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Address to the Nation on Iraq

October 10, 1994

Good evening. Tonight I want to speak with you about the actions we are taking to preserve stability in the Persian Gulf in the face of Saddam Hussein's provocative actions. But first, let me take just a minute to report to you on today's events in Haiti.

Three weeks ago today, our troops entered Haiti. They went there to keep America's and the world community's commitment to restore the democratically elected government to power by October 15th. Today Lieutenant General Cedras and Brigadier General Biamby, the two remaining coup leaders, have resigned. They have said they will leave Haiti shortly. I am pleased to announce that President Aristide will return home to resume his rightful place this Saturday, October 15th.

I want to express again my pride in what our men and women in uniform have done in Haiti and how well they have measured up to their difficult mission. In just 3 weeks, the level of violence is down, the Parliament is back, refugees are returning from Guantanamo. And now the military leaders are leaving.

But I also want to caution again, the job in Haiti remains difficult and dangerous. We still have a lot of work ahead of us. But our troops are keeping America's commitment to restore democracy. They are performing their mission very, very well with firmness and fairness, and all Americans are proud of them.

The strength of America's foreign policy stands on the steadfastness of our commitments. The United States and the international community have given their word that Iraq must respect the borders of its neighbors. And tonight, as in Haiti, American troops with our coalition partners are the guarantors of that commitment, the power behind our diplomacy.

Three and a half years ago, the men and women of our Armed Forces, under the strong leadership of President Bush, General Powell, and General Schwarzkopf, fought to expel Iraq from Kuwait and to protect our interests in that vital region. Today we remain committed to defending the integrity of that nation and to protecting the stability of the Gulf region.

Saddam Hussein has shown the world before, with his acts of aggression and his weapons of mass destruction, that he cannot be trusted. Iraq's troop movements and threatening statements in recent days are more proof of this. In 1990, Saddam Hussein assembled a force on the border of Kuwait and then invaded. Last week, he moved another force toward the same border. Because of what happened in 1990, this provocation requires a strong response from the United States and the international community.

Over the weekend I ordered the George Washington Carrier Battle Group, cruise missile ships, a Marine expeditionary brigade, and an Army mechanized task force to the Gulf. And today I have ordered the additional deployment of more than 350 Air Force aircraft to the region. We will not allow Saddam Hussein to defy the will of the United States and the international community.

Iraq announced today that it will pull back its troops from the Kuwait border. But we're interested in facts, not promises, in deeds, not words. And we have not yet seen evidence that Iraq's troops are in fact pulling back. We'll be watching very closely to see that they do so.

Our policy is clear: We will not allow Iraq to threaten its neighbors or to intimidate the United Nations as it ensures that Iraq never again possesses weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the sanctions will be maintained until Iraq complies with all relevant U.N. resolutions. That is the answer to Iraq's sanctions problems: full compliance, not reckless provocation.

I'm very proud of our troops who tonight are the backbone of our commitment to Kuwait's freedom and the security of the Gulf. I'm also proud of the planners and the commanders who are getting them there so very quickly and in such force. They all are proof that we are maintaining and must continue to maintain the readiness and strength of the finest military in the world.

That is what we owe to the men and women of America who are putting their lives on the line today to make the world a safer place. And it is what we owe to the proud families who stand with them. They are protecting our security as we work for a post-cold-war world of democracy and prosperity.

Within the last 2 weeks, America hosted two champions of post-cold-war democracy. South African President Nelson Mandela came to thank the United States for our support of South Africa's remarkable democratic revolution and to seek a partnership for the future. And Russian President Boris Yeltsin came to further the partnership between our two nations so well expressed by the fact that now Russian and U.S. missiles are no longer pointed at each other's people and we are working to reduce the nuclear threat even more.

In short, we are making progress in building a world of greater security, peace, and democracy. But our work is not done. There are difficulties and dangers ahead, as we see in Iraq and in Haiti. But we can meet these challenges and keep our commitments. Our objectives are clear, our forces are strong, and our cause is right.

Thank you, and God bless America.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Address to the Nation on Iraq Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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