Congressional Black Caucus
Statement on War with
18 March 2003
Rep. Cummings Issues Statement on Possible
Military Action in Iraq
Washington, D.C. - Tonight, on the floor of the
U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
(D-MD), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, addressed the
current crisis in Iraq. He issued the following statement:
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Mr. Speaker -- I would like to insert into the
record the Congressional Black Caucus' principles on U.S. military
action in Iraq. They are as follows:
1. We oppose a unilateral first-strike action by
the United States without a clearly demonstrated and imminent
threat of attack on the United States.
2. Only Congress has the authority to declare war.
3. Every diplomatic option must be exhausted.
4. A unilateral first-strike would undermine
the moral authority of the United States, result in substantial
loss of life, destabilize the Mid East region and undermine the
ability of our nation to address unmet domestic priorities.
5. Further, any post-strike plan for
maintaining stability in the region would be costly and would
require a long-term commitment.
Mr. Speaker -- I rise at a moment when America
stands at the brink of war.
Our actions in Iraq will define our moral standing
in the world -- for this generation and for generations yet unborn
I have given my oath to do everything within my
power to support our men and women in uniform.
We have a great American tradition that when we
engage in combat we support our troops.
I will fulfill that solemn obligation.
However, I also have pledged my commitment to
ensure that their sacrifice is warranted and just.
That obligation does not allow me to remain silent
Mr. Speaker, the President has declared that he
will allow no more time
for a negotiated disarmament of Iraq.
We all know the terrible consequences of that
The stakes are enormous.
Many human beings will be harmed and others will
And, the course of American foreign policy could
be seriously changed.
So, before a single shot has been fired, I must
again raise what I consider to be the fundamental question about
this 'preemptive war.'
By what authority -- by what right does this
nation justify the taking of life in Iraq?
Mr. Speaker -- the American people have created
the strongest military force in history.
We, in this Congress, will continue to support our
troops -- we will continue to assure that they are the best
trained and equipped in the world.
Yet, as a people, Americans have never subscribed
to the proposition that our might makes us right.
America has never led by military power alone --
but by our devotion to principle, and the legitimacy of our
And, now, that principled foundation of our
national security has been placed in jeopardy and the legitimacy
of our mission and therefore the credibility of our nation is
challenged by a significant part of the global community and our
The Administration has failed to achieve the U.N.
approval and broad-based international support that are critical
to achieving our objectives and protecting our men and women in
uniform in the Middle East.
We have an obligation to ask why the
Administration has failed to make its case.
If the President's rationale for war were
self-evident, a broad-based, multi-national "coalition of the
willing" would indeed have materialized.
At the heart of the Administration's failure, I am
convinced, is the absence of clear and convincing evidence that
Iraq poses an imminent threat -- either to the United States or to
other nations of the world.
Moreover, the Administration has yet to adequately
explain the consequences of going to war to the American people.
Have we received clear and convincing evidence
that the President's decision:
destabilize the Middle East,
-will not make
our defense against terrorism more difficult, and
undermine our ability to meet the compelling domestic
needs of Americans
Where is the Administration's comprehensive plan
for the political and economic stability of Iraq once hostilities
Where is the President's evaluation of the cost of
military conflict and reconstruction?
Where is the President's analysis of the impact
upon our economy?
Will both affluent and working class Americans
share fairly in that sacrifice?
"The answers to these questions raise the
classic conflict between whether we pursue questionable
international missions or spend the resources for urgent domestic
Mr. Speaker, that is why we have not yet received
the Administration's answers to any of these critical questions.
Fundamentally, however, the issue of war remains
one of morality.
Following President Bush's ultimatum last night,
the Vatican offered this response:
Whoever decides that all peaceful means
that international law has put at our disposition have
been exhausted assumes serious responsibility before God,
his conscience and history.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the heavy weight of
this responsibility is shared by the President and every member of
this House and that realization should give us pause, that we have
pursued the right course and that we are doing the right thing by
this military action.
So, tonight, as I speak, tens of thousands of
religious congregations throughout the world - women and men of
every faith tradition – are praying that peace will prevail, for
the good of our country and the enlightened progress of humanity.
May God protect our men and women in uniform - and
all of the innocents who now stand in harm's way, and bring them
And, may God guide America during these dangerous
* * *
* * * * *
Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All
By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that
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* * * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the
rosy picture of race embodied in Barack
Obama's political success and Oprah
Winfrey's financial success, legal
scholar Alexander argues vigorously and
persuasively that [w]e have not ended
racial caste in America; we have merely
redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial
segregation has been replaced by mass
incarceration as a system of social
control (More African Americans are
under correctional control today... than
were enslaved in 1850). Alexander
reviews American racial history from the
colonies to the Clinton administration,
delineating its transformation into the
war on drugs. She offers an acute
analysis of the effect of this mass
incarceration upon former inmates who
will be discriminated against, legally,
for the rest of their lives, denied
employment, housing, education, and
public benefits. Most provocatively, she
reveals how both the move toward
colorblindness and affirmative action
may blur our vision of injustice: most
Americans know and don't know the truth
about mass incarceration—but her
carefully researched, deeply engaging,
and thoroughly readable book should
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W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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update 22 December