Showtime. We are at war. Some of the most telling comments about it are by others. Here are some...
Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia: "A few weeks ago, we were doing some work on my back porch back home, tearing out a section of old stacked rocks, when all of a sudden I uncovered a nest of copperhead snakes.
A copperhead will kill you. It could kill one of my dogs. It could kill one of my grandchildren. It could kill any one of my four great-grandchildren. They play all the time where I found those killers. And you know, when I discovered these copperheads, I didn't call my wife Shirley for advice, as I do on most things. I didn't go before the city council. I didn't yell for help from my neighbors. I just took a hoe and knocked them in the head and killed them. Dead as a doorknob. I guess you could call it a unilateral action. Or preemptive.
Perhaps if you had been watching me you could have even called it bellicose and reactive. I took their poisonous heads off because they were a threat to me. And they were a threat to my home and my family. They were a threat to all I hold dear. And isn't that what this is all about?"
Ion Iliescu, president of Romania: "Romanians ... understand the need for the international community to act against the threat of weapons of mass destruction posed by a regime that endangers international peace and stability. As President Bush said in Bucharest, we 'know the difference between good and evil because we have seen evil's face.'... Some dictatorships decay over decades, some crumble in months. But some dictatorships disintegrate in hours when the people are aware of their right to live in freedom and wish to make their voices heard. This is what the recent history of Romania has shown. We are convinced that in their specific conditions, a rapid rejoining of the community of democratic and peace-loving nations can occur for the Iraqi people."
James Schlesinger, former CIA director and former secretary of both Energy and Defense: "Last summer the president was urged not to act 'unilaterally.' He was urged to go to Congress and the UN. He did both. He received a strong endorsement from Congress of recourse to force, if need be. He went to the UN. Through painstaking negotiations, the U.S. and the U.K. obtained Resolution 1441, approved unanimously by the Security Council. That resolution offered Saddam Hussein, already in material breach of 16 prior resolutions, a 'final opportunity' to come into compliance with UN resolutions. If he failed to do so, 'serious consequences' would ensue. Saddam has not come into compliance. He has grudgingly cooperated on process - but not on substance. His 1,200-page declaration of Feb. 7 was brazen, if not farcical."
Winston S. Churchill, grandson of the former British prime minister: "The time has come for the world community - or such of it as has the courage to act - to deal with this monster once and for all. Were we to shirk this duty, the UN would go the way of the League (of Nations). More gravely, a marriage of convenience would be consummated between the terrorist forces of al-Qaida and the arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities which Saddam possesses. We have business to do, and I believe that together, America and Britain and those of our allies who share our sense of urgency and strength of commitment will soon rid the world of this demented despot, liberate the Iraqi people from tyranny, and strike a further blow against the ambitions of fundamentalist terror."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "The outcome of this issue will now determine more than the fate of the Iraqi regime and more than the future of the Iraqi people, for so long brutalized by Saddam. It will determine the way Britain and the world confront the central security threat of the 21st century; the development of the UN; the relationship between Europe and the U.S.; the relations within the EU; and the way the U.S. engages with the rest of the world. ... And let us recall: What was shocking about Sept. 11 was not just the slaughter of the innocent, but the knowledge that had the terrorists been able to, there would have been not 3,000 innocent dead, but 30,000 or 300,000 and the more the suffering, the greater the terrorists' rejoicing."
A Navy corpsman with a Marine Expeditionary Force in Kuwait, to his mother - responding to whether she should participate in a Hollywood peacenik march: "I am a United States soldier. I was sworn to defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. People may not agree with the things we are ordered to do. I would like to address those people by telling them that terrorism is not only a threat to us as Americans, but to many other innocent people in the world. What type of country would we be if we didn't defend the rights and freedoms of others, not because they're Americans, but how about just because they're human? We live in a country where people feel secure with their daily lives. ... As Americans, we're afraid of losing our soldiers to defend our security. I can only speak for myself when I say that my life is an easy expense to ensure that my family and friends can live in peace. ... My family is first. My country is where they live. I will defend it."
Former deputy undersecretary of defense Jed Babbin: "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You get to leave a lot of useless baggage behind."
Italian author Oriana Fallaci: "As I write in my book The Rage and the Pride (Rizzoli International, 2002) <buy book>, when I call (Osama) bin Laden the tip of the iceberg and I define the iceberg as a mountain that has not moved for 1,400 years, that for 1,400 years has not changed, that has not emerged from its blindness, freedom and democracy are totally unrelated to the ideological texture of Islam - to the tyranny of theocratic states. So their people refuse them, and even more they want to erase ours. ... Thus, I ask: "What if instead of learning freedom Iraq becomes a second Talibani Afghanistan? What if instead of becoming democratized by the Pax Americana the whole Middle East blows up and the cancer multiplies?" As a proud defender of the West's civilization, without reservations I should join Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair in the new Alamo. Without reluctance I should fight and die with them. And this is the only thing about which I have no doubts at all."
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona: "Our armed forces (are fighting) for peace in Iraq - a peace built on more secure foundations than are found today in the Middle East. Even more important, they (are fighting) for the two human conditions of even greater value than peace: liberty and justice. Some of our soldiers will perish in this just cause. May God bless them and may humanity honor their sacrifice."
British-born American journalist and broadcast personality Alistair Cooke: "(During the 1930s the slogan of the so-called peace movement in Britain) was "Against War and Fascism" - chanted at the time by every Labour man and Liberal and many moderate Conservatives - a slogan that now sounds as imbecilic as "Against Hospitals and Disease." In blunter words a majority of Britons would do anything, absolutely anything, to get rid of Hitler - except fight him. ... The French especially urged, after every Hitler invasion, "Negotiation! Negotiation!" They negotiated so successfully as to have their whole country defeated and occupied. But as one famous French leftist said, 'We did anyway manage to make them declare Paris an open city - no bombs on us!'...All I know is that all the voices of the '30s are echoing through 2003."
John Howard, prime minister of Australia: "If Iraq isn't effectively disarmed, not only could she use her chemical and biological weapons against her own people again and also other countries, but other rogue states will be encouraged to believe that they too can join the weapons of mass destruction league. Proliferation of chemical, biological, and, indeed, nuclear weapons will multiply the likelihood of terrorist groups laying hands on such arms. The consequences for mankind would be horrific. ... The nuclear balance, which through the Cold War alternately traumatized and reassured the world, has been replaced by the constant specter of weapons of mass destruction in the hands not only of more states but also terrorists operating without constraint in a borderless world. That is what is at stake in containing Iraq. The cost of doing nothing is infinitely greater than the cost of acting."
James Woolsey, former CIA director: "It is appeasement of Saddam by Messrs. Chirac (of France) and Schroeder (of Germany) that should draw our anger, and our satire - not the people of these two countries and their cultures. ... Together, we have now produced a Europe that is almost entirely democratic. There is much more to do, and it is understandable if the difficulties of dealing with the pathological predators and vulnerable autocracies of the Middle East produce disagreement among us. We should make our arguments, take a deep breath, make our decision about how to deal with Iraq, and do what we have to do. ... We should recall for our European friends ... their days of courage and commitment to freedom."
Walter Russell Mead, author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations: "Since 1991 the United States has had forces in Saudi Arabia. Those forces are there for one purpose only: to defend the kingdom (and its neighbors) from Iraqi attack. If Saddam Hussein had either fallen from power in 1991 or fulfilled the terms of his cease-fire agreement and disarmed, U.S. forces would have left Saudi Arabia. But Iraqi defiance forced the United States to stay, and one consequence was dire and direct. Osama bin Laden founded al-Qaida because U.S. forces stayed in Saudi Arabia. This is the link between Saddam Hussein's defiance of international law and the events of Sept. 11; it is clear and compelling. No Iraqi violations, no Sept. 11. ... Morally, politically, financially, containing Iraq is one of the costliest failures in the history of American foreign policy. Containment can be tweaked - made a little less murderous, a little less dangerous, a little less futile - but the basic equations don't change. Containing Hussein delivers civilians into the hands of a murderous psychopath, destabilizes the whole Middle East, and foments anti-American terror - with no end in sight. This is disaster, not policy. It is time for a change."
President Bush: "It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. ... Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times and we will meet the tests of our time. We go forward with confidence because we trust in the power of human freedom to change lives and nations. ... Free people will set the course of history and free people will keep the peace of the world." And: "This will not be a campaign of half-measures. We will accept no outcome but victory."