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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 22:03 GMT 23:03 UK
White House pushes new Iraq message
The BBC's Rob Watson
By Rob Watson
BBC correspondent in Washington

The Bush administration has begun a campaign to win back public and political support for its policies on Iraq.

US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
Ms Rice said letting Saddam stay in power would have hurt the UN
A speech by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, emphasising that removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and presented worthwhile opportunities, is to be followed by similar messages from President George W Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The new tone is a reflection of concern at the White House that they are in trouble over Iraq.

White House officials have a different public explanation for the campaign. They say the president and his team are simply fulfilling an earlier pledge to keep the American people informed about progress in the war on terrorism.

But they certainly have reason to be concerned. The most recent public opinion polls show an increasing number of Americans now question whether the war in Iraq was really worth the bother.

Whatever the motivations, the Bush administration has now decided to take its message on the road
Almost as worryingly for the administration, many in Congress, even some Republicans, are bristling at the price tag for Iraq's reconstruction.

That said, the administration does genuinely feel it is not getting enough credit for progress being made in Iraq and that the media reporting from the region is way too gloomy.

Whatever the motivations, the Bush administration has now decided to take its message on the road.

In the days ahead the president and vice-president will make speeches and give interviews designed to highlight positive news from Iraq.


First off the mark was Ms Rice on Wednesday. She told an audience in Chicago that evidence already uncovered by weapons inspectors since the conflict proved Saddam Hussein had been a threat.

US troops guarding suspected looters in Baghdad
US troops are struggling to curb rampant crime
She also asked opponents of the war to consider the consequences of leaving him in power.

"The credibility of the United Nations would have been in tatters," she told the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.

"The effectiveness of the Security Council as an instrument of enforcing the will of the world and of keeping the peace would have been weakened.

"Saddam would have remained in power with all that that entails - more mass graves and more daily deprivations of the Iraqi people. "

In a theme that is certain to be echoed throughout the campaign, Ms Rice insisted that a Saddam-free Iraq could serve as a beacon and catalyst for democratic change throughout the Arab Middle East.

The new drive follows something of a major reshuffle earlier in the week, which gave the White House a bigger role in overseeing the reconstruction of Iraq.

Although the White House insisted it was a move designed to ensure what the president called "continuing progress" in Iraq, it left many in Washington asking the question: "If everything is going so well, why the need for a change?"

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