Wednesday, August 28, 2002


Some opponents of war against Iraq, and perhaps some who favor it, are adamant that America can strike only if the UN Security Council authorizes the attack and if Congress authorizes war.

As a general principal on the Iraq question, I think we can still take action under the original Security Council authorization to eject Iraq form Kuwait and restore peace. Likewise, Congress authorized war and we have never formally ended that war. For both Congress and the Security Council, the ceasefire has only suspended hostilities.

If Congress wishes to, and if they have the cojones, they can exercise the power of the purse and forbid the President from spending money to fight Iraq. Or Congress can repeal the act authorizing military action against Iraq. If opponents of waging war are serious, they don't have to wait for the President to request a declaration of war. Nor does Congress have to sit and wait for the President to launch an attack before objecting. Congress has options it can initiate right now. The Security Council, on the other hand, is helpless to repeal its authorization due to our veto. Oh well.

That said, we can ignore the UN and still work diplomacy to gain as much support as we can. Congress is another matter. Though I do not believe we need Congressional authorization from a legal standpoint, Congress should declare war to demonstrate our resolve and to steel us for battle. As has been said, we don't do sneak attacks. We can't get strategic surprise in any case so why worry about it? (And it might do wonders to cripple Iraqi troop morale if they see the Green Machine coming months in advance of an invasion)

My main point is to object to the incomprehensible fetish for the legal niceties that so many insist we follow before we can so much as say "boo" to the Iraqis. Why should Iraq get the protections of the international community when Iraq has flouted those rules? Did Iraq get Security Council approval for their invasion of Kuwait in 1990? That was quite the regime change, if temporary. And what did Kuwait do to deserve this? They failed to submit to the shakedown for their lunch money that Saddam demanded. And what of 1980? Again, Iraq hardly sought Security Council approval before they invaded Iran and attempted to dismember Iran. Here at least, Iraq had a case to make. Iranian subversion, terrorism, and murder in Iraq were certainly hostile acts. Yet Iran was hardly about to invade Iraq. And the Iranians loudly proclaimed their support for the Palestinians while condemning the Iraqis as a lesser "Satan." And the Arab world quietly backed Iraq (except for Syria and, for a while, Libya) against Moslem Iran.

Hey! I think we can cite the Iraq precedent of 1980 for our invasion! Thanks Saddam! You're a gem! See you in Baghdad. We're coming.