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MARCH 19, 2003
3:44 PM
CONTACT:  U.S. Rep. Office of Gregory W. Meeks
Mike McKay, 202-225-3461
Candace Sandy, 718-949-5600
Floor Remarks by Rep. Gregory W. Meeks on Iraq
WASHINGTON - March 19 - U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) a member of the International Relations Committee released today his written remarks from last night on the House Floor regarding Iraq:

"Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus for his leadership in bringing us to the House floor to speak to the American people tonight about the Bush administration's decision to choose war as the best way to make the American people safe. It is a choice which I believe is wrong.

"First and foremost, in opposing President Bush's decision, let me say unequivocally I support in every way the men and women of our armed services and the sacrifices they and their families are being asked to make. May God bless each and every one of them in this time of crisis and bring them home safely.

"Mr. Speaker, I believe in a strong America. We have more instruments of power than any nation on Earth. However, our greatest source of power is our moral clarity and purpose in how we use our strength. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has failed to understand this.

"As our President prepares to unilaterally and preemptively use military force against a nation which is not an imminent threat to us, we may be on the verge of threatening the very international laws and norms which are the foundation of global stability. Many of the consequences of such actions have already become known. America is more isolated than ever and anti-American sentiment is rising globally. However, it is the unknown consequences of this administration's choice for war which will likely be even more dangerous. My single greatest fear is that this war will jeopardize the help we receive from moderate Muslim nations in successfully bringing to justice those who directly attacked us on 9-11 and prevent attacks against Americans at home and abroad against known imminent terrorist threats.

"Contrary to the President's force dichotomy that our choice was either war or doing nothing, I believe we do have alternatives to this war. If Iraq was such a threat, we can continue to use robust inspections, sanctions, and a military containment box. There are others that I think are on the list that are much more of an imminent danger to us here in America, but it is clear to the world that this war is not really about Iraq's threats to America.

"The world believes that this war is about changing a regime we once supported and a test case for the Bush administration's doctrine of preemption, a doctrine that was not just created after 9-11, but a doctrine that was espoused back in 1991 by many of the same individuals in the Bush II administration during the Bush I administration. So it is not a new doctrine that we have to go by because of 9-11; it is a doctrine that was preached and talked about prior to 9-11 by many members of this administration.

"I believe it is a disservice for the strongest Nation in the world to adopt such a doctrine, because it represents a policy of fear and weakness. More importantly, it signals a dangerous devaluation of diplomacy as an instrument of statecraft to the entire world.

"Mr. Speaker, there is not a question in my mind that our military will defeat Iraq, but the real question for America and the world is what will come next and what damage to the region and international order will this cause? What will happen in the Arab and Muslim worlds when the U.S. military occupies Iraq in the name of stability? In the end, the question is: Will this make America safer? I believe not. I think we are making a mistake; but may God bless all of the men and women again that are there, that they may return home to their families safely."


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