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Public Statements

Commending the President and the Armed Forces of the United States of America

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, last night, President Bush ordered America's military to disarm Saddam Hussein, eliminate his weapons of mass destination, and liberate the oppressed people of Iraq. The American people stand united behind the Commander-in-Chief and the men and women who defend our Nation.

For 12 years, the United States and a broad coalition of nations exhausted diplomatic means to contain and undermine Saddam Hussein's dangerous and tyrannical regime in order to end the threat posed by his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. For 12 years, patient diplomacy yielded only persistent Iraqi intransigence and disobedience of international law. For 12 years, Saddam Hussein flagrantly violated United Nations Security Council Resolutions, making a mockery of that body by feverishly continuing his pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

We have made every effort to avoid war, but diplomacy has finally run its course. Those who suggest that the United States is to balance for the failure of diplomatic efforts to disarm Hussein could not be further from the truth. The responsibility for this war rests squarely on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein, a ruthless tyrant whose disregard for the edicts of the United Nations is matched only by his disregard for the lives and interests of his own people.

It is clear that Saddam Hussein does not understand the language of diplomacy, but only the language of military force. What the United Nations failed to accomplish with 12 years of toothless diplomacy, the United States and a broad coalition of allied nations must now accomplish with just application of military force. On Monday, President Bush noted succinctly: "The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."

Truly, we must not let the world's most dangerous dictators acquire the world's most dangerous weapons. Unless tyrants like Hussein are disarmed, deterred, or destroyed, the use of weapons of mass murder against the United States and our allies is not a question of if, but of when. As President Bush said to the Nation last night, "We will meet that threat now with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities."

From Afghanistan and Albania to the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan, governments throughout the world have publicly committed to providing substantive support, military and otherwise, to our efforts to disarm Hussein by force. Many other nations have quietly offered material support for our efforts to liberate the oppressed people of Iraq. Indeed, this multilateral coalition is larger than that formed in support of Operation Desert Storm during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The members of this broad coalition, many of which have suffered under oppressive authorization rule in the past, understand the danger of living at the mercy of tyrannical regimes that threaten peace and stability with weapons of mass murder.

Like all Americans, I hope and pray for the safety of our troops who fight so that we may remain free. I am proud to represent tens of thousands of Kentuckians who will participate in military operations overseas, as well as the thousands of Kentuckians in the National Guard and Reserves who have been activated to play critical roles in defending our homeland. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. These Kentuckians, led by the 101st Airborne, Air Assault, division based at Fort Campbell, KY, will defend our freedom and security with honor and dignity.

Just as our ongoing operations in the war against terrorism will require patience and perseverance, so too will this effort to liberate the Iraqi people. But we are resolved as a nation to carry out our mission in support of peace, stability, and freedom. We are certain that our cause is just, and necessary. As our military fights to protect America, to disarm Hussein, and to provide security in an unstable region, the liberation of the people of Iraq draws near. Unique in its place in the world, the United States does not fight wars of empire and expansionism. Rather, we fight for the protection of our liberty, and for the liberty of others. And just as in France in 1944, or Afghanistan in 2001, long-oppressed civilians—who have suffered under the brutal reign of Saddam Hussein—will soon experience the benevolence of the American people and their own inalienable right to live in freedom.

I am grateful for President Bush's steady leadership as Commander-in-Chief, and I have no doubt that our military men and women are the finest in the world and will defend our Nation with skill, precision, courage, and honor. May God bless America. And may He bless our soldiers in harm's way.

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