Veteran Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd
blasted President Bush on Friday for giving the United States
the image "of a belligerent bully," and said Bush's contrasting
handling of threats posed by North Korea and Iraq revealed
major flaws in his foreign policy.
Byrd of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate
Appropriations Committee that oversees federal spending, said
Bush appeared eager to apply his doctrine of taking pre-emptive
military action against less powerful countries such as Iraq,
but not against countries that may pose a nuclear threat such
as North Korea.
"What is the message we convey to the world if we are eager
to apply a doctrine of pre-emption on those countries with
limited ability to defend or counterattack, and yet waffle over
a pre-emptive response to dangerous regimes with firepower to
hit back?" Byrd said as a number of Democrats sharpened their
criticisms of Bush's handling of world affairs.
"The unanticipated result of this doctrine may be to
unleash a global scramble to acquire the means to deter the
U.S. from unprovoked attacks," he said on the Senate floor.
Bush has said the United States has the right to launch
pre-emptive strikes against nations that have or are developing
weapons of mass destruction that threaten the United States or
its allies, which he said would justify a U.S. attack on Iraq.
Byrd called that a bellicose position and said
policy-makers must "work to restore the image of the United
States to that of strong peacekeeper instead of belligerent
He said he was relieved the administration "appears to
fully comprehend the folly" of a pre-emptive strike on North
Korea, which may possess nuclear weapons, and was instead
trying to defuse the situation through diplomacy.
North Korea has expelled U.N. weapons inspectors and
threatened to resume missile testing in a standoff the Bush
administration has said it is determined to resolve
Iraq denies it has chemical, biological or nuclear weapons,
and has admitted U.N. inspectors.
Byrd, who fiercely fought the resolution Congress passed in
October giving Bush authority to attack Iraq if necessary to
disarm it, urged Bush to cool "the fever pitch of war
He complained the nation was mobilizing to attack Iraq
"without so much as a whisper of debate," and said Congress
must re-evaluate the situation before any military action.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd