CONTACT: Leslee Gilbert 507-429-0886
Saddam Hussein, armed with weapons of mass destruction, is a threat to international peace and security. On this point, folks in Southern Minnesota agree. Less clear to many of the Minnesotans I have spoken with is how best to deal with the threat posed by Saddam, and the implications of using military force against Iraq at this time.
My own view -- based on 14 years of experience working for both Democratic and Republican Presidents to strengthen our national security, in the White House and the State Department -- is that we should do everything possible to disarm Iraq through international inspections and monitoring. We should pursue military action in Iraq only as a last resort. And we should work to achieve the broadest possible support from our Allies and the United Nations Security Council, so that we share the risks and the costs of any military action.
Today, the House of Representatives approved a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. The focus of the House Resolution is much broader than authorizing the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein. And it gives the President the authority to use military force unilaterally, without further action by Congress, and without the support of our Allies and the Security Council.
As a Member of Congress representing the people of Southern Minnesota, I would have worked overtime to improve the House Resolution. I would have argued forcefully that the focus of this Resolution should be on: getting weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of Saddam Hussein; acting with Allies and the Security Council; and making sure that Congress is not a rubber stamp on this issue.
Despite my reservations, I am also convinced that voting down this imperfect Resolution would undercut the President and Secretary of State Powell as they work to secure a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein. Since I believe that this is now the best, and perhaps last, chance to avoid a war in Iraq, I would have voted for the House Resolution.
At the same time, I will pledge to the people of Southern Minnesota that I would work tirelessly as their Representative to make sure that Congress is not just a rubber stamp on Iraq next year. I will continue to press for disarming Saddam Hussein through inspections; for support from our Allies and the Security Council; and for military action as a last resort.
If the President commits men and women of the U.S. armed forces to combat in Iraq, they will have my full support. Moreover, as a Member of Congress, I would apply my experience in national security to the difficult issues that would arise during and after a military conflict, including regional stability and post-war reconstruction.
I will also work hard to make sure we bring justice to those who planned, supported, and executed the September 11th attacks, and to take necessary steps to combat terrorism and protect Americans from future attacks. Finishing this job is our most important task, and it must not be undercut by our actions in Iraq.
Providing for the security of Minnesotans and the nation will always be my first priority. National security will be a heavy part of your Congressman's responsibilities in the months and years ahead. This District deserves an experienced voice on these issues in the United States House of Representatives.
Finally, Southern Minnesotans also understand that our nation's security cannot be measured solely by our military might or progress on a foreign battlefield. We also need to take urgent action to restore and strengthen our economy, provide for the security of our society, our seniors and our children, and protect our environment. Our nation must be strong at home if we are to be strong overseas. I will work equally hard on these issues.
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