7. Rep. Ron Paul
While there were dozens of Democrats who were publicly against the Bush Administration’s war plans, there were even fewer Republicans who agreed with them. This outspoken Libertarian from Texas was the most outspoken one.
In late February 2002, many months before Washington would vote on authorizing the invasion, Congressman Paul wrote this excellent piece for CounterPunch.org. Among his standout comments:
“All we hear about in the biased media is the need to eliminate Saddam Hussein, with little regard for how this, in itself, might totally destabilize the entire Middle East and Central Asia. It could, in fact, make the Iraq ‘problem’ much worse.”
“…it is rarely pointed out that the CIA has found no evidence whatsoever that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”
“Rarely do we hear that Iraq has never committed any aggression against the United States. No one in the media questions our aggression against Iraq for the past 12 years by continuous bombing and imposed sanctions responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children.
“Iraq’s defense of her homeland can hardly be characterized as aggression against those who rain bombs down on them. We had to go over 6,000 miles to pick this fight against a third-world nation with little ability to defend itself.”
“Could it be that only through war and removal of certain governments we can maintain control of the oil in this region? Could it be all about oil, and have nothing to do with US national security?”
“It seems that Tony Blair’s approval is more important than the approval of the American people!”
“Only tyrants can take a nation to war without the consent of the people. The planned war against Iraq without a Declaration of War is illegal. It is unwise because of many unforeseen consequences that are likely to result. It is immoral and unjust, because it has nothing to do with US security and because Iraq has not initiated aggression against us.
“We must understand that the American people become less secure when we risk a major conflict driven by commercial interests and not constitutionally authorized by Congress. Victory under these circumstances is always elusive, and unintended consequences are inevitable.”
Eleven years later, after a couple of failed runs for President, Paul retired from political office after 16 years in the House Of Representatives.
8. Al Gore
On September 23, 2002, the former Vice President delivered a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. Like his fellow Democrats, which included Russ Feingold & Ted Kennedy, he openly opposed the idea of America invading Saddam Hussein’s sovereign land, particularly without the support of the United Nations, among many other reservations:
“…I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.”
“The foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of what may lie before it. Such consideration is all the more important because of the Administration’s failure thus far to lay out an assessment of how it thinks the course of a war will run – even while it has given free run to persons both within and close to the administration to suggest that this will be an easy conquest. Neither has the Administration said much to clarify its idea of what is to follow regime change or of the degree of engagement it is prepared to accept for the United States in Iraq in the months and years after a regime change has taken place.”
“The problem with [the Bush doctrine of] preemption is that in the first instance it is not needed in order to give the United States the means to act in its own defense against terrorism in general or Iraq in particular…the doctrine is presented in open-ended terms, which means that if Iraq if the first point of application, it is not necessarily the last. In fact, the very logic of the concept suggests a string of military engagements against a succession of sovereign states: Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran, etc., wherever the combination exists of an interest in weapons of mass destruction together with an ongoing role as host to or participant in terrorist operations. It means also that if the Congress approves the Iraq resolution just proposed by the Administration it is simultaneously creating the precedent for preemptive action anywhere, anytime this or any future president so decides.”
“Far more damaging, however, is the Administration’s attack on fundamental constitutional rights. The idea that an American citizen can be imprisoned without recourse to judicial process or remedies, and that this can be done on the say-so of the President or those acting in his name, is beyond the pale.”
“If what America represents to the world is leadership in a commonwealth of equals, then our friends are legion; if what we represent to the world is empire, then it is our enemies who will be legion.”
“President Bush now asserts that we will take pre-emptive action even if we take the threat we perceive is not imminent. If other nations assert the same right then the rule of law will quickly be replaced by the reign of fear…An unspoken part of this new doctrine appears to be that we claim this right for ourselves – and only for ourselves. It is, in that sense, part of a broader strategy to replace ideas like deterrence and containment with what some in the administration [call] ‘dominance.'”
“What this doctrine does is to destroy the goal of a world in which states consider themselves subject to law, particularly in the matter of standards for the use of violence against each other. That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.”
Would Gore have felt this way if he had won the 2000 election instead of Bush? We’ll never know. Regardless, twelve years after making this important speech, he looks a hell of a lot wiser than everyone in Bush’s Administration.
9. Pope John Paul II
There are many reasons to criticize this now-deceased Polish Pope. Opposing the Iraq invasion is not one of them.
In his annual written address released to the public in January 2003, the then-leader of the Catholic Church wrote briefly but bluntly about his views about war in general & the Iraq conflict specifically:
“‘NO TO WAR’! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences. I say this as I think of those who still place their trust in nuclear weapons and of the all-too-numerous conflicts which continue to hold hostage our brothers and sisters in humanity…And what are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than twelve years of embargo? War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations. As the Charter of the United Nations Organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations.”
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 23, 2014