How incredible is it that only twenty-five hours were spent in the Congress debating WAR!!
Posted on Oct. 11 , 2002
According to Senator Robert Byrd, the Congress only spent twenty-five hours
debating WAR when twenty-five hours were spent filing for a sewage permit.
According to Senator Edward Kennedy, twenty-three days were spent debating the Agriculture Bill.
I’d like my visitors today to read a piece I asked Robert Borosage to
write that says much of what I feel – except far more eloquently. Robert
was the Founder and Director of the Campaign for New Priorities before
he founded the Campaign for America’s Future serving as its Co-Director.
Mr. Borosage writes widely on economic and political issues for
publications including the NY Times, The Washington Post, The Los
Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and The Nation.
The Rush to Judgment
by Robert L. Borosage
The decision to authorize a pre-emptive war on Iraq should have cried
out for extensive public debate. No one questions the fact that Saddam
Hussein is a brutal
dictator, apparently still intent on building weapons of mass destruction in
open violation of U.N. resolutions, and an avowed enemy of this nation.
But despite Iraqi resistance, prior inspections unearthed and dismantled stores
of prohibited weapons. No one disputes that Hussein’s military is weaker
now than it was ten years ago. The administration has offered no evidence
to suggest that he poses some alarming new threat, or possesses some
dangerous new weapon.
Why is a policy of containment, embargo, air occupation and inspection not
sufficient to deter the threat posed by Hussein? Is putting American
soldiers at risk on the streets of Baghdad the only alternative? Will an
assault divide the international coalition vital to the war on terror? Will
it produce a new generation of recruits to terrorism? Will it destabilize
Pakistan which already has nuclear weapons? Will it undermine the
international institutions and law that the U.S. has worked to build for a
generation? Are we prepared to stay in Iraq for a decade? If we do, will
we end up despised as an occupation force? Answers are required before
action is taken.
We do know that as a global power, the U.S. has the greatest stake in building
the rule of law, developing global cooperation and insuring international
legitimacy for our actions abroad. No military force can defend all of our
interests. No covert operation capacity can disrupt all those who resent or
fear us. We depend on international law and legitimacy to protect our
citizens and our interests abroad. That is why American leaders of both
parties have worked to build the U.N., and to establish global rules for
peace, for commerce and for war.
Any rule of law must govern the powerful as well as the weak. If we assert
the world is a jungle and act accordingly, we will create what we fear.
That is what is so dangerous about the president’s doctrine of pre-emption
that asserts the right to attack potential threats “before they emerge.”
If the most powerful country asserts the right to use its military
offensively, law and legitimacy are abandoned. The powerful will do what
they will; the weak will do what they must. Russia will use the same
doctrine to attack Georgia; China to threaten Taiwan. This is a recipe for
endless strife and terrorism in a brutish world.
After September 11, friends and strangers across the globe rallied to
America’s cause. An international alliance was forged to pursue those who
committed that heinous assault. Global allies aided the disruption of
terrorist cells, the tracking of money, and the attack on the Taliban and Al
Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The administration seems intent on squandering that support. It has scorned
virtually every international initiative to make the world better – the
treaties on global warming, arms control, land mines, chemical and
biological weapons, the international court, as well as conferences on
racism and sustainable development. And now in the rush to judgment on
Iraq, the president appears intent on sending American forces into a land
war alone, despite the opposition of much of the Pentagon, large parts of
the Republican foreign policy establishment, and most of our allies. In
doing so, he is likely to weaken the global fight against terrorists, even
while generating greater resentment of America.
These considerations cannot be dismissed out of hand. They require sober
deliberation. But, we are being rushed to judgment by a concerted White House effort to
steamroll the United Nations and the Congress into voting a blank check
without holding the administration to its proof, and without insuring
that it has considered the grave implications of its actions.
For too many armchair strategists, America’s military dominance makes
the military appear like a useful instrument to be deployed when desirable.
But war is not another form of diplomacy; it is a matter of life and death.
It calls on the sons and daughters of America’s working families to put
their lives at risk. No matter how successful, surgical, or sudden our
military assault, lives will be lost and bodies maimed. This nation can ask
its children to make that ultimate sacrifice only when the threat is
clear, present and imminent, and when all alternatives have been
exhausted. It should ask them to make that sacrifice only with the
support of allies, the sanction of the international community and the
measured consideration of the Congress. This rush to judgment is
particularly suspect since it appears part of a Republican electoral
strategy to “focus on the war,” in the words of the president’s
political guru, Karl Rove. Turning the war into partisan purpose at a
time when thoughtful and probing debate is needed is worse than shabby
politics. It is a disgraceful disservice to the nation in a time of