The Wrong War, The Wrong Time, The Wrong Place
After claiming several weeks ago
doesn`t need congressional authorization to start
his own private war in the Middle East, President Bush
last week sent up to Congress a resolution authorizing
him to start—and continue indefinitely—just such a war.
The president`s decision to seek
congressional support indicates less that he has
learned one of the most elementary facts about the U.S.
Constitution than that he realizes the war he wants to
start will be so big, so costly, so dangerous and
eventually so unpopular that he will need to invoke
congressional authority for starting it at all.
But whatever his reasons, it will
be a big, big mistake for Congress to give him the war
powers he wants.
The first part of the resolution [text]
rehearses what the administration submits is the case
for war against Iraq. At no place in it is any recent
act of aggression against this country cited or
substantiated. The only act of aggression against the
United States ever even alleged in the resolution is the
supposed attempt by Iraq in 1993 to assassinate former
President Bush while he visiting Kuwait.
The United States launched a
punitive bombing raid against Iraq at that time in
retaliation (though no very compelling evidence for the
attempted assassination was ever made public), and
presumably that book has long been closed. In any case,
ex-President Bush at the time was a former, not a
current, government official, and whether killing him
would really have been an act of aggression against the
country rather than a mere murder is another question.
The resolution also mentions Iraqi
firing on U.S. planes and military targets while they
were enforcing U.N. sanctions. Again, the time to
retaliate for such "attacks" (the sanctions themselves
from Iraq`s point of view are acts of aggression and
violations of its sovereignty) was then, not now.
At no point in the resolution does
the administration claim that Iraq had anything to do
with the Sept. 11 massacres. All it claims is that those
attacks "underscored the gravity of the threat that Iraq
will transfer weapons of mass destruction to
international terrorist organizations."
They do no such thing; Iraq in the
past has supported terrorist groups, but it has never
given them such weaponry and (like any government) would
be nuts to do so. There is no guarantee that terrorist
fanatics would not use such weapons against Iraq itself
The resolution alleges that members
of Al Qaeda and other terrorists are now "known to be in
Iraq." They are known to be in the Kurdish-controlled
territory of Iraq, which Saddam Hussein`s government
does not control. Last summer the Washington Times
cited "U.S. intelligence officials" as claiming that
"up to 5,000 people in the United States connected to al
Qaeda." By the logic of the president`s resolution,
we should therefore launch a war against our own
Nowhere does the resolution point
to any evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass
destruction, that it is capable of delivering such
weaponry against the United States or that the Baghdad
government desires to use such weapons against the
The entire Iraqi "threat" rests
entirely upon the administration`s unsupported
But aside from these flaws, the
major problem with the resolution is its last,
authorizing sentence—that the president is authorized to
use all means "that he determines to be appropriate,
including force," against the "threat posed by Iraq, and
[to] restore peace and security in the region."
Not, understand, "peace and
security in Iraq," but in "the region." The war being
contemplated, you see, is not simply against Iraq but
against the entire Arabic-Muslim Middle East—what
neoconservative Zionist Norman
Podhoretz in the current issue of Commentary
magazine calls frankly "World
Coupled with the administration`s
new doctrine of the legitimacy of "pre-emptive strikes"
and preserving unchallenged U.S. global military
supremacy, submitted to Congress on the same day as the
war resolution, what the resolution really authorizes is
nothing less than the U.S. conquest of the Middle East,
if not the whole planet, and nothing but perpetual war
until that goal is achieved.
Congressional Democrats are
muttering that perhaps the president seeks too much
power, perhaps authority from the United Nations should
be sought, perhaps there should be some bartering and
bickering before the resolution is approved. But no one
doubts it will be approved, in one form or another, and
that the war Mr. Bush wants will come.
When it does, and when it results
in a generation of chaos, terrorist reprisals against
this country and its people, and the
perpetual hatred of the United States by an entire
civilization, congressmen and their constituents should
remember who authorized the president to start it.
September 26, 2002