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by Sen. Ted Kennedy
Sunday, Feb. 02, 2003 at 5:53 PM
Full text of speech by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.Mass) on 1/29/03
Full Text of Ted Kennedy Speech on 1/29/03
Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Ted Kennedy) went to the Senate floor of the US Senate on January 29, 2003 to introduce a new resolution on the use of force in Iraq. Included below are the Senator's comments from the floor, as well as the text of the new resolution.
Expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to the actions the President should take before any use of military force against Iraq without the broad support of the international community.
Whereas more than three months have passed, and circumstances have significantly changed, since Congress acted in October 2002 to authorize the use of military force against Iraq;
Whereas the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002) requiring Iraq to cooperate with strict weapons inspections and give United Nations weapons inspectors "immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access" to all suspected sites involving such weapons;
Whereas United Nations weapons inspectors arrived in Iraq on November 18, 2002, submitted their 60-day report to the Security Council about Iraq's cooperation with weapons inspections on January 27, 2003, and will report again on their activities on February 14, 2003;
Whereas the President has not yet made a compelling case to Congress, the American people, or the international community that the use of armed force is the only alternative to disarm Iraq; and
Whereas Congress and the American people are increasingly concerned that the President is prepared to use armed force against Iraq without broad support by the international community, and without making a compelling case that Iraq presents such an imminent threat to the national security of the United States that unilateral action is justified:
Now therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that before the President uses military force against Iraq without the broad support of the international community, the President should -
(1) provide full support to the United Nations weapons inspectors to facilitate their ongoing disarmament work; and
(2) obtain approval by Congress of new legislation authorizing the President to use all necessary means, including the use of military force, to disarm Iraq.
FLOOR STATEMENT OF SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY ON
THE IRAQ RESOLUTION
Last October 16 President Bush signed Public Law 107-243, which authorized the President to use military force, if necessary, to defend our country.
I voted against that resolution and war with Iraq because I was not persuaded that Iraq posed an imminent threat to our national security, and because of my belief that war with Iraq, especially without broad international support, would undermine our ability to meet the gravest threat to our national security - terrorism against the United States by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Circumstances have changed significantly since Congress approved that resolution last October. In the months that have passed, events have only strengthened my belief that this is the wrong war at the wrong time.
In those three months, Al Qaeda has escalated its campaign of terror. North Korea has revived its nuclear weapons program. And United Nations inspectors are now on the ground in Iraq.
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator. He invaded Kuwait. He oppresses the Iraqi people. He murders his opponents. He has gassed his own people. He has defied the world community.
So I commend President Bush for going to the United Nations and for working with our allies to put inspectors on the ground again in Iraq. The inspectors are making progress. Rather than commit American troops to war with Iraq at this time, we should give the inspectors our full support and assistance - including our best intelligence information - to strengthen their disarmament efforts.
There are many other questions that must be answered before we go to war.
Will war increase the chances of injury and harm to American citizens if Saddam Hussein, with his back pressed against the wall, decides to use chemical or biological weapons?
What will a post-war Iraq look like? Who will govern? How long will our troops need to stay?
What will the impact be on the war against terrorism? Will we be increasing support for Al Qaeda?
What will be the impact of our allies in the region? Will stability be undermined?
How will our nation be able to manage three foreign policy crises at the same time - the war against terrorism, and the crisis with North Korea, and now a war with Iraq?
When Congress voted on this issue in October, the President had not yet decided to go to war. The President said war was the last resort. He said we would work with the international community to obtain Iraq's disarmament. Clearly, we have not reached that last resort. Inspectors are on the ground in Iraq, and the international community wants the inspections to continue, yet the President is poised to pull the trigger on war.
I am delighted to work with Senator Byrd on this issue, and I am a cosponsor of his resolution. We share the goal of ensuring that war will be the last resort, that if we do have to go to war in Iraq, it will be with the support of Congress, the American people and the international community.
And in light of the changed circumstances since the previous votes by Congress, I am introduction another resolution supporting the inspections process and requiring the President to obtain approval from Congress before committing American troops to war. This decision may well be one of the most important that any of us will make.
So much has happened since Congress voted to authorize force last October. On November 8, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution that demanded unprecedented access to suspected weapons sites in Iraq. The passage of this resolution demonstrated the resolve of the international community to disarm Saddam, and was soon followed by the arrival of several hundred weapons inspectors in Iraq.
On January 27, the inspectors submitted a report to the Security Council about Iraq's cooperation with weapons inspections. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix stated that Iraq has so far cooperated "rather well" but that additional cooperation is necessary. The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency said inspectors "have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since the elimination of the program in the 1990s" and
that inspectors "should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurances that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program."
The U.N. report demonstrated that the inspection process is working. The inspectors are building their case, and Saddam Hussein is feeling the pressure of the international community. Nothing in the report suggests that war now is the only option to disarm Saddam. Clearly, the inspections should continue.
It is wrong for the Administration to beat the drums of war. There is time for thoughtful deliberation about whether war now is the right priority for our nation and we in Congress have a responsibility to the Constitution and the American people to act again on this all-important issue of war or peace.
The Administration has totally failed to make the case that Saddam Hussein is an imminent threat to our security. No evidence, no proof, no "smoking gun," no intelligence has ever been released to suggest we must launch a pre-emptive strike in order to defend America from an unprovoked attack. Instead of making its case, the Administration simply says, "Trust us - we know more than you do."
Many experts believe that Iraq - especially without provocation - does not represent an imminent threat to our security. In fact, it may well be just the opposite. On October 7, CIA Director George Tenet released an unclassified assessment in a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that suggested Iraq would only be a threat if the United States attacked it first.
The letter said, "the probability of [Saddam Hussein] initiating an attack [on the United States] would be low." It also said, "should Saddam Hussein conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions. Such terrorism might involve...[chemical and biological weapons]."
In spite of U.S. assertions that we have secret evidence of Iraq's WMD program, we have been transferring this information at a painfully slow pace. It is only this month, that we finally began to hand over "significant intelligence." The Administration promises the release of new information and all of us hope that it will be more convincing than what has been made available so far.
Secretary Powell will go to the Security Council to share intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program on February 5. But if the United States has significant intelligence, we should share it with the U.N. inspectors today. We should not wait a further week. If our goal is disarmament, we should do everything possible to assist the inspectors.
The disarmament of Saddam Hussein is essential. But the Administration has not made a persuasive case that the threat from Iraq is so immediate that it justifies resort to war now when the inspections process is obviously making progress. Clearly, we have not reached the last resort.
Our nation faces another threat that is much more immediate: the possibility of new Al Qaeda terrorist attacks. A unilateral invasion of Iraq would not advance our war against terrorism - it would undermine it. Our highest national priority is to wage the unfinished war against Al Qaeda effectively.
In the last four months there have been deadly new Al Qaeda attacks worldwide, which have slaughtered hundreds. A French tanker was attacked in Yemen, a nightclub bombed in Indonesia, a hotel destroyed in Kenya, missionaries murdered in Yemen. The frequency and ferocity of these attacks is increasing. It is only a matter of time before they
strike America again.
The Administration would like us to believe that Saddam Hussein is Public Enemy Number One, ignoring the fact that Osama bin-Laden is still at large. Chilling new evidence has arisen suggests that he is planning new attacks.
At home, we still remain vulnerable. Last October, a Council of Foreign Relations Task Force chaired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman warned that "America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil."
Another Task Force representative told a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that "a war with Iraq... elevates the risk in the near term of an attack on the United States...[and] will likely consume virtually all the nation's attention and command the bulk of the available resources, leaving little left over to address our many domestic vulnerabilities."
For some time, the Administration engaged in a complicated spin job to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin-Laden are co-conspirators. According to this view, waging war on Iraq is part of the war against terrorism. Last September, our Secretary of Defense went so far as to claim publicly that he had "bulletproof confirmation" of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
But the Administration has never presented any of this "bulletproof" evidence. Most regional experts believe it is highly
unlikely that fundamentalist Al Qaeda leaders would ever find much common cause with the secular dictator Saddam Hussein. Last October, CIA Director George Tenet even conceded that the Administration's understanding of the al-Qaeda-Iraq link was "evolving" and based on "sources of varying reliability." The Administration claimed again this
week that they have new evidence of those ties, but so far we have only seen a rehash of old allegations and unreliable anecdotes.
As the Administration emphasizes the threat from Iraq, it gives less attention to other countries that pose an even more immediate threat to our security.
The greatest proliferation threat comes not from Iraq, but North Korea. North Korea is much more likely and capable to develop, use and sell these weapons. But unlike Iraq, North Korea probably already has nuclear weapons. Unlike Iraq, North Korea has no nuclear inspectors on the ground to verify disarmament.
North Korea has a long and well-documented history of selling its military technology, especially ballistic missiles, to whoever will pay the highest price. Desperate and strapped for cash, it is the country most likely to sell or transfer weapons of mass destruction to terrorists or nations that support terrorism.
In its single-minded focus on Iraq, Administration officials at first refused to acknowledge that a nuclear crisis even existed. Only very recently has the Administration begun to devote the attention this crisis deserves.
Nevertheless, the Administration continues to focus on Iraq. They are now suggesting an easy war, with few casualties. But our military leaders, especially those with significant combat experience are skeptical. On December 18, a press report said that the commandant of the Marine Corps is concerned that civilian leaders in the Pentagon are underestimating the risks of war, and that military chiefs have challenged the optimistic view that Saddam Hussein's government will collapse soon after a military campaign begins.
In December, we heard dire new forecasts about what war with Iraq would actually be like. U.S. intelligence officials warned that Saddam Hussein may pursue a "scorched earth" policy if the war goes badly. They said that Hussein may try to destroy Iraq's oil fields, power plants and food facilities.
War will be a disaster not just for the soldiers who suffer and die, but for the vast numbers of innocent civilians who will be
affected. In December, the media reprinted a confidential U.N. planning document predicting a humanitarian crisis in the wake of war with Iraq. U.N. officials also predicted a halt to Iraqi oil production, serious degradation of Iraqi transportation, sanitation and power facilities, and the "outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions." The document also predicted a flow of up to 900,000 refugees.
War will not be as easy as the Administration would like us to believe. It may well turn into the first great humanitarian catastrophe of the twenty-first century.
Beyond the human cost of war, the Administration has avoided realistic discussion about the true economic effects of waging an unnecessary war without broad international support.
In December, Yale economist William Nordhaus, released a report estimating total cost that could reach .9 trillion over a decade. He warned of substantial hidden costs of war and reconstruction, and plus the damage caused by economic ripples of war, such as higher oil prices, lower productivity growth and possibly a recession.
In October, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would cost between billion and billion a month to fight a war in Iraq, with occupation costs running from between billion and billion a month. These numbers do not even include costs such as construction of new military bases in Iraq, increase in active-duty military strength, humanitarian assistance funds or aid provided to allies to encourage them to support the war effort.
If our national security is truly threatened by an imminent threat, then we should spare no expense to defend America. But when the Administration proposes to wage unilateral preventive war, in the absence of a clear danger, it is necessary to ask if this is the right priority at the right time.
The Administration is also not adequately considering the massive political commitment that will be required to Iraq's long-term reconstruction. If we wage this war without allies, the United States will assume a massive and lonely responsibility to rebuild Iraq, preserve its territorial integrity and prevent chaos. Going to war alone will impose massive new responsibilities that could extend for years, if not decades.
The Senate debated giving the President authority to use force against Iraq over three months ago. Since then, circumstances have changed so significantly that Congress must consider the issue of war and peace again.
Since our debate last fall, we have finally implemented, with our allies, an active process to verify Iraq's disarmament. That process is working and should be allowed to continue. We must help this process along and give persuasive intelligence information to U.N. weapons inspectors.
It is possible that the inspections process will fail or that new evidence will be uncovered about the threat from Saddam Hussein. But under the current conditions, I continue to believe that this is the wrong war at the wrong time.
If we rush to pull the trigger against Iraq, we will invite catastrophe and condemnation. America, which has long been a beacon of freedom for people around the world, will turn into a symbol of brute force and aggression. The world may come to see us as a dangerous rogue state, needing to be contained and deterred. This is not the America that Abraham Lincoln called "the last, best hope of mankind." War now would be alien to our values, contrary to our interests, and must not be waged.
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