Open Thread - Picking at the AUMF Vote Again
The Iraq war *and* Bush's policy of preemption should be defining issues in the 2008 election. Steve pointed to former Senator Lincoln Chafee's oped in the NY Times that reminds us the vote authorizing Bush to wage war on Iraq was not such a black and white vote. In fact, Senators did have a chance to vote to protect the American people against a threat from Iraq without giving Bush a blank check. As Chafee said:
The Senate had the opportunity to support a more deliberate, multilateral approach, one that still would have empowered the United States to respond to any imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein. We must not sidestep the fact that a sensible alternative did exist, but it was rejected. Candidates — Democrat and Republican — should be called to account for their vote on the Levin amendment.
Al Gore wasn't in the Senate at the time of the vote. But he did come out strongly against voting for Bush's authorization because he saw that what Bush wanted to do was to force Congress to give him power that was well beyond what any democratic leader should have. Gore realized that the vote wasn't just about a threat from Iraq, but a vote that betrays the values on which our country was founded.
The problem with 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. But that is a relatively minor issue compared to the longer-term consequences that can be foreseen for this doctrine. To begin with, 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.
Chafee says Americans have the right to know why our candidates voted to give Bush and all future presidents this power. I most definitely agree.
Consider this an open thread.