Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 17, 2003, 6:15pm

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Hyde Comments on Prospects for War with Saddam

(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, commented Monday evening on Saddam Hussein’s continuing refusal to disarm, the resulting diplomatic standoff at the United Nations, and prospects for war with Iraq:

There is no prospect more grave than that of war. Yet that is what we face. It is beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein has chosen not to disarm. No reasonable person believes he will ever do so uncoerced. His dark history must erase all doubts that he will employ whatever means of destruction he possesses to accomplish his deadly ambitions.

The choice we face is both difficult but simple: We can either grant him an indefinite reprieve and in so doing allow him to proceed his plans for our destruction, or we can take action to prevent unnamed horrors to come. We might postpone this decision at increasing risk to ourselves, but we cannot avoid the fact that the responsibility and the choice are ours.

A fundamental truth must once again determine our course: We cannot exchange our security for a hope that all will be well. If we are not prepared to take the measures necessary to defend ourselves, then we are lost. For there is no one to relieve us of our responsibilities, no one to aid our escape, no one to save us but ourselves.

President Bush and his advisers have demonstrated that they understand this reality and are now prepared to act decisively. They do so with the firm support of the Congress and the majority of the American people.

And while we may deplore the callous attitude of other countries whose interests we are also defending, we have never deceived ourselves that our fate could be entrusted to them. However, we do have a right to expect more from old allies, especially those whose freedom has been purchased with American lives. So it is with great pain and regret that we have seen some turn their backs to us. It is at difficult times that we can assay the true weight of their friendship and reveal the easy promises of the past as so much fool’s gold.

We do not stand alone, however. There are many countries that could have remained silently invisible on the sidelines or even profitably joined in the chorus against us. Instead, they have chosen this moment to stand with us. Britain, of course, deserves the place of honor in our minds. But others must be recognized as well, among them Spain, Portugal, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Australia.

Quite soon, the focus of attention will shift from the halls of failed diplomacy to our troops in the field. These men and women are prepared to risk all to defend their country and must, as always, be given a special place in our thoughts and in our prayers. I am confident that our country will not fail to unite behind them.

We will be victorious in Iraq and thereby rid ourselves and the world of the menace of a madman armed with an arsenal of unimaginable weapons. And we shall once again rest secure in the knowledge of having done our duty to ourselves, to our country, to the victims of Saddam’s decades of depredation and to the future.