Let's Finish the Job

By Lieberman, Joseph I. | The World and I, December 2002 | Go to article overview

Let's Finish the Job


Lieberman, Joseph I., The World and I


I rise today to voice my strong support for the convincing call to action against Iraq that President Bush issued [Sept. 12] at the United Nations, to discuss the unique dangers created by Saddam Hussein's regime, and to argue that it is imperative that the international community--led by the United States of America--mobilize now to eliminate those dangers.

On September 11, 2001, a foreboding new chapter in American history began. On that day our government was reawakened in this new century to its oldest and most solemn responsibility: protecting the lives and liberty of the American people. As we survey the landscape of threats to our security in the years ahead, the greatest are terrorists like al Qaeda and rogue regimes like Saddam Hussein's. Saddam hates America and Americans and is working furiously to accumulate deadly weapons of mass destruction, and the missiles, planes, and unmanned aerial vehicles to use in attacking distant targets.

Every day Saddam remains in power is a day of danger for the Iraqi people, for Iraq's neighbors, for the American people, and for the world. As long as Saddam remains in power, there will be no genuine security, and no lasting peace in the Middle East among the Arab nations, or between the Arabs, Israelis, and Christians who live there.

The threat Saddam poses has been articulated so often that some may have grown numbed to the reality of his brutality. But after September 11, we must reacquaint ourselves with it, because if we do not understand and act, his next victims, like Osama bin Laden's, could be innocent Americans. ...

RECALLING THE ESSENTIAL FACTS

The essential facts are known. We know of the weapons in Saddam's possession: chemical, biological, and nuclear in time. We know of his unequalled willingness to use them. We know his history. His invasions of his neighbors. His dreams of achieving hegemonic control over the Arab world. His record of anti-American rage. His willingness to terrorize, to slaughter, to suppress his own people and others. We need not stretch to imagine nightmare scenarios in which Saddam makes common cause with the terrorists who want to kill us Americans and destroy our way of life.

Indeed, on September 11, 2002, the state-owned newspaper in Iraq showed a picture of the World Trade Center's twin towers in flames with the headline, "God's Punishment." This man--Saddam Hussein--is a menace to the people and the peace of the world.

It was his brutal invasion of his peaceful neighbor, Kuwait, in August of 1990 that first and finally convinced America and the world that Saddam had become a tyrant, like so many before him in world history, who had to be stopped before he did terrible damage to his people, his region, and the wider world. I was privileged in January of 1991 to join with my colleague from Virginia, Senator John Warner, in sponsoring the Senate resolution that authorized the first President Bush to go to war against Saddam.

The American military fought bravely and brilliantly in that conflict and won an extraordinary victory in rolling back Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. But we did not achieve total victory. On April 9, 1991, I came to this Senate floor and voiced my disappointment that our forces in Desert Storm had not been authorized to remove Saddam from power, while his military was in disarray.

FINAL VICTORY OVER SADDAM

I said then that "the United States must pursue final victory over Saddam. We must use all reasonable diplomatic, economic, and military means to achieve his removal from power. Until that end is realized, the peace and stability of the region will not have been fully accomplished."

In 1997 and 1998, I joined with Senators Bob Kerrey, John McCain, and Trent Lott to introduce the Iraq Liberation Act, which established in law for the first time that it is U.S. policy to change the regime in Baghdad, not just to contain it, and authorized specific assistance, including military training and equipment, to the Iraqi opposition in furtherance of that goal. …

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