Progress in Iraq
Remarks with the Secretary of Defense and the Presidential
Envoy to Iraq
The Rose Garden
The White House
July 23, 2003
10:16 A.M. EDT
It is my pleasure to welcome Ambassador Paul Bremer back to the White House.
I'm also pleased to be joined by Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers. Thank
you all for coming.
Ambassador Bremer is doing a fine job in an essential cause. The nations
in our coalition are determined to help the Iraqi people recover from years
of tyranny. And we are determined to help build a free, and sovereign, and
The coalition provisional authority, led by Ambassador Bremer, has a comprehensive
strategy to move Iraq toward a future that is secure and prosperous. We are
carrying out that strategy for the good of Iraq, for the peace of the region,
and for the security of the United States and our friends.
Saddam Hussein's regime spent more than three decades oppressing Iraq's
people, attacking Iraq's neighbors, and threatening the world's peace. The
regime tortured at home, promoted terror abroad, and armed in secret. Now,
with the regime of Saddam Hussein gone forever, a few remaining holdouts
are trying to prevent the advance of order and freedom. They are targeting
our success in rebuilding Iraq, they're killing new police graduates, they're
shooting at people that are guarding the universities and power plants and
These killers are the enemies of Iraq's people. They operate mainly in a
few areas of the country. And wherever they operate, they are being hunted,
and they will be defeated. Our military forces are on the offensive. They're
working with the newly free Iraqi people to destroy the remnants of the old
regime and their terrorist allies.
Yesterday, in the city of Mosul, the careers of two of the regime's chief
henchmen came to an end. Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture,
maiming and murder of countless Iraqis. Now, more than ever, all Iraqis can
know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back.
As our work continues, we know that our coalition forces are serving under
difficult circumstances. Our nation will give those who wear its uniform
all the tools and support they need to complete their mission. We are eternally
grateful for the bravery of our troops, for their sacrifice and for the sacrifices
of their families. The families of our servicemen and women can take comfort
in knowing that their sons and daughters and moms and dads are serving a
cause that is noble and just and vital to the security of the United States.
A free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends
with illegal weapons. A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists,
or a funnel of money to terrorists, or provide weapons to terrorists who
would willing use them to strike our country or our allies. A free Iraq will
not destabilize the Middle East. A free Iraq can set a hopeful example to
the entire region and lead other nations to choose freedom. And as the pursuits
of freedom replace hatred and resentment and terror in the Middle East, the
American people will be more secure.
America has assumed great responsibilities for Iraq's future. Yet, we do
not bear these responsibilities alone. Nineteen nations are providing more
than 13,000 troops to help stabilize Iraq. And additional forces will soon
arise -- arrive. More than two dozen nations have pledged funds that will
go directly towards relief and reconstruction efforts. Every day we are renovating
schools for the new school year. We're restoring the damaged water, electrical
and communication systems. And when we introduce a new Iraqi currency later
this year, it will be the first time in 12 years that the whole country is
using the same currency.
Our greatest ally in the vital work of stabilizing and rebuilding a democratic
and prosperous Iraq is the Iraqi people, themselves. Our goal is to turn
over authority to Iraqis as quickly as possible. Coalition authorities are
training Iraqi police forces to help patrol Iraqi cities and villages. Ambassador
Bremer and General Abizaid are working to establish as quickly as possible
a new Iraqi civilian defense force to help protect supply convoys and power
plants and ammunition depots. Offices have been established in major Iraqi
cities to recruit soldiers for a new Iraqi army that will defend the people
of Iraq, instead of terrorizing them.
Most importantly, 10 days ago, Iraqis formed a new governing council. The
council represents all of Iraq's diverse groups, and it has given responsible
positions to religious authorities and to women. The council is naming ministers
to establish control over Iraq's ministries, and the council is drawing up
a new budget. The process of drafting a constitution will soon be underway,
and this will prepare the way for elections.
Yesterday, in New York, members of Iraq's governing council participated
in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. They heard a report
from U.N. Secretary General Annan, which welcomed the establishment of the
Iraqi governing council as a broadly representative Iraqi partner with whom
the U.N. and the international community can engage to build Iraq's future.
Now that we have reached this important milestone, I urge the nations of
the world to contribute -- militarily and financially -- towards fulfilling
Security Council Resolution 1483's vision of a free and secure Iraq. The
U.N. report also urges a swift return to full Iraqi sovereignty. And this
morning, Ambassador Bremer briefed me on our strategy to accelerate progress
toward this goal. He outlined a comprehensive plan for action for bringing
greater security, essential services, economic development and democracy
to the Iraqi people.
The plan sets out ambitious timetables and clear benchmarks to measure progress
and practical methods for achieving results. Rebuilding Iraq will require
a sustained commitment. America and our partners kept our promise to remove
the dictator and the threat he posed, not only to the Iraqi people, but to
We also keep our promise to destroy every remnant of that regime and to
help the people of Iraq to govern themselves in freedom. In the 83 days since
I announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, we have made progress,
steady progress, in restoring hope in a nation beaten down by decades of
Ambassador Bremer is showing great skill and resourcefulness, and is demonstrating
fine leadership and the great values of our country. Mr. Ambassador, thank
you for what you're doing for America, I appreciate you.