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Dissenting Views
Regarding H. J. Res. 114

October 7, 2002

The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has abused the human rights of Iraqi citizens and has used chemical weapons against its own citizenry. This regime has failed to comply with certain international laws and United Nations resolutions concerning weapons inspections and disarmament, and this non-compliance potentially endangers United States and regional security interests. Nonetheless, we do not believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat to the security of the United States or its allies, that evidence has yet been provided that indicates a link between Iraq and al Qaeda, that all diplomatic means have been exhausted towards the inspection and disarmament of Iraq's weapons, or that efforts to prevent terrorism would be engaged with the necessary vigilance should the authorization of force in this resolution be unilaterally pursued. Similarly, we have concerns that the cost of an attack on Iraq would further undermine the economic condition of the United States, that attempts to cause regime change in Iraq would result in high casualties for both U.S. military personnel and Iraqi civilians, and that a unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States would inflame tensions in other nations and could increase the threat of terrorism against the United States. We are also opposed to a policy of preemption, as it could encourage other nations to pursue similar military engagements, and absent any defined boundaries or framework for such a policy, would represent a new and significant change in U.S. strategic policy. Therefore, we cannot support the scope and intention of this resolution, and respectfully offer these dissenting views.

This resolution authorizes the unilateral preemptive use of force by the United States without proof of imminent peril. The doctrine of preemption both violates international law, including the United Nations charter, and endangers our own long-term national security interests. The United Nations charter, to which the United States is a signatory and was a principal author, states that a country has an inherent right to self-defense, "if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations." A unilateral first strike by the United States, in the absence of proven imminent danger, would set a potentially disastrous precedent that might then be echoed in conflicts across the globe, such as those between India and Pakistan, Russia and Georgia, and China and Taiwan. The doctrine of preemption also raises serious questions about where such a policy will stop: will the United States go on to launch unilateral attacks against other countries whose governments we oppose?

The resolution undermines efforts to work with the United Nations to disarm Iraq through inspections and the destruction of weapons of mass destruction. It provides authority to the President to launch unilateral military attacks before United Nations inspections have had any reasonable opportunity to be effective. During the 1990s, U.N. inspectors succeeded in finding and destroying thousands of tons of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and related material, despite the efforts of Saddam Hussein's government to obstruct them.

The objectives of the United States must be to operate within the rule of law and in cooperation with the United Nations and our friends and allies to enhance our own security and the stability of the Persian Gulf region. Iraq's current non-compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 and other U.N. resolutions poses a significant potential risk to our national security and to regional stability, but does not pose a proven imminent threat. Moreover, U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 concludes, "the Security Council remains seized of the issue." The United States should therefore continue to seek to work through the United Nations to disarm Iraq through inspections and other diplomatic measures, rather than resorting to preemptive unilateral military force.

It is accepted that the civilian population of Iraq has suffered under the current leadership and that the infrastructure that supports that population is in poor condition. An attack on Iraq will likely further reduce the condition of the Iraqi populace, and could prove to be a hindrance to the establishment of any future political stability in Iraq. This situation reinforces the need to pursue any action with respect to Iraq through the United Nations. Furthermore, the inevitability of Iraqi civilian casualties in a projected conflict, especially one involving urban warfare, raises further humanitarian arguments in favor of the need to seek a diplomatic resolution.

The financial costs projected for a unilateral attack on Iraq are of great concern, and represent an issue that the Administration has not properly addressed. The Democratic Caucus of the House Budget Committee and Presidential economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey have estimated that such an attack could cost between $100 and $200 billion dollars, while others have estimated that the costs associated with an attack and subsequent political stabilization and nation-building could cost upwards of $300 billion. Simultaneously, our nation is hindered by an economic slowdown that has resulted in increased unemployment, poverty rates, increased need for food stamp and other assistance, and significant losses to retirement accounts. We fear that a unilateral attack on Iraq will increase the daunting economic challenges that our nation faces, will cause negative effects on energy prices, and that it will reduce the government's ability and willingness to fund essential services to unemployed workers, prosecute corporate crime, and continue the global war on terrorism.

Since the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, our nation has been involved in a multilateral effort to eliminate the threats of terrorism and to detain and bring to justice those involved in the attacks. While progress has been made towards that end, the fate of principals such as Osama bin Laden continues to be unknown, and the threat of terrorism continues to exist. There is cause for concern that a unilateral attack on Iraq would reduce American capability to deter terrorism by diluting the military and intelligence community strength applied to that campaign. Further, the multilateral coalition that has engaged in the war against terrorism could erode and lose support were the United States to pursue a preemptive unilateral military option against Iraq. This could increase costs to the United States, increase the threat to American service personnel, and reduce the cooperation that foreign nations have provided to the U.S. in terms of financial, intelligence and military assistance. It has also been posited that a unilateral attack on Iraq could increase terrorist organizational recruitment, permit access to greater financial resources, and further the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States.

An attack on Iraq by the United States absent a United Nations authorization and coalition may also result in political strife in other nations. There are numerous nations that could suffer numerous negative internal consequences from their actual or perceived relationship with the United States, and similarly within other nations that are dealing with internal political challenges. It is essential that the United States be cognizant of the secondary effects of any action taken against Iraq, and be sure that greater conflict is not caused by those actions.

On September 12, 2002, President Bush went to the United Nations calling on that organization to take action to enforce its resolutions and protect international interests in peace and security. We support that call and believe the United Nations must be given a chance to carry out this mission. Therefore, for this reason and those iterated above, we respectfully oppose this resolution authorizing the unilateral use of force and submit our dissenting views.


Cynthia McKinney
Member of Congress
Barbara Lee
Member of Congress
Sherrod Brown
Member of Congress


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