Shortly after Senator Wellstone arrived back in Minnesota after voting to oppose military action in Iraq, he attended a rally at St Cloud State University. It was my first actual face to face meeting with the Senator. I had spoken to him before about Veterans issues and other things while I served as an active duty Infantryman, but had never met him.
He delivered a powerful address! As a Veteran, I thanked him for his hard work, personally for me, and on behalf of many of my soldiers. I also thanked him for having the courage to oppose military action in Iraq. It was an amazing conversation where he recalled our previous conversations at Fort Lewis, Washington.
The following is text of a letter written from Senator Wellstone to Jim Huhtala of Big Lake.
October 24, 2002
Dear Mr. Huhtala,
Thank you for contacting me regarding U.S. policy towards Iraq. I have been hearing from many Minnesotans about their concerns on this very important matter. I appreciate your views.
I do not believe the Bush administration has yet made a case for taking pre-emptive military action against Iraq. The range of possible U.S. policy responses and the consequences of a possible U.S. or allied military attack are still unanswered. Other questions remain about the impact of unilateral military action on our preeminent national security priority, the continuing war on terrorism; on our ongoing efforts to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan; on efforts to calm the intensifying Middle East crisis, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and on the dangerous situation between the nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
In the early morning of Friday October 11, the Senate approved the President's requested resolution to allow him to take military action against Iraq. I opposed the resolution because it would authorize military action now in Iraq--including pre-emptive, go-it-alone military action--even as the U.S. seeks to garner support from our allies on a tough new UN disarmament resolution. I voted in favor of a substitute amendment to improve the resolution, which would have authorized the use of appropriate force by the United States and our allies, pursuant to a new UN Security Council resolution, following exhaustion of efforts to disarm Iraq, in order to obtain compliance with its international obligations.
Saddam Hussein is a brutal, ruthless dictator who has repressed his own people, attacked his neighbors, and remains an international outlaw. The world would be a much better place if he were gone and the regime in Iraq were changed. That's why the U.S. should unite the world against Saddam and not allow him to unite forces against us.
I oppose a go-it-alone approach, allowing ground invasion of Iraq without the support of other countries, because it could give Saddam exactly that chance. A pre-emptive, go-it-alone strategy towards Iraq is wrong. Instead, I support ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction through unfettered UN inspections which should begin as soon as possible.
The President has said he has not yet decided to use force against Iraq and that war may yet be avoidable. I believe the primary focus of policy towards Iraq should now be target on the verifiable disarmament of that country's weapons of mass destruction. It is the goal that our allies support, including Britain. It is the goal most likely to be successful, and from which our strategy should flow. I hope the President will focus on disarmament, which will help strengthen and sustain international support, enabling us to be most effective in dealing with Saddam Hussein.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope you will continue to stay in touch with me on matters of importance to you.
Paul David Wellstone
United States Senator
Keep in mind, 5 years ago, Elwyn Tinklenberg would have voted for this war...