September 9, 2002
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights|
Committee on International Relations
House of Representatives
Congress of the United States of America
25 August, 2002
Dear Subcommittee Members:
I write to ask you to act against an invasion of Iraq by the U.S., and to act in support of the Constitution, international law, internationally-accepted human rights conventions, and the democratic, rule-of-law principles that our country was founded upon.
The Bush administration's rationale for such an invasion doesn't withstand scrutiny. Iraq does not possess nuclear weapons capability, and there's no evidence that such capability is imminent. There's no evidence that Iraq has supplied chemical or biological weapons to terrorists for use against the U.S., and it's pure speculation that Saddam will have nuclear weapons at any specific time in the future, give them to terrorists, or use them against the U.S. To conclude that Iraq is an imminent threat to the U.S. is tantamount to a leap across the Grand Canyon.
Neither do the alleged violations of UN Security Council resolutions by Iraq justify a U.S. invasion. The UN has not approved an invasion of Iraq or a forceful removal of Saddam. Because the continuing U.S. military presence in Iraq is there under UN cover, Saddam's pot-shots are at UN planes and he's defying UN weapons inspectors. Although some in our government would like to have it both ways, skirting our nation's law and sovereignty to commit troops via a third-party entity and then portraying offense against those troops as offense against our nation, such double standard is not supported by international law or reason. In any event, the UN does not, and should not, relieve our government of the duty to abide by the Constitution and rule of law.
Because an attack upon the U.S. by Iraq is not imminent, and thus immediate defensive action needn't be ordered by the President, the Constitution requires that a military invasion of Iraq be pursuant to a formal declaration of war by Congress. No law by Congress, or National Security Directive by the President, can trump the Constitution. The precedent of recent decades, whereby the President repeatedly sends U.S. troops into undeclared wars when there's no imminent threat to the U.S., as Congress shirks responsibility, must stop. The Constitution allows no exception for UN-sanctioned wars, or for covert operations that grow into wars, because our founding fathers understood that men of honor will stand up to face an enemy and declare their intentions with conviction. To do otherwise is cowardly, and tramples the very ideals that so many Americans died for in previous wars. Congress has a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, and to insure that the Executive branch does the same, thus Congress must not allow the President to order an invasion of Iraq without a formal declaration of war. Obviously, such a declaration is unlikely in light of the truth.
The argument that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would be a humanitarian act, by liberating the Iraqi people from oppression, is simply ludicrous. If Operation Desert Storm is any indicator, this new war would kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including far more civilians than were killed in the Kuwait conflict. The aftermath would bring instability and in-fighting among the various tribes and warlords, and would very likely end in another Islamic state that would be at least as oppressive and likely more supportive of terrorism, as was in Afghanistan. This would only be prevented by a long-term military occupation on the scale of Bosnia and Kosovo. Even in Bosnia and Kosovo, the military and UN occupation has merely stopped the fighting, failing to achieve stability, integration, and rule-of-law governance. Nation-building by force has never worked, and Iraq would be no exception. The only thing this war offers the people of Iraq is more death and violence. Granted, some of the Iraqi people may be hopeful of salvation by the U.S., but little do they know of the harsh reality of another war and the undeliverable peace they seek.
Our government supports the Saudi dictatorship, the Pakistani dictatorship, and countless others throughout the world, and then uses the 'oppressive dictatorship' argument as rationale for a war against Iraq. The U.S., using the CIA, installed the oppressive, pro-West dictator the Shah in neighboring Iran, and look at where the backlash got us today. Iran is the center of militant Islam. The U.S. supported Saddam since the early 1960's, recruiting him to overthrow and kill the popularly-supported Iraqi leader Abdul Kassem. Then the U.S. gave Saddam the names of opposition group members so that he could eradicate them and consolidate his power. The U.S. supported Iraq and Saddam during the eight-year war against Iran, while at the same time secretly selling weapons to Iran through the Israelis. One million people were killed. The U.S. watched Saddam prepare to invade Kuwait, and made no objection when Saddam formally sought the U.S. position on his plan. Then we lauded our greatness after killing 300 thousand Iraqis in a pigeon-shoot. The U.S. instigated an uprising against Saddam by the Iraqi Kurds with the promise of military support, and then abandoned them to be massacred by Saddam's forces. This was a repeat, as in the 1970's the U.S. organized a Kurdish uprising against Iraq at the request of the Shah of Iran, only to abandon them when Saddam made a deal with the Shah. The Kurds sent an urgent appeal to the CIA stating "intervene according to your promises," and no reply came. Thousands were slaughtered. In response to questions about the slaughter was Kissinger's infamous quote to Congress "covert action should not be confused with missionary work," demonstrating the absence of compassion for the people of Iraq harbored by the former Secretary of State. The U.S. continues to support violent warlords in Iraq who murder and oppress their own people, and continues to administer policies which are causing mass starvation, disease, and death among the civilian population. The list goes on, but hopefully the point is made. Hasn't the U.S. already delivered enough violence, enough treachery, and enough hypocrisy, to Iraq? Who among us wouldn't hold anti-American sentiment if on the receiving end of such foreign policy? This is not to condone terrorism, or to defend Saddam, but to bring some truth to the debate when truth is not coming from our elected government.
Never in history has a democratic, rule-of-law nation openly invaded another sovereign nation based upon speculation, or based upon disapproval of their leader or their form of government. To invade Iraq would break that precedent, and bring unprecedented dishonor to our nation. And never in history has an American President proposed to so openly and flagrantly disregard the Constitution and international law. The American people already do not support an invasion of Iraq, even though the public debate has been a one-sided propaganda campaign by supporters of the President's plan. With the facts, the people would be overwhelmingly opposed to the President on this issue, as are most other people around the world. Will you represent the interests of the American people and lead Congress to put a stop to this?
Former UN Human Rights Investigator
· · · · · ·
Letter to the Editor from David Lamb
David Lamb is a former command-level human rights investigator, International Police Task Force (IPTF), UN Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (UNMIBH); and a former Pennsylvania police officer.
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