- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

The two top Republicans in Congress emphasized their support yesterday for President Bush's vow to disarm Saddam Hussein with or without fresh U.N. backing, and suggested hostilities would not be long in starting.
The comments by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist stood in contrast to those of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who said in a speech, "I do not believe that going to war now is the best way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction."
Mr. Hastert, speaking in Findlay, Ohio, said it was important to act soon. "We have to clear the air.
"We'll be in a situation of war within a couple of weeks," he added. "My estimation. That's not official and certainly not the White House's position."
Mr. Frist, the Tennessee Republican who became majority leader in January, said, "We are fast approaching that moment of reckoning with Saddam Hussein."
In remarks on the Senate floor, Mr. Frist spoke bluntly of countries that have failed to swing behind Bush's demand that Iraq disarm fully and immediately.
"Some of our erstwhile allies would be well advised to recall that their own freedom was regained" by the type of "courage and conviction" that he said Mr. Bush is demonstrating.
"I would remind them that their own liberation in World War II was a less popular undertaking than a possible war in Iraq," added Mr. Frist, who cited a string of public opinion polls taken from 1939 to mid-1941 as evidence.
"America is at its strongest when it is standing in common cause with our friends and allies," he said. "The inverse, of course, is that America's allies are at their strongest when they are standing with the United States."
Mr. Frist and Mr. Hastert spoke on the day after Mr. Bush used a news conference to prepare the nation for war in Iraq, and as the U.N. Security Council heard an update from weapons inspectors charged with monitoring Iraqi compliance with international disarmament demands.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, made her remarks in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
"Before going to war, we must exhaust all alternatives, such as the continuation of inspections, diplomacy and the leverage provided by the threat of military action," she said.
Several questions remain unanswered with war on the horizon, she said.
"What will the war cost in terms of human lives? What will it cost in terms of dollars? … What is the cost to our economy, the uncertainty of war?" she asked.
Opposition to Mr. Bush's Iraqi policy is rare among congressional Republicans, but Democratic divisions have long been on display.
Mrs. Pelosi voted against legislation last fall that authorized the president to take military action if needed to disarm Iraq.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, second-ranking Democrat behind Mrs. Pelosi, voted in favor of the legislation and is scheduled to make a foreign policy address next week.
And Rep. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat, who voted for the legislation, issued a statement during the day that said, "It is very important that we remain united as a country as we approach the final showdown with Saddam Hussein."
"As we move forward, I hope that our leaders both in Congress and the administration speak with one voice so that our allies and our foes around the world understand the resolve of the American people."

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