Politicians divided on Bush’s ultimatum to Iraq | SummitDaily.com

Politicians divided on Bush’s ultimatum to Iraq

DENVER – Colorado Congressmen were divided along party lines in their reactions to President Bush’s speech Monday night.

In the 17-minute speech, Bush told viewers he will give Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his sons until Wednesday night to leave the country, or they should expect an attack by U.S. forces and some of their allies. He also upgraded the risk of a terrorist attack from “yellow,” or moderate, to “orange,” or high.

“The president has embarked on a course of action that is risky, and I cannot in good conscience say that I agree with it – I do not,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, one of two Democrats representing the state at the federal level. “I’m disappointed that the Bush administration has not pursued other alternatives short of war to disarm the Iraqi regime. I’m also disappointed that the administration has failed to secure broad international support for its policy in Iraq. This means that American forces are largely alone in what may be a very difficult mission in a treacherous part of the world.”

Republicans sided with Bush, saying Hussein has failed to dismantle any biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction.

Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell said he was initially reluctant to support a war with Iraq.

“In this case, the call to arms is necessary,” he said. “It’s going to head off something that’s going to be a lot more dangerous later.”

Republican Sen. Wayne Allard said he thought the United States needs to take responsibility for its own security.

“We have given Iraq days, months – even years – to meet the demands of the United Nations,” he said. “Instead, Saddam continues to build weapons of mass destruction, and now he faces the consequences. Peace failed because we are not dealing with peaceful men.”

And Rep. Scott McInnis, a Republican who represented Summit County before Congressional district boundaries were realigned earlier this year, said the announcement was “just the news Americans were waiting to hear.”

State Rep. Carl Miller, a Democrat from Leadville who represents Summit County, crossed traditional lines to support the president.

“I wish there was another way to solve this problem,” Miller said. “But it seems there’s no other solution. We’ve tried diplomacy, negotiations, sanctions – nothing seems to work. In my opinion, the problem is not going to go away – it hasn’t for the last decade. Now that the decision has been made, I hope we all rally around our troops and our country.”

Most Democrats said they believe Hussein must be disarmed but expressed concern that the United States is willing to attack Iraq without support of many of its allies in the United Nations.

State Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald, a Democrat from Golden who represents Summit County, said she wished Bush “wasn’t saying what he was saying” during his speech Monday night.

“It seems like administrative policy is geared to the moment we had last night,” she said. “I’ve been expressing misgivings about our foreign policy and my concern for what could be a protracted experience on our own, without the help of our allies.”

Udall hopes some last-minute development will avert a war.

“I’m a pragmatist and realize that war is more imminent than not,” Udall said. “If so, we must hope for a swift resolution with minimal casualties – among our troops and Iraqis as well. These are trying times that will test the strength of our nation.”

Fitz-Gerald said that now that the decision has been made, she plans to support U.S. troops and others who are working to unseat Saddam.

“Once the order goes, you hold your breath and hope for the best,” she said. “Those are our sons and daughters over there. I pray for a quick end to hostilities and that the troops come home safely.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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