From The Boston Globe,
Level with us, Mr. President
By Edward Kennedy
SECRETARY POWELL has made a convincing case to the United Nations
Security Council that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous and deceptive
dictator, and is concealing weapons of mass destruction.
We live in a dangerous world and Saddam must be disarmed.
The question is, how to do it in a way that minimizes the risks
American people at home, to our armed forces, and to our allies.
Even after Secretary Powell's strong presentation, however, the
president must still answer key questions before resorting to war.
The questions are obvious.
It is far from clear that war is in our national interest now.
Won't war with Iraq divert the administration's attention from
immediate and graver dangers to our security from the Al Qaeda terrorist
network and the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula?
How much support will we have from the world community?
What will be the cost in American lives, especially if the war
hand-to-hand, door-to-door urban combat in Baghdad?
We will certainly win the war, but how do we win the peace if there
massive civilian casualties, if factional fighting fractures Iraq,
food, water, and medicine are in short supply and millions of Iraqis
displaced from their homes, or if a new wave of terrorism erupts
America as an occupying power, or because of the war itself?
What if the war ignites a conflagration that consumes other nations
the Middle East.
There is no more important decision by Congress or the president
the Constitution than the decision to send our men and women in
The Administration says we can fight a war in Iraq without undermining
our most pressing national security priority - the war against
But a war in Iraq may strengthen Al Qaeda terrorists, especially
Muslim world opposes us.
We have not broken Osama bin Laden's will to kill Americans.
Our nation has just gone on new and higher alert because of the
increased overall threat from Al Qaeda.
What if Al Qaeda decides to time its next attack for the day we
War with Iraq could swell the ranks of terrorists and trigger an
escalation in terrorist acts.
As General Wesley Clark told the Senate Armed Services Committee
Sept. 23 that a war would ''super-charge recruiting for Al Qaeda.''
These are real dangers that the administration has minimized or
over in its determination to attack Iraq.
The administration maintains that there are convincing links between
Qaeda and Iraq that justify war.
There are links.
But there are also links to other Middle Eastern countries.
Al Qaeda activists are present in more than 60 countries.
Even within the administration, there are skeptics about the links
CIA and FBI analysts are clearly questioning whether there is a
and compelling pattern of links, and are concerned that intelligence
being politicized to justify war.
The UN inspectors have found no evidence so far of a revived nuclear
weapons program in Iraq, but there is evidence in North Korea.
With inspectors gone and North Korea gone from the Non-Proliferation
Treaty, we face an urgent crisis, with nothing to prevent that nation
from quickly producing a significant amount of nuclear materials
nuclear weapons for its own use, or for terrorists hostile to America
and our allies.
Desperate and strapped for cash, North Korea can easily provide
weapons to terrorist groups.
The UN's inspectors fully understand the nature of the repressive
deceitful regime they are dealing with, but they need more time.
Why not give it to them?
We accomplished more disarmament in Iraq in seven years of inspections
than we did during the Gulf War.
We are on the verge of war with Iraq because of its weapons of
Recently, we learned that the administration is considering even
of nuclear weapons against Iraq - a reckless prospect that should
off alarm bells everywhere.
Using our nuclear arsenal in this unprecedented war would be the
fateful decision since the nuclear attack on Hiroshima.
It is far from clear that we will be safer by attacking Iraq.
In an Oct. 7, 2002 letter to the Senate Committee on Intelligence,
Director George Tenet said the probability of Saddam Hussein initiating
an attack on the United States was low.
But his letter said, ''should Saddam Hussein conclude that a US-led
attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much
constrained in adopting terrorist actions.''
The administration must be forthcoming about the potential human
of war with Iraq, especially if it pushes Saddam into unleashing
whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses.
The administration has released no casualty estimates, and they
Many military experts have predicted urban guerrilla warfare -
scenario which retired General Joseph Hoar, who had responsibility
Iraq before the Gulf War, says could look ''like the last 15 minutes
`Saving Private Ryan.444
Nor has the administration been candid about the humanitarian crisis
that could result from war.
Refugee organizations are desperately trying to prepare for a flood
as many as 900,000 refugees.
Billions of dollars and years of commitment may well be needed
achieve a peaceful postwar Iraq, but the American people still do
know how that process will unfold and who will pay for it.
No war can be successfully waged if it lacks the strong support
Before pulling the trigger on war, the administration must tell
American people the full story about Iraq.
So far, it has not.