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MEETING THE THREAT OF PREDATORS
Address by BILL CLINTON, President of the United States
Delivered to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Pentagon Staff, pertaining to the threat from Iraq, Pentagon, Washington D.C., February 17, 1998
Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, for your remarks and your leadership. Thank you, Secretary Cohen, for the superb job you have done here at the Pentagon and on this most recent very difficult problem. Thank you, General Shelton, for being the right person at the right time.
Thank you, General Ralston, and the members of the joint chiefs, General Zinni, Secretary Albright, Secretary Slater, D.C.I.A. Tenet, Mr. Bowles, Mr. Berger, Senator Robb, thank you for being here and, Congressman Skelton. Thank you very much, and for your years of service to America and your passionate patriotism, both of you. And to the members of our armed forces and others who work here to protect our national security.
I have just received a very fine briefing from our military leadership on the status of our forces in the Persian Gulf. Before I left the Pentagon, I wanted to talk to you and all those whom you represent, the men and women of our military. You, your friends and your colleagues are on the front lines of this crisis in Iraq.
I want you, and I want the American people, to hear directly from me what is at stake for America in the Persian Gulf, what we are doing to protect the peace, the security, the freedom we cherish, why we have taken the position we have taken.
I was thinking as I sat up here on the platform, of the slogan that the First Lady gave me for her project on the millennium, which was, remembering the past and imagining the future.
Now, for that project, that means preserving the Star Spangled Banner and the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and it means making an unprecedented commitment to medical research and to get the best of the new technology. But that's not a bad slogan for us when we deal with more sober, more difficult, more dangerous matters.
Those who have questioned the United States in this moment, I would argue, are living only in the moment. They have neither remembered the past nor imagined the future.
So first, let's just take a step back and consider why meeting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is important to our security in the new era we are entering.
This is a time of tremendous promise for America. The superpower confrontation has ended; on every continent democracy is securing for more and more people the basic freedoms we Americans have come to …