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Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy
by Elson Boles
16 August 2002 17:40 UTC
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Title: Message

Naturally, not for the right reasons...


New York Times

August 16, 2002

Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy


WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 Leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq, saying the administration has neither adequately prepared for military action nor made the case that it is needed.

These senior Republicans include former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national security adviser. All say they favor the eventual removal of Saddam Hussein, but some say they are concerned that Mr. Bush is proceeding in a way that risks alienating allies, creating greater instability in the Middle East, and harming long-term American interests. They add that the administration has not shown that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the United States.

At the same time, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who summoned Mr. Kissinger for a meeting on Tuesday, and his advisers have decided that they should focus international discussion on how Iraq would be governed after Mr. Hussein not only in an effort to assure a democracy but as a way to outflank administration hawks and slow the rush to war, which many in the department oppose.

"For those of us who don't see an invasion as an article of faith but as simply a policy option, there is a feeling that you need to give great consideration to what comes after, and that unless you're prepared to follow it through, then you shouldn't begin it," one senior administration official involved in foreign policy said today.

In an opinion article published today in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Scowcroft, who helped build the broad international coalition against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war, warned that "an attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken." An attack might provoke Iraq to use chemical or biological weapons in an effort to trigger war between Israel and the Arab world, he said.

His criticism has particular meaning for Mr. Bush because Mr. Scowcroft was virtually a member of the Bush family during the first President Bush's term and has maintained close relations with the former president.

Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska said that Secretary Powell and his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, had recently told President Bush of their concerns about the risks and complexities of a military campaign against Iraq, especially without broad international support. But senior White House and State Department officials said they were unaware of any such meeting.

Also today, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, who was briefly secretary of state for Mr. Bush's father, told ABC News that unless Mr. Hussein "has his hand on a trigger that is for a weapon of mass destruction, and our intelligence is clear, I don't know why we have to do it now, when all our allies are opposed to it."

Last week, Representative Dick Armey, the House majority leader, raised similar concerns.

The comments by Mr. Scowcroft and others in the Republican foreign policy establishment appeared to be a loosely coordinated effort. Mr. Scowcroft first spoke out publicly 10 days ago on the CBS News program "Face the Nation."

In an opinion article published on Monday in The Washington Post, Mr. Kissinger made a long and complex argument about the international complications of any military campaign, writing that American policy "will be judged by how the aftermath of the military operation is handled politically," a statement that seems to play well with the State Department's strategy.

"Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed," he added. Far from ruling out military intervention, Mr. Kissinger said the challenge was to build a careful case that the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction calls for creation of a new international security framework in which pre-emptive action may sometimes be justified.

Through his office in New York, Mr. Kissinger relayed a message that his meeting with Secretary Powell had been scheduled before the publication of his article and was unrelated. But a State Department official said Secretary Powell had wanted Mr. Kissinger's advice on how to influence administration thinking on both Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Scowcroft wrote that if the United States "were seen to be turning our backs" on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute "in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us."

He added: "There is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive."


Elson Boles
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Sociology
Saginaw Valley State University
University Center
Saginaw MI, 48710

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