George W. Bush photo

Speech by Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley

February 12, 2003

Council on Foreign Relations

Thank you for having me here today. It is an honor to be with you. I'm looking forward to discussing with you the efforts of the President to build not just a safer but a better world. I want to discuss how this effort applies to the Middle East in general, and to Afghanistan and Iraq in particular.

Almost any discussion of American foreign policy today must begin with the events of September 11th. September 11th made clear that our Nation - and all civilized nations - face a mortal threat from terror, from states that harbor terror, and from states that would arm themselves and perhaps terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. President Bush has made clear that our Nation - and all civilized nations - must face these threats with resolution and determination.

The President has also been clear that America must do more than fight the war on terror. As he said in his State of the Union address last year, we must also "seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror". And the President has backed up this commitment with a bold and imaginative policy agenda.

  • President Bush has proposed a 50 percent increase in our development aid, for the Millennium Challenge Account. The funds will be devoted to nations that govern justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom.
  • The President has proposed tripling our funding for fighting AIDS abroad -- a $15 billion commitment over five years, with almost $10 billion in new money for Africa and the Caribbean.
  • President Bush has renewed and extended trade preference programs for nations in Africa and the Andes, completed free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, and is working to bring the benefits of open markets to people throughout the world.
  • The President's 2004 budget calls for providing more than $1 billion to meet emergency food needs worldwide. And he has proposed a new $200 million famine fund to bring immediate assistance to Africa and other regions facing starvation.
  • In July 2001, President Bush called on the World Bank and other development banks to increasingly provide outright grants rather than loans to the world's poorest countries for education, nutrition, health, water, and sanitation. Today, nearly all World Bank assistance for these purposes is provided as grants.
  • The President has increased the U.S. commitment to basic education in Africa to $630 million over the next five years.

Yet all of these efforts will fail unless people in developing countries have governments and leaders who listen to their voices and help them fulfill their dreams. That is why the President has rededicated the United States to standing for what he calls "the non-negotiable demands of human dignity": the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, free speech, freedom of worship, equal justice, respect for women, religious and ethnic tolerance, and respect for private property.

We need to act on this commitment to a better world in all aspects of our foreign policy, including those cases where we take military action. The United States, as the President so often points out, is not a conquering nation - we are a liberating nation; committed to helping peoples seize the opportunity for freedom, and to build better societies for themselves and their children.

That is why we are standing with the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to rebuild their country. And if the Iraqi regime - by its failure to meet the world's just demands - forces the world to enforce those demands, then the United States will lead an international effort to bring assistance and freedom to the people of Iraq.

There are hopeful stirrings of support for reform and openness within Arab and Muslim nations today. A recent report issued by the United Nations Development Program, written by 30 leading Arab intellectuals, concluded that if the Arab world is to join in the progress of our times, it needs to address the region's widespread limitations on personal and political freedom. Remedying this "freedom deficit," the report says, requires greater political and economic liberty, the rule of law, respect for human rights, the empowerment of women, and better education. Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last month released a new Arab Charter for the region that would be truly groundbreaking, if adopted and acted upon by Arab states. It talks of real economic reform - and a regional free trade area. It talks of "internal reform and enhanced political participation". Equally important, we are already seeing genuine steps toward political and economic liberalization in nations like Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, and Qatar, as well as Afghanistan.

Political and economic reform in Arab and Muslim nations is obviously not a cause that the United States can lead. But it is one we can encourage. And in those places where we are, by necessity, deeply engaged, we have an opportunity and obligation to stand for our principles and on the side of those who share them.

President Bush rejects the view that freedom and tolerance cannot grow in the soil of the Middle East - or that Islam is somehow incompatible with democracy. The risk for American foreign policy is not that we will set goals that are too high but that we will continue to live with expectations that are too low. The President spoke last June to his hopes for the people of Muslim countries. He said: "Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance, led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations."

We cannot, and will not impose, any particular system of government on any people. But we and our international partners can create the conditions in which all people can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty. We are demonstrating this commitment throughout the region.

We are demonstrating it by standing on the side of those in the region who advocate reform, human rights, and openness.

We are demonstrating it by remaining fully committed to the search for peace in the Middle East. President Bush has put forth a vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. He strongly believes that there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides. That means America's commitment is not just to an independent Palestine but to a democratic Palestine, because Palestinians, like all peoples, deserve a government that serves their interests, listens to their voices, and embodies their hopes and dreams for the future.

We continue to work with Palestinians toward the creation of a Palestinian state, with new leaders, new institutions, and new security arrangements. The borders and certain attributes of this state's sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final Middle East peace settlement. As Palestinian leaders demonstrate real performance on security and reform, the President has stated that he expects Israel to work toward a final status agreement, which could be reached within 3 years. And the President has stated that consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop. The benefits of a final status agreement would be felt not only by Israelis and Palestinians, but also people far beyond the region. As the President said in his June 24 Rose Garden speech, "If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government."

America is committed to the success of the Afghan people in building a state based on the principles of freedom, opportunity, and the rule of law. The President reaffirmed this commitment in his recent State of the Union address - and he will do so again in two weeks when he again welcomes President Karzai back to the White House. He will not diminish this commitment - no matter what we have to do in Iraq.

Eighteen months ago, Afghanistan was a war-torn country that inspired fear - at home and abroad. Today, while much work remains, it is undeniable that the people of Afghanistan are beginning to forge a more free and hopeful future.

With the help of the international community, a humanitarian crisis has been averted. The actions of the Taliban had cut off relief supplies to large parts of the country, exacerbating the threat of famine for millions of people as winter approached in 2001. The defeat of the Taliban by the United States and coalition forces opened the way to large-scale relief operations. As its part, the United States devoted $200 million worth of emergency food assistance to Afghanistan in fiscal 2002. The United States has helped vaccinate 4.3 million children against measles, treat 700,000 cases of malaria, and provide basic health services for more than two million people since last summer. This is just part of an improving picture in the country. More than two million Afghan refugees have returned home since the Taliban's fall - demonstrating their confidence in Afghanistan's future.

At the Tokyo Conference over a year ago, the international community pledged $4.5 billion to help rebuild Afghanistan. For its part, the United States pledged nearly $300 million -- and has delivered nearly twice that amount. Since October 2001, the United States has provided over $840 million towards Afghanistan's humanitarian aid and reconstruction.

Reconstruction and security are mutually reinforcing -- progress in both areas is crucial to rebuilding Afghanistan. The United States is leading the effort to build an Afghan national army that will provide the foundation for Afghanistan's security. In addition to the $84 million already disbursed and another $150 million authorized for training and equipping the Afghan national army, the United States is providing another $60 million in support for police training and counter-narcotics. And we must remember perhaps our greatest contribution to security -- over $17 billion spent to date liberating Afghanistan from Taliban and al-Qaida forces and combating their remnants.

On infrastructure, the United States is contributing $80 million to a $160 million effort by the United States, Japan, and Saudi Arabia to rebuild the ring road linking Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. This will promote trade and commerce and help unify the country. The United States is also helping with other infrastructure projects, including efforts to rebuild more than six thousand wells, springs, and irrigation canals, and to restore the water supply to Kabul, Kandahar, and Kunduz.

The United States is also strongly committed to helping Afghanistan provide an education to all its children - boys and girls alike. The United States has printed and distributed more than 15 million textbooks in Dari and Pashto. And it is training thousands of teachers - male and female - and refurbishing hundreds of schools throughout the country.

Of course, Afghanistan is also wrestling with fundamental issues of political reconstruction. Through two decades of conflict, Afghans have seen the tragic consequences of communism, factionalism, and extremism. Today, they seek the same freedom for which people the world over have hoped and fought. The United States is helping Afghans to write a new constitution, establish a new human rights commission, and organize new elections -- even as we recognize that political reform must ultimately be the work of the Afghans themselves.

Old habits die hard - yet slowly but surely, they are being replaced by a new commitment to openness. Not long ago, a cartoonist in Kabul was imprisoned by a lower level official for a drawing critical of President Karzai. But when President Karzai learned of this incident he immediately had the man released. The challenge for the Afghan government is to institutionalize this commitment to basic freedoms, human rights, and the rule of law, and extend their reach throughout the country. The challenge for the international community is to be a dependable partner in this effort over the long haul.

The international community has learned a lot from its experience helping Afghanistan to rebuild. It may soon be applying those lessons in Iraq. President Bush has not made final decisions about if and when to use military force to disarm Iraq, nor has he made any final decisions about exactly how the United States will proceed with respect to Iraq after a conflict, if one is required. Yet time is rapidly running out for the Iraqi regime to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction, as required by the United Nations Security Council. And if war comes, President Bush has made clear that it will be a war of liberation, not occupation. As the President said in his speech to the United Nations last September, "Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it and the security of all nations requires it."

Securing this liberty, and sustaining it in a post-Saddam Iraq, will take extensive planning, and that planning has begun. President Bush has directed all relevant agencies of the government to focus their attention on Iraq post-war planning. There has been a tremendous interagency effort, led by the National Security Council and the Office of Management and Budget, to think through reconstruction needs and objectives. On January 20, President Bush directed the creation of a post-war planning office, which is doing the practical work of preparing for action on the ground. And for nearly a year, the United States has been working with free Iraqis through the State Department's Future of Iraq Project. This effort has brought together free Iraqis, U.S. government officials, and outside experts to do practical planning for the immediate aftermath of a change of government in Baghdad. The Project is not aimed at establishing an Iraqi "government in exile." Rather its focus is to assist free Iraqis in anticipating and preparing for the complex problems a post-Saddam government will face.

Should it be necessary for the United States to take military action, here are some of the principles that are guiding our thinking.

  • First, we will demonstrate to the Iraqi people and the world that the United States aspires to liberate, not occupy.
  • Second, Iraq must be disarmed of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, weapons production capabilities, and the means to deliver these weapons. This will be a complex, dangerous, and expensive task -- one for which detailed planning is underway.
  • Third, we must also eliminate Iraq's terrorist infrastructure.
  • Fourth, Iraq must be preserved as a unified state, with its territorial integrity intact. Concern for the safety of Iraq's people will begin not on the day hostilities cease, but on the day they begin. The United States and its coalition allies will provide security that should prevent chaos, score-settling, and bloodletting.
  • Fifth, along with our coalition partners, we must begin the process of economic and political reconstruction, working to assist the people of Iraq in putting their country on a path towards prosperity and freedom. In many ways, this will be our greatest challenge.

For starters, the United States and the international community will have to ensure the rapid flow of humanitarian relief and the rapid start of economic reconstruction efforts. Many of the Future of Iraq working groups are focused on this challenge. The United States has been discussing this subject with UN agencies, NGOs, and other governments -- plans have been drawn up and initial deployments have been made.

Rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure will be an immediate priority for the post-Saddam reconstruction effort. For years it has been mismanaged and neglected. Early efforts will include restoring electricity and clean water, as well as addressing the immediate needs for medical care and public health.

Over the longer term, we will assist the Iraqi people in creating a more stable, and more vibrant, economic system. Specifically, we will help the Iraqi people to create a modern system of taxation and budgeting, stabilize the dinar, and resolve debt and reparations obligations.

A critical part of the reconstruction effort will be ensuring that Iraq's oil sector is protected from acts of sabotage by Saddam Hussein's regime and that its proceeds are applied for the benefit of the Iraqi people. Iraq's oil and other natural resources belong to all the Iraqi people -- and the United States will respect this fact.

Finally, a post-Saddam Iraq should also be an Iraq that is truly free. The United States will not seek to dictate to the people of Iraq the precise character of a post-Saddam regime. But no one should be interested in simply replacing one dictator with another. The goal -- which we are confident we share with Iraq's people -- is an Iraq that is whole, free, and at peace with itself and its neighbors. An Iraq that is moving toward democracy, in which all religions and ethnic communities have a voice and in which individual rights are protected -- regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity. An Iraq that adheres to the rule of law at home and lives up to its international obligations.

The current regime meets none of these conditions, and its most senior officials will be called to account for their complicity in Saddam's reign of terror. But as much as possible the administrative structures of the Iraqi government that are not implicated in the regime's crimes should be preserved. Many current government officials, including many military officials and scientists, will want nothing better than the opportunity to contribute their talent and experience to rebuilding their country. At the same time, these administrative structures must be opened to all of the various ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.

Assisting and rebuilding a post-Saddam Iraq will be a huge undertaking. Success will only be possible by working with Iraq's neighbors and the international community. And, most of all, we will need the support of Iraq's people. The United States will work to win that support.

Many are already asking how long America is prepared to stay in Iraq. The answer is straightforward: we will stay as long as is necessary, but not one day more. We will draw free Iraqis into the task of rebuilding Iraq from the outset and transfer responsibility to Iraqi entities as soon as possible. While no final decisions have been made, we can envision the early creation of an Iraqi National Council to advise U.S. and coalition authorities, a Judicial Council to advise on revisions to Iraq's legal structure, and a Constitutional Commission to draft a new constitution. The President has made clear that he is committed not only to an Iraq that does not threaten the peace of the world but also to an Iraq that is free. He is committed to helping the Iraqi people build a nation worthy of the dreams they have for their children.

The President hopes that changing the Iraqi regime can take place peacefully. With each passing day, however, there seems to be less and less reason for hope. Should Saddam's continued defiance of his international obligations bring war, we should do more than just make the world safer. We should leave the world better. This is an awesome responsibility. When future scholars look back on the history of the Middle East in the early part of the 21st century, I hope that they don.t ask, "what went wrong?" but instead ask, "why did it go right?" And if they do, I think one of the answers will be that the free nations of the world understood that their values and their interests pointed in the same direction: towards freedom.

Thank you very much.

George W. Bush, Speech by Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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