October 8, 2002   #196
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
From a Public Interest Perspective

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ELIZABETH BECKER, NEW YORK TIMES: The United States is losing two acres of mostly prime farmland every minute to development, the fastest such decline in the country's history, a new study has found.

That loss has been on the edge of the outer suburbs, where some of the country's best fruit farms are being replaced by houses on large lots, linked by new roads, highways and malls, the study, by the American Farmland Trust, said.

Sprawl, not development itself, is the problem, the report said.

"We are consuming more land per person than at any time, in the most wasteful way," said Ralph Grossi, president of the trust, a nonprofit organization.

The National Association of Homebuilders supported that conclusion. "We completely agree that ten-acre lots are an inappropriate use of land," said Clayton Traylor, senior vice president of the association. "We both want higher-density development and smart growth."

Using census data as well as Agriculture Department information about crops and soil, the study found that more than half of the lost farmland is being carved into ten-acre lots.

Arkansas, New York, Illinois, Alabama and Mississippi top the list of states that have lost the greatest percentage of their best farmland in the last five years. The problem has been growing for two decades. While the nation's population grew 17% from 1982 to 1997, the amount of land turned into urban areas increased 47%.

Yet the new outer suburban developments have not eased the pressure for affordable housing, the trust and the homebuilders association said.

"There is a parallel between the growing concern about losing farmland and the growing divide between shelter for the rich and poor in the United States," said Rolf Pendall, a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University.

Keith Collins, the chief economist for the Agriculture Department, said that the loss of farmland has been a concern for years because it destroys open spaces and local food production. "It's a quality-of-life issue," Mr. Collins said. "Properly managed farms protect the urban watersheds, provide the visual amenity of open space and protect the farmers who bring their locally grown fruits and vegetables to farmers markets."

The Agriculture Department and the new farm bill have tried to protect farms and pastureland, including a program that provides about $100 million in matching funds every year to state and local groups and governments that buy easements for farmland to protect it permanently from urban development. But a vast majority of the $180 billion farm bill underwrites subsidies for farmers to grow cotton, rice, wheat, corn and soybeans.

The publication of the Farmland Trust report encouraged environmentalists who have been arguing that spending federal money to protect vulnerable farmland makes more sense than subsidizing crops. . . . .

The report recommends more easements for farms and strong national standards for development. Vermont, California and Pennsylvania are cited as three states that have balanced development with farmland preservation.

While agreeing on the scope of the problem of sprawling development, representatives of the building industry disagree that the solution is more federal money for preserving farmland. They want higher-density development in outer suburban areas that want to attract only wealthier homeowners.

"Our point is there is a pervasive shortage of housing that has to be every bit a priority as the protection of farmland," said Mr. Traylor of the homebuilders association. "A big part of the game we're fighting is the `not here' syndrome. We need affordable housing while using up the least amount of undeveloped territory."


FOOD PRODUCTION DAILY: ConAgra's public response to the second-largest meat recall in US history differs dramatically from several high-profile food and medicine scares of the past, say experts in crisis management.

Aggressive, compassionate and sustained communications with the public helped Tylenol, Jack in the Box and Odwalla recover from what might otherwise have been devastating blows to their brands, said consultants who have helped shepherd companies through major crises.

ConAgra, by contrast, has stayed largely in the background as 38 people across 12 states have fallen ill after eating its Greeley-produced ground beef made between April 12 and July 11.

"The communications I've seen coming out of the company have been fairly emotionless and unfeeling," said Robert Kaiser, a crisis consultant who helped manage the aftermath of a shooting massacre at a Southern California McDonald's in 1984. "They need to be more candid and straightforward with the public."

Wiley Brooks, a Seattle-based public relations specialist, said he was surprised that ConAgra issued no recall-related press releases, purchased no advertising to inform or reassure the public and made little mention of the issue on its website. Top officials at ConAgra's Greeley-based beef business have not spoken publicly about the recall.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and grocery chains have released information regarding the recall, and ConAgra spokesmen have handled media inquiries. "In a crisis, the only thing you can control is what you say and do," said Brooks, who advised the Jack in the Box hamburger chain after its E. coli outbreak in 1993. "There's no evidence I can see that ConAgra is trying very hard."

ConAgra officials say they've achieved their primary goal throughout the crisis: minimizing the safety threat to consumers.

They also point to a Harris Interactive survey, taken during the five days beginning July 19, in which 64% of respondents who were aware of the  ConAgra recall said the company acted "extremely" or "very" responsibly.  "I think we did as well as anybody could," said Tim McMahon, ConAgra's senior vice president of communications and marketing.

"The measure of a brand is not, `Did they have a problem?' but `How did they handle the problem?' We did own up to it, and we took a lot of negative press, but we've done the right things, and I think people can see that. 'The good news is that everyone from this recall is healthy and safe. That's very significant. That's the outcome we want," he said.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The E. coli caused one death and sickened at least 47 people in 23

In its interviews with the media, ConAgra has emphasized that consumers can significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of E. coli by cooking their meat to 160 degrees and by using sanitary practices in the kitchen. A beef-safety tips box appears on computer screens of anyone visiting the company's website, although recall information is limited to a toll-free number listed several clicks away from the home page.

But because the company is a beef supplier whose products are packaged and sold under other brand names, it's appropriate for ConAgra to stay in the background for much of the public communications during the crisis, McMahon said. Advertising, he said, might have caused more harm than good by creating general hysteria about beef safety.

ConAgra has kept key corporate and division managers apprised of recall developments with regular e-mail updates, McMahon said. It's also working diligently to satisfy federal safety regulators and its big customers ---  grocery chains, wholesalers and food-service companies, McMahon said.

Only Safeway, which sold much of the meat connected to E. coli cases, has suspended ConAgra ground beef purchases pending further notice. Other buyers include Kroger, Wal-Mart, Lion King and dozens of smaller grocers who say they're cooperating with the recall.

Analysts estimate that ConAgra will spend up to $10 million recovering recalled ground beef. And there are other costs. The company has agreed to pay an estimated $1 million in medical costs for some victims, in return for release from liability. ConAgra could face litigation from others who became ill, and its revenues could drop if customers were to abandon the  company.

Despite ConAgra's actions so far, critics say its public response is subdued compared with high-profile crises of the past. In the cases of Tylenol, Odwalla and Jack in the Box --- each more serious than ConAgra's because they involved deaths and damage to consumer brand names --- the companies mounted aggressive public-relations campaigns that contributed to their recoveries.

Johnson & Johnson set the standard for crisis management in 1982, after seven Chicago-area residents died after taking cyanide-laced Tylenol pain killers. The company immediately alerted consumers across the nation not to consume any type of Tylenol product until the extent of the tampering was determined. The company also recalled more than $100 million worth of Tylenol capsules from the market and stopped production and advertising.  Eventually, Tylenol introduced new tamper-resistant packaging and offered  $2.50 off coupons to encourage customers to return to the brand.

Odwalla Inc. also mounted a major public-relations campaign in 1996, when E. coli linked to its fresh apple juice killed a Colorado child and sickened dozens of people in Western states. The company ordered a recall of all apple and carrot products, made its chief executive available for regular interviews, ran advertisements and set up a crisis website.  Odwalla also conducted surveys, visited Internet chat rooms and evaluated news coverage to measure the extent of public outrage.

Jack in the Box officials responded defensively during the first few weeks of their E. coli outbreak in 1993, turning down interviews and restricting information, said public-relations consultant Brooks. But facing mounting criticism, the company eventually developed a plan to communicate and reassure the public, he said.

Peter Sandman, a risk-communication consultant, said a company's response to crisis often is determined in the first few days. It's better to overreact and err on the side of caution than to underestimate the severity and have to change course later, he said.

"The single most important thing to do is to take it seriously enough at the beginning," he said. "In some major meat recalls, they've underestimated the size to begin with. Then they have to come back and expand it. The  second or third time you have to go back to the public and say it's worse than we thought, then you're in very serious trouble. It's much better to have to come back and say its not as bad as we thought."

In this respect, Sandman gives ConAgra barely a passing grade. The company initially announced a relatively small recall that later grew dramatically. But ConAgra may have responded appropriately the second time, he said, greatly reducing the likelihood of yet another expansion. Where the Omaha-based food giant may have stumbled, however, is in its communications with the public, he said.

"It's important for management to be explicitly apologetic, even aghast, about what happened," Sandman said. "Saying sorry is not admitting it's your fault. You know it happened, and to the extent it's your fault, you feel really bad. Companies that do that come out in better shape every time."


SCOTT KILMAN, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Cargill Inc., joining the list of meatpackers battered by food-safety mistakes, sharply expanded its recall of ground beef potentially tainted with E. coli bacteria to 2.8 million pounds.

The Agriculture Department, under pressure from Congress to crack down on meat sanitation, also took the unusual step of indirectly forcing the closely held commodity-processing company to temporarily close the Milwaukee hamburger plant linked to 57 cases of food poisoning in several Midwestern states.

The department suspended its inspection operations at the plant, which is part of the Emmpak Foods Inc. business acquired by Cargill in August 2001. By federal law, only federally inspected meat can cross state lines. Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said it isn't clear when the Milwaukee plant, which employees 160 people, will reopen.

People familiar with the matter said the plant shutdown reflects Agriculture Department officials' concern that they didn't get enough information from Cargill when deciding the size of the initial recall -- 416,000 pounds -- announced September 27.

Agency officials also are investigating whether Cargill was testing beef often enough for the pathogen. Mr. Klein said Cargill officials acted properly.

The food-poisoning outbreak was caused by O157:H7, a virulent strain of E. coli that causes bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Contamination occurs when cattle manure, which harbors E. coli, is spilled onto meat during slaughter.

Cargill, Minneapolis, owns the nation's second-biggest beef producer, behind Tyson Foods Inc.

As with most ground-beef recalls lately, the warning does little to limit the size of the outbreak. Most of the tainted meat probably has been consumed. The Agriculture Department said the beef was produced from August 20 through August 24.

It has been a difficult year for food safety. In July, an E. coli outbreak forced ConAgra Foods Inc. to recall 19 million pounds of ground beef produced by a Colorado meatpacking plant as far back as April. The tardiness of the recall, the second-largest of its type in U.S. history, so embarrassed the Agriculture Department that the agency acknowledged that E. coli contamination was a bigger problem than originally thought, and promised more pressure on meatpackers to quash the pathogen.

The E. coli case at Cargill wasn't uncovered by the company or the Agriculture Department. Cargill slaughterhouses routinely screen carcasses for pathogens, and the department's inspectors randomly sample ground beef in supermarkets. In this case, the connection was made by Minnesota and Wisconsin health officials, who detected an E. coli outbreak in early September. The meat was traced from a store to the Milwaukee plant.

That connection prompted Cargill last week to recall 416,000 pounds of ground beef made for five days in August on one production line in the Milwaukee plant. The recall is being expanded because Agriculture Department officials have discovered, among other things, that another production line in the Milwaukee plant got its beef from the same slaughterhouse.

Federal inspectors are investigating whether a separate outbreak of E. coli-related food poisoning --- which so far involves 27 people in the Midwest --- might be linked to the Milwaukee hamburger plant.

In an unrelated food-safety case, federal authorities are looking for the source of a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak. That outbreak in the Northeast has been blamed for 120 illnesses and 20 deaths. Listeria is especially dangerous to infants and the unborn. It can flourish on refrigerated products such as deli meats, hot dogs, soft cheeses, milk and seafood.


ZACHARY COILE, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: California House members are making a last-ditch effort to defeat a proposal to boost the amount of the corn-based fuel, or ethanol, in gasoline, which they say could lead to higher prices for Californians at the pump.

But their long-shot effort must override strong support for the measure from President Bush, Midwestern corn farmers, agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland and lawmakers from ethanol-producing states, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Dem.-South Dakota, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Rep.-Illinois.

The "ethanol mandate" --- a requirement to triple the amount of the corn fuel in gasoline by 2012 --- was approved as part of Senate's version of a comprehensive energy bill. But it was not included in the House version of the bill.

As House and Senate negotiators try to resolve the differences between their two bills, House members from California, New York and Florida are threatening to yank their support for the overall bill if the ethanol measure remains in it.

The energy bill is already on shaky footing because of controversy over whether to include provisions to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to restructure the nation's electricity markets. If a large number of lawmakers from coastal states withdraw their support, it could kill the bill.

Rep. Douglas Ose, Rep.-Sacramento, and Rep. Henry Waxman, Dem.-Los Angeles, are rallying California's 52-member delegation to vote against any package that contains the ethanol requirement.

"We're going to fight like the dickens," Ose said. "For us to have to go ahead and say to our constituents that California has to pay more (for gasoline) and oh, by the way, we are going to adversely impact the environment even more under the ethanol mandate --- that's just crazy."

In July, 44 members of California's House delegation signed a letter to the energy conference committee chairs opposing the ethanol mandate, calling it a "political triumph of the Midwest over the coasts." Rep. Bob Filner of San Diego was the lone Democrat to refuse to sign letter, saying sugar cane growers in the Imperial Valley could benefit by helping produce ethanol to meet the demand.

Under the Senate plan, California would be required to use 276 million gallons of ethanol in 2004, and 600 million gallons by 2012. If the state couldn't meet the requirement, it would have to buy ethanol credits from other states. The lawmakers are substituting ethanol for MTBE as an additive to help reduce emissions from gasoline and argue it will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil supplies.

California lawmakers worry that there may not be enough ethanol to meet the state's demand. Already, the state's gas supply could be constrained by the phase-out of MTBE, which reduces tailpipe emissions but has contaminated water supplies. In March, Gov. Gray Davis extended the MTBE phaseout by one year --- to December 31, 2003 -- out of concern that a tight gasoline market could lead to high prices for consumers.

A report by Hart Downstream Energy Associates, a consulting firm, suggested the ethanol requirement could lead California gas prices to increase almost ten cents a gallon. The Natural Resources Defense Council predicted in a recent study that the ethanol requirement and the phase-out of MTBE could push prices as high as $3 a gallon.

Ethanol advocates say the concerns about a shortage of ethanol supply are overblown because major oil companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, plan to complete the switch to gas blended with ethanol by early 2003.

Monte Shaw, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry group, said the price spikes that are being forecast would come from the phaseout of MTBE, which makes up about ten percent of the state's gas supply, not the ethanol requirement. A study by the American Petroleum Institute found that switching to ethanol would reduce refiners' costs by two-tenths of a cent per gallon, Shaw said.

Critics also have raised environmental concerns about ethanol after the Environmental Protection Agency reported in April that most ethanol plants were releasing volatile organic compounds, a probable human carcinogen, above permitted levels. Twelve ethanol plants in Minnesota reached a settlement Wednesday with the EPA and the Justice Department and agreed to install pollution controls to cut the emissions.

Waxman, who sits on the energy conference committee, offered an amendment last week to allow refiners who produce reformulated gas that meets Clean Air standards to be exempted from having to use ethanol or buy ethanol credits. The committee defeated it on a voice vote.

Waxman said House Republicans had since made the Senate measure worse by pushing a proposal that would eliminate the Senate's ban on MTBE and offer MTBE manufacturers immunity from defective product lawsuits. The Senate version already contained language shielding ethanol producers from similar suits.

Waxman said the provision could let MTBE manufacturers off the hook for paying some of the cost of restoring contaminated water supplies. "It really is a stick-it-to-California bill," Waxman said.


JULIANNE JOHNSTON, AGWEB NEWS: Kansas State University ag economist Art Barnaby says higher grain prices have stretched a hole in the new farm bill safety net and plenty of growers are falling through it. He says while the recent rally in the grain markets is good news for producers with good yields, those in the drought areas are caught between a rock and a hard place.

"Because of the higher prices, there is clearly a hole in the [new farm bill's] safety net that is not covered by crop insurance or disaster aid," said Barnaby, a crop insurance expert. "What caused the hole will depend on your politics."

Barnaby says some people maintain that the hole was created by a crop insurance failure. "Farmers must suffer a very large loss before they collect on crop insurance. How many homeowners could rebuild their house if it burned down and the insurance company only paid 75% of rebuilding costs?" he asks.

These corn growers can expect to lose more than $50 per acre below their expected revenue when the crop was planted and they still must cover most of the harvest expenses, he said.

"The worst outcome for insured corn growers would be to have 75% crop insurance coverage and to suffer a 35% to 40% yield loss and have higher prices for those crops," Barnaby said.

"Even with 75% insurance coverage, if a grower has a 35% yield loss, he or she will receive no disaster aid, will lose the counter-cyclical payment because of the higher grain price and incur the harvest costs. They'll also have 65% of a normal crop to sell at the higher price, but the insurance payment would be relatively small."

The best outcome for an insured grower with ad hoc disaster aid is no yield, he said. A zero yield would generate a maximum traditional disaster aid payment.

Barnaby says counter-cyclical payments built into the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, are part of the "safety net" written into the new legislation. They are to be paid to farmers only if prices drop low enough under a predetermined formula to trigger them. Given the recent gains in grain prices, USDA currently is not projecting that a counter-cyclical payment will be made to U.S. wheat, soybean, and feed grain producers this year.

So growers who were hit by the drought will have fewer bushels to sell at the higher price that caused the loss of the counter-cyclical payment, Barnaby said.

For that reason, some people have said that the hole in the "safety net" was caused by the counter-cyclical payment. "Farmers with low yields and high prices lose the government payment when they need it most. At the farm level, growers are short of cash and probably don't care which program caused the loss because it is a USDA safety net that includes both programs," he said.

U.S. OF A.:

DOUG SAUNDERS, TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL: All we seem to do these days is argue about the United States. And the arguments are awfully sparse, aren't they? Either our neighbor is the most powerful nation on Earth, a menacing imperialist intruder that we must resist, or it's the most powerful nation on Earth, a beneficial force of democracy and peace that we must join and support.

Let me offer you a new way of thinking about America: Over

Under this school of thought, the United States stopped being the world's dominant nation years ago, and has quietly collapsed into being Just Another Country. We haven't really noticed this, the theory goes, because most other countries still act as if the United States has its old military and financial power, an assumption that could be stripped of its invisible clothes in the event of a protracted Iraq war.

This is not a fringe theory. It comes from within the United States, from respected political scientists on the Ivy League campuses. Why does it get such little play? Both the left and the right have their entire houses built on the notion of a fixed and immutable American hegemony, pro- or anti-. Somewhere between these poles is this small community of thinkers, declaring that the end has already occurred.

"The United States has been fading as a global power since the 1970s, and the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks has merely accelerated this decline." So says Immanuel Wallerstein, the Yale University political scientist who is by far the most outspoken member of this camp. A gravelly old contrarian with little time for the orthodoxies of the left or the right, he may have gained his remove by teaching at McGill University in the 1970s.

In a forthcoming book, to be titled Decline of American Power, he describes his country as "a lone superpower that lacks true power, a world leader nobody follows and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global chaos it cannot control."

In his view, America gave up the ghost in 1974, when it admitted defeat in Vietnam and discovered that the conflict had more or less exhausted the gold reserves, crippling its ability to remain a major economic power. It has remained the focus of the world's attention partly for lack of any serious challenger to the greenback for the world's savings, and because it has kept attracting foreign investments at a rate of $1.2-billion (U.S.) per day.

But if it comes to a crunch, the United States can no longer prevail either economically or --- here is the most controversial statement --- militarily. In Mr. Wallerstein's calculus, of the three major wars the United States has fought since the Second World War, one was a defeat and two (Korea and the Gulf War) were draws.

Iraq, he told me recently, would be an end game. "The policy of the U.S. government, which all administrations have been following since the seventies, has been to slow down the decline by pushing on all fronts. The hawks currently in power have to work very, very hard twisting arms very, very tightly to get the minimal legal justification for Iraq that they want now. This kind of thing, they used to get with a snap of the fingers."

You don't have to agree with Mr. Wallerstein's hyperbolic view to be a member of the Over camp --- and many do disagree: When he first brought it up in the journal Foreign Policy this summer, half a dozen editorial writers in the United States attacked him. But more moderate thinkers have joined the club, including Charles Kupchan at Georgetown University, whose forthcoming book The End of the American Era makes a similar point in more subtle terms.

Joseph Nye at Harvard, a friend of Henry Kissinger's, argues in his new book The Paradox of American Power that "world politics is changing in a way that means Americans cannot achieve all their international goals acting alone" --- a tacit acknowledgment of Mr. Wallerstein's thesis.

This is how great powers end: Not by suddenly collapsing, but by quietly becoming Just Another Country. This happened to England around 1873, but it wasn't until 1945 that anyone there noticed.

Outsiders do notice. Spend some time talking to a currency trader or a foreign financier, and you'll glimpse the end of the almighty dollar: Right now, about 70% of the world's savings are in greenbacks, while America contributes about 30% of the world's production --- an imbalance that has been maintained for the past 30 years only because Japan collapsed and Europe took too long to get its house together.

A Japanese CEO told me this in blunt terms the other day: "It was Clinton's sole great success that he kept the world economy in dollars for ten years longer than anyone thought he would. But nobody's staying in dollars any more."

There are other signs: The middling liberals, who in the 1960s would have sided with the left in opposing U.S. imperialism, are today begging for an empire. Michael Ignatieff, the liberal scholar, argued at length recently that the United States ought to become an imperial force --- on humanitarian grounds. Would this argument be necessary if the United States actually dominated the world?

I'm not sure whether to fully believe the refreshing arguments of Mr. Wallerstein and his friends, but they do have history on their side. In their times, Portugal, Holland, Spain, France and England all woke up to discover, far after the fact, that they were no longer the big global powers, but Just Another Country.

Like the bewildered Englishmen in Robert Altman's "Gosford Park," they struggled to maintain their dignity while wondering just what those strange visitors from abroad were talking about.


SENATOR ROBERT BYRD, DEM.-WEST VIRGINIA: As sure as the sun rises in the east, we are embarking on a course of action with regard to Iraq that, in its haste, is both blind and improvident. We are rushing into war without fully discussing why, without thoroughly considering the consequences, or without making any attempt to explore what steps we might take to avert conflict. . .

The resolution before us today is not only a product of haste; it is also a product of presidential hubris. This resolution is breathtaking in its scope. It redefines the nature of defense, and reinterprets the Constitution to suit the will of the Executive Branch. It would give the President blanket authority to launch a unilateral preemptive attack on a sovereign nation that is perceived to be a threat to the United States. This is an unprecedented and unfounded interpretation of the President's authority under the Constitution, not to mention the fact that it stands the charter of the United Nations on its head.

Representative Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to William H. Herndon, stated: "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose  --- and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

"Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, `I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you `be silent; I see it, if you don't.'

"The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood."

If he could speak to us today, what would Lincoln say of the Bush doctrine concerning preemptive strikes?

In a September 18 report, the Congressional Research Service had this to say about the preemptive use of military force:

"The historical record indicates that the United States has never, to date, engaged in a `preemptive' military attack against another nation. Nor has the United States ever attacked another nation militarily prior to its first having been attacked or prior to U.S. citizens or interests first having been attacked, with the singular exception of the Spanish-American War. . .

Think for a moment of the precedent that this resolution will set, not just for this President but for future Presidents. From this day forward, American Presidents will be able to invoke Senate Joint Resolution 46 as justification for launching preemptive military strikes against any sovereign nations that they perceive to be a threat. Other nations will be able to hold up the United States as the model to justify their military adventures. Do you not think that India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Russia and Georgia are closely watching the outcome of this debate? Do you not think that future adversaries will look to this moment to rationalize the use of military force to achieve who knows what ends?. . .

As James Madison wrote in 1793, "In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man...."

The Senate is rushing to vote on whether to declare war on Iraq without pausing to ask why. Why is war being dealt with not as a last resort but as a first resort? Why is Congress being pressured to act now, as of today, 33 days before a general election when a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives are in the final, highly politicized, weeks of election campaigns?

As recently as Tuesday, the President said he had not yet made up his mind about whether to go to war with Iraq. And yet Congress is being exhorted to give the President open-ended authority now, to exercise whenever he pleases, in the event that he decides to invade Iraq. Why is Congress elbowing past the President to authorize a military campaign that the President may or may not even decide to pursue? Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves?. . .

No one in the Administration has been able to produce any solid evidence linking Iraq to the September 11 attack. Iraq had biological and chemical weapons long before September 11. We knew it then, and we know it now. Iraq has been an enemy of the United States for more than a decade. If Saddam Hussein is such an imminent threat to the United States, why hasn't he attacked us already? The fact that Osama bin Laden attacked the United States does not, de facto, mean that Saddam Hussein is now in a lock and load position and is readying an attack on the United States. In truth, there is nothing in the deluge of Administration rhetoric over Iraq that is of such moment that it would preclude the Senate from setting its own timetable and taking the time for a thorough and informed discussion of this crucial issue.


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