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THE WORLD

A Clash of Words

October 04, 2002

Excerpts from the Senate's debate Thursday on President Bush's request for a broad resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq. The House is expected to begin debate on the resolution Tuesday. Both chambers are expected to approve the measure next week.

Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.)

"Saddam Hussein is a brutal, ruthless dictator who has repressed his own people, attacked his neighbors and remains an international outlaw. The world would be a much better place if he were gone.... That's why the United States should unite the world against Saddam Hussein and not allow him to unite forces against us. A go-it-alone approach, allowing a ground invasion of Iraq without the support of other countries, could give Saddam Hussein exactly that chance. A preemptive, go-it-alone strategy toward Iraq is wrong. Only a broad coalition of nations, united to disarm Saddam, while preserving our war on terror, is likely to succeed."

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Jon Kyl(R-Ariz.)

"There are people today who are hoping against hope that Saddam Hussein will never use these weapons --weapons that are far greater than anything Adolf Hitler ever had in terms of their potential for destruction and death. But the idea is that in a war on terror, you shouldn't have to wait until you're attacked to respond. That creates too many deaths, too much misery, and is unthinkable after Sept. 11....

"We can't wait until he's hit us to hit him ...."

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Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)

"The resolution before us today is not only a product of haste; it is also a product of presidential hubris.... It would give the president blanket authority to launch a unilateral, preemptive attack on a sovereign nation that is perceived to be a threat to the United States.... Think for a moment of the precedent that this resolution will set, not just for this president but for future presidents. Congress has a responsibility to exercise with extreme care the power to declare war. There is no weightier matter to be considered."

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Zell Miller (D-Ga.)

"A few weeks ago, we were doing some work on my back porch back home, tearing out a section of old stacked rocks, when all of a sudden I uncovered a nest of copperhead snakes.... When I discovered these copperheads, I didn't call my wife, Shirley, and ask her advice.... I didn't yell for help from my neighbors or take it to the City Council. I just took a hoe and knocked them in the head and killed them.... I guess you could call it a unilateral action.... I took their poisonous heads off because they were a threat to me. And they were a threat to my home and my family.... Isn't that what this is all about?"

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Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

" ... If we give [Bush] the go-it-alone, preemptive- strike authority, which I will not vote for, then I think those who are considering voting for that ought to ask these questions: How many U.S. troops would be involved? What are the projected casualties? Would the U.S. have to foot the entire cost of using force against Iraq? ... What will the costs be to rebuild Iraq? ... What will the impact be on our fight against terrorism?

" ... Iraq must be held to their word as expressed in U.N. resolutions that it will submit to thorough inspections and dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction. Period. That's what they agreed to and that is what must happen.

"These weapons are a threat to the world and the world must respond and if we handle this matter right the world will respond. But if our allies feel that we have not made the case; if they feel this is political or a grudge match or if they feel that they are being manipulated for domestic political reasons, that is going to hurt our nation and isolate us."

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Trent Lott (R-Miss.)

"No one--not the president, not any member of Congress --desires to see our men and women engaged in a fight in the Middle East. Our history shows that Americans don't seek war.... There is no greater force for good than the United States of America, but when our security and our people are threatened, we act swiftly and decisively.

"Let there be no mistake, the elimination of the Iraqi threat is essential if we are to win the war on terror. We know of Saddam Hussein's ongoing relationship with the dark forces of international terrorism.... For 11 years, Saddam Hussein has flaunted the will of the United Nations, he has amassed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. He has gassed his own people. He has shown blatant contempt for the rule of law and the United Nations.

"As we engage in this momentous debate, let us ensure that by its conclusion, we will have set in motion the beginning of the end of Saddam Hussein and all that he stands for."

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