With the possibility of a U.S.-led war against Iraq perhaps just days away, key congressional Democrats are blasting what they view as the administration's zeal to disarm that country by force.
In a series of speeches on the Senate floor, Democrats expressed concern about possible U.S. military action against Iraq without adequate international support.
Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts said he is worried that in the administration's "rush to war," as he put it, Americans are becoming more divided at home and more isolated in the world community.
"Instead of persuading the dissenters at home and abroad, the administration by its harsh rhetoric is driving the wedge deeper," he said. "Never before, even in the Vietnam War, has America taken such bold military action with so little international support."
Mr. Kennedy said the administration has not made a convincing case that war is necessary, and expressed concern that such a conflict could provoke a new wave of anti-American sentiment in the world.
Senator Patrick Leahy also expressed bewilderment at what he described as the administration's determination to use force against Iraq in the face of significant international opposition.
"I cannot pretend to understand the thinking of those in the administration who for months or even longer seemed possessed with a kind of messianic zeal in favor of war," he said.
Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia argued the United States may have trouble bearing the costs of reconstructing a post-war Iraq without help from its allies.
"I fear the rebuilding of that ancient country will have to be another act of U.S. unilateralism, another act of U.S. unilateralism for which the American people are ill-prepared," he said.
The comments came shortly after the Bush administration signaled it may not seek a vote in the U.N. Security Council on a draft resolution effectively authorizing war against Iraq. The United States and Britain continue to face strong opposition in the Security Council to any measure that would quickly lead to military action against Iraq.