- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2002

MANCHESTER, N.H. President Bush yesterday said Saddam Hussein has a history of attacking his enemies first and could inflict "massive and sudden horror" on the United States, offering a new reason for a pre-emptive military strike against the Iraqi leader.
Mr. Bush said the Iraqi dictator has a "horrible history" of attacking his enemies first.
"We cannot ignore history. We must not ignore reality. We must do everything we can to disarm this man before he hurts one single American," the president told hundreds of cheering police and National Guardsmen.
His remarks reflect subtle changes the administration is making in its case against Saddam as Mr. Bush prepares to address the nation tomorrow night from Cincinnati.
Mr. Bush also pledged yesterday to establish a coalition of "like-minded nations" outside the United Nations if necessary should the world body fail to support the use of military force to deal with Saddam.
"The world community must work to disarm him," the president said. "And if they won't, I will lead a coalition of nations, like-minded nations, to send a message we long for peace in this world."
But Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, challenged Mr. Bush's policy of taking pre-emptive military action.
"Pre-emptive strikes are something we have to take very, very seriously and carefully," Mr. Daschle said yesterday on CNN. "Number one, what kind of a standard does it set for the rest of the world? If it's OK for us, is it OK for India? How about Russia? How about Israel?"
Mr. Bush's statements come as Congress prepares to vote on a war resolution. The president won agreement last week with a bipartisan group of House leaders for a resolution allowing him to use force against Iraq. Senate Democrats are more skeptical, though a resolution is expected to pass as early as this week.
Mr. Daschle said the House resolution gave Mr. Bush too much latitude to wage war. He questioned whether there is enough evidence that Iraq poses an imminent threat and said the president has failed to explain how Iraq would be rebuilt after war.
"How long will we be there? What will it entail, on the part of the United States? How much will it cost? Who will be involved?" Mr. Daschle asked.
Previewing the case against Iraq that he likely will make in his prime-time address to the nation tomorrow night, Mr. Bush said Saddam's history of striking his enemies without notice is sufficient cause for pre-emptive U.S. military action.
"The danger to America from the Iraqi regime is grave and growing," the president said in his weekly national radio address. "The regime is guilty of beginning two wars. It has a horrible history of striking without warning.
"We will never seek war unless it is essential to security and justice. We hope that Iraq complies with the world's demands. If, however, the Iraqi regime persists in its defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable. Delay, indecision and inaction are not options for America, because they could lead to massive and sudden horror."
Mr. Bush also pledged to seek support from other nations to achieve a consensus on how to handle Saddam and rebuild a postwar Iraq.
"Should force be required to bring Saddam to account, the United States will work with other nations to help the Iraqi people rebuild and form a just government. American security, the safety of our friends and the values of our country lead us to confront this gathering threat," the president said in his radio address.
The White House said Mr. Bush's comments should end debate on Capitol Hill as to whether the president plans to attack Iraq without support from other nations.
"For those who question whether the United States will do anything unilaterally, the question is answered: The United States will not," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters aboard Air Force One.
"The only question is, will the United Nations take action or will the United States and the United Kingdom and others be part of a broad, international coalition that protects the peace," the spokesman said.
Mr. Bush is trying to influence both Congress and the United Nations to support the use of force against Saddam. He wants the 15-member U.N. Security Council to back a U.S.-British resolution seeking aggressive new inspections of Iraq's weapons program, backed up by the threat of U.S.-led force if Saddam resists.
But Russia, China and France each with veto power on the Security Council prefer having U.N. inspectors return to Iraq without the immediate threat of force. Weapons inspectors were kicked out of the country in 1998.
Russia yesterday said it harbored no opposition to France's proposal for a two-tiered approach to a U.N. resolution on disarming Iraq.
"This project does not contain a clause approving the use of force against Iraq, and as such it does not inspire a negative reaction," Yuri Fedotov, deputy foreign affairs minister, was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying.
France says there should be two stages. An initial resolution would define the inspectors' mission, and then a second resolution would detail action to be taken including military moves, if necessary if Baghdad fails to cooperate with the inspectors.
But Mr. Fleischer said Russia needs to understand that dealing with Saddam is "about peace."
"This is about how to preserve peace by removing the greatest threat to peace, Saddam Hussein and his weapons," he said.
Mr. Bush yesterday said the United Nations has failed to act to enforce 16 previous resolutions stretching back 11 years that demanded Saddam destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
"Sixteen different times, the United Nations, an important world body, has said, 'You must disarm' 16 times and he's defied them all 16 times. He's lied, and he's deceived. And so now the choice is the United Nations' to make," he said.
"I've told the United Nations, 'Either you can be the United Nations or you can be the League of Nations, your choice.'"
In his radio address, the president called on Congress to wrap up debate on his proposed resolution and stand behind him in support for taking action in Iraq.
The president will deliver a prime-time speech tomorrow night from Cincinnati, in which he will explain to the American people why the United States is prepared to go to war to disarm Saddam.
Mr. Bush hopes to use the 20-minute speech as a primer for Americans who have not yet sought to influence their elected representatives to support the use of force in Iraq.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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