The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Duncan) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. DUNCAN. Madam Speaker, I have always believed that national defense is one of the most and at times the most important and most legitimate function of our national government. I have strongly supported our military, although at times I have also supported some cost-saving measures in defense spending.
I voted for the Gulf War several years ago because Saddam Hussein had moved against another country, Kuwait, and was threatening others. He had what was considered to be the strongest military in the Middle East, although we now know that we vastly overestimated his strength. There were fears then that he might try to take over the entire region if he was not stopped.
A few months ago I voted for the $100 million U.S. contribution to try to remove him. From what I have read, Saddam Hussein appears to be a horrible megalomaniac, a terrible dictator who has killed people to stay in power, and I would agree with anything bad that one could say about him.
But I believe that Robert Novak, the nationally syndicated columnist and TV commentator, is right when he calls our action against Iraq `a phony, political war.'
Iraq's military strength was almost wiped out by the Gulf War eight years ago. Our sanctions since that time have ruined what was left of Iraq's economy. Our latest bombings have been against an extremely weak, almost defenseless nation, and in fact, against a military the size and strength of ours, Iraq is defenseless. We are doing this to a country that made no overt action against us, and in fact did not even threaten to.
There is no threat to our national security. There is no vital U.S. interest at stake or that is even threatened. Iraq is not even a paper tiger today.
Some of our leaders have tried their best to make Iraq sound threatening by repeatedly talking about weapons of mass destruction, yet in several years of inspections by U.N. inspectors, no weapons of mass destruction were found. Besides, many nations, including us and our leading allies, have weapons of mass destruction. We cannot go bomb every nation that has some weapon of mass destruction.
We have spent over $2 billion on the Iraqi deployment over the last few months and are still spending huge amounts; many, many millions each day. This is a surrealistic war. Most Americans do not even feel like we are at war. The news from Iraq is not even making the front pages.
All we are doing is wasting billions of dollars and making enemies all over the world. We are repeatedly involving ourselves in ethnic, religious and historical conflicts, some of which have been going on for centuries and which will go on long after we pull out, if we ever do. All we are doing is wasting billions of dollars and making enemies all over the world.
We have turned our military into international social workers. A few years ago the front page of the Washington Post carried a story that said we had our troops in Haiti picking up garbage and settling domestic disputes. Last year on this floor I heard another Member say we had our troops in Bosnia giving rabies shots to dogs. Most Americans believe the Haitians should pick up their own garbage and that the Bosnians should give their own rabies shots.
By the way, the President originally promised we would be out of Bosnia by the end of 1996. Yes, 1996. This is February of 1999, and we are still there.
Now we are preparing to send troops to Kosovo. We sent troops to Haiti, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and now Kosovo, and billions and billions of dollars taken from low and middle-income Americans to finance all of this. Anyone who even dares to oppose any foreign intervention that the elites dream up is sarcastically, or at least unkindly, referred to as an isolationist. The interventionists will not discuss these issues on the merits without name-calling.
But it is not isolationist to believe that we should try to be friends to all nations. We end up making more enemies than friends when we take sides in every international dispute that pops up.
We cannot serve as the world's policeman. We cannot force our will on everyone. If we try, sometimes we will choose the wrong side. Just a few years ago we considered Iraq to be an ally against Iran. Even today our leaders tell us that the Iraqi people are not our enemies, but we are fast turning them into enemies.
Scott Ritter, the U.N. Inspector, resigned in protest in December, saying that we had rigged the UNSCOM report in order to justify our bombing. In August, after the President's `apology' flopped, we bombed the Sudan and Afghanistan. We rushed into that bombing so fast that only one of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was informed. Paul Harvey and others have later reported that we had bombed a medicine factory, and we gained nothing from those bombings. We just, once again, wasted huge amounts of money and made more enemies.
Why are we doing all this? Is it to make our national leaders appear to be world statesmen? Is it to assure them a place in history? Is it to give the military justification for more funding? Is it a military desperately in search of a mission? We don't need all this bombing. Going to war should be the most reluctant decision we ever made. We should do so only as a very last resort, when all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.
Finally, Madam Speaker, while very few people seem to care about the Constitution anymore, it is unconstitutional to drop bombs on and go to war against another Nation without a declaration of war by Congress.
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