Editorial: First-strike power must be used with care

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The United States is moving into deep and uncharted waters as it pursues the administration’s goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. As with any journey into the unknown, this one requires a great deal of caution and a great deal of thought about the risks we are facing.

President Bush, given liberty to use the might of our nation in a first-strike capacity, needs to think long and hard before he uses that power.

Never before has the United States been the first to strike. Always we have responded aggressively when we or our friends have been attacked. In 2002, however, the president is allowed to fire when ready. All he needs to do is claim that all diplomatic options for curbing Saddam have been exhausted.

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A majority of senators and representatives agree that it is necessary that the president have first-strike power. They

believe that Iraq represents such a threat to the United States that unless we can be convinced Saddam is disarmed, we should launch an attack.

That is a very new role for our country. It opens up some very alarming possibilities; if we decide to attack Iraq because it might be a threat, what unfriendly power might we next seek to diminish by military might?

With the Cold War’s end, the United States was left alone as a superpower. It has taken some years, but we now appear ready to flex that superpower muscle on offense, instead of on defense.

Many around the world see this as another United States step toward becoming a global bully. It will be up to President Bush to see that we do not cross that line.