Udall restates opposition to war, offers short-term alternative | SummitDaily.com

Udall restates opposition to war, offers short-term alternative

George Sherman, chairman, Summit County Democrats

At least one Colorado representative in the U.S. Congress has not been swept up in the war fever emanating from Washington D.C. On the floor of the House of Representatives Feb. 27, our congressman, Mark Udall, eloquently restated his opposition to precipitous military action in Iraq. His sober, well-reasoned and largely nonpartisan statement has not received the public notice it deserves.

Mixing criticism of his fellow Democrats for giving away Congressional war-making powers last fall with praise for the Bush administration in seeking United Nations support for disarming Saddam Hussein, Udall nevertheless indicts the president for subsequent actions and rhetoric that have “only fueled the perception that America is eager for invasion, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.”

He said, “I fear that this administration’s single-minded focus on Iraq not only risks damaging our relations with long-time allies, it also threatens to distract us from other, arguably more pressing fronts in our war on terrorism. I am also disturbed by the potential this crisis has for dividing America and Europe. NATO and the Atlantic Alliance have played an essential role in promoting international law and stability. Divisions that weaken this alliance will only make the war on terrorism more difficult and pose dangerous consequences for global peace.”

The congressman makes clear that the goals of liberating the Iraqi people from tyranny and preventing Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass destruction are not in question. The method for achieving them, however, is. 

“Are we certain,” he asked, “that we have reached the point where war is the only means of achieving these goals?”

Udall’s alternative – for the short run – “coercive inspections,” using our massive military buildup to back up more intrusive U.N. inspections in Iraq and stricter enforcement of sanctions by neighboring countries, thereby “tightening the international noose on Saddam.”

Udall acknowledges that this coercion may not be enough to disarm Saddam, but he nevertheless maintains it may be the best step now available – and smarter and less risky “than opting now for war, with all its known and unknown consequences.”

Udall’s conclusion: “It is important to remember that America is strong not only because of our military superiority, but also because of our economic and political leadership, our values of democracy and our moral strength in the world. Our power is unmatched, but the challenge we face now is whether we use it in ways that divide us from those we would lead or in ways that will advance the greater goal of peace and security – including security against terrorism – for all.”

The entire speech can be found on the Internet at mailto:markudall@qwest.net.

Mark Udall does not purport to provide panaceas for resolving the deepening crisis over Iraq. The speech does seem to me, however, to be a discourse in realism about dealing with the world at large. In my view, this is not a partisan issue; it is one of basic national security. I hope your readers will ponder well what is at risk before joining the rash rush to war in Iraq.

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