INTERNATIONAL

Bush team undermining Iraq policy, says Republican leader

WASHINGTON OCT. 13. Leading members of Congress are slamming the Bush administration for having lost control of the Iraq policy with some of this having to do with serious infighting within the Cabinet on the directions of policy. And not many senior members of Congress have been totally impressed by the White House public relations blitz last week on Iraq led by the President, George W. Bush.

What should be of serious concern to this administration is that some of the criticism is coming from respected Republicans such as Richard Lugar, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Indiana Republican, known for his balance in foreign policy, has urged the President, George W. Bush, to "be the President" and to take the lead on Iraq.

"The President has to be President over the Vice-President and over these Secretaries," Mr. Lugar remarked during the course of a Sunday talk show. Mr. Lugar joined the group of lawmakers who believed that the administration had different opinions on Iraq. But leading Democrats such as Joseph Biden, who is the ranking member in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have tougher things for the President and are not willing to mince words. "There's no clear articulation within the administration of what the goals, what the message is, what the plan is. You have this significant division within the administration between the Powells and the Rumsfelds," Mr. Biden said. Asked what he would have to tell the President should they meet alone, the top Democrat replied, "I would say, Mr. President, take charge. Take charge. Settle this dispute." The Delware Democrat also argued that Mr. Bush should tell the Vice-President and the Secretaries of State and Defence that anyone diverting from his policy on Iraq "is off the team."

Law makers such as Mr. Biden have been particularly irritated with the hard line speech of the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, to the conservative Heritage Foundation, especially references to the right of the U.S. going it alone to defend its national security interests. Mr. Biden has taken the position that Mr. Cheney's desire — which is shared by the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld — is to undermine international institutions because of being a "drag" on the U.S. capability.

"They (meaning Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld) want to establish this new doctrine, and in my view... they want to undermine international institutions because they feel they're a drag on our capability," Mr. Biden charged.

The Bush administration last week decided to get on the offensive about its Iraq policy and some of this had to do with countering this so-called filter in the media that was supposedly stopping Americans from hearing or finding out all the good things that are happening in that country. The President, the Vice-President and the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, addressed different audiences in Washington, New Hampshire and Chicago. Some members of Congress have said that Mr. Cheney's speech was by far the most strident.

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