On a day in which the White House threatened Saddam with trial as
a war criminal in the event of war, Bush said, "The danger with Iraq
is that he can strike in the neighborhood and the danger with Iraq
is that he has got the willingness and capacity to train al-Qaida
type organizations and provide them with equipment to hurt
Saddam "will be disarmed one way or the other," the president
declared as his administration prepared for another faceoff at the
United Nations (news
sites) on a resolution designed to bring about the disarmament
In remarks before the Latino Coalition, however, Bush stopped
short of repeating previous claims of an already existing link
between Iraq and al-Qaida terrorists. But he did say, "The world has
waited a long time for Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm."
Meanwhile, in an impassioned appeal, French Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin warned Wednesday that waging war against Iraq
now without exhausting all peaceful means for disarming Saddam
Hussein would split the international community and "be perceived
as precipitous and illegitimate."
Addressing a debate on the Iraq crisis in the French parliament,
Raffarin said France remains committed to continued and strengthened
weapons inspections in Iraq.
Also, a confidential Mexican foreign policy directive obtained by
The Associated Press suggested its government may be the first among
a handful of undecided U.N. Security Council members to shift toward
the U.S. position on Iraq.
While the directive doesn't explicitly commit Mexico to voting
for a U.S.-backed resolution, it says Mexico agrees the resolution's
sole aim is to disarm Iraq.
Canada meanwhile offered a plan that could reconcile the bitter
differences posed by the U.S.-British-Spanish resolution, which is
seeking U.N. authorization for war, and a French-Russian-German
proposal to continue weapons inspections at least into July.
After the Latino Coalition speech, Bush stepped into a meeting
with President Geidar Aliev of Azerbaijan, a country 250 miles
northeast of Iraq, which has backed the U.S. call for Iraq's
On Tuesday, Bush said that if the Iraqi president and his
generals "take innocent life, if they destroy infrastructure, they
will be held accountable as war criminals."
Also, U.S. warplanes bombed two military communications sites in
southern Iraq Wednesday, marking the fourth American strike on Iraq
in two days.
The U.S. Central Command said American planes bombed the two
communications sites, which help tie together Iraq's air defense
network, at about 8:35 a.m. EST.
Bush was to give a speech on Iraq later Wednesday at the American
Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank from
which he drew many of his aides.
He was expected to argue that Saddam is a menace to the Iraqi
people and that getting rid of him would make the Middle East
including the volatile Israeli-Palestinian conflict more stable.
Bush also was to stress the prospects for democracy in a
post-Saddam Iraq and the United States' intention to address
humanitarian needs caused by possible war, said his spokesman, Ari
Offering Congress and the American public a peek into war and
postwar preparations, the Army's top general said Tuesday that a
military occupying force could total several hundred thousand
Iraq is "a piece of geography that's fairly significant," Gen.
Eric K. Shinseki said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services
sites). Any postwar occupying force, he said, would have to be
big enough to maintain safety in a country with "ethnic tensions
that could lead to other problems."
On Wednesday, the White House sought to minimize the impact of
Shinseki's testimony, with Fleischer declining to repeat his
estimate. "It's impossible to guess the exact numbers of people that
would be involved in any longer-term effort," he said.
In a speech prepared for Wednesday delivery to the Council on
Foreign Relations, Sen. Joe Lieberman (news
sites), D-Conn., was calling on the Bush administration to work
with the United Nations to name an international administrator to
oversee reconstruction of Iraq.
A U.S. civilian administrator "would put America in the position
of an occupying power, not a liberator," said Lieberman, who is
running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. "And it
may well widen the gulf between the United States and the Arab
In northern Iraq, which was pried from Saddam's control to
protect Kurdish civilians after the 1991 Persian Gulf war (news
sites), White House and State Department officials were holding
a meeting with political opponents of Saddam's government. The aim
was to help plan the kind of government that would take over in
Baghdad after an ouster of Saddam.