Secretary of State Colin L. Powell provided irrefutable evidence on Iraqi weapons programs in his address to the United Nations on Feb. 5. No one can doubt at this point that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein is cooperating with al Qaeda and other terrorists.

Last fall, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq if diplomacy failed to compel it to disarm. The U.N. Security Council also adopted U.N. Resolution 1441, giving Iraq the opportunity to disarm and cooperate with weapons inspectors. This resolution stated that any false statement from Iraq regarding the weapons it possessed, or the lack of cooperation with inspectors, would lead to "serious consequences." The resolution placed the burden on Iraq to prove its efforts toward active disarmament.

Powell's revelations to the U.N. came on the heels of a devastating report on the inspections process from U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. Iraq, Blix wrote, "appears not to have come to genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it." On Feb. 5, Powell provided ample proof -- including satellite photographs, audio recordings and reports from detainees -- that Iraq has not complied with the required U.N. mandates. We have given diplomacy a chance. It has failed.

Saddam Hussein has subverted U.N. resolutions for over 11 years. The evidence provided by Powell shows he continues to subvert them. He has developed weapons of mass destruction, collaborated with terrorists and murdered his own people. The U.N. Charter entrusts the Security Council [with] the responsibility of preserving international peace and security. Many nations, including eight of our European allies, have publicly stated their support of the U.S. position vis-a{grv}-vis Iraq. The international community has spoken unequivocally.

We are involved in a profound global struggle in which Saddam's regime is clearly on the side of evil. And evil cannot be appeased, ignored or simply forgotten. At times confrontation is the only remaining option to stop this evil. There are moments in history when conscience matters -- in fact, when conscience is the only thing that matters. Powell's presentation proved that, although we continue to pray for the best while we prepare for the worst, the time to take effective action to disarm Hussein's corrupt and deadly regime is drawing near.

-- Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.)

President Bush has indicated his intention to use military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power and disarm Iraq of all weapons of mass destruction. On Oct. 10, the House of Representatives granted the president authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, which passed by a vote of 296-133. I strongly opposed this resolution because it granted the president authority to attack Iraq unilaterally without further congressional approval. I believe the case for an immediate, preemptive and unilateral U.S. military strike has not been made and could have dire long-term foreign policy consequences.

During last fall's debate, I co-sponsored -- along with Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.) -- an alternate resolution, which did not pass but picked up 155 votes. Though not adopted by the full House, the vote on the amendment reflected strong support for a multilateral approach to potential military intervention in Iraq.

The Spratt-Moran alternative would have amended the resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq by requiring the president to seek U.N. Security Council approval or separate congressional authority before committing U.S. troops to war in Iraq. The Spratt-Moran alternative made clear that the United States is prepared to use force to back up arms inspectors and focuses on the need to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Much has happened since last fall's debate. While appearing to garner more international support and have Saddam Hussein achieve compliance through diplomacy, the Bush administration, in fact, may be ramping up military operations within the next several weeks.

On Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented before the United Nations Security Council convincing evidence that Saddam Hussein was not complying with U.N. weapons inspections and is in breach of U.N. Resolution 1441. I applaud Secretary Powell for his efforts to build U.N. and international support. On Feb. 14, U.N. weapons inspectors presented a revised weapons inspection report to the Security Council, detailing Iraq's noncompliance.

At this moment, the U.S. lacks the support of a number of our close allies for a military campaign against Iraq. Without the backing of the U.N. and the international community, the U.S. faces the daunting task of conducting a costly military campaign as well as the burden of financing Iraq's postwar recovery. The overarching goal should be to bring greater stability to the region. However, with escalating violence in the Middle East and a negative perception of the United States in the Islamic world, the risk of regional instability breeding further resentment is great.

The next few weeks will prove to be critical for the United States. I urge the administration to continue to make the case to our allies and seek the support of the U.N. Security Council. While the administration has evidence to show that Saddam Hussein is not in compliance with U.N. mandates, the case for immediate military action is unresolved. Furthermore, the endgame strategy for a post-conflict Iraq is ambiguous at best. Prior to obligating our men and women in a military conflict, we must have a clearer picture of the resources we will be required to commit.

As the public debate continues, I believe that the United States must rally the support of our allies and cooperate with the U.N. Security Council and international weapons inspectors. Saddam must be disarmed of his weapons of mass destruction, but the administration has yet to prove that the threat is so imminent that we should risk going it alone.

If we go to war, it is incumbent on all of us to support our troops. The economic, military and political consequences of war, in addition to the potential loss of life, demand the most vigorous attempts to resolve this conflict short of war.

-- James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.)

DAVIS

MORAN