- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

FORT HOOD, Texas President Bush defended his disparate treatment of Iraq and North Korea yesterday and told eager soldiers that "you'll be fighting" soon if Saddam Hussein does not disarm.
"Different circumstances require different strategies, from the pressure of diplomacy to the prospect of force," Mr. Bush told thousands of troops at the Army's largest base.
"In the case of North Korea, the world must continue to speak with one voice to turn that regime away from its nuclear ambitions," he said. "In the case of Iraq, the world has already spoken with one voice."
Although he denounced both nations as "outlaw regimes who seek weapons of mass destruction," the president made it clear that Iraq is the only place that might soon be invaded by U.S. forces.
"We are ready. We're prepared," he said in the first speech of his two-week Christmas vacation. "Some crucial hours may lie ahead."
Reinforcing his new policy of military pre-emption, the president added, "This war, like others, is not going to be won on the defensive. So we're going to take this fight to the enemy."
When Mr. Bush told the soldiers that they might be deployed on "essential missions" in the coming months, soldiers called out "Let's go" and "Hoo-ah," the military's expression of approval.
"Should Saddam Hussein seal his fate by refusing to disarm, by ignoring the opinion of the world, you'll be fighting not to conquer anybody, but to liberate people," the president said. "If force becomes necessary to secure our country and to keep the peace, America will act deliberately, America will act decisively, and America will prevail."
Mr. Bush issued no such threats against North Korea, despite its recent admission that it has been secretly developing nuclear weapons. The president wants to handle the communist nation with diplomacy, not military force.
Despite this difference in approach to two nations that he has long denounced as part of an "axis of evil," Mr. Bush reiterated his call yesterday for moral clarity in the war against terrorism.
"Either you're with us or you're with the enemy," he said. "Either you're with those who love freedom or you're with those who hate innocent life."
The declaration came a day after Mr. Bush accused Kim Jong-il of starving North Koreans and four months after the president said, "I loathe Kim Jong-il."
Since that public declaration of hatred, North Korea says it fears U.S. military aggression. Mr. Bush cited Saddam's hatred of the United States as one reason for war.
"The Iraqi regime is a great threat to the United States," said the president, who wore a green military jacket over his blue dress shirt and tie. "Why do I say that? Well, first of all, the leader in Iraq has publicly proclaimed his hatred for our country and what we stand for."
Mr. Bush cited other reasons, including Saddam's use of chemical and biological weapons against other nations and his own people. He accused Baghdad of omitting those weapons from a list it was forced to disclose last month by the United Nations.
"Four years ago, U.N. inspectors concluded that Iraq had failed to account for large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, weapons capable of killing millions," the president said.
"In last month's declaration, Iraq again failed to account for those weapons.
"The Iraqi dictator did not even attempt to submit a credible declaration," he added. "We can now be certain that he holds the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council and its resolutions in contempt."
Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush flew by helicopter from their ranch in nearby Crawford to this sprawling military base in Killeen, Texas. They viewed tanks, rocket launchers, attack helicopters and other weaponry of the sort that would be used in Iraq, said Army Major Vic Harris, a base spokesman.
The barrel of each tank was painted with black letters that spelled out nicknames bestowed by various commanders. Mr. Harris said only "clean nicknames" were displayed for the Bushes, including "Comin' Out Hard," "Burn Baby Burn," "Anarchy," "Anger Management," "Cruel Intentions," "Blood and Guts" and "Cold Steel."
The tanks have improved substantially since the Persian Gulf war and are fitted with a computerized device that allows a tank commander to lock a target in his sights while a gunner is aiming at another target.
"It's a huge advantage," Mr. Harris said. "You know where you are. You know where your friendly vehicles are. You know where your enemy vehicles are."
Mr. Bush chatted with two Army snipers wearing "Gilly suits," covered with grass and green shrubbery, that the soldiers made to blend into the terrain.
"In crucial hours, the success of our cause will depend upon you," the president told soldiers in his speech. "I know that every order I give can bring a cost. I also know, without a doubt, that every order I give will be carried out with skill and unselfish courage."
After his speech, Mr. Bush ate lunch with the troops.
"Let's put some corn on there," the president said to a cafeteria worker as he clutched his tray. "I don't think I'll have any broccoli, though."
It was a reference to his father's famous aversion to broccoli, which was widely reported during the elder President Bush's tenure in the White House.
Although no one from Fort Hood has been deployed to the Persian Gulf for a war with Iraq, yesterday the Pentagon called up some units of the 45,000-member U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to deploy from California to the Gulf region to join thousands of other American troops preparing for a war with Iraq, defense officials said.
Spokesmen at 1st Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters in Camp Pendleton, Calif., confirmed that an order to deploy "elements" of the big force was received this week, but would not say how many or exactly when and where they would go.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide