President To Address The Nation At 8:00pm ET

CNN.com – Bush to address nation on Iraq – Mar. 17, 2003
We’ve been debating this issue for a full year now and it is past time to put it to bed. President Bush will give Saddam Hussein a deadline to leave the country and avoid war. If not, war it is.

I hope the victory is quick and clean, at least as these things go.

Hopefully this will also inspire Iranian students and others in that country to call their mullahs to task and free themselves.

President Bush will make clear in a national address Monday night that “time is very short” for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to an administration official.

With diplomatic efforts ending, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered all U.N. weapons inspectors, humanitarian staff and border monitors out of Iraq.

In a televised speech set for 8 p.m. EST, Bush will demand that Saddam yield power and leave the country, the White House said.

A 72-hour ultimatum “is in the right ballpark,” the administration official said.

Saddam has a “very small opening, several days at best,” another senior administration official said.

Pentagon officials raised concerns about setting a specific deadline that Saddam might use to launch a pre-emptive strike on U.S.-led forces in the region, other officials said.

The president is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders at 5:45 p.m. EST Monday, officials said.

Word of the speech came after U.N. representatives from the United States, Great Britain and Spain said they would not seek a vote on a second Security Council resolution aimed at disarming Iraq of alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The three nations blamed French threats of a Security Council veto for the impasse, but France’s U.N. ambassador said the measure would not have received the nine votes needed to pass even without a veto threat.

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