As America and the world watched and listened, the president spoke of chemical weapons, biological threats, and even nuclear threats. Of Iraqi rape, torture and deceit. But the heart of the president's argument went to the credibility - the very relevance - of the UN itself.
Again and again, he cited Security Council resolutions, and Baghdad's contempt for those resolutions.
If UN dictates can be flouted by Saddam Hussein, he asked, then what is the UN's relevance? Lay down the law with Saddam, he challenged, or the United States will do the necessary.
So, is this war? And is it war with - or without - the United Nations?
This hour, On Point: America, the UN, and the way to war.
Christopher Dickey, Paris Bureau Chief Newsweek Magazine.
Graham Allison, Professor of Government and Director of The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College.
Patrick Clawson, Deputy Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies
Wolfgang Koydl, Washington Bureau Chief of the German daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
This program aired on September 12, 2002.