Opposing Unprovoked War against Iraq
Observations from Oct. 8, 2002 about the Use of Force Resolution
I was listening to some of the debate in Congress on National Public Radio (AM 970 Buffalo) this evening, and I was impressed with the few I heard who opposed the resolution authorizing President Bush to use military force against Iraq.
The core of it:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to–
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
As an example, I was very impressed with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s short, impassioned and well-argued speech against this resolution.
Read the full speech here.
The Rule of Law!!
To sum up some of the arguments she mentioned:
Congress voting for the resolution would be an “unconstitutional delegation” to one man “of the exclusive power of the Congress to declare war“.
Bush recently announced a new strategic doctrine of preemption, and it looks like Iraq will only be the first case.
The Iraq crisis has already introduced “instability into a world that can least afford it now.”
The resolution is a:
“violation of the rule of law itself and of the law of nations. There is no rule of law unless it applies equally to all. And there is no law at all if not determined by precedent. Thus, a vote for the majority resolution is a vote not only for pre-emptive war on Iraq, but for the new Bush doctrine of pre-emption that would then be available to all nations. Because pre-emption is unlawful under international law, passage of this resolution would make our country an instant international outlaw. Worse, the Iraq precedent necessarily means that all bets are off for all nations to do the same.”
Just my own comment here: the most important law in this case – because the debate involves Americans – is the American constitution. I think the reference to international law is valid – not in the sense that international bodies should override national sovereignty – but in the sense that nations follow certain traditions and agreements internationally that probably derive from a common sense of morality and natural law.
However, there are too many people who talk about how we should look to the United Nations to justify this war as if individuals and nations should abdicate responsibility for deciding whether it is justified or not. To her credit, the congresswoman presented clear reasons why Congress should decide itself not to support this war.
The congresswoman also called on Congress to reclaim America’s “own most precious principles,” including “two centuries of American principles against pre-emptive war”.