Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
Web Edition (c) 2002, 2003 Charles Rehn All Rights Reserved




WAR in Iraq - The Resolution


Part I: September 11, 2001

One of the current implications is that our stance toward Iraq is related to the war on terrorism.  With the exception that our actions since September 11, 2001 will provoke additional terrorist attacks, I disagree.

What occurred on September 11, 2001 was a true American tragedy.  It was a tragedy because of the many lives that were lost, the families disrupted, and an American culture whose very security, the belief of our nation that we could live safely within our own borders, was shaken to its core.

Our nation rallied for and around the leadership of our President, George Bush, who announced a war on terrorism.  Many statements were made to suggest that we would not be victorious unless we captured and executed Osama bin Laden.  When Mullah Omar and the Taliban refused to cooperate with our intent to capture bin Laden, the Taliban itself became an enemy.  Immediately, it was declared that we would, in turn, liberate the Afghani people.

I have no arguement with those decisions in that context.

Part II. An Ironic Alliance

The United States has a sordid history of supporting foreign leaders and governments.   It's easy to understand how it happens, but it begins to be a little hard to comprehend why we keep making the same mistakes.

And, understand, I'm not trying to condemn our leaders. I'm speaking to the temptations to misuse power and/or to promote policies that are expedient in the short run, but unwise or actually harmful in the long run.

Nor am I trying to defend Iraq in any way. As with any tools, leadership or weapons, we can not absolutely control their actions or use of the tools.

Iraq is but another example of a situation where we have supported "an enemy of an enemy", only to now use the influence, technology and weapons we provided them as evidence against them.

Prior to 1992, billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars (covertly) went into building the capabilities of the Iraqi Army, including missile systems, chemical agents sold through third parties which had dual purpose, and the technology to produce biological agents.   The Department of Agriculture provided what they needed to make those crop-dusting planes the Bush Administration has been talking about as an agricultural grant.    These planes were modified for dispensing chemical weapons.

Shortly after their missile system was complete and able, they attacked Kuwait.

The question I'm asking you to consider is not whether we are to blame for Saddam Hussein's actions.  The question I am asking you to consider, when Creating the Future, is which policies and concepts, such as "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", are proven slippery slopes and which new or alternative means of global interactions would be more productive in the long run?

As we are now poised for war in Iraq once again, I believe these are relevant questions.  We are engaged in additional global activities very much like the one we now face in Iraq, for many of the same kinds of political, commercial and economic reasons.

Part III: The Iraqi Resolution

I would not have voted for it.

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But, I will qualify that remark.  In my mind, there would be theorhetical justification for voting in favor of it.

As the President, it is necessary to have the support of other government leaders, as well as the people, when confronting another nation with military force.  Otherwise, the threat of action against them would be considered a "paper tiger", meaning a bluff, a threat with no true intent to take action. Regardless of the legalities of Presidential prerogatives, support is necessary.  And, right or wrong, for whatever reasons, we do live in a "make me" world.

As a preface, I need to state once again that nothing new had happened nor was any imminent threat present when George Bush, for all intents and purposes, declared war with his "Axis of Evil" speech.  He generated the crisis environment by playing on the fears of the American people, as well as by creating international tensions far beyond what they were in the post 9/11 environment.

I am not saying there were no situations that needed to be addressed.

For me, the litmus test on whether I would have voted for such power to wage war would have begun with these questions:

Is there an imminent threat?


Do I trust the intentions and judgement of the person I am empowering?

Do I believe that they are committed to the principles this nation stands for?

Do I believe that they can see the far-reaching effects of their actions?

Do they understand that a victory on the battlefield can easily lead to social, economic and poltical disaster on a global scale?

Do I believe that they truly appreciate the value of the lives, on all sides, that they are proposing to destroy?

Do I honestly believe the actions they propose serve the interests of the citizens of this nation? And, the world?

Are there other more pressing issues?

Do I believe that they are committed to a world of peace by choice and agreement, and have actually exercised all other options?

There are many more questions that would be appropriate. But these would be at the heart of my decision.  There are 3 cliches that come to mind. Never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to kill them, and the only issues that qualify as problems are those that people choose not to resolve.

In my mind, military action does not resolve a problem. It may suppress it, but the problem will still exist. Finally, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I do, however, believe it is appropriate to use miltary power to defend people from overt or covert violations of human rights, where there is no willingness on the part of the offenders to cease their activities.

I do not believe that the use of overwhelming force is an appropriate application of our military when it threatens the citizens of a nation far more than the regime we are seeking to depose or oppose.

I do not believe we have the right to determine the government of another nation, although we do have a responsiblility as a global citizen, and as a global example, to be persistent in working with every nation to improve human rights and empower human development on every level. And, that that sort of work is both more sustainable and productive.

My statement that I would have voted against the Iraqi resolution is not intended to be demeaning to any individual's character, but, instead, is my assessment of their ability to be responsible with such powers.

See also, from 5/30/2003:
-The case for war is blown apart

-Rumsfeld concedes banned Iraqi weapons may not exist
-WMD just a convenient excuse for war, admits Wolfowitz

Missing Weapons Of Mass Destruction: Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense? By JOHN W. DEAN
(material below is from the above Article at Findlaw

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons." United Nations Address September 12, 2002

"Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons." "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have." Radio Address October 5, 2002

"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." "We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States."

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" - his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."  Cincinnati, Ohio Speech October 7, 2002

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." State of the Union Address January 28, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."  Address to the Nation March 17, 2003


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