No, it wasn’t because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.
Sixteen years after the United States invaded Iraq and left a trail of destruction and chaos in the country and the region, one aspect of the war remains criminally underexamined: why was it fought in the first place? What did the Bush administration hope to get out of the war?
The official, and widely-accepted, story remains that Washington was motivated by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. His nuclear capabilities, especially, were deemed sufficiently alarming to incite the war. As then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We do not want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
Despite Saddam not having an active WMD programme, this explanation has found support among some International Relations scholars, who say that while the Bush administration was wrong about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, it was sincerely wrong. Intelligence is a complicated, murky enterprise, the argument goes, and given the foreboding shadow of the 9/11 attacks, the US government reasonably, if tragically, misread the evidence on the dangers Saddam posed.
There is a major problem with this thesis: there is no evidence for it, beyond the words of the Bush officials themselves. And since we know the administration was engaged in a widespread campaign of deception and propaganda in the run-up to the Iraq war, there is little reason to believe them.
My investigation into the causes of the war finds that it had little to do with fear of WMDs – or other purported goals, such as a desire to “spread democracy” or satisfy the oil or Israel lobbies. Rather, the Bush administration invaded Iraq for its demonstration effect.
A quick and decisive victory in the heart of the Arab world would send a message to all countries, especially to recalcitrant regimes such as Syria, Libya, Iran, or North Korea, that American hegemony was here to stay. Put simply, the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to (re)establish American standing as the world’s leading power.
Indeed, even before 9/11, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saw Iraq through the prism of status and reputation, variously arguing in February and July 2001 that ousting Saddam would “enhance US credibility and influence throughout the region” and “demonstrate what US policy is all about”.
These hypotheticals were catalysed into reality by September 11, when symbols of American military and economic dominance were destroyed. Driven by humiliation, the Bush administration felt that the US needed to reassert its position as an unchallengeable hegemon.
The only way to send a message so menacing was a swashbuckling victory in war. Crucially, however, Afghanistan was not enough: it was simply too weak a state. As prison bullies know, a fearsome reputation is not acquired by beating up the weakest in the yard. Or as Rumsfeld put it on the evening of 9/11, “We need to bomb something else to prove that we’re, you know, big and strong and not going to be pushed around by these kinds of attacks.”
Moreover, Afghanistan was a “fair” war, a tit-for-tat response to the Taliban’s provision of sanctuary to al-Qaeda’s leadership. Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith considered restricting retaliation to Afghanistan dangerously “limited”, “meager”, and “narrow”. Doing so, they alleged, “may be perceived as a sign of weakness rather than strength” and prove to “embolden rather than discourage regimes” opposed to the US. They knew that sending a message of unbridled hegemony entailed a disproportionate response to 9/11, one that had to extend beyond Afghanistan.
Iraq fit the bill both because it was more powerful than Afghanistan and because it had been in neoconservative crosshairs since George HW Bush declined to press on to Baghdad in 1991. A regime remaining defiant despite a military defeat was barely tolerable before 9/11. Afterwards, however, it became untenable.
That Iraq was attacked for its demonstration effect is attested to by several sources, not least the principals themselves – in private. A senior administration official told a reporter, off the record, that “Iraq is not just about Iraq”, rather “it was of a type”, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
In a memo issued on September 30, 2001, Rumsfeld advised Bush that “the USG [US government] should envision a goal along these lines: New regimes in Afghanistan and another key State [or two] that supports terrorism [to strengthen political and military efforts to change policies elsewhere]”.
Feith wrote to Rumsfeld in October 2001 that action against Iraq would make it easier to “confront – politically, militarily, or otherwise” Libya and Syria. As for then-Vice President Dick Cheney, one close adviser revealed that his thinking behind the war was to show: “We are able and willing to strike at someone. That sends a very powerful message.”
In a 2002 column, Jonah Goldberg coined the “Ledeen Doctrine”, named after neoconservative historian Michael Ledeen. The “doctrine” states: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”
It may be discomfiting to Americans to say nothing of millions of Iraqis that the Bush administration spent their blood and treasure for a war inspired by the Ledeen Doctrine. Did the US really start a war – one that cost trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destabilised the region, and helped create the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – just to prove a point?
More uncomfortable still is that the Bush administration used WMDs as a cover, with equal parts fearmongering and strategic misrepresentation – lying – to exact the desired political effect. Indeed, some US economists consider the notion that the Bush administration deliberately misled the country and the globe into war in Iraq to be a “conspiracy theory”, on par with beliefs that President Barack Obama was born outside the US or that the Holocaust did not occur.
But this, sadly, is no conspiracy theory. Even Bush officials have sometimes dropped their guard. Feith confessed in 2006 that “the rationale for the war didn’t hinge on the details of this intelligence even though the details of the intelligence at times became elements of the public presentation”.
That the administration used the fear of WMDs and terrorism to fight a war for hegemony should be acknowledged by an American political establishment eager to rehabilitate George W Bush amid the rule of Donald Trump, not least because John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, seems eager to employ similar methods to similar ends in Iran.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
Bush on Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait - HISTORY
G eorge H . W . B ush
Address on Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait - Operation Desert Shield
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In the life of a nation, we're called upon to define who we are and what we believe. Sometimes these choices are not easy. But today as President, I ask for your support in a decision I've made to stand up for what's right and condemn what's wrong, all in the cause of peace.
At my direction, elements of the 82nd Airborne Division as well as key units of the United States Air Force are arriving today to take up defensive positions in Saudi Arabia. I took this action to assist the Saudi Arabian Government in the defense of its homeland. No one commits America's Armed Forces to a dangerous mission lightly, but after perhaps unparalleled international consultation and exhausting every alternative, it became necessary to take this action. Let me tell you why.
Less than a week ago, in the early morning hours of August 2d, Iraqi Armed Forces, without provocation or warning, invaded a peaceful Kuwait. Facing negligible resistance from its much smaller neighbor, Iraq's tanks stormed in blitzkrieg fashion through Kuwait in a few short hours. With more than 100,000 troops, along with tanks, artillery, and surface-to-surface missiles, Iraq now occupies Kuwait. This aggression came just hours after Saddam Hussein specifically assured numerous countries in the area that there would be no invasion. There is no justification whatsoever for this outrageous and brutal act of aggression.
A puppet regime imposed from the outside is unacceptable. The acquisition of territory by force is unacceptable. No one, friend or foe, should doubt our desire for peace and no one should underestimate our determination to confront aggression.
Four simple principles guide our policy. First, we seek the immediate, unconditional, and complete withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Second, Kuwait's legitimate government must be restored to replace the puppet regime. And third, my administration, as has been the case with every President from President Roosevelt to President Reagan, is committed to the security and stability of the Persian Gulf. And fourth, I am determined to protect the lives of American citizens abroad.
Immediately after the Iraqi invasion, I ordered an embargo of all trade with Iraq and, together with many other nations, announced sanctions that both freeze all Iraqi assets in this country and protected Kuwait's assets. The stakes are high. Iraq is already a rich and powerful country that possesses the world's second largest reserves of oil and over a million men under arms. It's the fourth largest military in the world. Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence. Much of the world is even more dependent upon imported oil and is even more vulnerable to Iraqi threats.
We succeeded in the struggle for freedom in Europe because we and our allies remain stalwart. Keeping the peace in the Middle East will require no less. We're beginning a new era. This new era can be full of promise, an age of freedom, a time of peace for all peoples. But if history teaches us anything, it is that we must resist aggression or it will destroy our freedoms. Appeasement does not work. As was the case in the 1930's, we see in Saddam Hussein an aggressive dictator threatening his neighbors. Only 14 days ago, Saddam Hussein promised his friends he would not invade Kuwait. And 4 days ago, he promised the world he would withdraw. And twice we have seen what his promises mean: His promises mean nothing.
In the last few days, I've spoken with political leaders from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the Americas and I've met with Prime Minister Thatcher, Prime Minister Mulroney, and NATO Secretary General Woerner. And all agree that Iraq cannot be allowed to benefit from its invasion of Kuwait.
We agree that this is not an American problem or a European problem or a Middle East problem: It is the world's problem. And that's why, soon after the Iraqi invasion, the United Nations Security Council, without dissent, condemned Iraq, calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its troops from Kuwait. The Arab world, through both the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, courageously announced its opposition to Iraqi aggression. Japan, the United Kingdom, and France, and other governments around the world have imposed severe sanctions. The Soviet Union and China ended all arms sales to Iraq.
And this past Monday, the United Nations Security Council approved for the first time in 23 years mandatory sanctions under chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. These sanctions, now enshrined in international law, have the potential to deny Iraq the fruits of aggression while sharply limiting its ability to either import or export anything of value, especially oil.
I pledge here today that the United States will do its part to see that these sanctions are effective and to induce Iraq to withdraw without delay from Kuwait.
But we must recognize that Iraq may not stop using force to advance its ambitions. Iraq has massed an enormous war machine on the Saudi border capable of initiating hostilities with little or no additional preparation. Given the Iraqi government's history of aggression against its own citizens as well as its neighbors, to assume Iraq will not attack again would be unwise and unrealistic.
And therefore, after consulting with King Fahd, I sent Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to discuss cooperative measures we could take. Following those meetings, the Saudi Government requested our help, and I responded to that request by ordering U.S. air and ground forces to deploy to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Let me be clear: The sovereign independence of Saudi Arabia is of vital interest to the United States. This decision, which I shared with the congressional leadership, grows out of the longstanding friendship and security relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. U.S. forces will work together with those of Saudi Arabia and other nations to preserve the integrity of Saudi Arabia and to deter further Iraqi aggression. Through their presence, as well as through training and exercises, these multinational forces will enhance the overall capability of Saudi Armed Forces to defend the Kingdom.
I want to be clear about what we are doing and why. America does not seek conflict, nor do we seek to chart the destiny of other nations. But America will stand by her friends. The mission of our troops is wholly defensive. Hopefully, they will not be needed long. They will not initiate hostilities, but they will defend themselves, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and other friends in the Persian Gulf.
We are working around the clock to deter Iraqi aggression and to enforce U.N. sanctions. I'm continuing my conversations with world leaders. Secretary of Defense Cheney has just returned from valuable consultations with President Mubarak of Egypt and King Hassan of Morocco. Secretary of State Baker has consulted with his counterparts in many nations, including the Soviet Union, and today he heads for Europe to consult with President Ozal of Turkey, a staunch friend of the United States. And he'll then consult with the NATO Foreign Ministers.
I will ask oil-producing nations to do what they can to increase production in order to minimize any impact that oil flow reductions will have on the world economy. And I will explore whether we and our allies should draw down our strategic petroleum reserves. Conservation measures can also help Americans everywhere must do their part. And one more thing: I'm asking the oil companies to do their fair share. They should show restraint and not abuse today's uncertainties to raise prices.
Standing up for our principles will not come easy. It may take time and possibly cost a great deal. But we are asking no more of anyone than of the brave young men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. And I ask that in the churches around the country prayers be said for those who are committed to protect and defend America's interests.
Standing up for our principle is an American tradition. As it has so many times before, it may take time and tremendous effort, but most of all, it will take unity of purpose. As I've witnessed throughout my life in both war and peace, America has never wavered when her purpose is driven by principle. And in this August day, at home and abroad, I know she will do no less.