Speech By Evan Bayh
October 8, 2002
In 2008, Evan Bayh is being considered as one of the top contenders to serve as Barack Obama's running mate for the White House. However, in 2002, Evan Bayh opposed people like Barack Obama who stood in the way of the rush to war in Iraq.
Back in 2002, on October 8, Evan Bayh took to the floor of the United States Senate and announced that he would join with John McCain and Joseph Lieberman to support George W. Bush's hurry to invade Iraq.
The following is the speech that Senator Bayh gave on that day justifying his allegiance with Bush and McCain.
It is an honor and privilege for me to join today with my distinguished colleagues, Senator Warner, Senator McCain, and my good friend, Senator Lieberman, in support of this resolution granting the President of the United States the authority to defend our country.
Madam President, I support this resolution not because I favor a resort to war but because I believe this resolution gives our country the best chance to maintain peace.
I support this resolution not because I favor America acting unilaterally, unless we must, but because I believe this resolution gives us the best opportunity to rally our allies and convince the United Nations to act with us, and in so doing give that international institution meaning for the resolutions that it adopts.
I favor this resolution because in a world where we have rogue regimes possessing weapons of mass death, and suicidal terrorists who are all too eager to use them against us, weapons of that nature in the hands of a regime such as Saddam Hussein's represents an unacceptable risk to the safety and well-being of the American people.
As much as I wish we could ignore this threat, it is my heartfelt conviction that in all conscience we cannot.
Finally, along with my colleagues, I support this resolution because I believe we must learn the terrible lessons from the tragedy of September 11, foremost among which is that we waited too long to address the gathering danger in Afghanistan. If we had acted sooner, perhaps--just perhaps--we could have saved 3,000 innocent lives: men, women, and children. We waited too long to act. Let us not make that mistake again.
Unfortunately, in dealing with Saddam Hussein and the regime of Iraq , we are dealing with a brutal dictator who understands one thing, and one thing only: either the threat of force or the use of force.
We have tried everything else. We have tried economic sanctions for years, to no avail. We have tried diplomacy for over a decade. It has availed us nothing. We do not have the covert means presently to deal with this tyrant. And so as my colleagues have indicated, there is nothing left to us to defend ourselves except an ultimatum to Saddam: Disarm or else.
For those who believe we can remove the weapons of mass destruction from this regime without the credible threat of the use of force, I regrettably must say they are engaged in wishful thinking. It is my heartfelt conviction that the best and only chance we have for a peaceful resolution to this problem, for him to give up these instruments of mass death, is to present him with a credible ultimatum that the survival of his regime depends upon doing so, that any other course of action will lead to his overthrow, and that alone will preserve the peace, the safety, and the security of our country.
I believe this course presents us with the best opportunity to rally our allies and convince the United Nations to act with us. We should make every effort--as Senator McCain indicated in his colloquy with Senator Lieberman and as the President indicated last night--to convince the United Nations and our allies of the justice of our cause. We are stronger when we act together, so we must seek a consensus for this course of action.
Unfortunately, the United Nations has a long history of equivocation when it comes to taking difficult steps to enforce even its own resolutions. Our allies, as much as we cherish their support, also have a mixed record in this regard. Need I remind the Senate that for too long we waited while genocide was perpetrated on the very doorstep of Europe in Bosnia and Kosovo? It was only when the United States of America demonstrated a willingness to take action to bring that lamentable chapter to a conclusion that the United Nations and our allies demonstrated the will to act with us.
It is only through strong leadership, leadership by the United States, that we will preserve the peace, rally our allies, and convince the United Nations to enforce its own resolutions. If these efforts avail us not, it is my heartfelt conviction that weapons of mass death in the hands of a brutal dictator such as Saddam Hussein, combined with the presence of suicidal terrorist organizations that would all too eagerly use these instruments of mass destruction against us, represent an unacceptable risk for the safety and well-being of the American people.
I hope Saddam will do the right thing. I pray that he will do the right thing and give up these weapons of mass destruction. Regrettably, based upon the track record of his past behavior, I believe he probably will not.
Weapons of mass destruction represent an indispensable part of his power. Saddam Hussein is a megalomaniac who has attempted to project that power around the region. As we all know, he invaded Kuwait. He has invaded Iran. He has launched missiles at Saudi Arabia and Israel. He has killed hundreds of thousands, including tens of thousands of his fellow citizens.
I ask my colleagues to anticipate a world in which we do not act. What will Saddam do? Can there be much doubt that he will attempt to develop the ability to deter our future action by threatening us with the use of weapons of mass destruction? I believe there is not. If he cannot develop this deterrent on his own, I believe there is little doubt he will reach out to al-Qaida or Hezbollah or other international institutions of terrorism to develop a deterrent to threaten us, with unacceptable consequences, if in the future we decide to restrain his aggressive actions.
If there is only a 10-percent chance or a 15-percent chance that weapons of mass death will find their way from Iraq into the hands of suicidal terrorists, I believe this is a risk to the American people that we cannot afford to run.
The world changed forever on September 11. The principal lesson of that tragedy is that America waited too long to address the gathering danger in Afghanistan. We must not make that mistake again.
To those who say, what is the rush? why can't we wait? I respond by asking the question: How long must we wait? Until the missiles have been launched? Until smallpox, anthrax, or VX nerve agent has found its way into our country? Is that how long we should wait?
The consequences of error in this instance are much too great. The deaths next time might not be numbered in the threes of thousands but 30,000 or 300,000.
To respond to the question of my friend from Connecticut, in all likelihood Saddam Hussein possesses smallpox. We are not sure whether he has weaponized it yet. There is a 50/50 proposition. But if he has and if that would find its way into our country, which would not be too difficult to accomplish, the consequences would be catastrophic.
We conducted a simulated exercise of a smallpox attack--I believe it was called Dark Winter--simulating a smallpox outbreak put into a ventilation system in a mall in Oklahoma City. The consequences were catastrophic: Tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of illnesses; civil law broke down. These are the kinds of consequences that would be all too real were we to stay our hand.
I remind my colleagues that in a world of imperfect intelligence--and there will always be imperfect intelligence--if we wait, we run the very real risk of having waited too long. We have seen the kind of tragedy to which that can lead.
I ask all of us to consider, if this debate had been conducted 2 years ago and my colleagues and I had laid a resolution upon this desk that said, there is danger brewing in Afghanistan, it threatens the United States of America, we need to take it seriously, and we must act before it is too late, all of the arguments that are being made against the current resolution would also have been made at that time. As we now know, the arguments have all been mistaken. They are mistaken today as well.
To those who say the threat is not imminent, after 9/11, how long can we afford to wait? To those who say regime change is not an appropriate reason for acting, I say weapons of mass destruction and the regime of Saddam Hussein are one and indivisible. To remove weapons of mass destruction, we must remove that regime. To think anything else is to delude ourselves.
For those who believe the United Nations' approval is necessary for our action, I say it is preferential but we cannot afford to give that great body veto power on America's right to defend itself. To those who say we need allied support, I agree. But this is an argument of the chicken and the egg. It is only with American leadership and taking a strong hand in this instance that we will receive the kind of united allied support we seek.
To those who ask the question, What will we do after our victory? I say that is a good question, but can the regime in Iraq be worse? I think not. We could begin to rebuild that country in a way that would provide a positive example to the people of that region about the principles and the ideals upon which America stands.
Our eventual victory in the war against terror will be won as much by the values and the principles we embrace and advocate as by the force of our arms. This gives us an opportunity to put those principles and values into action.
To those who say we must exhaust all of our alternatives before acting, I simply say that we already have. In conclusion, let me summarize by saying this: I and my colleagues support this resolution not because we desire war but because it is our heartfelt conviction that this is the best and only path to preserve the peace. My colleagues and I support this resolution not because we favor the U.S. acting alone, but because we know that, by taking a strong stand, it gives us the best opportunity to garner U.N. support and to rally our allies to our side.
We support this resolution because we believe that the lesson learned, very painfully and so tragically by our country on September 11 of last year, is that we wait in an era of mass terror at our peril. We were mistaken then; let us not be mistaken again. Let us act to protect our country and, in so doing, discharge our constitutional duty. It is my privilege and honor to do so in such esteemed company.