Public Papers - 1991 - March
Radio Address to United States Armed Forces Stationed in the Persian Gulf Region
Never have I been more proud of our troops, or more proud to be your Commander in Chief. For today, amid prayers of thanks and hope, the Kuwaiti flag once again flies high above Kuwait City. And it's there because you and your coalition allies put it there.
Kuwait is liberated. And soon hometowns across America will be welcoming back home the finest combat force ever assembled -- Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force -- the brave men and women of the United States of America.
Saddam Hussein's dreams of dominating the Middle East by the terror of a nuclear arsenal and an army of a million men threatened the future of our children and the entire world. And the world was faced with a simple choice: If international law and sanctions could not remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, then we had to free Kuwait from Saddam Hussein.
And that's exactly what you did. Throughout 7 long and arduous months, the troops of 28 nations stood with you, shoulder to shoulder in an unprecedented partnership for peace. Today we thank you, for the victory in Kuwait was born in your courage and resolve. The stunning success of our troops was the result of superb training, superb planning, superb execution, and incredible acts of bravery.
The Iraqi Army was defeated. Forty-two divisions were put out of action. They lost 3,000 tanks, almost 2,000 armored vehicles, more than 2,000 artillery pieces. And over half a million Iraqi soldiers were captured, defeated, or disarmed. You were as good as advertised; you were, indeed, ``Good to go.''
This is a war we did not seek and did not want. But Saddam Hussein turned a deaf ear to the voices of peace and reason. And when he began burning Kuwait to the ground and intensifying the murder of its people, the coalition faced a moral imperative to put a stop to the atrocities in Kuwait once and for all. Boldly, bravely, you did just that. And when the rubber met the road, you did it in just 6 weeks and 100 decisive hours.
The evil Saddam has done can never be forgotten. But his power to attack his neighbors and threaten the peace of the region is today grievously reduced. He has been stripped of his capacity to project offensive military power. His regime is totally discredited, and as a threat to peace, the day of this dictator is over. And the bottom line is this: Kuwait's night of terror has ended.
Thomas Jefferson said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We must remain vigilant to make absolutely sure the Iraqi dictator is never, ever allowed to stoke the ashes of defeat into the burning embers of aggression. The sacrifice you've already made demands nothing less. The sacrifice of those who gave their lives will never be forgotten.
Saddam made many mistakes. But one of the biggest was to underestimate the determination of the American people and the daring of our troops. We saw in the desert what Americans have learned through 215 years of history about the difference between democracy and dictatorship. Soldiers who fight for freedom are more committed than soldiers who fight because they are enslaved.
Americans today are confident of our country, confident of our future, and most of all, confident about you. We promised you'd be given the means to fight. We promised not to look over your shoulder. We promised this would not be another Vietnam. And we kept that promise. The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula.
Today, the promise of spring is almost upon us, the promise of regrowth and renewal: renewed life in Kuwait, renewed prospects for real peace throughout the Middle East, and a renewed sense of pride and confidence here at home. And we are committed to seeing every American soldier and every allied POW home soon -- home to the thanks and the respect and the love of a grateful nation and a very grateful President.
Yes, there remain vital and difficult tests ahead, both here and abroad, but nothing the American people can't handle. America has always accepted the challenge, paid the price, and passed the test. On this day, our spirits are high as our flag, and our future is as bright as Liberty's torch. Tomorrow we dedicate ourselves anew, as Americans always have and as Americans always will.
The first test of the new world order has been passed. The hard work of freedom awaits. Thank you. Congratulations. And God bless the United States of America.
Note: The President recorded this address at 9:15 a.m., March 1, in his private study at the White House. In his address, he referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. The address was broadcast at noon, March 2, over the Armed Forces Radio Network.