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Voices of Debate on Iraq

Excerpts from the House debate on whether to grant President Bush authority to use force on Iraq:

Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Alamo): “With this resolution, Congress is making clear that our first priority is building an international coalition through the United Nations.... While I am firmly committed to using diplomacy first and our military only if we must, I cannot ignore Saddam Hussein’s track record of disdain for international law. With everything we know about his aggressive pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, it would be irresponsible not to at least make plans for what we may need to do in order to counter the threat he poses.”

Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (D-Petaluma): “I will vote against the president’s resolution because I do not believe we are making anyone safer if we alienate our allies, or set a precedent that it is acceptable to preemptively attack another country because we don’t like their leader, or because we think they’re dangerous. I will vote against the president’s resolution because we shouldn’t risk the lives of our sons and daughters and the lives of Iraqi civilians when we have no evidence that our country is in imminent danger. I will vote against the president’s resolution because we must not spend our scarce tax dollars on war.... “

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo): “Just as leaders and diplomats who appeased Hitler at Munich in 1938 stand humiliated before history, so will we if we appease Saddam Hussein today.... Imagine a future in which Iraq continues to build its arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Wielding such weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein not only assures his own survival but rises to preeminence in the Arab world.... “

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Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas): “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime poses a threat to the Iraqi people, to his neighbors in the Middle East, to the United States and to the world at large with his biological and chemical weapons and his nuclear program. In the face of this legitimate threat, I cannot unequivocally count out future military action. However, I strongly believe that the most effective way of combating this menace is by solidifying the support of the international community and acting within the auspices of the United Nations, not by acting unilaterally.”

Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas): “So far, the United Nations has proved unwilling to back its words with actions.... With every U.N. resolution Iraq ignores, it threatens international peace. Unless and until Iraq complies fully with the inspections -- a standard it has never met -- there remains ample justification for taking action to defend the security of our nation.”


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