- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) — President George W. Bush said Tuesday the United States will request a reconvening of the U.N. Security Council next week over the Iraq crisis, and would present intelligence and other information showing Iraq's continued defiance of U.N. inspection mandates.

Iraq remains a grave danger, Bush said in his State of the Union message to Congress, and although the United States wants to work with other nations, it would not allow others to control its action to protect the national security of the country.

Bush's remarks to a nation anxious about its pocketbook and uneasy over the prospect of war urged Americans Tuesday to remember their national character and meet the challenges with resolve and confidence.

On the domestic front, jobs must be created, healthcare improved and energy and conservation measures made more effective, he said.

Compassion must also be brought to bear on social problems with activities such as mentoring children and helping those addicted to drugs, he said.

On the world scene, the government would spend $6 billion in the coming year to make available vaccines to prevent against bacteriological threats posed by terrorists, a new center to evaluate terrorist threat information would be created, and the war against terrorism would continue.

The United States would ask the U.N. Security Council to reconvene on Feb. 5 to further evaluate and act on Iraq's continued defiance of international mandates to disarm, but "the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others. What ever action is required, whatever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people," he said to applause.

At that session, the United States would present intelligence and information showing Iraq's non-compliance, he said.

Bush's State of the Union appearance before a joint session of Congress was his second since entering the White House and the second since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that so changed the nation.

"Americans are a resolute people, who have risen to every test of our time," he said. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves, he added..

"This country has many challenges. We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, other presidents, and other generations. We will confront them with focus, and clarity, and courage."

The president's remarks were met by a tough audience in and out of Capitol Hill. Recent public opinion polls showed Bush still enjoying high personal popularity, but also showed growing fissures of doubt over his handling of a sluggish economy and almost single-minded drive toward military conflict with Iraq.

Many Americans apparently believe the president hasn't made a strong enough case for the necessity of forcing Iraq to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction the administration claims it possesses, but has not yet irrefutably proven

Many others doubt whether his 10-year, $674 billion economic growth package featuring accelerated tax relief would truly create jobs rather than boost the federal deficit.

Bush, despite increasing attacks by Democrats and public doubt, showed no sign of retreat Tuesday. He trumpeted four goals for Congress in the coming year — a stronger economy through job creation; high quality and affordable healthcare for seniors and a prescription drug benefit for them; greater energy independence; and compassionate social outreach.

The domestic proposals include:

— In addition to accelerated tax cuts and relief for small businesses to promote job creation, an increase in discretionary spending by 4 percent, about the size an average family's income will grow because "federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families.

— A budget commitment of $400 billion over the next 10 years to reform and strengthen Medicare, while "seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is."

— The urging of Congress to pass previously presented Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over 15 years; a Healthy Forests initiative and a new, proposed $1.2 billion in research funding to develop hudrogen-powered vehicles.

— A $450 million initiative for mentoring to more than 1 million disadvantaged junior high school students and children of prisoners; and a $600 million initiative to help drug-addicted Americans receive treatment for their addiction.

The president, however, also made two proposals sure to spark fierce opposition on Capitol Hill and among liberal social advocacy groups: a ban on partial birth abortion and a ban on all human cloning.

"I ask you top protect infants at the very hour of birth, and end the practice of partial-birth abortion," Bush said. "And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity and pass a law against all human cloning."

The president, bemoaning the AIDS epidemic in Africa, also proposed a plan to provide humane care for at least 2 million AIDS sufferers there and for orphaned children; and a $15 billion commitment over five years to help fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

The president reprised his recital of victories in the war on terrorism — the liberation of Afghanistan, the capture of terrorist leaders, hampering terrorist funding.

But, he warned, "our nation and our friends are all that stand between a world at peace, and a world of chaos and constant alarm."

America was working with the international community to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But, he said, in all "these efforts … America's is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world."

In regard to North Korea, which has threatened to resume its nuclear weapons program, Bush said the United States was working with allies to resolve the situation diplomatically.

"Different threats require different strategies," he said. "Our nation and the world must learn the lesson of the Korean Peninsula, and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq."

Bush offered no new evidence to polish his argument that Iraq possesses chemical and biological weapons, is not fully cooperating with U.N. weapons inspections, and poses a grave threat to American security interests and world peace.

Instead he repeated the list of suspected weapons of mass destruction Iraq has not accounted for, and the deceptions it has allegedly committed against the inspectors, who returned to Iraq in November.

"The dictator of Iraq is not disarming," Bush said. "To the contrary, he is deceiving.

"The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack."

Bush's stand on Iraq came under concerted attack Monday and Tuesday by Democrats.

"The American people, and the world, for that matter, are waiting to hear what the president's decision is and his rationale for it," Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said from the Senate floor Tuesday. "We're waiting to hear a clear explanation why war may be the only remaining alternative and what will be expected of them, not only in winning the war, but what will be expected of the American people for us to win the peace."

Biden said Bush aides had made the idea of attacking Iraq seem easy when it could involve vast U.S. casualties, enormous financial costs and result in the United States having to post a lengthy, 75,000-person occupying force in Iraq. He said it was the first time in history that an American president was proposing a war at the same that he was calling for a $674 billion tax cut.

Biden's attack also zeroed in on administration foreign policy as a whole, saying it has contributed to a rise in anti-Americanism and distrust around the world, which is based on selfish economic motives, the belief that America's right wing pushes the Bush administration and what is seen as unilateralism.

Biden minced no words.

"All this is compounded by the obvious discussion within the administration, the announcement of a new doctrine of preemption that's yet to explain to us, let alone them; the appearance of a great power being petulant when a president stands before the world and says, 'I am growing impatient, I'm getting tired;' the apparent contradiction in the rest of the world's mind of the treatment of the threat from northern Korea, which has weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, has a record of proliferation and has violated international agreements, and we're talking to them, whereas in Iraq it has no nuclear weapons, we can't find the weapons of mass destruction, and there's scant evidence of proliferation."

Biden called on the administration to level with the American people, telling them what is expected of them if the United States goes to war with Iraq, and what would be expected of them if things did not go well.

The direction of his Bush's speech, which led with domestic issues, seemed to have shifted since the weekend when administration aides on television interviews talked overwhelmingly about the dangers posed by Iraq.

On Sunday, a day before the U.N. inspectors' report to the Security Council on Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an address at Davos, Switzerland, that the United States was prepared to take unilateral action in Iraq. Monday, after the U.N. inspectors reported they needed more time for their work, Powell said the United States had made no decision about how to proceed and would study their inspectors' report, which was mandated by Security Council Resolution 1441.

Administration officials said undisclosed evidence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaida were likely to be released next week. One scenario would be to take a page from the game book of President John F. Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis and have Powell present the U.S. evidence at the United Nations.

Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Monday that the White House should "show proof to the world" that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the United States is facing a credibility gap.

Nearing the end of his address, Bush had a special message for the Iraqi people: "Your enemy is not surrounding your country — your enemy is ruling your country.

"And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation."

More than 130,000 U.S. troops will soon be in the Gulf awaiting a possible order to attack Iraq. In addition there are dozens of ships and hundreds of attack planes.

"We seek peace. We strive for peace," Bush said. "And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all.

"If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means — sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military — and we will prevail," he said.


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