WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush on Saturday said the United States was determined to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Iraqi President Saddam Hussein surrender the country's weapons of mass destruction and called on Iraq to undergo a regime change.
"This dictator will not be allowed to intimidate and blackmail the civilized world, or to supply his terrible weapons to terrorist groups, who would not hesitate to use them against us. The safety of the American people depends on ending this threat," Bush said during his weekly radio address.
Bush used his remarks to argue his case for possible military action in Iraq. The United States has criticized the Arab nation for its failure to account for missing biological and chemical weapons, its stockpile of al-Samoud 2 missiles and what it calls the Iraqi government's brutality toward its citizens.
"The lives and freedom of the Iraqi people matter little to Saddam Hussein, but they matter greatly to us," Bush said Saturday.
The United States, Britain and Spain introduced a draft resolution late Monday afternoon during a meeting of the Security Council in New York. In the terse, carefully crafted one-line statement, the three nations declared that: "Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441." National security adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters this week: "In that sense, it is an affirmation of the council's willingness to enforce its own resolution."
The president stepped up his public relations campaign to convince the American public and the international community that Hussein remains a threat to stability in the Middle East and world security.
"If conflict comes, he could target civilians or place them inside military facilities. He could encourage ethnic violence. He could destroy natural resources. Or, worst of all, he could use his weapons of mass destruction," Bush said Saturday.
On Wednesday, Bush delivered a nationally televised speech before the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He revealed his vision of how a war with Iraq could reshape the Middle East where U.S. power would remain to guarantee a democratic government for Iraq and bolster reforms in other Middle Eastern states. But Bush said the United States would not determine the form of Iraq's new government.
"That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected," Bush said.
The administration is seeking $379.9 billion in its 2004 budget request for the Pentagon. U.S. officials said this week that Bush has not yet been briefed on the amount the Pentagon is planning to ask for. According to various news reports, the Office of Management and Budget has said the Pentagon's portion of the budget is likely to be around $60 billion. That would be close to what was spent in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which cost $61 billion. Of that amount, $50 billion was paid by the allies, who transferred the money to the United States.
This week the Defense Department revealed plans that could mean 200,000 U.S. troops would stay in Iraq for an indefinite period. The administration also detailed its plans for humanitarian efforts to aid civilians likely to be caught in the fighting.
"We will deliver medicine to the sick, and make sure that Iraq's 55,000 food distribution sites, operating with supplies from the oil-for-food program, are stocked and open as soon a possible," Bush said Saturday. "We are stockpiling relief supplies, such as blankets and water containers, for 1 million people. We are moving into place nearly 3 million emergency rations to feed the hungry."
Bush said the United States and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program and UNICEF so they will be ready to provide emergency aid to the Iraqi people.
Critics have drawn parallels between U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and what they believe will happen in Iraq should it wage a war there. Analysts who have studied what the United States has done in the year since it began its military campaign in Afghanistan say that Bush administration officials have failed miserably in providing Afghanistan with the billions of dollars in assistance to rebuild the tiny nation.
The United States in October 2001 launched a major military offensive aimed at ridding the nation of its terrorist ties and a massive global manhunt for suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and the country's Taliban leadership. While a few members of the Taliban were captured, bin Laden and members of his inner circle have never been found.
Promises of a Marshall Plan-like reconstruction plan for Afghanistan never materialized, Peter Singer, a foreign policy fellow with the Brookings Institution in Washington, told United Press International. It is estimated it would take about $20 billion to get Afghanistan on track, but the U.S. financial commitment has fallen far short of that figure, he said. The Bush administration forgot to add funding in its 2004 federal budget proposal to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, only to have go back and put in $300 million.
Some humanitarian groups fear that what they have seen happen in Afghanistan will happen in Iraq if there is war. Bush said Saturday that rebuilding Iraq would require a "sustained commitment" from many nations, including the United States.