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Bush justifies Iraq, Afghanistan wars

Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations | September 23, 2003 21:38 IST

US President George W Bush on Tuesday said his country is "working with its friends and allies for a new Security Council resolution that will expand the role of the United Nations in Iraq".

Contrary to expectations that he will push the proposed resolution hard during the course of his address to the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, Bush was low key.

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The UN, he said, can contribute greatly to the cause of self-government for Iraq; it can help train civil servants and assist in the development of a constitution; it can also, he said, play a role in conducting a free and fair election in Iraq.

The primary goal of the US-led coalition, he said, is self-government for Iraq, to be reached by an orderly and democratic process. "The process must unfold according to the needs of the Iraqi people -- neither hurried, nor delayed -- and not according to the wishes of other parties," he said, in an indirect reference to some of the recent statements by France and other countries asking that the US leave Iraq at the earliest.

Right now, he said in course of his 20-minute address, there is a governing council in Iraq, "which is showing courage and a commitment to democracy. However, every new democracy needs help and friends in the beginning".

"Now the nation of Iraq needs and deserves our aid, and all nations of goodwill should step forward and provide that support," Bush said.

Bush devoted a large part of his speech to justifying US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said there could be no neutral ground in the war on terror. "All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilisation. No government should ignore the threat of terror, because to look the other way gives terrorists the chance to regroup, and recruit, and prepare.

"They (terrorists) have no place in any society and in any religious faith. They should have no friends in this chamber."

In Afghanistan, Bush said, the Taliban had sponsored terrorism. When challenged, they were initially defiant, but "today they are no more, and the new Afghan leaders have joined the war against terror".

Similarly, Bush said, the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq was exporting terror and violence. "Now we have been able to remove that evil, and embark on the mission of building a peaceful and civil society in that country.

"Our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were supported by many governments, and America is grateful to each one. I also recognise that some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagreed with our actions.

"Yet there was, and there remains, unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations."

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