WASHINGTON — For California's newly appointed U.S. senator, John Seymour, his maiden floor speech and his first vote Saturday may turn out to be the most momentous of his career: He supported the authorization for U.S. forces to go to war against Iraq.
Like most Republicans, Seymour said in his speech that he was supporting the President's request for authorization because he believes that it is the best way to achieve peace.
"It does not make war inevitable, nor even encourage it," he said. "Rather, (it) would send a unified congressional signal to Saddam Hussein."
Dressed in a blue suit and bright red tie, Seymour read his floor statement swiftly, and without much emotion, skipping over portions of the prepared text in order to fit it into the brief time made available to him.
Seymour said he had learned from listening to three days of debate that there was no disagreement among senators about the threat posed by Iraqi President Hussein.
"It seems to me, therefore," he said, "that the main questions before this body are how to stop a dictator from brutalizing innocent people anywhere he decides to send his army and, secondly, how to frustrate his desire to control a significant supply of the energy resources upon which so many Western economies depend."
Seymour said tyrants all over the globe would be encouraged to attack their neighbors if Iraq is permitted to consolidate its hold on Kuwait.
History has taught that economic embargoes alone cannot succeed in a situation similar to that faced by the United States in the Persian Gulf, he said. "Embargoes can postpone a tyrant's ability to realize his goals, but not his will to ultimately secure them."
Seymour said sanctions will not prevent Hussein from digging his army into Kuwait and waiting for the disintegration of the anti-Iraq alliance. Iraq's effort to link the current situation with the Palestinian issue also cannot be tolerated, he added.
"I support with every fiber of my being the peaceful alternatives for solving this crisis," he concluded. "I vow to do my utmost to protect American lives and protect America's peace."