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with thanks to Gerri Haines - Phyicians for Social Responsibility , felicity a.
Against Another War on Iraq
by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
December 21, 2001
I strongly oppose House Joint Resolution 75 because it solves none of
our problems and only creates new ones. Though the legislation before us
today does wisely excise the most objectionable part of the original
text of H.J. Res. 75 °V the resolution clause stating that by not obeying
a UN resolution Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been committing an
"act of aggression" against the United States °V what remains in the
legislation only serves to divert our attention from what should be our
number one priority at this time: finding and bringing to justice those
who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator. The Iraqi people would no doubt
be better off without him and his despotic rule. But the call in some
quarters for the United States to intervene to change Iraq's government
is a voice that offers little in the way of a real solution to our
problems in the Middle East °V many of which were caused by our
interventionism in the first place. Secretary of State Colin Powell
underscored recently this lack of planning on Iraq, saying, "I never saw
a plan that was going to take [Saddam] out. It was just some ideas
coming from various quarters about, 'let's go bomb.'"
House Joint Resolution 64, passed on September 14 just after the
terrorist attack, states that, "The president is authorized to use all
necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or
persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the
terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such
organizations or persons." From all that we know at present, Iraq
appears to have had no such role. Indeed, we have seen "evidence" of
Iraqi involvement in the attacks on the United States proven false over
the past couple of weeks. Just this week, for example, the "smoking gun"
of Iraqi involvement in the attack seems to have been debunked: The New
York Times reported that "the Prague meeting (allegedly between al-Qaeda
terrorist Mohamad Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent) has emerged as
an object lesson in the limits of intelligence reports rather than the
cornerstone of the case against Iraq." The Times goes on to suggest that
the "Mohamad Atta" who was in the Czech Republic this summer seems to
have been Pakistani national who happened to have the same name. It
appears that this meeting never took place, or at least not in the way
it has been reported. This conclusion has also been drawn by the Czech
media and is reviewed in a report on Radio Free Europe's Newsline. Even
those asserting Iraqi involvement in the anthrax scare in the United
States °V a theory forwarded most aggressively by Iraqi defector Khidir
Hamza and former CIA director James Woolsey °V have, with the revelation
that the anthrax is domestic, had their arguments silenced by the facts.
Absent Iraqi involvement in the attack on the United States, I can only
wonder why so many in Congress seek to divert resources away from our
efforts to bring those who did attack us to justice. That hardly seems a
prudent move. Many will argue that it doesn't matter whether Iraq had a
role in the attack on us, Iraq is a threat to the United States and
therefore must be dealt with. Some on this committee have made this very
argument. Mr. Speaker, most of us here have never been to Iraq, however
those who have, like former UN Chief Arms Inspector Scott Ritter °V who
lead some thirty inspection missions to Iraq °V come to different
conclusions on the country. Asked in November on Fox News Channel by
John Kasich sitting in for Bill O'Reilly about how much of a threat
Saddam Hussein poses to the United States, former Chief Inspector Ritter
said, "In terms of military threat, absolutely nothing...Diplomatically,
politically, Saddam's a little bit of a threat. In terms of real
national security threat to the United States, no, none." Mr. Speaker,
shouldn't we even stop for a moment to consider what some of these
experts are saying before we move further down the road toward military
The rationale for this legislation is suspect, not the least because it
employs a revisionist view of recent Middle East history. This
legislation brings up, as part of its indictment against Iraq, that Iraq
attacked Iran some twenty years ago. What the legislation fails to
mention is that at that time Iraq was an ally of the United States, and
counted on technical and military support from the United States in its
war on Iran. Similarly, the legislation mentions Iraq's invasion of
Kuwait more than ten years ago. But at that time U.S. foreign policy was
sending Saddam Hussein mixed messages, as Iraq's dispute with Kuwait
simmered. At the time, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie was reported in the
New York Times as giving very ambiguous signals to Saddam Hussein
regarding Kuwait, allegedly telling Hussein that the United States had
no interest in Arab-Arab disputes.
We must also consider the damage a military invasion of Iraq will do to
our alliance in this fight against terrorism. An attack on Iraq could
destroy that international coalition against terrorism. Most of our
European allies °V critical in maintaining this coalition °V have
explicitly stated their opposition to any attack on Iraq. German Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer warned recently that Europe was "completely
united" in opposition to any attack on Iraq. Russian President Vladimir
Putin cautioned recently against American military action in Iraq. Mr.
Putin urged the next step to be centered around cutting off the
financial resources of terrorists worldwide. As for Iraq, the Russian
president said, "...so far I have no confirmation, no evidence that Iraq
is financing the terrorists that we are fighting against." Relations
with our European allies would suffer should we continue down this path
toward military conflict with Iraq.
Likewise, U.S. relations with the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia could
collapse should the United States initiate an attack on Iraq. Not only
would our Saudi allies deny us the use of their territory to launch the
attack, but a certain backlash from all Gulf and Arab states could well
produce even an oil embargo against the United States. Egypt, a key ally
in our fight against terrorism, has also warned against any attack on
Iraq. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said recently of the
coalition that, "If we want to keep consensus...we should not resort,
after Afghanistan, to military means."
I do not understand this push to seek out another country to bomb next.
Media and various politicians and pundits seem to delight in predicting
from week to week which country should be next on our bombing list. Is
military action now the foreign policy of first resort for the United
States? When it comes to other countries and warring disputes, the
United States counsels dialogue without exception. We urge the Catholics
and Protestants to talk to each other, we urge the Israelis and
Palestinians to talk to each other. Even at the height of the Cold War,
when the Soviet Union had missiles pointed at us from 90 miles away in
Cuba, we solved the dispute through dialogue and diplomacy. Why is it,
in this post Cold War era, that the United States seems to turn first to
the military to solve its foreign policy problems? Is diplomacy dead?
In conclusion, this legislation, even in its watered-down form, moves us
closer to conflict with Iraq. This is not in our interest at this time.
It also, ironically enough, could serve to further Osama bin Laden's
twisted plans for a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.
Invading Iraq, with the massive loss of life on both sides, would only
forward bin Laden's hateful plan. I think we need to look at our
priorities here. We are still seeking those most responsible for the
attacks on the United States. Now hardly seems the time to go out in
search of new battles.
Ron Paul, M.D., represents the 14th Congressional District of Texas in
the United States House of Representatives.