WASHINGTON -- President Bush's go-it-alone foreign policy, his administration's
willingness to threaten nuclear attacks against countries without nuclear
weapons and his rejection of several treaties are making the world more
dangerous, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California charged Wednesday.
Feinstein's sweeping criticism, which came in a speech to a Washington
think tank, was echoed in part by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, in a
separate speech to an energy group. Tauscher said Bush's decisions to walk
away from arms control accords and consider building a new generation of
nuclear weapons threaten to undo decades of successful policies.
The harsh words from two moderate Democrats who both voted in October for
the resolution authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq show that
bipartisanship over U.S. foreign policy is shredding. Despite their votes on
the war resolution, the two have called on Bush to give U.N. inspectors more
time in Iraq before taking military action.
Tauscher also introduced a resolution with two other House Democrats on
Wednesday that would require Bush to file a report with Congress addressing
the human and financial costs of a war with Iraq and its aftermath before
launching an assault. But the resolution, like other similar proposals aimed
at reopening the congressional debate over Iraq, is unlikely to go anywhere in
a Republican-controlled Congress that voted by wide margins for last fall's
"By moving the United States sharply away from the concept of cooperative
security and a world governed by international law and established norms of
behavior, and potentially substituting unilateralism and pre-emption in its
place, I believe that the administration's policy runs the real risk that the
United States will become increasingly isolated and alone, and dependent on
its military might to protect its interests and its citizens," Feinstein said
at the Center for National Policy.
She said the White House's 2002 nuclear posture review and its new national
security strategy, which raised the possibility of pre-emptive strikes against
U.S. enemies and of developing new low-yield nuclear weapons, represent "an
approach that is neither in our national interest, nor is it consistent with
our nation's standards and values."
Feinstein said that in some cases a pre-emptive strike might be warranted,
but the president has made a mistake by creating a specific pre-emption
"By adapting the concept of 'imminent threat' to threats not 'fully formed'
or to cases where, one day, a foreign government may be a threat to the United
States, we set a precedent for others -- which may well come back to haunt us."
Feinstein listed Bush's decisions to walk away from agreements on global
warming, the creation of an international criminal court and a comprehensive
test-ban treaty as examples of the unilateralist trend.
Tauscher, in her speech to a group of energy facility contractors, said the
president is taking the "low road" on nuclear-weapons issues.
"Rather than improve on past accomplishments, the United States is
currently in a pattern of rejecting treaties, has put forth a nuclear posture
review that seems divorced from reality, and is making only paltry investments
in nuclear nonproliferation," she said.
Referring to Bush's abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, she
added, "The current approach of treating past arms control agreements as
somehow suspect ignores that treaties have been the currency of peace and
trust between parties for hundreds of years."
In her proposal for a new presidential report on Iraq, Tauscher said Bush
could use it to convince the public of his case for military action.
"People stop me on the street and tell me they believe that the
administration has already decided to use force against Iraq. . . . Publicly
answering these fundamental questions gives President Bush a chance to turn
that around," she said.
Feinstein has endorsed the proposal of Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd of West
Virginia and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts for a new congressional debate on
a war resolution. But Senate Republican leaders have made it clear the
proposal isn't going anywhere.
The administration has a sharply different view on the issues raised by
Feinstein and Tauscher. Officials say the changes to military posture have
been forced on the United States by the war on terrorism, which has created
"To win the global war on terror, our armed forces need to be flexible,
light and agile so that they can respond quickly to sudden changes," Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this
month. "The same is true of the men and women who support them in the
department; we also need to be flexible, light and agile so we can move money
and shift people, and design and buy new weapons more quickly, and respond to
the frequent sudden changes in our security environment."
Specifically, the administration has said it reserves the right to use
nuclear weapons against any country that launches a chemical or biological
attack on the United States.
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle