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"Choose Hope Over Hate"

"Choose Hope Over Hate"In an address at Tufts, former President George H. W. Bush said peaceful solutions are still possible in the standoff with Iraq. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.27.03] Just minutes before his son made the case for war with Iraq in a speech in Washington, former President George H.W. Bush told a large audience at Tufts that a peaceful solution may still be possible. Delivering the University's 2003 Issam M. Fares Lecture, Bush said international pressure can be a very effective tool in the region.

"The more pressure there is, the more chance this matter will be resolved in a peaceful manner," Bush told the 5,000 students, faculty, staff and guests in attendance on Wednesday afternoon. Media from around the world covered the former president's address.

[Read the transcript of Bush's remarks]

Describing the 20th century as "the bloodiest in mankind's history," Bush said the country "must learn from our history and not repeat our mistakes."

Peace in the Middle East, said the former president, is still possible.

"I believe in the longer run the 21st century will offer leaders throughout the eastern Mediterranean a real chance to emerge from their current period of conflict and begin building a brighter future worthy of their proud peoples," Bush said in a CNN report.

But creating a peaceful future will require more dialogue.

"[The region's problems] won't be solved if the talks can't be renewed," Bush told the audience at Tufts.

According to the former president, the progress of the past can be repeated.

"If only for a short time, I have seen hope surmount hate in the Middle East," Bush said, according to The Boston Herald. "I've seen people from the Middle East lift their own eyes to the horizon and make a clear choice for peace."

The United States has an important role to play in that process, said the former president. But it also must also protect itself - and others - from the threat of terrorism.

"We do not seek hegemony," Bush said, according to an Associated Press report. "What we seek after the horror of 9-11 is that we want to protect our country and other countries as best we can against this man - Saddam Hussein - having nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. It is just that simple."

For any president, Bush said, the decision to go to war is a difficult one.

"Abraham Lincoln often referred to being driven to his knees by the weight of his decision to send young men into harm's way," Bush said. "I know exactly how he felt. And so does the 43rd President of the United States."

Reflecting on his own experiences in Iraq, Bush noted that the situation he faced in 1991 did not allow him to eliminate Saddam Hussein as Iraq's leader.

"Bush said the coalition that aligned against Iraq then would have crumbled if the U.S. had decided to march into Baghdad to remove Saddam Hussein from power," reported The Boston Globe. "If that had happened, the world would not have witnessed the gains made in the 1990's in the Middle East Peace process, Bush told a crowd of 4,800 in the Gantcher Center gymnasium."

While Bush said he "doesn't have any specific insights to offer" on exactly how his son will resolve the standoff with Iraq, the former president said he understands the difficulty of the decisions facing President George W. Bush.

"I have an appreciation for the big job he has to do," Bush said, adding that he doesn't give his son advice on how to handle the situation.

Despite recent talk of war, Bush said he is optimistic about the prospects for long-term peace in the Middle East.

"Every child in that region should grow up with a chance to succeed in a world full of wonder," Bush said.


Additional 2003 Fares Lecture Coverage:
[ Former President Bush's Remarks ]
[ President Bacow's Remarks ]
[ Issam M. Fares' Remarks ]
[ Leila Fawaz's Remarks ]
[ Q & A with Former President Bush ]




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