I am not yet convinced that the United States should go to war against Iraq, and I think that Congress would do well to proceed with caution in this matter. Although I do not discount the possibility that war may, at some time, become necessary, President Bush has failed to produce a credible argument that now is that time.
I am deeply troubled by the President’s asking for a blank check on such an important issue as war with Iraq, but this action is consistent with his penchant for secrecy and his disregard for voters, Congress, and the niceties of the Constitution. Moreover, he has a flexible notion of international law; I have difficulty distinguishing between his “offensive defense” argument and what used to be called “naked aggression.” His rhetoric does not become a great republic. If international norms need to be changed because circumstances have changed in the twenty-first century, they should not be changed (and cannot be changed) unilaterally by the President of the United States.
I can only urge you to use your good judgment in deciding what Congress should do, but I believe that (1) no offensive action should be taken by the United States without Congressional approval, and (2) no approval should be given before it is absolutely necessary.
October 4, 2002
Letter on Iraq
After thinking about doing so for weeks, I wrote my senators and congressman yesterday about how Congress should deal with the Iraq situation. I am, in fact, uncertain about what either Congress or the United States should do, but I am quite certain that Americans should not simply rely on President Bush to make all the decisions for us. My letter: