(Host) Vermont’s congressional delegation has serious concerns about the Bush administration’s desire to launch a military strike against Iraq. And the delegation says the president needs to get the consent of Congress before starting a war.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) President Bush has made it clear that he wants Iraqi President Saddam Hussein removed from power. In recent weeks, the administration’s war plans have been disclosed in detail through leaks to The New York Times. Officials have discussed the advantages of a massive strike with 250,000 troops versus a smaller attack against Baghdad. The operations are planned to de-stabilize Hussein and limit his ability to use weapons of mass destruction.
Vermont Independent Senator James Jeffords thinks that war fever has gripped the White House.
(Jeffords) “I just look at this administration and I think they have war on the mind. And they know politically that if they get involved in a war, people stick behind you.”
(Dillon) Jeffords believes it’s far too risky to send American troops to the Middle East. He says the U.S. should instead work with the United Nations in Iraq to pressure the Iraqi leaders. And Jeffords says if the president wants to send the country to war, he has to get the consent of Congress. He also argues that the administration policy of going alone against Iraq threatens to alienate key allies in the region. Vermont Independent Congressman Bernard Sanders agrees:
(Sanders) “There are two issues here. Number one, is the wisdom of the United States waging a unilateral war against Iraq, and I have real concerns about that. But actually the more important issue is that you have a president who apparently thinks the White House alone has the legal capability of going to war, when the constitution is quite clear that it is the United States Congress that determines whether or not this country goes to war.”
(Dillon) Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy also questions the U.S. policy toward Iraq. Leahy notes that the administration’s military advisers are divided on an Iraqi invasion. Leahy also questions whether the U.S. can afford to rebuild Iraq after a war.
(Leahy) “I mean as it is, we’re not beginning to do the things in Afghanistan that we should do to reflect our involvement in Afghanistan. Are we going to put in the tens of billions of dollars that we need to do in Afghanistan? Are we willing to do the same things in Iraq? Then what happens with Iran, part of the axis of evil. And then there’s North Korea. I mean, at some point do we determine that we’re going to run the world all by ourselves, or are we part of an interdependent world?”
(Dillon) Leahy agrees with the White House that Iraq is a threat. But he says that the U.S. faces many other threats that deserve attention, such as the AIDS epidemic in Africa, which he says threatens to plunge some nations into anarchy.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.