Public Papers

Remarks to Raytheon Missile Systems Plant Employees in Andover, Massachusetts


Listen, I came up here to thank you guys, but thank you for that warm welcome. And Reverend Gomes, thank you, sir, for that lovely prayer, so fitting tribute to those who are serving overseas and those serving at home here. And thank you, Tom, my old friend Tom Phillips, the chairman, for that warm welcome and making these arrangements. Let me pay my respects to another old friend, the Governor of the Commonwealth, Bill Weld, and his able Lieutenant Governor, Paul Cellucci, over here. I'm glad that they're here with us today.

And look, I view it as an honor to be here, to come to Raytheon, the home of the men and women who built the Scudbusters. We're very, very grateful.

Earlier today, maybe your hopes were lifted, maybe mine -- mine were -- and I think some hopes were lifted in downtown Baghdad with the statement. And I expressed, earlier on, regret that that Iraqi statement that first gave rise to hope in fact turned out to be a cruel hoax. Not only was the Iraqi statement full of unacceptable old conditions, Saddam Hussein has added several new conditions.

Let me state once again: Iraq must withdraw without condition. There must be full implementation of all the Security Council resolutions. And there will be no linkage to other problems in the area. And the legitimate rulers, the legitimate government, must be returned to Kuwait. And until a credible withdrawal begins, with those Iraqi troops visibly leaving Kuwait, the coalition forces in compliance with United Nations Resolution 678 will continue their efforts to force compliance with all those resolutions, every single one of them.

Compliance with the resolutions will instantly stop the bloodshed. And there's another way for the bloodshed to stop, and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside, and then comply with the United Nations resolutions and rejoin the family of peace-loving nations. We have no argument with the people of Iraq. Our differences are with that brutal dictator in Baghdad.

Everyone here has a friend or a neighbor, a son or daughter, or somebody he knows in the Gulf. And to you, let me say this, and to the American people: The war is going on schedule. Of course, all of us -- all of us -- want to see this war ended, the limited loss of life. And it can if Saddam Hussein would simply comply unconditionally with all the resolutions of the United Nations. But let me say this to you: I am going to stay with it, we are going to prevail, and our soldiers are going to come home with their heads high.

Now, I just had the thrill of sitting in the command post of an Engagement Control System -- ECS to you. [Laughter] And I've heard about the years of painstaking work that produced the split-second accuracy of the Patriot missile defense system. Let me tell you, I'm impressed with the technology. But especially after today, even more I'm impressed with the people behind the machines.

Just days after Saddam Hussein took the offense against an undefended Kuwait, the people of this plant went into overdrive and took the offense. And since mid-August, it's been an around-the-clock effort, three shifts a day, 7 days a week. And I know many of you gave up your own Thanksgiving and Christmas even to be right here, to keep these lines moving.

In the last month, the world has learned why. Patriot works, and not just because of the high-tech wizardry. It's because of all the hours, all the attention to detail, all the pride, and all the professionalism that every one of you brings to the job. Patriot works because of patriots like you. And I came again to say thank you to each and every one of you.

You see, what has taken place here is a triumph of American technology. It's a triumph taking place every day, not just here at Raytheon but in the factories and firms all across America, wherever American workers are pushing forward the bound of progress, keeping this country strong, firing the engines of economic growth. What happens right here is critical, absolutely critical, to our competitiveness now and then into the next century.

Let me focus for a moment not simply on high-tech workers like yourselves who build these Patriots but on the highly skilled service men and women who operate Patriot in the field. We hear so often how our kids, our children, our schools fall short. I think it's about time that we took note of some of the success stories, of the way the brave young men and women who man the Patriot stations perform such complex tasks with unerring accuracy. They, along with the children in our schools today, are part of a generation that will put unparalleled American technology to use as a tool for change.

As I was touring the plant a few minutes ago, I saw a sign out there that said: ``Patriot -- a Revolution in Air Defense.'' Well, we are witnessing a revolution in modern warfare, a revolution that will shape the way that we defend ourselves for decades to come. For years, we've heard that antimissile defenses won't work, that shooting down a ballistic missile is impossible -- like trying to ``hit a bullet with a bullet.'' Some people called it impossible; you called it your job.

They were wrong, and you were right. Thank God you were right.

The critics said that this system was plagued with problems, that results from the test range wouldn't stand up under battlefield conditions. You knew they were wrong, those critics, all along. And now the world knows it, too. Beginning with the first Scud launched in Saudi Arabia, right onto Saudi Arabia -- and the Patriot that struck it down -- and with the arrival of Patriot battalions in Israel, all told, Patriot is 41 for 42: 42 Scuds engaged, 41 intercepted. And given the fact that this Scud missile has no military value, simply designed to devastate cities and wipe out population, imagine what course this war would have taken without the Patriot.

No, I'm sure that some experts here would say Patriot's not perfect. No system is; no system ever will be. Not every intercept results in total destruction. But Patriot is proof positive that missile defense works. I've said many times that missile defense threatens no one, that there is no purer defensive weapon than one that targets and destroys missiles launched against us.

We know that this is a dangerous world. Today, our cold war concern about a large-scale nuclear exchange -- thank God it is more remote than at any point in the postwar era. At the same time, the number of nations acquiring the capability to build and deliver missiles of mass destruction -- chemical, even nuclear weapons -- is on the increase. In many cases, these missiles will be superior to Scuds, smaller, capable of flying farther and faster -- in short, more difficult targets. Between now and the year 2000, in spite of our best efforts to control proliferation, additional nations may acquire this deadly technology. And as we've been taught by Saddam Hussein, all it takes is one renegade regime, one ruler without regard for human decency, one brutal dictator who willfully targets innocent civilians.

Well, we now know that some of the adversaries we face today -- and Saddam Hussein is a prime example -- are more rash than rational, less impressed by theories than by a nation with the means and will to defend itself. And thank God that when those Scuds came in, the people of Saudi Arabia and Israel and the brave forces of our coalition had more to protect their lives than some abstract theory of deterrence. Thank God for the Patriot missile. Thank God for that missile.

And so, when you all go home at night, you can say with pride that the success of Patriot is one important reason why Operation Desert Storm is on course and on schedule. And we're going to continue to fight this war on our terms, on our timetable, until our objectives are met. We will control the timing of this engagement, not Saddam Hussein.

Make no mistake about it: Kuwait will be liberated. The people who build Patriot have every reason to be proud. Because of you, the world now knows that we can count on missile defenses. And because of you, a tyrant's threat to rain terror from the skies has been blunted; it's been cut short. And because of you -- and this one is special -- innocent civilians, priceless human lives, have been spared.

When we think of war, we think first, of course, of the soldiers in the field, the brave men and women now serving half the world away. But Woodrow Wilson once said that in war there are ``a thousand forms of duty.'' In this room today stand thousands of reasons why our cause shall succeed. You and people like you all across the country have given our brave men and women in the Gulf the fighting edge that they need to prevail and, what's more, to protect precious lives.

And so, once again, thank you for this warm welcome, for the invaluable contribution that you have made to the defense of America and its allies. And may God bless our troops and their families and the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. in the fabrications building. In his remarks, he referred to Rev. Peter Gomes of Harvard University; Thomas Phillips, chairman of Raytheon Co.; Gov. Bill Weld and Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Following his remarks, President Bush traveled to his home in Kennebunkport, ME.