Concrete Responses to Saddam
On August 3, 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the U.S. Senate in passing, by a vote of 406 to 7, Senate Joint Resolution 54, finding the Government of Iraq to be in “material and unacceptable breach” of its international obligations as required by the Gulf War cease-fire.
On August 3, 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the U.S. Senate in passing, by a vote of 406 to 7, Senate Joint Resolution 54, finding the Government of Iraq to be in “material and unacceptable breach” of its international obligations as required by the Gulf War cease-fire. As Congressman Hamilton (D-IN), ranking minority member of the International Relations Committee said, the joint resolution (which requires a Presidential signature or veto) is “a go-ahead for the use of force” by the President.
The next responsible action for Congress to take is to provide the President with the military authority needed to take effective action against Saddam Hussein’s illegal regime. Or as Congressman Hamilton said, “Congress is fulfilling its legitimate and important role in foreign policy…” to “provide meaningful guidance to the executive.”
Toward this end, legislation is being considered which would authorize the President to provide military assistance to the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the unified Iraqi democratic opposition to Saddam Hussein. The bill would provide $100 million (or more) in military draw down authority to the President, allowing him to use existing Pentagon resources to arm, equip, and train INC resistance fighters in support of their on-going efforts to overthrow Saddam and establish a peaceful and representative Iraqi government. Other Pentagon assets would also be authorized for release to the INC to provide intelligence support and for pro-democracy broadcasts inside Iraq.
This is the right bill at the right time. Saddam has no intention of giving up his weapons of mass destruction. In fact, it was the discovery that Saddam has loaded the deadly nerve-agent VX onto SCUD warheads (the same warheads that were fired 39 times into Israel and which killed U.S. servicemen and women in Dharan, Saudi Arabia) that triggered the current crisis with Iraq and Monday’s congressional vote to authorize the use of U.S. military force. But force needs to be properly applied. Saddam does not fear isolated U.S. air strikes. They will only harm the Iraqi population, not his dictatorship. Such strikes, without an Iraqi political component, opposing Saddam from within Iraq, could even prove counterproductive – strengthening Saddam’s support from radical Arab and anti-U.S. forces worldwide.
A bipartisan bill authorizing a Pentagon draw down supporting Saddam’s internal Iraqi National Congress adversaries with the military, intelligence and communication resources of the U.S. provides the only practical response to Saddam’s increasing threat to the U.S., to our regional allies, and to our worldwide strategic interests.