Today Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), issued the following statement on the resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq:

“Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.  After talking with Middle East experts, listening to my constituents, and hearing testimony from both Bush and Clinton administration officials, this truth is clear to me.  It is so critically important to the future of our world that we must use force if necessary to accomplish that goal.

“Saddam Hussein is not simply an evil dictator.  He is an unpredictable, sociopathic murderer who wants to be the dominant leader of the entire Arab world.  After coming to power, he cemented his rule by accusing of treason and then killing all those who might challenge him.  He executed many of these people personally.  He continues to execute entire families if he even suspects opposition from even one family member.  He used chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of his own people in suppressing a challenge to his regime.  

“Hussein with nuclear weapons would subject the Iraqi people, the Middle East region, America, and the entire world to an unacceptable level of risk.  While it is unclear how far along he is in developing nuclear weapons, we know he has come close twice before and was thwarted first by Israel and then by America and the U.N. after the Gulf War.  We also know that Hussein is once again trying to develop nuclear weapons.   Although we cannot say for sure that Hussein would join forces with Al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations and help them use weapons of mass destruction against us, there is evidence of links between the two and we must be cognizant of this risk.        

“Some argue that Hussein, even with nuclear weapons, could be contained and is unlikely to use those weapons.  Unfortunately, Hussein has thus far proven a peaceful containment, consisting of sanctions and weapons inspections, to be untenable.    

“He invaded Kuwait even though he knew it would be unacceptable to the international community.  Even after the Gulf War, he had the audacity to challenge America by attempting to assassinate former President Bush.  He further challenged the international community by thwarting the U.N. inspections regime designed to prove Hussein had disarmed.  Saddam Hussein has obviously not been brought to heel and continues to push the envelope. Unfortunately, he has been getting away with it because both the U.N. and the U.S. have failed to act aggressively.

“Ideally, we could stop Hussein from obtaining weapons of mass destruction without war.  However, given Hussein’s history of violence, unpredictability, and animosity towards the United States, we simply must be prepared to use force if necessary.
“I write this even though I fear the consequences of war.  The cost in lives, both American and Iraqi, could be great.  I fear also the reaction of the Muslim world and the international community.  Greater hostility towards the United State will occur.  A post-Hussein Iraq could possibly descend into a bloody tribal war, presenting the region and the world with a new challenge.

“President Bush must do a much better job of making the case for military action, both at home and around the world, than he has thus far.  His rationale for war has bounced all over the map: Iraqi links to Al Qaeda; broken U.N. resolutions; the regional threat Hussein poses; possible threats to the United States; that Hussein ‘tried to kill my dad;’ and the threat of Hussein with weapons of mass destruction.  
“I am also troubled that the president has made it more difficult to garner international support by constantly sounding unnecessarily unilateral tones on issues ranging from Iraq to the Kyoto treaty.  His ‘wild west’ language, including his flippant remarks about the Middle East on the golf course, hasn’t allayed international fears that our President wants war with Iraq as a first option.

“He also brought unnecessary controversy into the debate by implying action against Iraq would be part of a new ‘pre-emptive strike’ doctrine.  Regardless of how one feels about a pre-emptive strike, that isn’t what we’re talking about here.  Hussein is in violation of the armistice that allowed him to remain in power after the Gulf War in exchange for disarmament and weapons inspections, and we have the right to enforce that armistice.

“Congressional and public pressure led the president to seek U.N. and international support for action against Hussein, a move I strongly supported.  While that process is currently underway, he is now asking for Congressional approval to use force if necessary in Iraq, which the House of Representatives will vote on this week.

“I will vote in favor of authorizing force against Iraq, because a violent madman like Saddam Hussein possessing nuclear weapons is unacceptable.  Ideally, I would prefer to vote on this resolution after the President has exhausted other options, particularly at the United Nations.  This could take two or three months.  I am disappointed that political leaders - on both sides of the aisle - are rushing through this resolution.  However, the vote is now, and for the reasons outlined, I believe that if force is necessary, force must be used.

“I sincerely hope the president works more effectively with our allies and makes his case more clearly.  It would be far better if the international community came together to disarm Iraq peacefully.  If that cannot be achieved, war - and the costly, complicated job of rebuilding Iraq - is more likely to succeed if the United States has broad international support. 

“As a Member of the House of Representatives, I promise the people I represent that this will not be my final word on the subject.  I will continue to work with the administration and fight for a broad international coalition, commitment to American values throughout the operation, and the best treatment of our military men and women who will be serving this country.”