President Bush sought to boost the morale of the thousands of American soldiers patrolling the Saudi Arabian desert yesterday in a radio pep talk saluting the forces as "the world's best hope for peace."
The president's words, broadcast over Armed Forces Radio, were heard in Bahrain and on a few ships in the Persian Gulf, but not by most troops on the ground in Saudi Arabia because the radio network does not have a transmitter there.
White House officials said tapes and transcripts of the Bush speech would be distributed to the soldiers shortly. They said Bush was aware that the speech was not being broadcast live to the troops.
"You're now in the middle of one of the toughest military missions in modern memory, enduring the long hot days of the gulf region's cruelest month," Bush said. "As one young soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division put it, you never get climatized, you just learn to tolerate it."
"Well, tough as it is, know this: Thanks to you, nobody's feeling the heat more than the government in Baghdad." Bush said the troops "stand on the front line against aggression and international lawlessness."
The president reiterated the four goals of U.S. policy: unconditional and complete withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, restoration of Kuwait's "legitimate government," a commitment to the "security and stability of the Persian Gulf," and protecting the lives of U.S. citizens.
While referring to the "legitimate government" of Kuwait, Bush did not explicitly call for restoration of the family monarchy that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein overthrew on Aug. 2 and which is now in exile in Saudi Arabia. Earlier in the crisis, Bush had called specifically for return of the emir of Kuwait.
The president also made no mention of oil in his address, although he and other officials have said one of the major reasons for the deployment is to protect the interests of the United States and the West in an uninterrupted supply of oil.
Instead, Bush yesterday cast the mission as one of high principles. "To preserve the peace, America will always stand for what's right. To preserve her commitments, America will always stand by her friends," he said.
"We have an important advantage in the Persian Gulf," Bush said, "because in the air, at sea and on land, soldiers of peace will always be more than a match for a tyrant bent on aggression."