Tonight I come to this House to speak about the world the world after war.
The recent challenge could not have been clearer. Saddam
Hussein was the villain, Kuwait the victim. To the aid of this small country came nations
from North America and Europe, from Asia and South America, from Africa and the Arab
world, all united against aggression.
Our uncommon coalition must now work in common purpose to
forge a future that should never again be held hostage to the darker side of human nature.
Tonight in Iraq, Saddam walks amidst ruin. His war machine
is crushed. His ability to threaten mass destruction is itself destroyed. His people have
been lied to, denied the truth. And when his defeated legions come home, all Iraqis will
see and feel the havoc he has wrought. And this I promise you: for all that Saddam has
done to his own people, to the Kuwaitis, and to the entire world, Saddam and those around
him are accountable.
All of us grieve for the victims of war, for the people of
Kuwait and the suffering that scars the soul of that proud nation. We grieve for all our
fallen soldiers and their families, for all the innocents caught up in this conflict. And,
yes, we grieve for the people of Iraq, a people who have never been our enemy. My hope is
that one day we will once again welcome them as friends into the community of nations.
Our commitment to peace in the Middle East does not end
with the liberation of Kuwait. So tonight let me outline four key challenges to be met.
First, we must work together to create shared security
arrangements in the region. Our friends and allies in the Middle East recognise that they
will bear the bulk of the responsibility for regional security. But we want them to know
that just as we stood with them to repel aggression, so now America stands ready to work
with them to secure the peace.
This does not mean stationing US ground forces on the
Arabian Peninsula, but it does mean American participation in joint exercises involving
both air and ground forces. It means maintaining a capable US naval presence in the
region, just as we have for over 40 years. Let it be clear: our vital national interests
depend on a stable and secure Gulf.
Second, we must act to control the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction and the missiles used to deliver them. It would be tragic if
the nations of the Middle East and Persian Gulf were now, in the wake of war, to embark on
a new arms race. Iraq requires special vigilance. Until Iraq convinces the world of its
peaceful intentions that its leaders will not use new revenues to re-arm and
rebuild its menacing war machine Iraq must not have access to the instruments of
And third, we must work to create new opportunities for
peace and stability in the Middle East. On the night I announced Operation Desert Storm, I
expressed my hope that out of the horrors of war might come new momentum for peace. We
have learned in the modern age geography cannot guarantee security and security does not
come from military power alone.
All of us know the depth of bitterness that has made the
dispute between Israel and its neighbours so painful and intractable. Yet, in the conflict
just concluded, Israel and many of the Arab states have for the first time found
themselves confronting the same aggressor. By now, it should be plain to all parties that
peacemaking in the Middle East requires compromise. At the same time, peace brings real
benefits to everyone. We must do all that we can to close the gap between Israel and the
Arab states and between Israelis and Palestinians. The tactics of terror lead
nowhere. There can be no substitute for diplomacy.
A comprehensive peace must be grounded in United Nations
Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of territory for peace. This
principle must be elaborated to provide for Israels security and recognition, and at
the same time for legitimate Palestinian political rights. Anything else would fail the
twin tests of fairness and security. The time has come to put an end to Arab-Israeli
The war with Iraq is over. The quest for solutions to the
problem in Lebanon, in the Arab-Israeli dispute, and in the Gulf must go forward with new
vigour and determination. And I guarantee you: no one will work harder for a stable peace
in the region than we will.
Fourth, we must foster economic development for the sake
of peace and progress. The Persian Gulf and Middle East form a region rich in natural
resources with a wealth of untapped human potential. Resources once squandered on military
might must be redirected to more peaceful ends. We are already addressing the immediate
economic consequences of Iraqs aggression. Now the challenge is to reach higher
to foster economic freedom and prosperity for all people of the region.
By meeting these four challenges, we can build a framework
for peace. Ive asked Secretary of State Baker to go to the Middle East to begin the
process. He will go to listen, to probe, to offer suggestions, and to advance the search
for peace and stability. I have also asked him to raise the plight of the hostages held in
Lebanon. We have not forgotten them, and we will not forget them.
To all the challenges that confront this region of the
world, there is no single solution, no solely American answer. But we can make a
difference. America will work tirelessly as a catalyst for positive change.
But we cannot lead a new world abroad if, at home,
its politics as usual on American defense and diplomacy. Its time to turn away
from the temptation to protect unneeded weapons systems and obsolete bases. Its time
to put an end to micro-management of foreign and security assistance programs,
micro-management that humiliates our friends and allies and hamstrings our diplomacy.
Its time to rise above the parochial and the pork barrel, to do what is necessary,
whats right and what will enable this nation to play the leadership role required of
The consequences of the conflict in the Gulf reach far
beyond the confines of the Middle East. Twice before in this century, an entire world was
convulsed by war. Twice this century, out of the horrors of war hope emerged for enduring
peace. Twice before, those hopes proved to be a distant dream, beyond the grasp of man.
Until now, the world weve known has been a world
divided a world of barbed wire and concrete block, conflict and cold war.
Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in
which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston
Churchill, a "world order" in which "the principles of justice and fair
play ... protect the weak against the strong ..." A world where the United Nations,
freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfil the historic vision of its founders. A
world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.
The Gulf war put this new world to its first test, and, my
fellow Americans, we passed that test.
For the sake of our principles, for the sake of the
Kuwaiti people, we stood our ground. Because the world would not look the other way,
Ambassador [Saud Nasir] al-Sabah, to-night, Kuwait is free.
Tonight as our troops begin to come home, let us recognise
that the hard work of freedom still calls us forward. Weve learned the hard lessons
of history. The victory over Iraq was not waged as "a war to end all wars." Even
the new world order cannot guarantee an era of perpetual peace. But enduring peace must be
our mission ...