ACTION REQUESTED: Call President Bush (202-456-1414) today and urge him to continue to work with other nations and the United Nations to address Iraq's threats. Call your Members of Congress (Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121) and ask them to convey the same message to the President.
THE ISSUE: President Bush sought a resolution from Congress to authorize the use of force against Iraq to enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions, defend national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region. On October 10, 2002, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to grant the President the power to go to war with Iraq. Seventy-seven of 100 Senators and 296 of 435 House members authorized the President to "use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq."
The efforts of many of you who responded to our action alert urging Congress to step back from the brink of war resulted in a higher than expected number of Members who voted against the resolution, among them over twenty Senators, several House Republicans, as well as a majority of House Democrats.
The resolution that Congress adopted does not grant the President the blanket authority to use force against Iraq as he initially had sought. It strongly encourages the President to exhaust all diplomatic measures before going to war with Iraq, including securing a new UN Security Council resolution to force Iraq to comply with previous Security Council resolutions. It does not grant authority to restore peace throughout the region as a whole. The resolution requires the President to report to Congress every 60 days if he does take military action.
Indications are that the Administration will use the week of October 28, 2002 to make one final effort to secure support from the Security Council of the United Nations. Therefore, it is very important to urge continued US diplomatic efforts to work with the United Nations for support.
USCCB POSITION: Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sent a letter to President Bush on September 13, stating that a "preemptive, unilateral use of force [to overthrow the government of Iraq] is difficult to justify at this time."
Bishop Gregory's letter to President Bush argues that:
- It is difficult to justify the use military force against Iraq;
- Unilateral action against Iraq without broad domestic and international consensus may lack legitimate authority;
- The probability of success of US military action against Iraq as well as the proportionality of such action are open to question; and that
- The impact of such military action on the already suffering Iraqi civilian population could have incalculable effects.
- Continued diplomatic efforts aimed at resuming rigorous meaningful inspections;
- Effective enforcement of the military embargo and other legitimate ways to contain and deter aggressive Iraqi actions;
- Maintenance of political sanctions and much more carefully-focused economic sanctions which do not threaten the lives of innocent Iraqis;
- Non-military support for Iraqis who offer democratic alternatives.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Ask the President to work with other nations and the United Nations to address Iraq's threats by pursuing effective alternatives to war, such as those outlined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Ask your Members of Congress to convey the same message to the President.
For further information contact:
Gerard Powers, USCCB, 202-541-3160 (Phone); 202-541-3339 (Fax); firstname.lastname@example.org (Email)
Kathy Brown, Catholic Relief Services, 1-800-235-2772 x 7232 (Phone);
Tina Rodousakis, Catholic Relief Services, 1-800-235-2772 x 7462 (Phone); email@example.com (Email)