Congressman Jesse L. Jackson - The Iraq Resolution
Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.'s
Delivered on the Floor of The House of Representatives
The Iraq Resolution
Wednesday, 9 October, 2002
Mr. Speaker, I rise in oppostion to this resolution.
On September 11, 2001, our nation changed!
We were traumatized when al Qaeda terrorists attacked our nation, killed nearly 3,000 Americans, wounded many others - physically, emotionally, and spiritually - destroyed families and buildings, and disrupted our economy.
The President, the Congress, and the American people responded quickly, appropriately, and with courage. All Americans support the war on terrorism and want homeland security.
However, terrorism not only changed our psyche, it changed our politics. Our politics shifted from hope to fear - and fear now clouds our thinking.
September 11 and Iraq are two distinct issues. Nevertheless, President Bush is trying to take our legitimate fear following 9/11 and illegitimately link it to Iraq.
The White House and some in this body have sought to link al Qaeda and September 11 to Iraq. That alleged link underscores the President's position that the Iraqi threat is IMMINENT. However, congressional Intelligence Committee members have said President Bush has presented no factual evidence proving that link.
Even the President separates 9/11 from an imminent Iraqi threat - and here's the proof. President Bush sees 9/11 and Iraq as separate because just two weeks ago, on September 24, he LOWERED the domestic "risk of terrorist attacks" from orange to yellow! If the Iraqi threat was imminent, wouldn't the "risk of terrorist attacks" have at least remained the same - on orange - or even been RAISED TO RED?
BUT THE PRESIDENT LOWERED IT TO YELLOW!
Yes, Iraq's threat is real and, in light of 9/11, it's normal for Americans to be afraid. But the Iraqi threat is NOT IMMINENT. We shouldn't let it effect our politics over the next three weeks. We shouldn't VOTE on the basis of the FEAR of an IMMINENT threat from Saddam Hussein! Vote your hopes, not your fears!
So far this debate has been about military sticks - whether, when, or under what circumstances to use them. But why not try carrots too?
Most Americans don't know that the U.S. would NOT lift economic sanctions on Iraq even if Saddam agreed to, and fully implemented, all UN resolutions.
In 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the U.S. would only lift sanctions when Saddam Hussein was gone, NOT when Iraq lived up to UN resolutions. President Bill Clinton stated, "sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as [Hussein] lasts."
But economic sanctions are only hurting the people, making life miserable for the average Iraqi, causing an estimated 500,000 deaths, mainly women and children. The economic sanctions are not hurting Saddam Hussein! If they were, he wouldn't be the threat we say he is.
Insisting on a "regime change before lifting economic sanctions" goes beyond the legal mandate of UN policy and is not authorized by any UN resolution. We need to lure Iraqi compliance with a meaningful economic inducement, not merely threaten them with military force. Why doesn't the U.S. offer to lift economic sanctions, in an orderly and progressive way, in exchange for unfettered and comprehensive inspections?
Without the carrot of "lifting economic sanctions in exchange for removing WMD" the Iraqi Government has no incentive to cooperate. Offering to lift economic sanctions in exchange for unfettered inspections will gain support within Iraq and among our allies.
Before there is any authorization for the use of armed force against Iraq, we must make sure that ALL peaceful means of containing and eliminating Iraq's WMD have been exhausted - including offering positive incentives - and the U.S. should lead this initiative! This POSITIVE INCENTIVE to get Saddam to comply HAS NOT and IS NOT currently in play. But until we make this overture and change the policy of ONLY lifting economic sanctions AFTER a regime change, WE WILL NOT HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVES TO FORCE!
We are a nation united by our Constitution and committed to the rule of law. That commitment is now challenged by an outlaw. We must bring this outlaw to justice - but not become outlaws ourselves.
And while our attention is focused on a military threat overseas, we are drowning at home economically.
I believe we can creatively insist on a peaceful resolution to eliminate Saddam's WMD without an invasion and the actual use of force. Our military might is unquestioned. Our wisdom, compassion, and commitment to a non-violent means of resolving conflict is not. But that, and that alone, will move us toward genuine peace, justice, and security for all.