Saddam Hussein is a “threat to civilization” who will be strengthened if those who believe he should be contained by the international community, rather than removed by force, get their way, Sen. John McCain said yesterday.
“Containment failed yesterday in Iraq. Containment fails today. And containment will fail tomorrow,” said the Arizona Republican in a speech yesterday. “We would be placing hope before experience to think otherwise, and we will have bequeathed to our children a much more dangerous world.”
Mr. McCain’s speech echoed his recent debates on the Senate floor with Democrats such as Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts who have decried a “rush to war” in Iraq. Mr. Kennedy has called for President Bush to come back to Congress for the authority to go to war.
Mr. McCain argued that Congress gave the president that authority in a vote in October. But six Democratic congressmen Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, Jim McDermott of Washington, Jose E. Serrano of New York, Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas and Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois filed a lawsuit yesterday in a Boston federal court to prevent Mr. Bush from going to war unless he comes back to Congress for approval.
“The Founding Fathers did not establish an imperial presidency with war-making power,” Mr. Conyers said. “The Constitution clearly reserves that for Congress.”
In a hastily arranged speech sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. McCain warned that failing to remove Saddam from power would “make the violent century just passed seem an era of remarkable tranquility in comparison.”
Though Mr. McCain said he hasn’t seen “proof” that there is a direct connection between Saddam and the al Qaeda terrorist network, he said they still pose a joint danger to the United States.
“Is there any doubt in anybody’s mind that if Saddam Hussein thought he could harm the United States that he wouldn’t give any terrorist organization some weapon of mass destruction?” Mr. McCain asked. “I don’t think he would discriminate.”
Mr. McCain singled out the Clinton administration for its “feckless” policy against Saddam. He also ridiculed former President Bill Clinton’s boast that a cruise-missile attack in response to a planned assassination attempt against the elder President George Bush dealt “a devastating blow to Iraq’s ability to plan and carry out terrorist operations in the future.”
“In fact, [Mr. Clinton] sent Saddam the message that in response to his attempts to kill an American president, the United States would kill a few janitors,” he said.
Mr. McCain compared the “resolve and unity” of American allies that won the Cold War with the way today’s European powers form “a coalition of the willing to find peace at any price for Baghdad.”
The French and Russians are putting their “commercial interests above international law, world peace and the political ideals of Western civilization,” the Arizonan said, adding that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder “looks little like the ally that anchored our presence in Europe throughout the Cold War.”
“A German Rip Van Winkle from the 1960s would not understand the lack of political courage and cooperation with its allies on the question of Iraq exhibited in Berlin today,” Mr. McCain said.
If war is necessary, the United States will not “be going it alone,” he said, but will wage war in Iraq with a coalition of allies with or without the blessing of the United Nations.
“The problem here is not whether we do damage to the United Nations if we have to take military action,” he said. “The question is, will the United Nations follow the League of Nations and risk irrelevancy.”