Senator DeWines views on Iraq
While United States Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) was in town on Sunday
afternoon, the Yellow Springs News was able to ask a few questions about
his views on the current situation regarding Iraq:
YS News: Are you able to define any more clearly your position on the
war in Iraq?
Senator DeWine: I continue to study the issue and continue briefings through
the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The resolution is in front of us, but the language in the Senate is not
yet finalized. There are amendments still to be made, but I cant
tell you how Ill vote on the final resolution.
These are very difficult choices, and its a difficult situation
for this country right now. Inspectors have been [trying to assess Saddams
military capabilities] for four years while Saddam has only had more time
to increase his nuclear and biological weapons capabilities. This is all
published news . . .
We know what hes done in the past; hes a ruthless killer with
no concern for human life. We know what were dealing with. As he
continues to develop more weapons, the threat to the entire Mideast area
increases. If Saddam has viable nuclear weapons capabilities, thats
a scary thing.
There are many variables in determining how quickly hell reach that
I commend the President on bringing the issue back on the front burner
and for talking to the U.N. We need to enforce our resolutions. We need
to get inspectors back in and create a tougher inspections regime.
Its important to debate the timing of the resolution that would
give the President the authority to engage Iraq in a war in the future.
Its clear to the American people the dangers of war. No one can
predict what will happen, but there are certain possibilities.
One, Saddam has an arsenal of biological and chemical weapons he could
unleash on our troops. Two, because weve increased our threat, he
is more likely to use his weapons of mass destruction. He could engage
us in war on our own territory with biological attacks on U.S. citizens
anywhere in the country. And three, we have to assume hed launch
Scud missiles against Israel with biological and chemical weapons attached.
What will Israels reaction be? We have to assume they would retaliate,
but then what would other countries in the area do? What about Syria?
How will they react?
That doesnt even get to the issue of what is left of Iraq after
the war is over. What does Saddam do when hes coming down from power?
Its not an easy thing to do to [reorganize a war torn country].
We have to assume in the immediate aftermath that there would be ethnic
killings, and thats a difficult situation to try to stop.
Its important that we slowly ratchet up the pressure on Saddam.
We cant let this go on forever.
YS News: Are you committed to being in accord with the U.N. before the
U.S. makes a decision?
Senator DeWine: Its preferable and helpful to have the support of
the U.N. . . . [though] we just cant be held hostage to the U.N.s
decision. But we need to try to work with them.
The goal is to put in place a tough weapons inspection regime; merely
letting inspectors back in is not enough. As the Senate continues discussions,
so will the U.S. be discussing with other nations.
YS News: Are you concerned about the erosion of Congresss power
to declare war?
Senator DeWine: Congress has at times given the President the authority
to take military action, for instance during Eisenhowers presidency
and the Gulf of Tonkin resolution during Vietnam.
No one doubts that if Kennedy hadnt been successful in getting the
Soviets to back down during the Cuban missile crisis that a pre-emptive
strike could have taken place, even without Congresss approval.
In a situation of emergency, the President has to act.
But in this case, its not an emergency; its almost an academic
I think we need a broadly written resolution. People in the constituency
are saying Iraq is a clear and present danger. No one knows for sure.
We know his past, we have an idea of his weapons profile, but we dont
know what hell do in the future with them. Will he strike against
us here? Will he hand off weapons to terrorists?
We do know if he gets nuclear weapons it will change the balance of power
in the Middle East; it will be a fundamentally different Middle East.
YS News: Can you comment on the status of the Homeland Security bill?
Senator DeWine: Its important that we pass the Homeland Security
bill and give the President more flexibility. But we need to keep in mind
that fixing intelligence is more important than the Homeland Security
We need better coordination of the CIA and FBI and better information
dissemination. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I believe
we need to make a fundamental change in the intelligence community. The
director of the CIA needs more power; George Tenet needs wider control
of the budget. The FBI needs to update its computers. The CIA needs to
recruit more language people, those who speak Farsi and Arabic, etc.
My concern is just to pass the Homeland Security bill. The question isnt
whether to do something or not. We must do something. The question is
do we give the President the authority to start a war.
The Senator also quickly commented on the type of response his office
had been receiving from the public in recent months.
Senator DeWine: Weve been receiving letters and phone calls
from an overwhelming majority who are against the war in Iraq. It appears
people are largely against going to war with Iraq.