Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Fri Aug 16 06:53:49 MDT 2002

(Cuba isn't mentioned in this article, but
its relevance to the island of Cuba will
be evident to readers. It's a timely and
powerful sign that very powerful forces
in the United States are endeavoring to
rein in the Bush administration's most
aggressive and out-of-control activity.

(It also makes all the more timely plans
for mass public protests in the U.S. in
opposition to Bush's war threats toward
Iraq. See next message on this topic.

(The vantage point of the critics is the
perspective that they share with Bush,
so from a political viewpoint, this is just
tactical advice, but it is VERY powerful
tactical advice. They are going public
to tell and to pressure Bush to pull back
because the costs of their carrying out
their rhetoric in life could be disastrous.

(Just as there is no evidence that the
Iraqi government has any so-called
weapons of mass descruction", Cuba
has also been falsely accused by the
Bush administration of various other
kinds of (unsubstantiated) terrorism.

(This level of disagrement among the
powerful augurs well for an end to the
43-year-old blockade of Cuba...

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."

Richard N. Perle, a former Reagan administration official
and one of the leading hawks who has been orchestrating an
urgent approach to attacking Iraq, said today that Mr.
Scowcroft's arguments were misguided and naïve.

"I think Brent just got it wrong," he said by telephone from
France. "The failure to take on Saddam after what the
president said would produce such a collapse of confidence
in the president that it would set back the war on

Mr. Perle added, "I think it is naïve to believe that we can
produce results in the 50-year-old dispute between the
Israelis and the Arabs, and therefore this is an excuse for
not taking action."

Senator Hagel, who was among the earliest voices to question
Mr. Bush's approach to Iraq, said today that the Central
Intelligence Agency had "absolutely no evidence" that Iraq
possesses or will soon possess nuclear weapons.

He said he shared Mr. Kissinger's concern that Mr. Bush's
policy of pre-emptive strikes at governments armed with
weapons of mass destruction could induce India to attack
Pakistan and could create the political cover for Israel to
expel Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.

"You can take the country into a war pretty fast," Mr. Hagel
said, "but you can't get out as quickly, and the public
needs to know what the risks are."

He added, "Maybe Mr. Perle would like to be in the first
wave of those who go into Baghdad."

For months, the State Department's approach has been to
focus on how to build a government in Iraq.

After meetings here last week involving Iraqi opposition
groups and administration officials, one official said today
that there was now consensus in the State Department that if
more discussion was focused on the challenge of creating a
post-Hussein government, "that would start broaching the
question of what kind of assistance you are going to need
from the international community to assure this structure
endures - read between the lines, how long the occupation
will have to be."

Such discussions, the official added, would have a sobering
effect on the war-planners.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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