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 every one of us who will
lay our heads down in peace this night, the right to wake up tomorrow,
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 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
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
Hostettler represents the Eighth District of Indiana in the United States
House of Representatives.