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Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Iraq War Resolution of 2002

I must respectfully disagree with Lincoln Chafee (The senate's forgotten Iraq choice, New York Times, March 1st, 2007; P: A21) that Senator Levin's bill would have been an appropriate substitute for the war resolution.

It is hard to remember the sequence of events back in 2002. Up until November 2002 (that is until the President had the support of Senate and House) the Iraqis refused to allow UN inspectors to undertake inspections for Weapons of Mass Destruction on Iraqi territory. By the end of November, inspections under the direction of Hans Blix were under way. The vote to grant the President war powers had achieved its purpose, the Iraq regime was being called to account for its actions. The bill proposed by Senator Levin would have been much weaker, hedged around with contingencies that would have tied the mailed fist firmly behind America's back and would have been unlikely to get any useful response from Saddam. The war resolution was a masterly example of realpolitik.

We have forgotten too that Hans Blix called on the US and Britain to give his inspectors the "hard intelligence" that they claimed to possess so that his inspectors could go to check out that information on the ground. The failure of the US and Britain to do so should have roused our suspicions that all was not well with the intelligence -- its invalidity has been amply demonstrated.

Where we went wrong -- the Senate, and the House, and the country, and all of us -- was the failure to recognize the importance of the inspector's reports in mid February 2003 that there was no evidence of immanent danger from Iraq -- no weapons of mass destruction had been found. That fact should have led to a re-evaluation of the war power resolution and its repeal based on the changed situation. We failed to do so and we are reaping the tragic consequences today.

Sent to the New York Times

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