War and Peace
With his September 12 speech before the United Nations, President Bush dramatically shifted world opinion about the need to move against Saddam Hussein. A once-skeptical international community now seems to be buckling faster than the Taliban, and the nation's capital is suddenly dominated by talk of the coming war as stories of the nation's economic woes drift off the front pages.
While undoubtedly a huge political victory for the administration, the president's speech failed to bring unanimity to Washington State's ideologically diverse delegation.
Despite the Iraqi regime's September 16 announcement that they are now willing to allow "unconditional" weapons inspections by the United Nations, Representative Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) remains foremost among those rushing to support the president's staunch advocacy of regime change. Todd Young, Hastings' communications director, offers a blunt "no" when asked if the Iraqi announcement has altered Hastings' opinion. Hastings is so pro-invasion that he doesn't see the need for either the United Nations' or the U.S. Congress' approval of a wham-bam-goodbye-Saddam military strike in Iraq. According to Young, whatever the president decides, his boss is inclined to support it. He "believes we have one commander-in-chief, not 535," Young says.
In the days before President Bush's fire-breathing speech to the U.N., it appeared Bush might not seek congressional or international approval before moving against Iraq. Now, however, Bush is pushing Congress to vote on an Iraq resolution in the next two to three weeks. Democrats say the sense of urgency is due more to the White House's desire to use Iraq as a political issue in tight congressional races, and to reprogram voters who are souring on Bush's handling of the economy. (When was the last time, for example, you heard the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation of Halliburton mentioned in the news?)
Thus, Democrats like Seattle's Representative Jim McDermott claim Bush has not made the case for an attack, that view will only grow stronger with the apparent Iraqi capitulation on inspections. McDermott, one of only a handful of House members to come out against the Afghanistan campaign, says Bush is rushing headlong into war, sacrificing deliberation in his need for speed.
McDermott says, "I feel that a preemptive, unilateral military attack against Iraq would jeopardize the international cooperation we need to wage the war against terrorism. It would also inflame anti-U.S. extremism throughout the region, and set a dangerous precedent that other countries might follow."