- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday the United States is now seeing an international coalition growing in the war to disarm Iraq and to rebuild it after the conflict ends.
"I think that there is growing support and a growing recognition that this will be an international effort," Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, told reporters yesterday. "As we progress, I think we can expect that we'll see greater support, especially from those who have worked with us in the past, and this is no exception."
That is something of a shift from just before fighting began, when Mr. Daschle said President Bush's failure in diplomacy "forced" the nation to war.
"What I said back then is, it would have been much better if we'd had the kind of broad-based coalition, and I still believe that," Mr. Daschle said yesterday. "But now I think we are going to create the kind of international coalition ultimately. It didn't happen before the war, but I think it's very possible that it could happen either during or after the war."
Democratic leaders, including those who had been critical of the president's policy toward Iraq and his execution of diplomacy, continue to question his domestic priorities and say he is underfunding homeland security.
But they have rallied behind the war effort. In separate briefings with reporters yesterday, Mr. Daschle and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, both said they will not question the administration's prosecution of the war.
"You know my views on the war, that I have disapproved of the policy," Mrs. Pelosi said. "That was then, this is now. Our men and women are in harm's way. I don't have any intention of second-guessing the strategy of the commander in chief and those who are waging this war."
And Mr. Daschle said that from his viewpoint, the conflict was going well.
"I don't think anyone should be surprised that we are meeting resistance or that we are facing the challenges that we face," he said. "I'm very pleased with the reports and the progress we're making."
Still, Mrs. Pelosi said that based on her impression from a visit with troops in the Gulf region a few weeks ago, she had a sense they were not as prepared as they could have been.
"One of the impressions I brought home was that there was less knowledge of the tactics and the capability of our opponents than I would have been comfortable with," she said. "I think that that is what we are facing now, the unknown. We were hoping for a best-case scenario that has not materialized."
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said he has seen the Democratic leaders tone down their earlier criticism. But he said other Democrats, such as Rep. Pete Stark of California and Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, have not.
"You still have the Starks of the world, and the Sheila Jackson-Lees, who are trying to have it both ways," he said. "They start every comment with 'I certainly support the troops,' and then go denigrate why they're there.
"That's not supporting the troops, because you are telling that soldier directly he's risking his life for something that's wrong, and that has consequences," Mr. DeLay said. "It has consequences in morale; it has consequences in soldiers second-guessing orders; it has consequences in soldiers questioning themselves as to what their commitment is."
He also said their criticisms are the kinds of things Iraqi captors might use to break the will of American prisoners of war.
"You don't think they aren't taking quotes from people and showing them to these guys? They did in Vietnam; they did in Korea; they probably did in World War II. Of course they use it for psychological torture," Mr. DeLay said.
Meanwhile, Congress continued to push measures to honor and support the troops.

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