Monday 17 March 2003
Daschle Says Bush Has Failed 'Miserably' in Diplomacy Over Iraq Crisis, Forcing America to War
Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said Monday that President Bush failed "miserably" at diplomacy, forcing the United States to go to war with Iraq.
Daschle's comments were denounced by Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot as "divisive and brazen political posturing."
Daschle, of South Dakota, supported a congressional resolution last year authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, but he has criticized the president for failing to win the support of the U.N. Security Council.
"I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war," Daschle said in a speech to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
Racicot said "it is disheartening and shameful for Senator Daschle, who has previously advocated and authorized the use of force in Iraq, to now blame America first."
Daschle spokesman Jay Carson replied that it was "brazen and political" for a party chairman to be responding to a national security issue with "with such divisive and political language."
At the White House, Bush briefed about a dozen top members of the House and Senate before his speech. Vice President Dick Cheney continued the briefing after the president left to prepare for his remarks.
There was no talk of how much the war will cost, but White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Cheney promised a supplemental appropriations request would be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as final costs were estimated.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he hoped that after hearing Bush's speech, "the Congress Democrats and Republicans will close ranks behind the president and our foreign policy will leave the shore with one voice."
Many Democratic lawmakers Monday lamented Bush's failure to win a new Security Council resolution on Iraq, but said now is the time to unite as war appears inevitable.
"Those of us who have questioned the administration's approach, including this senator, will now be rallying behind the men and women of our armed forces to give them the full support that they deserve as it now seems certain we will soon be at war," Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said on the Senate floor.
Levin and other Democrats said the lack of U.N. support could result in less international assistance in the fight against terrorism, trigger more terrorist attacks, and make it more difficult to win international contributions for rebuilding Iraq after a war.
"The path to a safer world and a more secure America has rarely come from a go it alone approach," Levin said.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a presidential candidate, said U.N. Security Council members are partially to blame for world division because they did not enforce the resolution calling on Saddam to disarm. But he also faulted "the Bush administration's unilateralist, divisive diplomacy, which has pushed a lot of the world away from us and this just and necessary cause."
Republicans stood behind Bush. "The president has shown great patience and given diplomacy every chance to work, but as he stated tonight the time to act has arrived," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, chairman of the International Relations Committee, said America could either grant Saddam an indefinite reprieve or take action "to prevent unnamed horrors to come."
"We might postpone this decision at increasing risk to ourselves, but we cannot avoid the fact that the responsibility and the choice are ours," he said.
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