- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

News Analysis

The Republican voices urging a cautious policy toward Iraq i.e., "let's not be so quick to get into a war" are united by pragmatic concerns, not by ideology.
"This isn't a case of liberals in our party warring with conservatives over whether and when the Bush administration should use military force to remove Saddam Hussein and whatever capacity his government is developing to use weapons of mass destruction," says a Republican leader with close ties to the White House.
Leading Republicans who spoke out yesterday illustrated the point.
"The president has made the intellectual case that needs to be made, [but] he has not yet created the political framework," Henry A. Kissinger, former secretary of state, said yesterday on NBC's "Face the Nation."
In his role as architect of President Nixon's opening to communist China, Mr. Kissinger was unpopular with conservatives in his party who regarded him as an "accommodationist." But yesterday he said the United States should not give veto power to its allies in Europe and elsewhere, almost all of whom oppose war with Iraq. Rather, he said, the president must first build a new security framework that recognizes the technological changes in the world that may now justify a new principle: unilateral, pre-emptive actions in self-defense.
Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, the most conservative Republican to raise his voice against military action, is also the most unequivocal.
"We Americans do not make unprovoked attacks," and Saddam Hussein has not shown "sufficient provocation," Mr. Armey, the House majority leader and long a hero to conservatives in his party, said on a campaign visit on behalf of a fellow Republican in Iowa. He said attacking Iraq "would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation."
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who conducted the Gulf War for the first President Bush and who is admired by many conservatives, yesterday agreed with Mr. Kissinger's point, cautioning on "Face the Nation" that Iraq represents a "worldwide problem. We don't need to go it alone militarily."
Also waving the caution flag yesterday, Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar said on "Face the Nation" that removing Saddam Hussein is not in itself a justification for war. But the United States has "to figure out how we get our hands on" Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
"Whether we remove Saddam or not, we still might have a government" in Baghdad that is "not very cooperative," Mr. Lugar said. "At this point the president and his advisers have to weigh the cost to us. Who will be with us? Have we exhausted all our intelligence resources? Will Congress and our allies be with us?"
The president is pointedly not objecting to the objectors in his party and has welcomed the debate.
Bush adviser Dan Bartlett said on ABC's "This Week" that while the president seeks the removal from power of Saddam, diplomatic and military action are under consideration and no timetable has been set.
Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to the first President Bush who is so close to the Bush family that some Republicans speculate he may be sending a message from father to son, said earlier that "an attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken." If the United States "were seen to be turning our backs" on the Israeli-Palestinian tinderbox "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."
Both Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, whom many conservatives regard as the designated dissenter in the Bush administration, and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, regarded as a conservative and a hawk, also counsel caution.
"The feeling is that the war-opposition group is gaining with the president himself," says a State Department official who, although close to Mr. Powell, tends to side with the "war now" camp.
"The worry is that the president is listening to is influenced by the [opposition] group," he says. "Every day there seems to be a new name in the first group."
Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, an early voice in the Republican caution chorus, said yesterday that Israel would be severely endangered by such a move.
Some Bush appointees at the State Department and some of his supporters among lawmakers and Republican-allied interest groups speculate that an elaborate game is being played out, that the president has signaled to the "proceed with caution" side that it's OK to go public with their arguments.
Says the State Department official: "I wonder if so-called rift is real between White House on one side and Powell, Scowcroft, [former Secretary of State Lawrence] Eagleburger and the others, or just very smart people playing out on another level, so that the president can delay making his case until the eve of a move against Iraq."

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