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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Christopher Shays On The War In Iraq

Perhaps you could care less, but he is my Congressman, and also Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, so here we go, only a bit of commentary, we don't "Fisk" our Congressman:

July 25, 2003

Dear [constituents];

Thank you for your letter of January 18 expressing opposition to the use of force against Iraq, as well as your support for the creation of a Palestinian state. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me as well as your patience in awaiting my reply. I supported President Bush's decision to lead a coalition of nations to disarm Iraq.

The need to disarm Iraq had lingered not just for four months, but for 12 long years. This crisis needed to be resolved now - not two, three, or four years from now.

That is an open question, if that debate I hear roaring means anything.

...Regrettably, the world community remained divided, but the consequences of allowing Saddam Hussein to continue developing his weapons of mass destruction were just too great.

Based on all we have learned during four years of hearings by the Subcommittee on National Security, which I chair, the following cannot be disputed: Saddam Hussein had a robust chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program before the Gulf War; he had a robust chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program after the war; and he ejected United Nations inspectors just when they had begun to succeed in dismantling his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program by going after the roots - the engineers and scientists who sustain the program.

Please don't start - we took the inspectors out because Saddam would not let them do their job and we wanted to bomb him. Fine, he didn't "eject" them. Whatever.

No credible source, public or classified, has been able to prove Saddam Hussein stopped pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and U.N. weapons inspectors determined that Iraq had not disarmed.

Hmm, putting the burden of proof on the other side! As a debating ploy, I like it. But if we are going into Iraq on "probable cause", I do not find the news that no one has proven the probability to be zero wholly reassuring.

...Having learned he cannot dominate his region through conventional combat, Hussein was more determined than ever to deploy chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. His past behavior and his support of terrorist groups also meant he was likely to deploy these weapons using surrogates.

We note that Al-qaeda is not the only significant "terrorist groups".

...Some have argued that until Iraq posed an "imminent threat to the United States and until Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons and threatened to use them, the United States should have been content to contain and deter an Iraqi regime amassing weapons of mass death. I could not disagree more.

I am sure he is correct that some have argued that. Whether he is rebutting the best alternative to war, or one of the weaker alternatives, is not clear to me. Is there a consensus Plan B somewhere? (NO, I'm serious, why do you assume I am being snarky just because I so often am?)

...As a free and open society, we are vulnerable to catastrophic attacks by those who see no moral or political "red line to constrain them. Sept. 11, 2001 was a wake-up call from hell. On that day, quaint Cold War doctrines justifying action only against clear and present dangers died with the 3,000 innocent men, women and children in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

Containment, deterrence and mutually assured destruction no longer assure our national security. Our policy must be proactive and preemptive. The mere existence of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of despots, tyrants and terrorists constitutes an imminent threat to our security. That threat must be addressed before it manifests itself in a smallpox epidemic or a mushroom cloud.

Hmm. "Existence"? Earlier, it was an inability to prove he had disarmed. And has he been smoking mushrooms with the President?

I don't take these times or the use of force lightly. But I am convinced this action is long overdue and believe that in time the rightness of this action will be evident to those who may not see it today.

[He continued on the subject of a Palestinian state].



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