Many Michigan U.S. representatives and senators who have long opposed President Bush’s war movement are reevaluating their positions now that Saddam Hussein’s deadline for voluntary exile has passed and war with Iraq has begun.
“Last October, a majority of both Houses of Congress voted to authorize the President to use military force with or without the authority of the United Nations,” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Detroit) said in a written statement. “While I disagreed with that decision and offered an alternative, the overriding fact is that this democracy functions through debate and decision. The decision to give the President wide authority was democratically arrived at.”
Levin added that troops fighting in Iraq are enacting the natural result of democracy and deserve Americans’ support for their actions.
Indeed, many legislators like Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) are adopting similar politically neutral stances.
“As our men and women in uniform prepare to go into harm’s way, it is important they know that we stand united in support of our troops,” she said in a written statement. “I pray that the conflict will be resolved quickly and with a minimal loss of life.”
But some, like Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), are still firmly against Bush’s war effort.
“What I’m telling my colleagues in Congress and citizens is that we must continue to protest this illegal and unconstitutional war,” he said. “The president has no authority to do what he’s doing.”
Although “there is no question that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous person, a murderer, someone we can’t trust … I’d like to first continue the inspection process. I’d like to stop criticizing the United Nations. Then we should declare Saddam Hussein a war criminal for crimes against humanity. Then we should go in and arrest him like Slobodan Milosevic so he can be tried in The Hague,” Conyers added.
Conyers also said he fears for the loss of life on the part of the Iraqi citizens, calling the idea that the sacrifice would be small “preposterous.”
While political science Prof. James Morrow agrees with the prediction that the war will last “days or weeks, not months,” he said he does not think it is absurd to predict that civilian casualties could be great.
“A lot depends on how long they hold out in Baghdad. If they resist long enough, I wouldn’t be surprised if the loss of life was in the tens of thousands,” he said.
He also said that Saddam’s own people could take him down.
“Mussolini ended up on a meat hook in Milan, and I imagine there’s a lot of Iraqis that would like to do the same to Saddam,” he added.