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US Lawmakers To Begin Debate on Iraq War Resolution This Week - 2002-09-30

The U.S. Senate is to begin debate this week on a resolution authorizing President Bush to use military force against Iraq.

Senate Democrats hope to make some changes in the draft resolution, which would authorize the president to use force against Iraq, if he decides further diplomacy would not adequately protect U.S. national security interests.

For example, some Democrats want to more narrowly define Mr. Bush's powers to launch a strike on Iraq. Others want to make sure the United States exhausts its options working with the United Nations before launching any attack. Some want assurances that any military action against Iraq will not hurt the broader war on terrorism.

Still others, including Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, say the administration has yet to convince them that war against Iraq is necessary.

"Congress must not rush to judgment before it has had ample opportunity to answer the many questions that still remain regarding, why a war, a pre-emptive war, should be fought at this time against Iraq. For example, what is the immediate threat to American security to justify an attack on another sovereign nation?"

Republicans for the most part back the draft resolution, which closely mirrors the proposal sent to Congress a few weeks ago.

But at least one Senate Republican, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, says any military action against Iraq must be part of a broader U.S. engagement in the region.

In a speech in Washington Monday, Senator Hagel called for more intense, direct and multilateral engagement toward establishing long-term security in the region, resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and strengthening alliances in the war on terrorism.

"If we are serious about regime change in Iraq, it should be the cutting edge of an American policy for peaceful change and democratic reform in the Middle East," he said. "In the absence of democracy, radical politics and terrorism will continue to thrive. The region faces a crossroads between the old ways of authoritarianism, extremism, and despair, and the hard work of managing the peaceful transition to democracy and open economies. We cannot escape our engagement with Iraq and the Middle East."

The Senate and House are expected to approve a resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq next week.