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HITLER'S DISCIPLE IN BAGHDAD
October 15, 2002
Over the past few weeks, the nation has turned its attention toward Iraq and the grave and increasing threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the United States and the world community. Important discussions about how to address this threat are taking place in all corners of American life -- in the Senate and House chambers, in White House conference rooms, at water coolers in offices, along Main Street, and in our homes. Our generation has seen other nations face a similar, solemn decision, and we are pleased that the lessons of history are being remembered.
Many Americans remember firsthand the events which led to World War II. We studied Adolf Hitler's actions in our history and civics classes. We watched the world appease Hitler while he pursued aggressive actions aimed at dominating the world. We witnessed, month after month, unimaginable human suffering at the hands of Hitler's Nazi regime.
Hitler ignored the surrender agreements Germany signed after World War I. He flaunted the Versailles Peace Treaty and the League of Nations, which was formed to maintain world peace. He occupied the Rhineland and invaded Austria. No one tried to stop him. Nations turned the other way rather than face war. In September of 1939, the world watched him invade Poland and five-and-a-half years of horrible conflict began.
Many in our generation joined the military to put an end to Hitler's aggression. As two of the seven sitting senators who served in World War II, we see the next Hitler in Saddam Hussein.
The events preceding World War II parallel the events of today except for one great difference -- Saddam is building an arsenal of weapons far more destructive to mankind than ever possessed by Hitler.
The Iraqi regime has consistently demonstrated its callous disregard for the dictates of international law and for the sanctity of human life. Saddam has employed weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors and his own people. After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council passed 16 resolutions in an effort to curtail Saddam's weapons programs and to bring Iraq back into the community of nations. Sixteen times he defied those resolutions.
The Iraqi regime continues to take aggressive actions against American troops. Our pilots, along with British pilots, have been enforcing two no-fly zones over Iraq pursuant to U.N. resolutions. They have been shot at almost every day. Last month, shots were fired more than 60 times.
We know that in the four years since inspectors were kicked out of Iraq, Saddam has expanded his weapons of mass destruction program. We know he can produce chemical and biological weapons, and we know it is only a matter of time before Iraq develops a nuclear weapon.
It took America two years to build the weapons and train the troops necessary to gain the upper hand after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In today's world, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction creates a threat that is swift, overwhelming and decisive. In the hands of our enemies who are willing to strike first with such weapons, we cannot afford to wait for another attack.
In 1945, the world community came together to form the United Nations and protect succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The U.N. must now fulfill that commitment and send an order that it will no longer tolerate regimes which violate repeated U.N. mandates, commit genocide against their own people, use weapons of mass destruction, and harbor terrorists. Should the United Nations fail to act, our president has the constitutional authority to protect the citizens of the United States and to ensure the stability of the world community.
We hope for a diplomatic end to this crisis, as our president is now working to achieve. But the lessons of history have taught us that the best hope for a diplomatic solution is to back it up with the resolve to use force if diplomacy fails.
World War II taught us that tyrants cannot be appeased. Nations must join together and confront them. America has come together behind our president. We speak with one voice for freedom. And that message must be heeded by the next Hitler.
(Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, is the ranking member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.)
As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated. Click here for more information.
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