The joint resolution on the use of military force against Iraq that President
Bush has asked Congress to pass is too broad and precipitous and should be rejected.
It would be a mistake for Congress to deliver to the president now the military
carte blanche he demands. The administration was on absolutely the right track
in recognizing that Iraq's repeated violation of U.N. resolutions is a matter
first and best resolved by the United Nations. Yes, the United States must reserve
the prerogative to act alone if necessary to protect its citizens and vital interests,
but such unilateral action has not been proved necessary.
The president calls for congressional authorization to "use all means that
he determines to be appropriate, including force," with which he proposes to do
several things, including "restore international peace and security in the region."
That is a commission of staggering sweep, that might easily be interpreted
to apply to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cause understandable concern
among the leaders of other Middle Eastern nations. The resolution text also calls
for additional scrutiny in the context of the administration's stunning new overall
foreign policy strategy disclosed yesterday.
The resolution before Congress also would approve the president's use of military
action "to enforce the United Nations Security Council resolutions" on Iraq. This
suggests a U.S. policy precedent of employing unilateral military force to enforce
the resolutions of a multinational body.
At some point, the U.S. Congress may indeed be compelled to authorize formally
and unequivocally the use of broad U.S. military force against Iraq. But that
authorization can come only after the administration has produced definitive proof
of an imminent threat and has exhausted all multilateral alternatives.
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