Verbatim Special: Gulf War II

May 1, 2003
“The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours. … All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.”—President Bush, address to the nation, March 17.

“If the action is to take place without the support of the [Security] Council, its legitimacy will be questioned and the support for it will be diminished.”—UN Secretary– General Kofi Annan, New York Times, March 18.

“I’m saddened, saddened that this President failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this President couldn’t create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.”—Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D–S.D.), in a speech to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Chicago Tribune, March 18.

“In placing the blame for the war, and for American deaths, not on Saddam Hussein but directly on an American President, Mr. Daschle sounded like Jacques Chirac without the savoir faire. This is remarkable stuff, especially from a Senator who only last October voted for the Iraq war resolution and who only five years ago voted with a unanimous Senate to make removing Saddam official US policy.”—Wall Street Journal editorial, March 19.

“Iraq does not today present an immediate threat warranting an immediate war.”—Declaration by French President Jacques Chirac, Embassy of France in the United States, March 18.

“This is not about Saddam Hussein, and this is not even about regime change in Iraq or even the million people killed by Saddam Hussein or missiles or chemical weapons. It is about what has become two conflicting views of the world. It’s about whether the United States is allowed to run world affairs and battle terrorism and weapons proliferation essentially with a small group of trusted allies.”—Pierre Lellouche, French legislator and close Chirac ally, Washington Post, March 6.

“If the war starts and if Saddam Hussein uses chemical or biological weapons, it would completely change the situation for the French President and for the French government, and President Chirac will have to decide what we will do to help the American troops to confront this new situation.”—Jean–David Levitte, French ambassador to the US, CNN, March 18.

“The current wave of anti–French and anti–German comments in the United States is not only unworthy of a country that in large measure owes its existence to France and that fashioned a deep and abiding postwar friendship with Germany. If such an attitude is also reflected in policy, as some American and British commentators have suggested, it would constitute a fundamental strategic mistake.”—Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.), president of the Association of the US Army, International Herald Tribune, March 18.

“Mexico reiterates its support for the multilateral route to solve conflicts and regrets the path to war. … Our relationship with the United States—our closest partner, neighbor, and friend—should not change.”—Mexican President Vicente Fox, Associated Press, March 18.

“On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. … Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory.”—President Bush, address to the nation, March 19.

“Tonight is one of those nights, I think, in which we’re all standing shoulder to shoulder. President Bush is a Republican. I’m a Democrat … but tonight there’s not an inch of distance between us.”—Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D–Conn.), Washington Post, March 21.

“My judgment, as Prime Minister, is that this threat is real, growing, and of an entirely different nature to any conventional threat to our security that Britain has faced before. … So our choice is clear: Back down and leave Saddam hugely strengthened; or proceed to disarm him by force. Retreat might give us a moment of respite, but years of repentance at our weakness would, I believe, follow.”—Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom, address to his nation, March 20.

“Today, I weep for my country. … No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent, peacekeeper. … Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. … We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. … We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice.”—Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D–W.Va.), speech on the Senate floor, March 19.

“Yet, even if this operation does not go smoothly or fast, it must go forward. Saddam Hussein has threatened his neighbors, and the United States, with war and weapons of mass destruction for two decades; he has violated the cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf War and defied multiple disarmament orders from the United Nations Security Council. The war that has now begun stands to end the single greatest threat to peace in the Middle East; it will help establish that rogue states will not be allowed to stockpile chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community. It will also free the long-suffering Iraqi people, who have endured one of the cruelest and most murderous dictatorships of the past half-century.”—Washington Post editorial, March 20.

“I think we should do the Oscars and have the war wait. Saddam already said he won’t go away. I think the best thing is Bush should wait until Monday.”—Wolfgang Puck, “caterer to the stars,” on possible disruption of a lavish dinner he was to prepare for 1,600 glitterati after the Oscar ceremony, Washington Post, March 20.

“You know, I’m not into the tick-tock of every hour and every minute. We have a serious task before us, and it is to remove that regime and find the weapons of mass destruction and replace it with a government that does not want those weapons and will not threaten its neighbor and will maintain a single country. This is a process that takes some time, and it will ebb and flow. And when it’s over, the regime will be gone.”—Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, response to question about progress of the campaign after one day, Pentagon briefing, March 20.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Senate: Commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President, as Commander in Chief, in the conflict against Iraq. … Expresses sincere gratitude to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government for their courageous and steadfast support, as well as gratitude to other allied nations for their military support, logistical support, and other assistance in the campaign against Saddam Hussein’s regime.”—Senate Resolution, March 20.

“We promise you that Iraq, its leadership and its people, will stand up to the evil invaders, and we will take them to such limits that they will lose their patience in achieving their plans, which are pushed by criminal Zionism. … Long live jihad and long live Palestine.”—Saddam Hussein, Associated Press, March 20.

“I think Saddam Hussein is a burned-out figure. For me, there’s nothing genuine about him, including that speech. No one believes him, especially when he’s talking about Islam and the Palestinians.”—Hisham Kassem, publisher of Cairo Times, Los Angeles Times, March 21.

“At this difficult moment in our nation’s history, I would like to express my pride in you, the British service and civilian personnel deployed in the Gulf and in the vital support roles in this country and further afield. I have every confidence in your professionalism and commitment as you face the challenges before you. Especially for those of you now waiting to go into action, may your mission be swift and decisive, your courage steady and true, and your conduct in the highest traditions of your service both in waging war and bringing peace.”—Statement by Queen Elizabeth II, March 20.

“This Administration must also accept responsibility for the cost of conflict in blood, in money, and insecurity to our families. It may take decades to undo the damage to our safety wrought by misguided policies and the failure of diplomacy.”—Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D–Tex.), floor speech, March 20.

“I saw some of the images on television and I heard various commentators expansively comparing what’s taking place in Iraq today to some of the more famous bombing campaigns of World War II. There is no comparison. The weapons that are being used today have a degree of precision that no one ever dreamt of in a prior conflict—they didn’t exist. And it’s not a handful of weapons; it’s the overwhelming majority of the weapons that have that precision. The targeting capabilities and the care that goes into targeting to see that the precise targets are struck and that other targets are not struck is as impressive as anything anyone could see.”—Rumsfeld, Pentagon news briefing, March 21.

“If the Iraqis were to use any chemical weapons, then I think public opinion around the world would immediately turn against Iraq and [people] would say as well that the invasion was justified.”—Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, Washington Times, March 22.

“This will be a campaign unlike any other in history, a campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions on a scale never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming force.”—Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander, US Central Command, CENTCOM press briefing, March 22.

“I’m a piñata for the antiwar forces.”—Harlan K. Ullman, retired Navy commander and principal architect (along with James P. Wade) of “shock and awe,” Washington Post, March 22.

“I did my share, my part, to liberate the country from Hitler, and this is the way that they repay me.”—George Wilson, 80, decorated by France for bravery in World War II, returning his medal to the French Embassy, Washington Post, March 22.

“Report: US military used napalm in the bombing of Iraq (Sydney Morning Herald, March 22, 2003).

Ground Truth: The United States took napalm out of service in the early 1970s. We completed destruction of all 2.7 million gallons of napalm on April 4, 2001. The claims that we are using napalm in Iraq are patently false. We have contacted the Sydney Morning Herald and asked for a correction. They tell us they are pulling the story.”—US Air Force Operation Iraqi Freedom Web site, undated.

“The air campaign is achieving its objective, and the ground campaign is also achieving objective. We’re slowly but surely taking control of that country so that we can free the people of Iraq and eventually clear that country of weapons of mass destruction. We’ve made good progress.”—Bush, at press availability, March 23.

“Today, it is we Americans who live in infamy.”—Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., historian and special assistant in the Kennedy Administration, Los Angles Times op–ed, March 23.

“The [television] pictures made it look like we were bombing Baghdad. We were not bombing Baghdad. That is the greater Baghdad area, and in it there are a large number of command and control and regime targets. And that is what we were bombing, and it was very precise, and it made it look like the city was ablaze. The city was not ablaze. The Iraqi regime was ablaze.”—Rumsfeld, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” March 23.

“We live in a time when we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious President. We live in a time where we have a man who’s sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts.”—Michael Moore, filmmaker and political activist, at Academy Awards ceremony, Associated Press, March 24.

“We are very concerned that there are reports of ongoing cooperation and support to Iraqi military forces being provided by a Russian company that produces GPS–jamming equipment. … There are other causes of concern, as well, involving night vision goggles and anti-tank guided missiles.”—White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, press briefing, March 24.

“We know, and everyone in this brave, patient, honest, heroic nation knows, how much we tried to do what was right—so much so, perhaps, that some blamed us for how we behaved and how graciously patient we were over hardships sought by those with ulterior motives and how we responded, although it could coincide [with] the wishes of the weak or those who do not realize the intentions and goals of the American and British Administrations, which are driven by accursed Zionism.”—Saddam Hussein, Guardian Unlimited, March 24.

“The forces on this battlefield are the most capable I’ve ever seen, whether it’s by way of technology or training or motivation. Our resolve is great. The morale is good. And, as I think we always say, there is no doubt about the outcome.”—Franks, CENTCOM news briefing, March 24.

“The outcome of the war is not in question—we are going to win. The only question is the price that we pay. By not attacking the Republican Guards in a very vicious way now, requires more of our ground forces to confront those units, and it makes us more vulnerable to bad things happening.”—Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Buster C. Glosson, Boston Globe, March 24.

“In my judgment, there should have been a minimum of two heavy divisions and an armored cavalry regiment on the ground—that’s how our doctrine reads.”—Retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, Washington Post, March 25.

“This is ‘Desert Lite.’ As they said in briefings before the war, this force is probably adequate for the job, but it doesn’t leave much room for setbacks or sandstorms.”—Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Chicago Tribune, March 25.

“Without question, airpower is performing magnificently in Iraq. Weapons technologies truly have improved by an order of magnitude over the past decade. The Air Force and the air arms of our other services are indispensable. But they remain most effective as part of an overall land, sea, and air military team. Once again, it has taken ground forces to provide the main thrust of military operations, to take and hold ground, to seize oil fields, airfields, and bridges, and to force the war toward a battlefield decision.”—Ralph Peters, retired Army officer, author, and theorist, Washington Post, March 25.

“The Iraqi Air Force hasn’t left the ground, and none of our jets has been lost to enemy fire in thousands of sorties. We have struck with such precision that the citizens of Baghdad still drive the streets while the Hussein regime is being systematically, relentlessly attacked. The enemy has fired multiple surface-to-surface missiles without a coalition casualty, thanks to a multinational air defense system.”—Air Force Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, CENTCOM air component coordinator,, March 25.

“It is always a fine balance to try to protect those people you want to liberate and yet achieve your military objective. … We’re more likely to take a little bit more risk ourselves than to bring the population in harm’s way.”—Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” March 25.

“We’ve got total dominance of the air. It is not air superiority. It’s dominance. They have not put an airplane up.”—Rumsfeld, Pentagon news briefing, March 25.

“I guess you need to be standing near the point of impact to understand whether or not it’s awesome.”—Marine Gen. Peter Pace, deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on questions about “shock and awe,” CNN’s “Larry King Live,” March 26.

“We decided we would restrain the use of airpower for reasons of humanity and world image. We have imposed a burden on our campaign plan that may slow down victory and diminish the quality of the victory we achieve.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, New York Times, March 27.

“Overall, from a strategic standpoint, we should never want to run our short-range ground power against their short-range ground power. Even though we win that fight, we lose a lot of people in that fight, too. So we should run our long-range airpower against his only strength, which is short-range ground power.”—Retired Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff,, March 27.

“The bar for President Bush is now very high: He has to deliver a large number of [biological or chemical] weapons to prove not only that Saddam Hussein was lying but also that his weapons pose such an eminent threat that war is necessary.”—Joseph Cirincione, director of Nonproliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington Post, March 27.

“Saudi Arabia and Iraq are the richest prizes in the world. Profits are involved, but oil is power more than oil is profit. Whoever has the oil has leverage over others in the world.”—Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the “Pentagon Papers” in 1971, arrested March 26 at antiwar protest in Washington, D.C., Baltimore Sun, March 27.

“For nearly a century, the United States and Great Britain have been allies in the defense of liberty. We’ve opposed all the great threats to peace and security in the world. We shared in the costly and heroic struggle against Nazism. We shared the resolve and moral purpose of the Cold War. In every challenge, we’ve applied the combined power of our nations to the cause of justice, and we’re doing the same today.”—Bush, at press availability, Camp David, March 27.

“I hear people constantly say to me, Europe is against what you’re doing. That is not true. There is a part of Europe that is against what we are doing. There are many existing members of the European Union, and virtually all the new members of the European Union, that strongly support what we are doing.”—Blair, at press availability, Camp David, March 27.

“I am getting increasingly concerned by humanitarian casualties in this conflict. We’ve just heard the reports that a missile struck a market in Baghdad, and I would want to remind all belligerents that they should respect international humanitarian law and take all necessary steps to protect civilians.”—Annan, remarks to press, March 26.

“This is staggering. If indeed the market explosion was caused by a US missile, Annan knows that this was both entirely unintentional and a rare exception in a campaign of astonishing discrimination and accuracy. Annan’s statement is doubly disgusting because he said nothing about Iraq’s use of human shields, of fake surrenders, of placing a tank in a hospital compound in Nasiriyah. He says not a word about these flagrant Iraqi violations of the laws of war. Nor does he denounce the parading of POWs on television and the apparent execution of American and British POWs. He is instead moved to speak out in response to what is at most an accident.”—Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, March 28.

“The only true heroes are those who find ways to help defeat the US military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.”—Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology and Latino studies at Columbia University, referring to 1993 ambush in Somalia, where 18 American soldiers died, Newsday, March 28.

“Once the crisis is past, one could think that French companies … could be left out of contract bids. That’s what French leaders are the most worried about.”—Le Figaro editorial, Associated Press, March 29.

“Great Britain is part of Europe and I hope this situation can be resolved in such a way so that it is clear that there can be no common defense policy without Britain taking part.”—German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Reuters, March 28.

“The United States, we hope, will win this war quickly.”—Francois Rivasseau, French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Washington Post, March 29.

“If you want to have the maximum effect, you try to hit as many of those centers of gravity as you can, as fast as you can. When you exclude some and you attack targets serially, as they’ve been doing, you reduce tremendously the effect on the system.”—Retired Air Force Col. John Warden, air campaign planner, Gulf War I, Washington Post, March 29.

“As I see it, this air campaign appears to come out of a book by strategic airpower advocates, who have argued that you start at the center and work your way out to disrupt and destroy whatever. We come up with the opposite view. Take away [Saddam’s] ability to run the country and the ability to fight. The argument is that may cause a sufficient amount of ‘shock and awe’ it will force them to surrender. … As we theoretically envisaged it, we would have gone straight after the Republican Guard and its leadership and not just with precision guided weapons.”—Ullman, Washington Times, March 31.

“It has been approved by everyone who’s had a look at it. It’s been described as an excellent plan. I’d be delighted to take credit for it, but it wouldn’t be fair, because it’s a product that is essentially General Franks’s, but it certainly is the result of a lot of thought from a lot of very fine military planners.”—Rumsfeld on war plan, Pentagon news briefing, March 30.

“Airpower by itself recently won a sort of war—the 1999 no-casualty campaign, conducted from 15,000 feet, to stop Serbia’s depredations in Kosovo. However, airpower alone will never supplant ground power. As has been said, no one surrenders to an airplane. But today’s air dominance vastly simplifies the tasks of ground forces because they cannot be threatened from the air, and enemy ground forces cannot concentrate.”—George F. Will, Newsweek, March 31.

“I was disappointed that we weren’t allowed to disarm Iraq [through inspections], especially as we were very close to our goal.”—Blix in interview with French newspaper, quoted by, March 31.

“I give this pledge to the citizens of Iraq: We’re coming with a mighty force to end the reign of your oppressors. We are coming to bring you food and medicine and a better life. And we are coming, and we will not stop, we will not relent, until your country is free.”—Bush, speech at Port of Philadelphia, March 31.

“If they fly, they die. It’s as simple as that. If they come up, we’ll destroy them. And, as you see, if we find them, we’ll destroy them.”—Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, CENTCOM spokesman, on inactivity of Iraqi Air Force, press briefing, March 31.

“There will be no outcome to this war that leaves Saddam Hussein and his regime in power. Let there be no doubt. His time will end, and soon. The only thing that the coalition will discuss with this regime is their unconditional surrender.”—Rumsfeld, Pentagon news briefing, April 1.

“Their assumptions were wrong. There is a view that the nature of warfare has fundamentally changed, that numbers don’t count, that armor and artillery don’t count. They went into battle with a plan that put a huge air and sea force into action with an unbalanced ground combat force.”—McCaffrey on planners of the campaign in Iraq, New York Times, April 1.

“Once Chirac is comfortably re-elected and Bush and Blair chased from power, Paris more than ever will be the capital of the world.”—Philippe Sollers, “a novelist who has wide respect in France,” International Herald Tribune, April 1.

“I do not believe it is appropriate to air it at this time. … I do not wish to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video.”—Madonna, pulling US release of her new video, which contains images of transvestite soldiers, Iraqi children, and a grenade thrown at a lookalike of President Bush, Washington Times, April 2.

“Jihad is a duty and whoever dies will be rewarded by heaven. And God will be satisfied with their sacrifice. Take your chance. This is what God requested from you.”—Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, Iraqi information minister, reading statement attributed to Saddam Hussein, New York Times, April 1.

“Mr. Saddam Hussein has asked his people to sacrifice for their country, and if the only thing that keeps the conflict going is his presence, then he should listen to his own advice.”—Prince Saud al Faisal, Saudi foreign minister, Knight Ridder News Service, April 2.

“You failure, go to hell. You are too small to talk to the leader of Iraq, and those who will be swept away from the land of the Arab world are people like you. You are a minion and a lackey.”—Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, replying to Prince Saud, New York Times, April 2.

“The fact is that more ground troops are needed. And more ground troops are on the way. The relevant questions are these: Will this second infusion be sufficient, and why weren’t these troops there when the war started?”—Retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former commander of CENTCOM, New York Times, April 2.

“In my view, the war is successful so far if you talk about meeting objectives and goals. In the next few days, we’re at a critical juncture, though. If the war gets extended out, I think you’ll see criticism rise. If it goes well, you’ll see it disappear.”—Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.), Los Angeles Times, April 2.

“I could see the Iraqis ahead of us at a crossroads. … They were Fedayeen and I was preparing to fire at them. They were crossing the road to try and outflank us on the left, and, as they crossed, four or five of them grabbed kids by the scruff of their necks and dragged them across with them. They were using them as human shields so that I had to stop firing. The children were only five to eight years old.”—British Sgt. David Baird, Challenger 2 tank commander London’s Daily Telegraph, April 2.

“We hope the [Saddam Hussein] regime will collapse as soon as possible and we’ll have no further loss of life—civilians or soldiers.”—German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Associated Press, April 2.

“I believe the war on Iraq is an inevitable measure to eliminate weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible, at a time when diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue peacefully have failed.”—South Korean Pres. Roh Moo-Hyun,, March 20.

“The main thing we’ve learned from this is that ‘shock and awe’ hasn’t panned out. The targeting hasn’t broken the back of the leadership.”—Robert A. Pape, University of Chicago professor and longtime critic of airpower, New York Times, March 26.

“We might be able to do the job if airpower is effective, if we don’t have close contact with enemy forces, and if the Iraqi will is broken. But those are a lot of big ifs.”—Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, former NATO commander, arguing for more ground forces in Iraq, The [South Carolina] State, March 26.

“The military must struggle with the deadly calculus of how many casualties it is willing to incur among its own forces to save civilian lives. In this regard, the words of Gen. Curtis LeMay, who led the American bombing campaign against Japan in 1945, are worth remembering: ‘Actually, I think it’s more immoral to use less force than necessary, than it is to use more. If you use less force, you kill off more of humanity in the long run because you are merely protracting the struggle.’ ”—Max Boot, New York Times, March 30.

“My view of those reports—and since I don’t know who you’re quoting, who the individuals are—is that they’re bogus. … I’ve been in this process every step of the way. …There is not one thing that General Franks [the CENTCOM commander] has asked for that he hasn’t gotten on the timeline that we could get it to him. … Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed up to this plan and the way it was executed from the first day, and they’ll be signed up to the last day, because we still think it’s a good plan. Every member of General Franks’s component commanders signed up to this plan as it was changed over time, and as it finally came down to be the one we went to war with. And they all stood up and gave a thumbs up to the plan.”—Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on criticism from “current and former officers” of the war plan, Pentagon news briefing, April 1.

“Hmmm. Might this be why our pals France, Germany, and Russia aren’t high on giving Saddam Hussein the bum’s rush? A hush-hush Treasury report reveals that the trio hold the majority of Iraqi debt. Wanna bet how much will get repaid if a new government takes over?”—“Washington Whispers,” US News & World Report, April 7.

“It increasingly seems that Iraq is running out of real soldiers, and soon all that will be left are war criminals.”—Rumsfeld, Pentagon news briefing, April 3.

“I am a determined nonpartisan former public official who loyally served the past two Administrations. My criticism of the brilliantly executed air–land–sea campaign to disarm Iraq was limited to the ‘rolling start.’ My anxieties are, of course, being rapidly washed away by the superb success of our fighting forces—and by the rapid reinforcement of the courageous initial assault elements in accordance with this very daring and successful plan.”—McCaffrey, letter to Washington Times, April 4.

“We all hope that the earliest possible end to the war will keep the number of victims as low as possible. And we hope that through the defeat of the dictatorship, the Iraqi people can realize its hopes of a life in peace, freedom, and self-determination as soon as possible.”—Schroeder, calling—for the first time—for the removal of Saddam, Washington Post, April 4.