- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

President Bush has turned most of the world against the United States, is poised to wage "the wrong war at the wrong time" and will endanger civil rights through his court appointments, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy told reporters in a wide-ranging luncheon speech yesterday.
At the National Press Club, the Massachusetts Democrat complained that Mr. Bush has reduced "our standing among the peoples of Europe and in other lands abroad to or near the lowest point in half a century."
The president's desire for an "immediate, unilateral war with Iraq," and his "chip-on-the-shoulder foreign policy" are responsible for that lack of respect, Mr. Kennedy said.
"The threat from Iraq is not imminent," said Mr. Kennedy, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It will distract America from the two more immediate threats to our security the clear and present danger of terrorism and the crisis with North Korea."
Mr. Kennedy cited the discovery last week of empty chemical warheads in Iraq as a sign that further inspections, not war, are the wisest course of action.
"It's an indication that inspections work," Mr. Kennedy said. "And it's a reason to give the inspectors more time. If our goal is disarmament, we are likely to accomplish more by inspections than by war."
War with Iraq will only provoke Saddam Hussein to use any weapons of mass destruction he may possess because he will feel "personally threatened," Mr. Kennedy said.
"With the presence of inspectors, Saddam will find it difficult and probably impossible to pursue weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Mr. Kennedy's view falls into line with what the French delegation to the United Nations has been saying for weeks that a war against Saddam's regime is not necessary if inspectors are allowed to do their job. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday that such a strategy of disarmament has been tried in the past, and failed.
"The world has seen this before it was called the '90s," Mr. Fleischer said. "Throughout the '90s many nations basically allowed Saddam Hussein to continue in his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. And it was President Bush who went to the United Nations and convinced the world that that path had to be altered. And I think the president was very successful in doing that."
Mr. Fleischer pointed out that "regime change remains an American objective, per the legislation that was passed in the Congress," and said that inspections alone would not accomplish that goal.
Mr. Kennedy also accused the Bush administration of waging a "frontal attack on affirmative action." He rapped the president's support for a U.S. Supreme Court case in which white students accuse the University of Michigan of practicing reverse discrimination as engaging in "inflammatory and blatant distortions equating affirmative action with quotas which all of us oppose."
"An administration that takes such a course, whether out of conviction or political calculation, is no friend of minorities and no force for civil rights," Mr. Kennedy said. "The Senate must refuse to confirm judicial nominees who are hostile to the core values of a diverse democratic society."

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