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USE OF U.S. ARMED FORCES
AGAINST IRAQ

SPEECH BY SENATORS JOSEPH LIEBERMAN,
JOHN WARNER, JOHN MCCAIN, & EVAN BAYH

on submitting Senate Joint
Resolution 46 to the Senate

UNITED STATES SENATE

October 2, 2002

 

Mr. LIEBERMAN. Madam President, along with my dear friends and colleagues, Senators WARNER, BAYH, and MCCAIN, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan resolution which would authorize the President of the United States to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, and to enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

There is no more fateful or difficult decision that we as Senators are ever called upon to make than a decision as to whether and when and how to authorize the President as Commander in Chief to put the men and women of the U.S. military into battle.

Each Member of the Senate must make this decision at this hour according to their personal conscience and their sense of what is best for the security of the people of the United States of America.

For my part, and that of my colleagues, I have made that decision. For more than a decade now, Saddam Hussein has threatened the peace and security of his region and the wider world. We went to war in 1991 to roll back his aggression -- an invasion of Kuwait -- because we determined across party lines that Saddam Hussein had ambitions that were hostile to America's security and the peace of the world to become the dominant power in the Arab world which, if ever realized, would be bad for the Arab world, bad for the peace and security of the broader region, and very bad for the people of the United States. We won that war in Kuwait -- Operation Desert Storm -- but Saddam Hussein has continued for the decade since then, notwithstanding documents that Iraq signed to conclude the gulf war, to thwart the rule of law internationally, to deceive and deny all that he had promised to do at the end of the gulf war, and all that the United Nations called on him to do in the years since then. He has continued, without question, to develop weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them on distant targets. He has continued to earn a dubious place on that small list of countries that the State Department considers state sponsors of terrorism.

Even today, Iraq has provided shelter for significant figures within al-Qaida who struck us on September 11, as they have fled from American military forces in Afghanistan.

President Bush has said that the hour of truth has arrived. We can no longer tolerate the intransigence and danger posed by Saddam Hussein. He has gone to the U.N. and sought support from the international community.

This resolution is our attempt to express our support of the President as Commander in Chief in seeking international backing for action against Saddam Hussein. It is also a way to strengthen the President's hand as Commander in Chief. If Saddam Hussein does not comply, or if the United Nations is not willing to take action to enforce its orders, in my opinion, this is the last chance for Saddam Hussein but also the best chance for the international community to come together to prove that resolutions of the United Nations mean more and have more weight than the paper on which they are written.

It is also the hour for Members of Congress to draw together across party lines to support the national security of the United States. A debate will follow in the days ahead. It is an important debate that should not be rushed. It should be reflective. Ultimately, I am confident the resolution that Senators WARNER, BAYH, MCCAIN, and I are introducing will enjoy the broad, bipartisan support that our national security demands at this time.

Mr. WARNER. Madam President, I commend our distinguished colleagues, Senator Lieberman and Senator Bayh, for joining my good friend, Senator McCain, and myself as we introduce this resolution on behalf of the leadership in the Senate. Certainly, those leaders will join us on this.

I remember in 1991, Senator Dole, Senator McCain, and I led the effort on this side of the aisle, and my good friend and colleague of these many years joined us. There was a historic debate. We will now embark this great body of deliberation on a similar debate on this extremely important resolution.

I commend our President for the leadership he has shown. This issue would not be in the forefront worldwide, the forefront in the U.N., and now in the forefront of the U.S. Congress had not this very bold and courageous President undertaken the difficult task of pointing out the perilous times in which we live with regard to terrorism and, most particularly, the threats posed not by the people of Iraq, but by Saddam Hussein and his regime.

Madam President, I wish to commend Leader LOTT. We met with him this morning. We have been meeting with him through the day. Senator McCain and I and others have been a part of his working group to achieve the maximum bipartisan support obtainable on this resolution. I am confident that will be achieved. I am very confident, given the leadership of our two distinguished colleagues joining us here today, because it is important there be a solid phalanx of the House of Representatives, which will have an identical resolution, and the Senate joining together behind our President and speaking with one voice, as our President and the Secretary of State, working through the United Nations, achieving, hopefully, a resolution which will comport with the President's historic address to the United Nations, and also a resolution that will reflect the United Nations is going to stand up as an organization and live up to its charter and take on the responsibility of bringing this question of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to a conclusion so this world can be more peaceful.

I thank my colleagues, most particularly the four of us who are here today.

Mr. BAYH. I thank the Chair. Madam President, I am pleased to join with my colleagues today on a bipartisan basis to authorize the President of the United States to use appropriate force to defend the national security interests of our country.

I join in this effort with a sense of regret that events have come to this. No one can contemplate the use of military force with much satisfaction, but I also approach this debate with the firm conviction that the time has come to unite, to take those steps that are necessary to protect our country, including the use of force, because all other avenues have been exhausted and seem unlikely to lead to the result of protecting the American people.

Iraq presents a very significant potential threat to our country. Saddam Hussein possesses chemical, biological, and some day will possess, if events are allowed to run their course, nuclear weapons. If there is one thing we can say with absolute certainty, it is he is developing these weapons for no benign purpose. He does not need them to retain his power within Iraq, but in all likelihood will use these terrible weapons to project that power, to intimidate other states in the region, and potentially one day for use against us as well.

If there is even a 10 or 15-percent chance of smallpox or anthrax or a crude nuclear device could one day be placed in the hands of suicidal terrorists for use against the United States of America, this is a risk we cannot afford to run. We have attempted diplomacy without effect. We have attempted economic sanctions to no effect.

Regrettably, my colleagues and I have concluded the President needs the authorization to use force to protect our country from this sort of eventuality. Of course, we will continue to negotiate with the United Nations. Of course, we will gather our allies. But the time has come to unite, to do what it takes to defend our country.

I am pleased to join with my colleagues, Senators WARNER, MCCAIN, and LIEBERMAN, in giving the President the authority he needs to do exactly that.

Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I rise today to join my three colleagues, Senator Warner, the distinguished ranking member and former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Bayh, and Senator Lieberman. I am always honored to have my name associated with these three outstanding public servants.

This resolution, we should make very clear, is the text of the resolution agreed to this morning by the President of the United States and congressional leaders. This is the exact text of a resolution that was agreed to in hopes the debate will take place on two exact resolutions in both Houses of the Congress. I believe with open, spirited debate and discussion, we will come to a consensus which is broad based, and following a debate which I think will be illuminating and educational to the American people, as well as our colleagues.

America is at war with terrorists who murdered our people one year ago. We now contemplate carrying the battle to a new front--Iraq--where a tyrant who has the capabilities and the intentions to do us harm is plotting, biding his time until his capabilities give him the means to carry out his ambitions, perhaps through cooperation with terrorists--when confronting him will be much harder and impose a terrible cost.

Saddam Hussein is in patent violation of the terms of the Gulf war ceasefire and 16 United Nations Security Council resolutions. He possesses weaponized chemical and biological weapons and is aggressively developing nuclear weapons. He holds the perverse distinction of having used weapons of mass destruction against both his own people and his enemies--the only dictator on Earth who has done so. As our President has said, Saddam Hussein's Iraq is a grave and gathering danger, a clear threat to American security and the security of our friends in the region.

As I just mentioned, Congress must debate the question of war with Iraq. It is appropriate and right for the people of the United States to have their voices heard in this debate through their representatives in Congress. But as the President has said, the nation must speak with one voice once we determine to take a course that will most likely send our nation's young men and women to war.

The President has patiently worked with Congressional leaders to craft a resolution authorizing him to take necessary action in Iraq to defend American national security and enforce all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. The resolution is a product of compromise that protects both congressional prerogatives and the authority of the Commander in Chief to use whatever means he determines necessary to protect American security.

The President's authority is not absolute on these matters. But he is the Commander in Chief, and he has made clear that congressional action to tie his hands, to limit the way he can respond to threats to the security of the American people, will damage our country's ability to respond to the clear and present danger posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

There is a reason why the Constitution vests shared power in the President and the Congress on matters of war. But there is also a reason why the Constitution recognizes the President of the United States as Commander in Chief. Limiting the President's ability to defend the United States, when Congress and the President agree on the nature of the threat posed to the United States by Iraq, is unwise.

No resolution tying the President's hands or limiting the President's ability to respond to a clearly defined threat can anticipate the decisions the President will have to make in coming weeks and months, with American forces deployed overseas on his orders, to defend American security. We cannot foresee the course or end of this conflict, even though to most of us the threat is abundantly clear, and the course of action we must pursue is apparent. That's why there is one Commander in Chief, not 535 of them. Restricting the President's flexibility to conduct military action against a threat that has been defined and identified makes the United States less capable of responding to that threat.

Supporting the President in his role as Commander in Chief does not necessarily mean supporting the President's policy on matters of national security. In 1995, President Clinton determined to deploy American forces to Bosnia to uphold a fragile peace in a land where many said peace was not possible. Until that time, I had serious concerns about the administration's policy in the Balkans. But once the President made his decision, I worked with Senator Bob Dole, Senator Warner and many of my colleagues to make sure the President--a President from the other party whom we had criticized harshly for his conduct of national security policy--had the support he needed to enforce the peace in Bosnia. I think my friend Senator Dole would agree with me that it was one of the high points of our service in the Senate.

Thanks to the President's leadership over the past few months, the Congress has been moving steadily to support the President's determination to hold Saddam Hussein accountable to the world. I urge all my colleagues to renew their efforts to come together on one resolution--to show the world we are united with the President to enforce the terms of the gulf war ceasefire and prevent Saddam Hussein from threatening our and the world's security ever again.

Again, I want to thank Senator Lieberman, Senator Bayh, and Senator Warner, and I especially would like to mention Senator Lieberman and Senator Bayh have shown some courage on the floor of the Senate, as Senator Warner and I have had to do in the past, when perhaps the majority of our party may not have been in complete agreement.

 

 

 

 


 

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