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It has been the accepted political notion in this half-century that war is a Presidential matter in
which Congress may not meddle, and certainly never offer dissent.
Yet not place in the Constitution do we find a presidential fiat power to conduct war. To the
contrary, we find strict prohibitions placed on the President when it comes to dealing with
foreign nations. The Constitution is clear: no war may be fought without a specific declaration
by the Congress.
The president has been beating the drums of war, and many congressional leaders have been
goading him along. However, there has been no serious discussion of the Congress claiming its
constitutional role in these matters.
One example speaks loudly. As the legislative week came to close on Thursday, February 12th,
the Congress was told the day would conclude early. The final debate was heard in early
afternoon and congressmen began to leave town. But I and my staff noticed something was up.
Sure enough, a few minutes after 4 PM, we inquired and learned that the House Leadership,
Democrats and Republicans, were taking the floor to show uniform and complete support for any
decision the president may make -- and especially for sending our troops to battle. I managed to
get time to oppose this one-sided maneuver, and as I took up the time, other Members of
Congress of both parties who still happened to be around, came to the floor in a rush, ready to
make the case I was making: that full debate was constitutionally mandated, and that Congress,
not the president, should commit our troops to battle.
Earlier that day, I introduced HR 3208, in an effort to protect US troops from unnecessary
exposure to harm and to stop President Clinton from initiating the use of force in the Persian
Gulf. As a former Air Force flight surgeon, I am committed to supporting troops and believe the
only way to completely support soldiers is to not put them in harms way except to defend our
nation. Of course, those banging for war say they want everyone to support the troops by sending
them into battle: a contradiction, at best.
There is absolutely no moral or constitutional reason to go to war with Iraq at this time. To go to
war to enforce the dictates of the United Nations, or to play the part of "policemen of the world,"
opposes the sensibilities of all who seek to follow the Constitution. I refuse to participate in
action which would possibly expose even one soldier to risk when there is absolutely no
immediate threat to the U.S.
Even worse, the President and others promoting this war are arguing for military objectives
which are vague and, according to experts, completely unrealistic. The basic flaw in our foreign
policy since World War Ii has been a lack of objectives, mainly because none of the wars have
been to protect our nation. Our troops went into battle for political or industrial purposes, rather
than to achieve military victory in the face of a real threat. As a result, we saw years of war in
Korea and Vietnam drag on, costing thousands of lives with no real success.
Why does the American soldier and taxpayer have to bear the burden of enforcing UN dictates?
It is simply immoral for the US to enter into a war which has no objectives other than to kill
people with whom we disagree for the sake of looking tough on the world stage. The only moral
war is a defensive war to preserve our national security.
But while the politicians are talking about sending our troops to battle, the American people are
becoming more concerned with the unforeseen, or rather, undiscussed, consequences. Up to
now, no one has been able to show that Iraq has either the ability or the intentions to attack the
United States. Foolish actions against that nation will only make it more likely that American
citizens and cities could be targeted for terrorist or military attacks. In fact, Saddam Hussein is
hoping to provoke the very actions now being contemplated on Capitol Hill. By attacking the
Republic of Iraq, and killing Iraqi nationals with our bombs, Hussein will have the political
leverage to gain even more support, and the imperative from his people and supporters to strike
back from the position of an underdog. Further, there is discussion of possible anti-West
alliances being forged in the Middle East which actions against Iraq could further provoke.
Finally, before committing our troops to this action and opening our people and cities to the
possibility of retaliatory attack, we must focus on the consistency of our priorities. According to
February 12th stories by Reuters News Service, from 1985 to 1989 the United States and England
provided Hussein with biological weapons -- the very weapons we now want to kill Hussein for
possessing, according to American and British intelligence documents.
Further, we know that at least 20 nations are developing weapons of mass destruction, and there
are numerous nations that already possess them. Does that mean we must attack them all, for
fear of their possible use?
According to the US Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war. My legislation
prohibits Defense Department funds from being used for offensive actions against Iraq without
Congress legally declaring a war.
It is a sad indictment of our government that it takes legislation to force the President and the
Congress to follow the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, especially when dealing with
issues of life and death for our troops and our people.
Ron Paul represents the 14th District of Texas in the US House of Representatives. He can be contacted at his office, 203 Cannon, Washington, DC 20515, or via the internet at:
Congressional Office of Ron Paul
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