Skip to comments.Some advisors seek sweeping U.S. response-Disagreement is emerging among President Bush' advisors
Posted on 09/18/2001 5:29:07 PM PDT by Rome2000
BY WARREN P. STROBEL
Herald Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- As he weighs retaliation for last week's terrorist attacks, President Bush is receiving conflicting advice from his top aides, some of whom want to go beyond a military strike on terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden's bases in Afghanistan and topple states that have long threatened the United States, particularly Iraq.
The split between civilian officials at the Pentagon and Secretary of State Colin Powell, confirmed Monday by current and former U.S. officials, goes to the heart of Bush's proposed new war on international terrorism.
Powell, seeking to build and hold an international coalition against terrorism that includes many Muslim nations, is urging caution, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman wants to limit military strikes to bin Laden's Afghan redoubts and to use other means -- diplomacy, law enforcement and financial pressure -- to shut down terrorist networks elsewhere.
That view is not shared by the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and others have argued strenuously in inter-agency meetings for a far more sweeping U.S. response, including a strategic bombing campaign and aid for Iraqi opposition groups to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the officials said.
The retaliatory campaign should include ``ending states who sponsor terrorism,'' Wolfowitz said at a news conference last week.
Wolfowitz's rhetoric -- which has not been repeated by other members of Bush's foreign policy team -- appeared to be a reference to Iraq.
The deputy defense secretary and other aides to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have been calling for an aggressive U.S. effort to oust Hussein since before they took office.
There is no evidence that Iraq helped plan or execute last Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to U.S. intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. But proponents of ousting Hussein cite his longtime support of terrorist movements and the hotly debated theory that Iraq played a role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
``This is just an added reason for making life as difficult as we can for Saddam,'' said Richard Perle, an advisor to the Pentagon and leading proponent of increased aid to the opposition Iraqi National Congress.
``If all we do is go after bin Laden, it'll make a mockery of all the president had to say about waging a war on terrorism,'' Perle said.
But a response that goes beyond bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban leaders, who host the terrorist mastermind, poses potentially grave problems for Bush and his diplomacy.
During the Persian Gulf War, Bush's father held together a fractious international coalition that included many Arab states by sticking to the narrow goal of ousting Hussein's troops from Kuwait rather than occupying Iraq and removing its leader.
Bush and Powell have rallied many world leaders to their side over the last week. But there is virtually no support in this new international coalition, particularly among its Muslim members, for attacks on Iraq or other Middle Eastern nations that give succor to terrorists.
``We're trying to build a coalition and people are lining up to join us, and they [Pentagon officials] want to blow it all to hell by bombing Iraq tomorrow,'' said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pentagon proposals are ``exactly the kind of thing that would just alienate a lot of people,'' said Kenneth Pollack, a Persian Gulf specialist at the White House National Security Council until earlier this year.
Also in the back of officials' minds is then-President Bill Clinton's response to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, also traced to bin Laden's network.
Many people worldwide did not begrudge the United States the right to retaliate for the bombings.
But Washington was widely seen to lose the moral high ground when, in addition to sending cruise missiles to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, it targeted a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan whose links to bin Laden remain in dispute to this day.
If Bush's retaliation goes beyond bin Laden, ``there's a real possibility that we're going to start losing support left and right,'' said Pollack, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Can anyone else see the handwriting on the wall.
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So now Administration officials are scurrying around to left wing journalists and putting out the word that the terrorists can do just about anything without having to worry about a swift and sure response.
Nothings really changed with some in Washinton, let's hope Bush listens to the right people.
Another disruptive attempt from the Clintonistas. Hold on and keep the faith. George Bush is the President, not some Arkansas trash.
That's only if you believe the left wing journalists that report it. I don't.....and I don't believe that Administration officials are leaking anything right now.....
In fact, he even thanked him today for his cooperation.
Things are not looking good.
Powell IMHO, is starting to look just a little too cautious.
Hussein, Arafat, Khaddafy and Castro are starting to let out major sighs of relief and are tittering under their breath.
And the Chinese are starting to lick their chopsicks over Taiwan.
We are fast approaching it.
The leftists don't quit.
Arafat is soon to be a member of the coalition, I fear.
I've noticed that too, and liked it. The media goes crazy trying to find out what's up, but W's people aint talking. I love it :-)
Just another perfumed prince.
Saddam holds a lot of power over the other wannabe Arab thugs in that region. If we kill him well create a power vacuum. As long as Saddam is there we can keep our military there, beating them down. Saddam is more useful alive.
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