- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2002

The tenor of Wednesday's remarks by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on the administration's conduct on Iraq saddens me. The Senate should be deliberately debating the threat Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose against the United States. Instead, we've heard deliberate and inflammatory accusations that a president of the United States is using the possibility of war for political purposes.

We'd be better served debating Saddam Hussein and the threat that the world will face when a brutal dictator, who has already used chemical and biological weapons, possesses nuclear weapons capability and the means to deliver them. We'd be better served to ask ourselves if we are prepared for an unholy alliance of a tyrant who has tried to assassinate a president of the United States, and the terrorists who killed thousands of innocents in our country.

To those surprised we're engaged in this debate, I ask a very simple question: Where were you, nine months ago, when the president of the United States came before a joint session of Congress and said: "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror … (and) has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade."

Where were you, nine months ago, when the president continued: "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world … (and) pose a grave and growing danger."

Where were you, six months ago, on the half-year anniversary of September 11, when the president said: "We know that these weapons, in the hands of terrorists, would unleash blackmail and genocide and chaos… There is no margin of error, and no chance to learn from mistakes."

Again in May, the president said: "If these regimes and their terrorist allies were to perfect these capabilities, no inner voice of reason, no hint of conscience would prevent them." The president of the United States has been laying out the case against Iraq in a deliberate and focused way for nearly a year.

Just last month, the Democrats were insisting the president bring the debate to Congress. In August, Mr. Daschle said it would be a big mistake for the administration to act without Congress and without its involvement.

The president wisely decided to consult with the Congress and ask for a vote. As soon as he did, my friends across the aisle equivocated. The mantra became, "let's vote later." We heard the president should work through the United Nations. In September, Mr. Daschle said: "It would certainly be in [the presidents] best interest, our country's best interest, for him to go to … the United Nations, to solicit their support." The president went to the U.N. and laid out a clear and compelling case to that body.

The president has met every single objection raised by Democrats. Even now, the White House is actively consulting the Democratic leadership on the resolution itself.

If the majority leader were truly asking that this war not be politicized, why is he not helping to make the case against Saddam? He's spent more time criticizing the process of the debate than constructively engaging in it. We've heard much about process, but we've yet to hear a clear indictment against Saddam.

By contrast, listen to the words of the prime minister of Great Britain: "Two things about Saddam stand out. He has used these weapons, thousands dying in chemical weapons attacks in Iraq itself. He used them in the Iran-Iraq war, started by him, in which 1 million people died. And his is a regime with no moderate elements to appeal to … Read not just about the 1 million dead in the war with Iran, not just about the 100,000 Kurds brutally murdered in northern Iraq, not just the 200,000 Shia Muslims driven from the marshlands in southern Iraq; not just the attempt to subjugate and brutalize the Kuwaitis in 1990 which led to the Gulf War… I defy anyone to say that this cruel and sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility of getting his hands on more chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons."

That was the prime minister of Great Britain, whose country was not attacked on September 11, nor were his country's leaders the target of Saddam's assassins. Ours were.

If Senate Democrats really wanted to depoliticize this debate, they would seek to rally the country and the world around one simple proposition: Saddam is a clear and present danger. The American people would prefer to see the majority leader focus his contempt and passion where it rightfully belongs.


Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott is a Mississippi Republican.


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