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Unilateralism, Treaty Rejections, Nuclear Threats Could Isolate US
Published on Thursday, February 27, 2003 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Bush's Policies Risky for Nation
Unilateralism, Treaty Rejections, Nuclear Threats Could Isolate US
by Edward Epstein
 

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 war resolution.

"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 doctrine.

"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 new conditions.

"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

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