This is Part 2 of a review of Michigan Senator Carl Levin’s statements on Iraq. Please see Part 1 for an introduction and analysis.
In this statement on President Bush’s FY 2004 budget, Senator Levin objects to the Bush administration’s proposal to cut taxes and pay for the Iraq War with debt spending, arguing that:
One symbol of those future generations are the men and women who now are putting their lives on the line for us in the war in Iraq. It seems to me unthinkable that when we welcome them home – hopefully with the parades and the welcome and the hugs they deserve – we would also tell them: by the way, the war you are fighting is going to be paid for by you and your kids, not by us; we are going to borrow money, but not to pay for this war; we are going to borrow this money to pay for a tax cut that mainly goes to the wealthiest among us.
In this statement, Senator Levin expresses support for a joint statement by President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that they will seek a new United Nations resolution endorsing “an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq.” Levin argues that involvement of the United Nations will “add significant credibility to and confidence in the interim Iraqi government and give the lie to those who propagandize that the removal of Saddam was motivated by a desire to dominate Iraq or control its resources.”
In this statement, Senator Levin highlights the various ways in which Michigan residents have “supported the troops” in Iraq. This support has included rallies, letter writing, care packages, and other such actions. Levin concludes by stating that “on behalf of all of the people of Michigan, I say thank you to all the men and women of our armed forces who are carrying out the dangerous mission of disarming Saddam Hussein and his regime.”
As the invasion of Iraq began, Senator Levin issued the following statement:
Now that hostilities in Iraq have begun, our thoughts and prayers are with the brave and dedicated men and women of our armed forces who are carrying out the mission of disarming Saddam Hussein. Their mission is a dangerous one, and our nation is grateful for their courage and their service.
In a floor statement, Senator Levin related a story from soldiers in Iraq who asked about what was going on in the United States with antiwar demonstrations:
I told them that those demonstrating back home were carrying out and exercising a right, which is something we all cherish. As a matter of fact, they were exercising the very freedoms that our Armed Forces have protected throughout our history. I told them we had a vigorous debate in the Senate last fall about the wisdom of initiating an attack against Saddam Hussein if we were unable to persuade the world community, acting through the United Nations, to authorize and support such an attack. I told them that, in the end, a majority of both Houses of the Congress voted to authorize the President to use military force with or without that explicit authority of the United Nations.
I told them that our democracy functions through debate and decision, and that the decision to give the President this authority was democratically arrived at. Finally and most importantly, I told these Marines I was confident that, after the debate in Congress about the wisdom of instituting an attack without the support of the world community through the United Nations, if hostilities should start, those who have such different views will come together and will rally behind them and give them the full support hey deserve.
Levin said that this was now coming true and that people were coming together to “support the men and women who are now in harm’s way” and that the “democratic debate has occurred.”
In this statement, Senator Levin said in reaction to Bush’s speech that “those of us who have questioned the Administration’s approach, including this senator, will now be rallying behind the men and women of our armed forces to give them the full support they deserve, as it seems certain we will soon be at war” and that “The decision to give the President wide authority was democratically arrived at.” He further stated that it is important to support the troops “as they carry out their missions.”
In this floor speech, Senator Levin argued against President Bush’s decision not to go before the United Nations to get approval for the invasion of Iraq. Levin criticized Bush’s decision because a united Security Council might be able to pressure Saddam Hussein without military action, that not going to the UN will jeopardize relationships in the Middle East, that the attack will fuel anti-American sentiment, and that it will make it lessen international participation in Iraq’s reconstruction. Levin also asserted that the United Nation’s rejection of the Bush administration’s policy was a result of divisive rhetoric stating that countries were “with us or against us” or that inspectors were “so-called,” while the spinning of facts by the White House–citing minor issues that were overcome in the inspections process as proof of Iraq’s duplicity–further limited UN support. Senator Levin concluded that while “we will prevail militarily in Iraq on our own” but that “it will be more difficult to win the larger war on terrorism without the world community in our corner.”
In this statement, Senator Levin expressed support for increased intelligence sharing among UN countries for the purpose of supporting weapons inspections in Iraq, but criticized the actions of the United States:
The Administration has never embraced the U.N. inspections. It prejudged their outcome, referring to them publicly early on as “useless” and recently to me personally as “doomed to failure.” In the absence of an imminent threat, it is very much in our interest to have a U.N. resolution authorizing Member States to take military action before initiating a pre-emptive attack against Iraq. The best chance for obtaining such a resolution and keeping the world organization united is if the inspection process is being given a fair chance.
In this statement, Senator Levin argued that the best way to disarm Saddam Hussein is through actions supported by the United Nations. Levin argued that Osama Bin Laden would like to see the United States and Britain attack Iraq without UN support and that the only opportunity to get Saddam Hussein to disarm without war is through coordinated UN actions. Levin also criticized the claims of those in the Bush administration that discredit weapons inspections before they are done and criticized the Bush administration for failing to share intelligence with the United Nations.
In this statement to the press, Senator Levin expressed support for Collin Powell’s going to the United Nations and explained that it is a critical step in building international support for the invasion of Iraq. Levin argued that the presentation was convincing:
Secretary Powell presented a compelling case against Saddam Hussein. I didn’t need convincing, as I have long believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical and biological weapons, since they have not accounted for the materials that UNSCOM determined they had. The question now is how convincing it was to the UN Security Council.
Secretary Powell’s presentation included satellite imagery that suggests Iraq’s deception. Human intelligence serves to buttress the imagery. But without access to the source and an opportunity to verify his or her credibility, this intelligence may not be sufficiently convincing to skeptics. The use of communication intercepts further buttress the case of Iraq’s deception. In the words of Secretary Powell, there is no smoking gun, but there is a lot of smoke. I leave it to others, who were not already convinced that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, to draw their own conclusions.
Levin asserted that he believes “intrusive and effective” UN inspections are the best way to disarm Iraq without war. He expressed disappointment at Bush administration officials who have described the UN process as a “waste of time.” Levin also announced support for a military attack on Iraq to disrupt chemical weapons operations being done in Iraq by al-Qaeda:
Secretary Powell disclosed this morning that al Qaeda has been producing and exporting poisons and toxins from a laboratory in northeastern Iraq that is beyond the control of Saddam Hussein. I favor prompt and forceful U.S. military action to deal with that problem as we have done in attacking al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and Yemen. Such action should not be hindered or delayed by the process involved in how to proceed against Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
In this letter, Senator Levin and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), urge Secretary of State Collin Powell to introduce a resolution rejecting Iraqi conditions on U-2 flights at his appearance at the United Nations.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that “the President is correct that Saddam Hussein has not met the burden of disclosing and destroying his weapons of mass destruction” but also asserts that the Bush administration must provide the United Nations with intelligence that can help the inspections process in addition making sure that military action will make the United States more secure.
In this statement, Senator Levin expressed support for continued weapons inspections by the United Nations and called for the Bush administration to share intelligence with the United Nations. Levin urged the administration to “support the UN inspection process as long as the inspectors are making progress before deciding to take another course of action, including the use of military force.”
In this letter, Senator Levin urged President Bush to share intelligence with the United Nations, release information publicly about how the United States has shared information, and to support the inspections before advocating a military attack.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that Iraq continues to “flout international community” and is not assisting weapons inspectors. He argues that Osama Bin Laden would like to see Iraq attacked unilaterally by the United States and that not only would coordinated action by the United Nations be a blow to this desire, but it might also have the potential to disarm Saddam Hussein without war. Levin also expressed disdain for the way in which the White House has dismissed and rejected the inspections as destined to fail. Similarly, Levin expressed frustration that the Bush administration has not shared intelligence with the United Nations.
In this statement, Senator Levin argued that an update from weapons inspectors to be shared with the United Nations on January 27, 2003 should be viewed as an “update”–not a final conclusion by the Bush administration and the press. Levin argued that while the United States has just begun sharing its intelligence information with the United Nations, there is a history of Iraqi activity that justifies the inspections including the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on August 1, 1990, the passage of a United Nations resolution on November 29, 1990 authorizing member states “to use all necessary means” to liberate Kuwait, a United Nations resolution passed in April 1991 that established conditions for a cease-fire including the destruction of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and the failure of Iraq to comply with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). United Nations resolution 1441, which initiated the current round of inspections in Iraq, is proceeding on pace according to Senator Levin but will “take months, not weeks” as part of a timetable that was understood by the UN Security Council when the measure was passed.
This is a major floor statement by Senator Levin articulating why he voted against the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Because of its importance, it has been reprinted in full:
I would like to briefly explain why I voted against final passage of the Lieberman amendment. I have already explained much of my reasoning at different times during the debate on earlier amendments.
Section 4 of the Lieberman amendment authorizes the President to use the Armed Forces of the United States (1) “against the continuing threat posed by Iraq;” and (2) to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.”
This grant of authority under (1) above, with its threshold of “continuing threat,” is virtually the issuance of a blank check to the President to use U.S. military force, since the Findings section of the amendment already contains the statement that “Iraq poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States.”
The only limitation on the President’s authority is found in section 4 of the amendment which requires that the President submit his determination to the Congress, within 48 hours after he exercises such authority, that further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone will not protect our national security or is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant Security Council Resolutions and that exercising such authority is consistent with the continuation of the United States and other countries actions against international terrorism.
This grant of authority is also unacceptable since it empowers the President to initiate the use of U.S. military force although the threat against which it is used is not imminent. International law has required that there be an imminent threat before one initiates an attack under the rubric of self defense. The resolution’s language regrettably, therefore, serves to implement the President’s desire, as expressed in his September 2002 National Security Strategy, to “adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries.” This unfortunate precedent, if followed by, for example, nation A as a justification to use aggressive military force in the name of self-defense against nation B that nation A perceives poses a continuing threat to it, although the threat is not imminent, could lead to an increase in violence and aggression throughout the world. And it could have extraordinary consequences for the world if one or both of such nations possess nuclear weapons, such as India and Pakistan.
The grant of authority under (2) above, to enforce all relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq is also unacceptable. For instance, Iraq is presently in default on its obligations under relevant Security Council Resolutions that require it to return Kuwaiti archives and property. It is exceedingly unwise to provide such a broad grant of authority when the real threat that Iraq poses is because of its refusal to destroy its weapons of mass destruction and prohibited delivery systems.
The Lieberman amendment also sends the wrong message to the United Nations. It contradicts the thrust of the President’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 12th when he said “We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions” and “We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful.” That is so because, at the same time that Secretary of State Powell is trying to negotiate with the U.N. Security Council for the very resolution that the President said he wants, the Congress would be vesting extraordinary authority in the President of the United States to “go it alone,” to use U.S. military force whether or not the Security Council authorizes Member States to use military force to enforce its resolutions. By telling the Security Council, if you don’t act, we will, we are letting them off the hook. We should, instead, as we did at the time of the Gulf War, be putting all of our focus on having the Security Council adopt the requisite resolution and committing forces to implement it. We should be working to unite the world community, not divide it.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, the Lieberman amendment compounds all of these problems by authorizing the use of U.S. military force at this time unilaterally, i.e. without U.N. Security Council authorization. The unilateral, go-it-alone use of U.S. military force carries with it risks that could be avoided or, at least, reduced by acting multilaterally, i.e. with the strength and world wide political acceptance that flows from U.N. authorization. If we act unilaterally, will we be able to secure the use of airbases, supply bases, and overflight rights that we need; will there be a reduction in the international support we are receiving for the war on terrorism; will it destabilize an already volatile region and undermine governments such as Jordan and Pakistan; will Saddam Hussein and his generals be more likely to use weapons of mass destruction against our forces and other nations in the region; will we be undercutting efforts to get other nations to help us with the expensive, lengthy task of stabilizing a post-Saddam Iraq? These are serious short- and long-term risks that will be exacerbated if we act unilaterally rather than multilaterally.
Accordingly and for all of these reasons, I cast my vote against final passage of the Lieberman amendment.
In this statement made in reaction to remarks by President Bush, Senator Levin argues that while there is “consensus” on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, there has yet to be a serious debate over whether or not the United States should invade unilaterally. Levin says that this is “the question which Congress is faced with,” yet the President did not “discuss this issue” despite seeking the authority to attack unilaterally in the resolution before the Senate.
In this floor statement, Senator Levin spoke in favor of an alternative resolution on Iraq in light of two major problems Levin identifies with the resolution proposed by President Bush–that the White House resolution authorizes the unilateral use of force and that it authorizes force beyond dealing with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. While Levin asserts in the statement that Saddam Hussein has “defied the will of the entire world as expressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions by refusing to destroy his weapons of mass destruction and prohibited ballistic missiles,” Levin argues for the importance of a multilateral solution to the situation. According to Levin, his resolution–The Multilateral Use of Force Authorization Act of 2002–” provides for the use of force pursuant to a subsequent UN Security Council resolution that authorizes UN member states to use force. It withholds judgment at this time on the question of whether the United States should go it alone, unilaterally against Iraq.” It would urge the United Nations to adopt a resolution allowing unconditional access for weapons inspectors and authorizing force if Iraq fails to comply, authorizes the United States military to be used if the UN authorizes force, affirms that under international law the United States has authority to use military force in self-defense, will prevent the adjournment of Congress if such a resolution is not passed, and requires President Bush to report to congress every 60 days on the progress towards adopting the resolution or in Iraq’s compliance with the resolution. Levin argues that it is key for the security of the United States and the region to have multilateral support for military action against Iraq. Levin also asserts that Saddam Hussein might disarm voluntarily in the face of international pressure.
In this statement, Senator Levin announces his opposition to the language in President Bush’s draft resolution authorizing force:
A number of Democrats and Republicans, myself included, think some of the language in the President’s draft Iraq resolution is too broad. I believe the resolution should support the President’s goal of having the United Nations give Saddam Hussein a clear ultimatum to open up to unfettered inspections and to disarm or face the use of force by member states. It should also authorize the use of force by the United States to support UN efforts to enforce disarmament.
In this statement, Senator Levin makes many important assertions that provide an important indicator of his stance on Iraq before the invasion. Several excerpts are reprinted below:
We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.
Last week in his speech to the United Nations, President Bush rightfully declared that the Iraqi threat is “exactly the kind of aggressive threat that the United Nations was born to confront.” The President reminded the world that Iraqi aggression was stopped after the invasion of Kuwait “by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.” And the President called upon the United Nations to act again, stating:
“My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq’s regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions.”
We in Congress applauded President Bush’s efforts to galvanize the world community through the United Nations to deal with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and our actions now in Congress should be devoted to presenting a broad bipartisan consensus in that critical effort. This does not mean giving a veto to the UN over U.S. foreign policy. No one is going to do that. It is an acknowledgment that Saddam is a world problem and should be addressed in the world arena, and that we are in a stronger position to disarm Iraq, and even possibly avoid war, if Saddam sees the world at the other end of the barrel, not just the United States.
Some have suggested that we also commit ourselves to unilateral action in Iraq, and that we do so now, in the middle of our efforts to enlist the world community to back a UN resolution or resolutions enforcing Iraqi compliance with unconditional inspections and disarmament requirements. They say that although we told the UN that their role is vital just a week ago, we should now say that we are just fine in proceeding on our own. I believe if we really mean it when we say that we want the UN to be relevant, then we should not act in a manner that treats them as irrelevant.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990, the United Nations – at the urging of former President Bush and with the full support of Congress – condemned Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, demanded that Iraq withdraw its forces, and in November of 1990 passed a resolution authorizing member states to use all necessary means to free Kuwait. Two months later, in January 1991, after debate and a close vote Congress passed a resolution authorizing the participation of U.S. armed forces in that effort. The military campaign against Saddam Hussein in 1991 by the U.S.-led Coalition was carried out with the active participation of most of our NATO allies, the ground forces of several Muslim nations, and the support and backing of virtually every nation in the world.
UN resolutions paved the way for the establishment and enforcement of the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, and for the air and missile attacks on Iraqi facilities related to its weapons of mass destruction programs in December of 1998 following Iraq’s expulsion of the UN weapons inspectors.
The experience of the last decade teaches us that in dealing with Iraq, the United States has been able to work with the world community through the United Nations. A “go it alone” approach where we attack Iraq without the support and participation of the world community would be very different – it would entail grave risks and could have serious consequences for U.S. interests in the Middle East and around the world.
If we go it alone, would we be able to secure the use of airbases, ports and supply bases and overflight rights in the region important to the success of a military operation against Saddam Hussein?
If we go it alone, would we continue to enjoy broad international support for the war on terrorism, including the law enforcement, financial, and intelligence cooperation that has proven to be so essential?
If we go it alone, what would be the impact on the stability of moderate Arab nations, and what would be our future relationship with moderate Arab and Muslim nations?
If we go it alone without UN authority in attacking Saddam Hussein, wouldn’t he or his military commanders be more likely to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations in the region and against U.S. military forces in response than would be the case if he faced a UN-authorized coalition, particularly if that coalition included a number of Muslim nations as the Coalition did during the Gulf War?
If we go it alone, would other nations use our action as a precedent for threatening unilateral military action against their neighbors in the future? Members of this Committee are ever mindful of the fact that confronting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein could ultimately lead to committing U.S. military forces, including ground forces, to combat. How, and under what circumstances, we commit our armed forces to an attack on Iraq could have far-reaching consequences for our interests throughout the world and for the future peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
In this statement, Senator Levin reacts to President Bush’s speech to the United Nations:
I support the President’s strong and clear message that action by the United Nations is the best way to address the threats posed by Saddam Hussein. It is important that America be unified in that message to the U.N., and to digress to a discussion of whether the U.S. should go it alone if the U.N. doesn’t authorize the use of force would detract from that united appeal to the U.N. to carry out its duties.
In this statement, Senator Levin makes comments on Iraq policy after meeting with President Bush:
I welcome the apparent shift in position by the President, at least from the Vice President’s position, to an acknowledgment that Iraq is not solely a U.S. problem but a world problem that the international community needs to be involved in addressing.
I also welcome the President’s statements today that in the process of deciding how to proceed, he welcomes discussion and debate and he will seek congressional approval and U.N. support for whatever course of action he proposes.
I am also encouraged by the President’s suggestion that he would support the resumption of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq.