Posted 2:08 p.m. Oct. 7
by Carolyn Polinsky
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – A joint resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq was agreed upon last week by President George W. Bush and top House members.
The resolution would allow for the president to use the military as he deems necessary in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
The resolution is likely to pass in the House this week but will face a tougher battle in the democratically controlled Senate, where it will be debated upon for much of the upcoming weeks.
Some political analysts, including James Lindsay, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, believe that the resolution will be approved by both houses before the Nov. 5 congressional elections. According to Lindsay, the chances of war are greater than 50 percent, and he expects military action against Iraq to begin between December and March.
There has been much speculation and debate as to if and when an attack should occur though, from congressional members and the international community, despite Bush’s constant push for a military strike.
“In defiance of pledges to the United Nations, Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons,” Bush said in his weekly radio address last week.
Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter the United States can legally wage war because each nation has the right to protect itself. In Lindsay’s opinion, Iraq will refuse to abide by weapons inspections and the U.N. will enact a resolution supporting war against Iraq.
The U.S. resolution being debated does not require U.N. approval before attacking Iraq House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., worked with the Bush Administration to craft the resolution, along with House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R.-Ms.
Critics of a war with Iraq, including some former Republican advisors and Democratic officials, contend that military action could take away from the war against terrorism, cause the death of innocent civilians, and that preemptive strikes go against American ideals.
Top Democrats have reservations about an attack against Iraq though, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who recently said, “A number of other important questions remain unanswered and deserve careful consideration as Congress begins debate on this critical issue. For example, will a U.S. attack on Iraq undermine our efforts against al Qaeda? What are the Administration’s plans for political stability and economic prosperity in post-Saddam Iraq?”
The international community has also expressed concern over a U.S. led campaign against Iraq, questioning the necessity of military action.
“If you don’t do anything, that is something. Inaction is also action,” said Yossi Shain, a political science professor at Georgetown University, who supports military force against Iraq and believes it to be probable. “Everybody understands something has to be done,” he said calling allegations that Bush is trying to divert attention from the economy and that Gephardt supports military action because of presidential aspirations “ludicrous.”
Pentagon officials have said that if a war were to take place, battles would be waged within urban areas as opposed to the desert as in Operation Desert Storm of 1991, increasing the probability of high casualties.
“If…the Iraqi regime persists in its defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable,” Bush said in his address.
Following the 1991 U.S. victory over Iraq, U.N. weapons inspectors were assigned to monitor Hussein’s biological and chemical weapons programs. The inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998, prompting fears that Iraq may be experimenting with weapons of mass destruction.
“Although Saddam probably does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them,” a CIA report issued on Friday stated.
“Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade,” the report found.
“Delay, indecision, and inaction are not options for America, because they could lead to massive and sudden horror,” Bush said.
Of the five countries with veto powers over a new U.N. resolution, only England supports the United States call, which would give Hussein the option of admitting weapons inspectors or facing war. However, Russia, France and China are against such a resolution and have threatened to veto any such resolution.
“Supporting this resolution will also show the resolve of the United States, and will help spur the United Nations to act,” Bush said last week.
Bush called Hussein a “cruel and dangerous man” who must be removed from power.