AUTHORIZING USE OF U.S. ARMED FORCES PURSUANT TO U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION (Senate - January 12, 1991)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I do not believe our Nation is prepared for war. But I am absolutely convinced our Nation does not believe that war is necessary. Nevertheless, this body may vote momentarily to permit it.
When I returned from Vietnam, I wrote then I was willing personally, in the future, to fight and possibly die for my country. But I said then it must be when the Nation as a whole has decided that there is a real threat and that the Nation as a whole has decided that we all must go.
I do not believe this test has been met. There is no consensus in America for war and, therefore, the Congress should not vote to authorize war.
If we go to war in the next few days, it will not be because our immediate vital interests are so threatened and we have no other choice. It is not because of nuclear, chemical, biological weapons when, after all, Saddam Hussein had all those abilities or was working toward them for years--even while we armed him and refused to hold him accountable for using some of them. It will be because we set an artificial deadline. As we know, those who have been in war, there is no artificial wound, no artificial consequence of war.
Most important, we must balance that against the fact that we have an alternative, an alternative that would allow us to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, an accomplishment that we all want to achieve.
I still believe that notwithstanding the outcome of this vote, we can have a peaceful resolution. I think it most likely. If we do, for a long time, people will argue in America
about whether this vote made it possible.
Many of us will always remain convinced that a similar result could have come about without such a high-risk high-stakes throw away of our constitutional power.
If not, if we do go to war, for years people will ask why Congress gave in. They will ask why there was such a rush to so much death and destruction when it did not have to happen.
It does not have to happen if we do our job.
So I ask my colleagues if we are really once again so willing to have our young and our innocent bear the price of our impatience.
I personally believe, and I have heard countless of my colleagues say, that they think the President made a mistake to unilaterally increase troops, set a date and make war so probable. I ask my colleagues if we are once again so willing to risk people dying from a mistake.