Jeffords, Leahy, Sanders oppose invading Iraq alone

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(Host) All three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation say it’s critical to have the support of the United Nations before the United States invades Iraq and attempts to remove Saddam Hussein from power. And they say it would be a mistake for the United States to act alone in a mission against Iraq.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The comments were a reaction to a speech given by President George W. Bush at the United Nations. In that address, Bush urged members of the U.N. to join an effort to destroy what Bush called “the weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. And the president said the U.N. would be irrelevant if it fails to act.

Bush is calling for the U.N. to support military actions against Iraq if Saddam Hussein does not allow weapons inspectors back into the country. Bush indicated the U.S. might act on its own if the U.N. fails to act.

Senator James Jeffords says he will not support military efforts by the Bush administration unless the plan has U.N. approval:

(Jeffords) “This has to be a unilateral action by a number of the U.N. countries and with the backing of the Security Council so that it becomes a U.N. action and not a United States action. If it doesn’t, I’m very much against it. I think it would be setting a horrible precedent which would tie us into solving the world’s problems by ourselves and I think that’s a disaster.”

(Kinzel) Senator Patrick Leahy says the president presented a strong case against Iraq at the U.N. But Leahy says Bush has not made a case for the United States acting alone:

(Leahy) “I don’t how the president gets a declaration of war, for example, out of the Congress if the U.N. has turned down all kinds of action. But I suspect that what you’re going to see eventually is the United Nations calling for a stronger compliance by Saddam Hussein.”

(Kinzel) Congressman Bernie Sanders also says it’s vitally important to have the support of the world community before taking any military action against Iraq:

(Sanders) “I fear very much that a unilateral American invasion of Iraq will enable us to lose our focus and our capabilities for fighting the war terrorism. You can only fight so many battles at one time. It will turn much of the Muslim world against us, it will lead to more instability in Egypt, in Pakistan, in Jordan, and the leaders of all of those countries are saying do not do it.”

(Kinzel) U.N. weapons inspectors have not been allowed in Iraq for the last three and a half years.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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