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Floor Speech Text


Hon. John N. Hostettler of Indiana
Floor Statement
Congressional Record

[Page: H7286]

(Mr. HOSTETTLER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New Mexico for yielding me this time.

Today the question before this body, Mr. Speaker, is not ``How shall we respond to the unprovoked attack by a foreign nation upon the United States or its fielded military forces abroad?''

We are not debating ``How will we respond to the menace of a political and/or cultural movement that is enveloping nations across the globe and is knocking on the door 90 miles off the coast of Florida?''

Nor, Mr. Speaker, are we discussing a response to an act of aggression by a dictator who has invaded his neighbor and has his sights on 40 percent of the world's oil reserves, an act that could plunge the American economy, so dependent on energy, into a deep spiral.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, and this point must be made very clear, we are not discussing how America should respond to the acts of terrorism on September 11, 2001. That debate and vote was held over a year ago; and our men and women in uniform, led by our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense, are winning the war on terrorism. It is with their blood, sweat, and tears that they are winning, for

[Page: H7287]

every one of us who will lay our heads down in peace this night, the right to wake up tomorrow, free.

No, Mr. Speaker, the question before us today is ``Will the House of Representatives vote to initiate war on another sovereign nation?''

Article I, Section 8 of the governing document of this Republic, the United States Constitution, gives to Congress the power to provide for the common defense. It follows that Congress's [sic] power to declare war must be in keeping with the notion of providing for the common defense.

Today, a novel case is being made that the best defense is a good offense. But is this the power that the Framers of the Constitution meant to pass down to their posterity when they sought to secure for us the blessings of liberty? Did they suggest that mothers and fathers would be required by this august body to give up sons and daughters because of the possibility of future aggression? Mr. Speaker, I humbly submit that they did not.

As I was preparing these remarks, I was reminded of an entry on my desk calendar of April 19. It is an excerpt of the Boston Globe, Bicentennial Edition, March 9, 1975. It reads, ``At dawn on this morning, April 19, 1775, some 70 Minutemen were assembled on Lexington's green. All eyes kept returning to where the road from Boston opened onto the green; all ears strained to hear the drums and double-march of the approaching British Grenadiers. Waving to the drummer boy to cease his beat, the Minuteman Captain, John Parker, gave his fateful command: `Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they want to have a war, let it begin here.''

``Don't fire unless fired upon.'' It is a notion that is at least as old as St. Augustine's Just War thesis, and it finds agreement with the Minutemen and Framers of the Constitution.

We should not turn our back today on millennia of wisdom by proposing to send America's beautiful sons and daughters into harm's way for what might be.

We are told that Saddam Hussein might have a nuclear weapon; he might use a weapon of mass destruction against the United States or our interests overseas; or he might give such weapons to al Qaeda or another terrorist organization. But based on the best of our intelligence information, none of these things have happened. The evidence supporting what might be is tenuous, at best.

Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I must conclude that Iraq indeed poses a threat, but it does not pose an imminent threat that justifies a preemptive military strike at this time.

Voting for this resolution not only would set an ominous precedent for using the administration's parameters to justify war against the remaining partners in the ``Axis of Evil,'' but such a vote for preemption would also set a standard which the rest of the world would seek to hold America to and which the rest of the world could justifiably follow.

War should be waged by necessity, and I do not believe that such necessity is at hand at this time. For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to please vote ``no'' on the resolution to approve force at this time.

Source citation: 107th Congress, 2nd Session, October 8, 2002, Congressional Record, pp. H7286-H7287.

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