A Response to Bush's Proposed Congressional Resolution
(Revised Version - Post-Negotiations with Congress)
IPS, 28 September 2002
Bennis's comments are in italics, original White House text is unitalicized.
White House Discussion Draft 9/19/02
Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.
Whereas Congress in 1998 concluded that Iraq was then in material and unacceptable
breach of its international obligations and thereby threatened the vital interests of the United States and international peace and security, stated the reasons for that conclusion, and urged the President to take appropriate action to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations (Public Law 105-235);
No country, not the United States and not the US Congress has the right to make the judgement of whether a nation is in "material breach" of an agreement with the United Nations. The ceasefire agreement that Iraq signed, resolution 687, was signed with the UN, not with the United States. And therefore only the UN can legally determine Iraq's compliance or non-compliance. Further, even if the UN finds Iraq to be in violation, or material breach of its obligations under 687, only the Security Council itself, not any individual member state, is authorized to unilaterally institute a military assault in the name of enforcement of the resolution. Only the Council can authorize such use of force. And the UN Charter requires that all non-military approaches and regional efforts be attempted before any military force is authorized.
Whereas Iraq remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations, thereby continuing to threaten the national security interests of the United States and international peace and security;
This denies the fact that without inspections for four years, we don't know what Iraq does or doesn't have, what capability is has or seeks. All we know for sure is that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, used them against those in whom the West had no interest in protecting (Kurdish civilians and Iranian troops) and did not use them against targets important to Western interests (US troops, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel) where use would certainly have brought massive retaliation. There is no evidence that Iraq ever had the capacity to threaten the United States directly.
Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population, including the Kurdish peoples, thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;
The repression argument is true; unchanged since the years of close US-Iraqi alliance. Claims of failure to repatriate POWs, return property, etc., are false. At the March 2002 Arab League summit, every Arab state signed an all-sided rapprochement with Iraq, including Kuwait, which included specific arrangements for return of Kuwait's stolen National Archive and prisoner exchanges.
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;
This is true only when Iraqi officials knew their targets were of no concern to powerful Western countries, particularly the US They were right; Iraqi use of illegal chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians and Iranian troops took place during the years of close US-Iraqi alliance, including two personal visits to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who did not raise any concern about the just-announced UN report of Iraq's use of chemical weapons, but rather embraced the Iraqi dictator in two visits (Nov. 1983 and March 1984) aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries.
When Iraq had those same weapons during the Gulf War in 1991, they did not use them, knowing that retaliation would be devastating.
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;
The assassination attempt is the only example of international terrorism included even in the State Dept's own Patterns of Global Terrorism (2002). There has been nothing since. The firing on US & British planes in the so-called "no fly" zones represents firing on an unauthorized, illegal military campaign by the US and UK. That military enforcement is NOT "enforcing the resolutions of the UN Security Council," because no UN resolution ever even mentions the creation of no-fly zones, let alone mandating military enforcement of such zones. The zones were imposed unilaterally - or perhaps bilaterally by the US and UK (France joined at the very beginning, but then withdrew).
Certainly Iraq's antagonism to the US is clear; given the unequivocal statements of intention to overthrow the Iraqi regime and "remove" its leader, that is hardly surprising.
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;
Public support for the Bush administration's war drive against Iraq is closely tied to strongly held, but false, public perceptions of a link between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks. No evidence - none- exists of such a link. The much-heralded evidence of the "Prague meeting" between Mohammad Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, and an alleged Iraqi intelligence agent, simply does not exist. On July 17, 2002 the head of the Czech Republic's foreign intelligence service gave a front-page interview to the English-language Prague Post denying that they had any evidence of such a meeting. The claim of al-Qaeda members hiding in Iraq is (reportedly) technically true; however, the allegation is that they are in Iraqi Kurdistan, part of the area of Northern Iraq that as not been under Baghdad's control since 1991, and which is under the putative control of the US by virtue of the US Air Force military patrols of the northern "no-fly" zone.
Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;
This claim is not borne out by the State Dept's Patterns of Global Terrorism. The terrorist groups based in Baghdad include two: the anti-PLO Abu Nidal organization, whose retired leader died last month; that organization had not carried out a military action in a decade or more. There is also a small pro-Iraqi Palestinian faction supported by Baghdad; they also have not carried out any military attacks in a decade or more.
Iraq provides funds to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. This claim is true; it stems from a years-long practice of sending the same amount of money ($25,000 for families of the dead, $10,000 for families of the wounded) for all Palestinians killed by Israel or in the anti-occupation struggle. When the second intifada escalated, and suicide bombings began, the famililes of those militants were included in the financial aid arrangement. Iraq is a ruthlessly secular dictatorship, and has had consistently antagonistic relationships with Islamist organizations such as al-Qaeda.
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat that Iraq will transfer weapons of mass destruction to international terrorist organizations;
The September 11 attacks underscored the gravity of terrorism - specifically NOT requiring weapons of mass destruction. There is no link between 9/11 and Iraq; the attacks of 9/11 did not rely on WMDs, quite the contrary.
Whereas the United States has the inherent right, as acknowledged in the United Nations Charter, to use force in order to defend itself,
This assertion is based on a deliberate misreading of Article 51 of the UN Charter. The Charter is clear that a country has the inherent right of self-defense only "if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations." The "if" is critical; Article 51 does not provide blanket authority for any country to preemptively attack a country that has not attacked it. Even "if" an armed attack occurs, the right of self-defense is still limited. It prevails only, "until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."
Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the high risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify the use of force by the United States in order to defend itself,
Iraq has demonstrated that deterrence works. It has specifically NOT been willing to use weapons of mass destruction when the targets of those weapons would be Americans or American allies. There is no evidence that Iraq has the capacity to launch a surprise attack against the United States; quite the contrary. The only attacks on US armed forces is the effort to target US and UK planes patrolling - without UN authorization - in the "no fly" zones. There is no evidence of a likelihood or propensity for the Iraqi government to provide WMD material to any international terrorists. Again, quite the contrary. The political culture of the Ba'ath Party dictatorship in Iraq is one of reliance on weapons and military for what passes for credibility and strength. The likelihood that that regime would turn over control of strategic weapons to any other political force simply denies that history of Ba'athist political culture.
Whereas Iraq is in material breach of its disarmament and other obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, to cease repression of its civilian population that threatens international peace and security under United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and to cease threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq under United Nations Security Council Resolution 949, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes use of all necessary means to compel Iraq to comply with these "subsequent relevant resolutions;"
The ceasefire agreement Iraq signed with its acceptance of resolution 687 (that requires disarmament of WMD programs and imposes sanctions) was signed between Iraq and the United Nations - not Iraq and the United States. Only the UN has the right to determine what is and is not material breach. Clearly Iraq had not fully complied with the requirements regarding inspection and verification; its recent invitation for UNMOVIC inspectors to return to Iraq to complete the work of verifying disarmament opens the possibility for finishing the UN's inspection and disarmament tasks. When UNMOVIC has finished its work, and certifies that Iraq's WMD programs are no longer a threat, Iraq will be in full compliance with 687.
Resolution 688 does not call for military enforcement (as alleged by some White House officials of this and earlier administrations). It ends with the statement that the Security Council "remains seized" of the issue - meaning the issue remains on the agenda of the Council, and no individual country has the right to interfere or move unilaterally. Only the Council can decide on responses.
There is no evidence that Iraq is in violation of resolution 949. In March 2002 the Arab League summit issued a unanimous declaration, including participation by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, reaffirming Iraq's role within the Arab world. It states that an attack on Iraq would be considered an attack on the entire Arab world. Iraq and Kuwait signed a separate rapprochement that included Iraqi commitments to return Kuwait's National Archive, stolen by Iraqi troops during the occupation of Kuwait in 1990.
Resolution 678 authorized the use of force to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait. The reference to enforcement of "resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions" was clearly designed to mean those resolutions passed subsequent to 660 but before the passage of 678. Resolution 660 was passed in early August 1990, immediately after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Resolution 678, authorizing the use of military force, was passed on November 29th. So obviously the reference was to resolutions SUBSEQUENT to 660, up until the passage of 678. The idea that the UN Security Council was building into resolution 678 a blanket endorsement of military force to be used to enforce some unknown future resolutions not yet contemplated throughout an indefinite future, is clearly nonsensical.
Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President to use the Armed Forces of the United States to achieve full implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 678;
The United States, no more than any other country, does not have the right to use military force to implement any UN resolutions on its own. This is a deliberate misreading of resolution 678, which speaks directly of nations "cooperating with the Government of Kuwait," which was then in exile, focusing on the narrow scope of military force being contemplated: force to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
Only the Security Council can make a decision regarding what is needed to implement its own resolutions. In this case, the Council's clear view is that UNMOVIC inspections is the way to begin finishing the disarmament goals of resolution 687. To return to these other resolutions under the claim that 678 authorized some sort of automatic right of military force by any nation that so chooses is simply spurious.
The fact that Congress chose to refer to earlier resolutions when authorizing the president to use force "pursuant to Security Council Resolution 678" does not mean that Congress has the right to make such an authorization. Only the Security Council has that right.
Whereas Congress in section 1095 of Public Law 102 190 has stated that it "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (Public Law 102-1)," that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and "constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region," and that Congress "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of Resolution 688";
Congress may have supported "the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of Resolution 688," but that does not mean it has the international right to do so. Despite its being taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, 688 does not include a specific authorization for the use of force; US claims that it does, to justify military attacks in the "no-fly" zones, are mendacious. Chapter VII includes numerous requirements for peaceful resolution of disputes before military force can be authorized. While only a resolution taken under Chapter VII can eventually include authorization of the use of force, being taken under Chapter VII is a necessary but not sufficient requirement. Unless the resolution calls specifically for military force to be used, it is not authorized.
Again, a congressional finding of "support for the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of Resolution 688" does not meet the UN's requirement. What if every country in the world had the right to determine when to use military force to enforce a UN resolution it believed was being ignored? Would that make it acceptable for the Netherlands to attack Israel because it violated the Security Council resolution mandating a fact-finding mission to investigate the events in the Jenin refugee camp? How about an Indonesian attack on both India and Pakistan because they are both ignoring Security Council calls for compliance with non-proliferation regimes?
There is a great deal of hypocrisy inherent in this argument, and that hypocrisy is already exacerbating anger at the United States among many of our closest allies in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
Whereas Congress in the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) has expressed its sense that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;
Congress set in motion a recipe for international chaos with this interpretation of the ILA. No parliament, no government, has the right to call for and attempt to orchestrate the overthrow of another government. The fact that only the United States has the power to do so does not make it legitimate. The US should be setting an example to other nations of abiding by international law, not holding itself outside of international law because it has greater power.
Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and
What the president is calling for is a war. Only congress has the right to declare war. Requesting an "authorization" of something that won't officially be called a war does not absolve Congress of the obligation to implement its own requirements under the Constitution.
Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to use force in order to defend the national security interests of the United States;
Iraq has not attacked the US Going to war against Iraq will not increase, but rather reduce, the security of Americans at home and abroad. Antagonism will increase, possibly leading to greater incidents of terror. The Middle East region will be thrown into even greater instability and violence. Going to war against Iraq is not defending, but rather threatening, the national security interests of the people of the United States.
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
Section 1. Short Title.
This joint resolution may be cited as the "Further Resolution on Iraq".
Section. 2. Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces
The President is authorized to use all means [this would give a complete carte blanche to any military force, including use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, both of which are prohibited] that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolutions referenced above, [the US does not have the right to use force on its own in the name of UN resolutions; no nation has that right, only the Council does] defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, [Iraq does not pose an imminent threat to the United States, the only circumstance in which the use of force against a country that has not attacked us could be justified]and restore international peace and security in the region. [The US does not have the right to impose its own version of 'peace and security in the region' - a pax americana - any more than any other nation does. Any such move could only be done by the United Nations - and Congress does not have the right to usurp that.]