DeWine remains undecided on Iraq
Sen. George V. Voinovich has expressed his full support for using military force against Iraq.
By DAVID ENRICH
STATES NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- As the Senate prepares for several days of debate about whether the United States should go to war with Iraq, one of Ohio's two senators supports authorizing President Bush to use military force, while the other remains undecided.
In a 14-minute speech on the Senate floor Friday, Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich threw his support behind a congressional resolution that would permit Bush to use the military to enforce United Nations resolutions and to deal with threats posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Under the resolution, Bush would be authorized to act militarily only after exhausting diplomatic avenues. He also would have to regularly report to Congress on the status of the war.
The resolution "reflects the balance of power that must exist between the executive and legislative branches," Voinovich said.
"It allows the president the authority to use force but respects Congress' power to restrict that authority. It reflects the concerns of Congress that every diplomatic effort be made first and that any action take place in cooperation with the international community."
Sees imminent threat
Voinovich also asserted that Saddam poses an imminent threat to the United States because he possesses chemical and biological weapons and "is working as if his life depended on it to acquire nuclear weapons."
"After 9/11, do we doubt that terrorist groups would [not] turn down the opportunity to get their hands on Saddam's weapons and use them against us?" Voinovich asked.
Ohio's other Republican senator, Mike DeWine, apparently is undecided on whether Saddam poses a sufficiently serious threat to justify an attack on Iraq. DeWine spokeswoman Amanda Flaig said the senator has not yet decided whether to vote for a use-of-force resolution.
"He's undecided and he's still receiving intelligence briefings," Flaig said. She said DeWine also is waiting to see the exact language of the resolution that the Senate will be considering.
The Senate is expected to spend most of next week considering three resolutions authorizing Bush to use military force in Iraq under various circumstances. The first resolution gives the president the most latitude to decide whether to wage war. The White House, most Republicans -- including Voinovich -- and some Democrats support it, and the House and Senate are expected to pass it by wide bipartisan margins.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., are pushing an alternative resolution. It authorizes unilateral U.S. action, but only to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and not for the Bush administration's stated goal of "regime change." The Biden-Lugar resolution has received the support of some leading Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.
Sen. Carl M. Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has proposed a third resolution that would authorize U.S. military action to disarm Iraq only under the auspices of the United Nations.
DeWine's uncertainty on the Iraq resolution seems to represent at least a partial shift from the views he espoused after returning in July from a trip to the Middle East.
At the time, DeWine said that if "we believe that Iraq has the capability with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and has the inclination to attack, then we're going to have to use pre-emptive force." He added that there is "no dispute" that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons.
Flaig said Friday that the fact that DeWine is waiting on more intelligence information does not necessarily mean that he does not think there is enough evidence to justify an attack on Iraq.
Instead, Flaig said, he is taking his time to deliberate on the issue because "he does view this as a very grave decision."