(Host) Senator James Jeffords says he’ll oppose a resolution allowing President Bush to take military action against Iraq. Jeffords says the president hasn’t presented Congress with any evidence that supports the need to launch a preemptive military strike.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Standing on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Jeffords made it very clear that he believes the United States should be working harder with the United Nations to resolve the crisis with Iraq.
Jeffords urged President Bush to delay any military action until U.N. weapons inspectors have an opportunity to conduct an unrestricted investigation of Iraqi sites. Jeffords says it’s a big mistake for the United States to invade Iraq without first trying to win the support of the U.N. Security Council:
(Jeffords) “We owe it to the American people not to rush into a war but to work with the institutions that we fought so hard to develop for just this eventuality. If multilateral efforts fail, then the president should come back to Congress for consideration of the next course of action. I cannot support a resolution that puts this nation on a path to war without first exhausting diplomatic efforts.”
(Kinzel) Jeffords says he’s taking this position because the Bush administration has not made the case for immediate action against Iraq:
(Jeffords) “I am very disturbed by President Bush’s determination that the threat from Iraq is so severe and so immediate that we mush rush to a military solution. I don’t see it that way. I have discussed this issue with the president. I have heard nothing that convinces me that an immediate preemptive strike is necessary or that it would further our interests in the long run.”
(Kinzel) The full Senate is expected to consider a number of alternative Democratic resolutions by the end of the week. Jeffords says he’ll vote against most of them if they don’t directly involve the United Nations in the process.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.