- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Richard A. Gephardt yesterday said he disagrees with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's assertion that the war with Iraq was the result of President Bush's diplomatic failures.
"Tom Daschle is a great friend of mine, and he has every right to state his views as he sees them. I don't agree with him here," Mr. Gephardt said on "Fox News Sunday."
"I think we tried diplomacy. I always said from the beginning diplomacy if we can, military if we must," said Mr. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat.
Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said after Mr. Bush's 48-hour warning last week that he was "saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was critical for our country."
Some Democratic presidential candidates oppose the war, and the party has often been seen as weak on national-security issues.
However, Mr. Gephardt pointed to a resolution passed in October with Democratic backing as proof of the party's support.
He said "90-plus Democrats support the authorization to use force in the House." The vote passed 296-133, with support from 79 of 205 Democrats.
"There's always going to be differences of opinion. There are differences of opinion in the United States and around the world about this, but you've got to put politics out of it. This is life and death," said Mr. Gephardt, former House Democratic leader.
On CBS' "Face the Nation," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, categorized the war effort as "going remarkably well."
"It seems to me there should be absolutely no letup," Mr. Biden said.
He said that when President Saddam Hussein's regime falls, the United Nations should be involved in establishing a transitional government to prevent the appearance of the United States as "post-colonial occupiers."
"We're not about [colonialism]. We're not about their oil. We're not about trying to gain contracts or international economic advantage," Mr. Biden said.
"We're about stripping [Saddam], under the U.N. resolution, of his weapons of mass destruction and now, making sure the regime is changed," Mr. Biden said.
Appearing with Mr. Biden, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, predicted that most nations, particularly Germany, will be eager to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.
"I don't know what the French will do. They continue to act in a very unusual way by opposing a resolution to the United Nations that we have not even proposed. I think they've lost their relevance," Mr. McCain said.
The war so far has been "very successful," but the toughest battles lay ahead as the troops near Baghdad, he said.
"This is a remarkable achievement. But we'll keep our fingers crossed. The trip that they're making to Baghdad as we speak is a remarkable blitzkrieg-kind of activity," Mr. McCain said.
Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, appeared on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer" and said air strikes have been precise and effective.
"The president of the United States, as he came back from Camp David, indicated clearly that we are winning the war, we are going to persist with the war, Saddam will [be] vanquished, the weapons of mass destruction will be found," Mr. Lugar said.

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