October 2, 2002

October 2, 2002 | News Releases on Middle East

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 justifiable.

"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 ludicrous."

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."

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