President Already Has Authority Necessary to Attack Iraq, Analyst Says
WASHINGTON, OCT. 2, 2002-
It may be smart politics
for the Bush administration to lobby Congress and the United
Nations for strongly worded resolutions governing the use of force
against Iraq. But neither resolution is legally necessary. Indeed,
the president can take whatever action he deems necessary to remove
the threat Saddam Hussein poses.
That's the conclusion of a new paper from The Heritage Foundation,
which explains why a pre-emptive strike against the Iraqi regime is
"International law, including the United Nations Charter,
recognizes the right to self-defense, even of a 'pre-emptive'
nature," says Heritage security analyst Jack Spencer. "The idea
that we should sit around waiting for the Iraqis to attack with the
weapons of mass destruction they've been developing for years is
There's nothing wrong with building an international coalition
within the framework of the United Nations, Spencer says,
especially if the coalition will make a military campaign against
Iraq more effective. But, he notes, the U.S. government alone has
the authority to determine what constitutes a threat to Americans
and what should be done about it.
Congress, for its part, shouldn't try to prevent the
commander-in-chief from exercising his constitutional authority to
"provide for the common defense," Spencer says. If enough lawmakers
believe the president is acting unwisely by undertaking a
particular military action, they should exercise a constitutional
authority of their own: Refuse to fund the war.
"We're living in a post-Cold War world where deterrence alone just
doesn't do the job it used to do," Spencer says. "Still, our
president has all the authority he needs to address this new
threat, and he should use it."