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
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
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
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
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
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.
Thank you, and God bless the United States of America.