The Congressional Black Caucus

The Congressional Black Caucus


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



At the heart of the Administration’s failure, I am convinced, is the absence

of clear and convincing evidence that Iraq poses an imminent threat —

 either to the United States or to other nations of the world.



The Congressional Black Caucus

 Statement on War with Iraq



18 March 2003

Rep. Cummings Issues Statement on Possible Military Action in Iraq

Washington, D.C. – Tonight, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, addressed the current crisis in Iraq. He issued the following statement:

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Mr. Speaker — I would like to insert into the record the Congressional Black Caucus’ principles on U.S. military action in Iraq. They are as follows:

1. We oppose a unilateral first-strike action by the United States without a clearly demonstrated and imminent threat of attack on the United States.

2. Only Congress has the authority to declare war.

3. Every diplomatic option must be exhausted.

4. A unilateral first-strike would undermine the moral authority of the United States, result in substantial loss of life, destabilize the Mid East region and undermine the ability of our nation to address unmet domestic priorities.

5. Further, any post-strike plan for maintaining stability in the region would be costly and would require a long-term commitment.

Mr. Speaker — I rise at a moment when America stands at the brink of war.

Our actions in Iraq will define our moral standing in the world — for this generation and for generations yet unborn

I have given my oath to do everything within my power to support our men and women in uniform.

We have a great American tradition that when we engage in combat we support our troops.

I will fulfill that solemn obligation.

However, I also have pledged my commitment to ensure that their sacrifice is warranted and just.

That obligation does not allow me to remain silent tonight.

Mr. Speaker, the President has declared that he will allow no more time

for a negotiated disarmament of Iraq.

We all know the terrible consequences of that decision.

The stakes are enormous.

Many human beings will be harmed and others will be killed.

And, the course of American foreign policy could be seriously changed.

So, before a single shot has been fired, I must again raise what I consider to be the fundamental question about this ‘preemptive war.’

By what authority — by what right does this nation justify the taking of life in Iraq?

Mr. Speaker — the American people have created the strongest military force in history.

We, in this Congress, will continue to support our troops — we will continue to assure that they are the best trained and equipped in the world.

Yet, as a people, Americans have never subscribed to the proposition that our might makes us right.

America has never led by military power alone — but by our devotion to principle, and the legitimacy of our mission.

And, now, that principled foundation of our national security has been placed in jeopardy and the legitimacy of our mission and therefore the credibility of our nation is challenged by a significant part of the global community and our own citizens.

The Administration has failed to achieve the U.N. approval and broad-based international support that are critical to achieving our objectives and protecting our men and women in uniform in the Middle East.

We have an obligation to ask why the Administration has failed to make its case.

If the President’s rationale for war were self-evident, a broad-based, multi-national “coalition of the willing” would indeed have materialized.

At the heart of the Administration’s failure, I am convinced, is the absence of clear and convincing evidence that Iraq poses an imminent threat — either to the United States or to other nations of the world.

Moreover, the Administration has yet to adequately explain the consequences of going to war to the American people.

Have we received clear and convincing evidence that the President’s decision:

-will not destabilize the Middle East,

-will not make our defense against terrorism more difficult, and

-will not undermine our ability to meet the compelling domestic needs of Americans

    here at   home?

Where is the Administration’s comprehensive plan for the political and economic stability of Iraq once hostilities have ended?

Where is the President’s evaluation of the cost of military conflict and reconstruction?

Where is the President’s analysis of the impact upon our economy?

Will both affluent and working class Americans share fairly in that sacrifice?

“The answers to these questions raise the classic conflict between whether we pursue questionable international missions or spend the resources for urgent domestic priorities.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we have not yet received the Administration’s answers to any of these critical questions.

Fundamentally, however, the issue of war remains one of morality.

Following President Bush’s ultimatum last night, the Vatican offered this response:

Whoever decides that all peaceful means that international law has put at our disposition have been exhausted assumes serious responsibility before God, his conscience and history.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the heavy weight of this responsibility is shared by the President and every member of this House and that realization should give us pause, that we have pursued the right course and that we are doing the right thing by this military action.

So, tonight, as I speak, tens of thousands of religious congregations throughout the world – women and men of every faith tradition – are praying that peace will prevail, for the good of our country and the enlightened progress of humanity.

May God protect our men and women in uniform – and all of the innocents who now stand in harm’s way, and bring them home safely.

And, may God guide America during these dangerous times.

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*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

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update 22 December 2011




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