August 21, 2002

MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS

FROM: WILLIAM KRISTOL

SUBJECT: Iraq and the War on Terror

Later today, at the Houston Forum, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay will deliver an important speech on Iraq and the war on terror. I've seen a draft and think very highly of the speech, and wanted to call it to your attention (the final text should be available later on Mr. DeLay's web site, majoritywhip.gov, or from his office, 202-225-0197).

The speech lays out the argument for action against Saddam Hussein forcefully and cogently. There has been lots of talk recently about the importance of having a serious debate over Iraq. It will be interesting to see if advocates of debate welcome Mr. DeLay's effort, or whether they ignore or caricature the speech. In particular, for two days in a row late last week the New York Times led with articles championing Republican dissenters over Iraq (misleadingly enlisting in their ranks a major non-dissenter, Henry Kissinger). Will the Times deign to note this more lengthy and very significant contribution by the majority whip?

One striking passage in the speech is DeLay's assurance that the House of Representatives will support the president in moving against Saddam. It makes me even more convinced that if the president is going to go to Congress for authorization, he should consider doing so soon--in September. This would resolve doubts as to his administration's intentions, would give Congress plenty of time for full and honest debate, and would retain the possibility of tactical surprise by not waiting to get authorization until the attack is imminent.