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Our Next Moves in Iraq

An Essay by Dale Brown, 09/11/02

Forget whether or not Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction: he probably does, and would not hesitate to use them, but it's not the point.

The 1991 cease-fire agreement between the Coalition forces and Iraq that ended the Persian Gulf War stipulated two important conditions:

  • 1) complete and unfettered access by United Nations inspectors anywhere in Iraq at any time to search for any evidence that Iraq might be developing or storing weapons of mass destruction; and
  • 2) complete and unimpeded access to the skies over the northern and southern No-Fly Zones.

    Iraq has violated both of these cease-fire conditions. They kicked out weapons inspectors in 1998 and continue to fire on Coalition aircraft weekly even to this day.

    [IMAGE] Technically and literally, all of the previous United Nations resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq are therefore still in effect, and that's all the legal justification we need to resume hostilities against Iraq. We DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT wait until one of our patrol planes gets shot down before we do something about Saddam!

    After the U.N. weapons inspectors were ejected from Iraq, Congress passed a joint statement in 1998 authorizing the President to use any and all means necessary to force Iraq to comply with UN resolutions. Interestingly, the 1998 statement recommending military action against Iraq was sponsored by now-Senate majority leader Tom Daschle.

    The President has complied with all provisions of the 1973 War Powers Act: he has consulted with Congress on possible actions prior to initiating hostilities. The Democratically-controlled Senate wants Congress to vote on whether or not the President should initiate hostilities (knowing that such a resolution would probably not pass the Senate), but the President is not legally obligated to do so. The President must report to the Congressional leadership within 48 hours (normally done by a televised address to the nation) after hostilities start, and he must pull forces out after 60 days unless Congress authorizes an extension or if Congress declares war.

    Except for Afghanistan and possibly limited engagements in Kosovo, Iraq is the only other area in the world where U.S. military men and women come under fire by hostile forces on a regular basis. No nation should be allowed to keep on firing on Americans with impunity.

    Bottom line: we should immediately attack Iraq's military command and control facilities and military bases with heavy, sustained precision bombing until weapon inspectors are allowed back in. Weapon inspectors should be accompanied by U.S. troops with heavy armor. Any site the inspectors are not allowed to visit should be immediately destroyed.

    Dale Brown

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