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Why I opposed the Iraq Resolution

October 11, 2002 -- On Thursday, October 11, 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 296 to 113 to pass H.J. Res. 114, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. I voted NO.

We have provided a link to the Resolution. You can read it yourself and reach your own conclusions, but these are my reasons for voting NO:

To start, we must recognize that the United States is the only global superpower and the most consistent defender of human freedom and human rights. As such, we have a moral obligation to use our power wisely and sparingly. Whenever possible we should defend our interests and uphold our principles in alliance with other democracies. Whenever possible, we should act in concert with the United Nations, an institution with great promise and real problems.

Congressman Capuano meets with constituents from East Boston to discuss Iraq

The language of the Resolution pays homage to the United Nations Security Council, but allows the President to completely disregard it. Although I would never surrender America's right to defend itself to the UN or any other body, we should give the UN a chance to succeed or fail before we threaten to go it alone. I do not believe that we have allowed enough time to determine whether the UN can resolve this conflict. The President called upon the Security Council to insist that Iraq comply with its repeated demands for international inspection and destruction of stockpiled weaponry. There has been some progress towards this goal. Of course, I am aware that Saddam Hussein has obstructed inspections in the past and I know he may do so again. A time may come when I am convinced that the US must take action against Iraq, with or without UN support, but that time has not yet come.

The language of the Resolution is dangerously broad. It would authorize the President to take any action he sees fit so long as he, and he alone, determines that his action addresses the "threat posed by Iraq". The resolution grants the President sole and unfettered authority to decide what situations are appropriate for unilateral US military force.

Congressman Capuano meets with constituents from East Boston to discuss Iraq

Lastly, the Resolution requires that, should the President use force, he must "report" to Congress. After-the-fact notification is not enough at this moment on this issue. Moreover, all this report must contain is the President's "determination" that "diplomatic or other peaceful means alone...is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." There are no standards by which such a determination should be made - just as long as the President alone drew the required conclusions. No proof or reasoning is required, nor any report of efforts to work with allied nations.

In short, I believe this Resolution grants too much authority to the President and does so at a moment in history that does not require it.

Click here to read Congressman Capuano's statement on the House floor during debate of H.J. Res. 114