Some people think I’m a warmonger because I support President Bush’s plan to topple the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.

The truth is I have opposed 90 percent of the recent U.S. military ventures – Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti etc.

The U.S. should only use military force to protect its own vital interests – and it should use it sparingly, as a last resort.

This Iraqi campaign fits the bill. If we don’t dethrone Saddam Hussein now, we will pay a severe price later. There’s little doubt in my own mind that he bears heavy responsibility for at least two major acts of terrorism against the U.S. – the Oklahoma City bombing and the first attack on the World Trade Center. Whether the U.S. government ever admits it or not, Iraqi agents played key roles in both bombings.

I believe Iraq also bears some responsibility for the attacks of Sept. 11. Iraq supported al-Qaida before the attacks, at the time of the attacks and following the attacks.

Let’s remember that was enough of a reason for the U.S. to invade Afghanistan. Afghanistan didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan wasn’t in violation of any U.N. resolutions. Afghanistan was in our sights for one reason and one reason only – it supported and harbored al-Qaida terrorists and refused to give them up.

Hussein’s Iraq is just as guilty.

Further, I am in total accord with the antiwar activists who say President Bush should seek a declaration of war from the U.S. Congress before the attack. I know it may not be technically required because of Congress’ earlier authorization of force. But why not seek it? Why not put everyone on record? Why not conduct a free-and-open debate in this country? It seems to me that is more important than these debates in the United Nations.

It’s the right thing to do – not only constitutionally, so there are no questions later, but it’s the right thing to do politically.

Bush will get his way in the Congress, and it would be a service to the nation to know just how committed Congress is to protecting America’s vital interests. Put everyone on record now. This could be a tough fight. If it is, better to know how much support the war will have if problems develop.

And that brings me to my final point.

What if things don’t go well?

I think it’s extremely dangerous to embark on any military campaign assuming smashing, unequivocal, certain and swift victory. It doesn’t always work out that way – even when you have the finest fighting force in the world taking on an army that is prone to surrender to CNN cameramen.

But this war may not be a replay of the Gulf War. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Everyone in the Pentagon, CIA and U.S. military knows this. Facing certain defeat, Iraq is going to use them – against us and against its neighbors. That didn’t happen in the Gulf War, thank God. Yet, it is a real possibility – if not a probability – in this war.

What if?

What if we’re faced with dramatic terrorist attacks at home during this war? How popular will it be then? What impact will it have on our ability to fight?

What if U.S. and allied casualties in this war are unexpectedly high? What if we invade Iraq and never find Saddam Hussein – much like we were unable to find Osama bin Laden?

I don’t mean to be a nervous Nelly or a pessimist. Don’t misread what I am saying. Attacking Iraq is the right thing to do – without U.N. approval, without French allies, without the Germans. This is our fight.

But we need to take this campaign very seriously. We need to consider the worst-case scenarios. This war is much too important not to approach it with that kind of sobriety.

I would urge President Bush to put this issue before Congress and ask for a declaration of war. The Constitution clearly gives the Congress war-making authority. I would also urge him to declare a national day of prayer before this war is launched. He should call Americans to get down on their knees and seek God’s wisdom, will and mercy. And he should lead by example.

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