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High-ranking US senator Biden estimates about 20 percent of Senate backs Bush on Iraq

High-ranking US senator Biden estimates about 20 percent of Senate backs Bush on Iraq

The chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee dismissed criticism that a resolution opposing a troop buildup in Iraq would embolden the enemy and estimated perhaps only 20 of the Senate's 100 members believe President George W. Bush "is headed in the right direction."
"It's not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy," Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, a White House hopeful in the 2008 elections, said Sunday. "It's the failed policy of this president _ going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely."
The Democratic-controlled Senate plans to begin debate this week on a nonbinding resolution declaring that Bush's proposal to send 21,500 more troops to Baghdad and Anbar province is "not in the national interest."
Last week, Biden's committee approved the measure on a near party-line vote of 12-9.
In reaction, Bush challenged lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup and Vice President Dick Cheney said the increase would proceed even if a nonbinding resolution won Senate approval.
With the Senate having just confirmed a new top U.S. commander for Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it was "pretty clear that a resolution that in effect says that the general going out to take command of the arena shouldn't have the resources he thinks he needs to be successful certainly emboldens the enemy and our adversaries."
Senate Republicans mostly oppose the committee-passed measure. They are lining up alternatives that express concern about a buildup and in some cases set performance benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
Biden acknowledged that votes in Congress could splinter among several competing proposals. "It's less important what the vote on my resolution is. ... What's important is the voices you're going to hear."
"We will have a full throated debate on this policy," Biden said. "I will make you a bet, you will not find 20 percent of the Senate standing up and saying the president is headed in the right direction."
Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the committee, said the public's concern against the war was evident by the tens of thousands of demonstrators who turned out for a protest rally Saturday in Washington.
But he said a congressional resolution would not be constructive, expressing optimism that Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, can do a capable job.
"I don't believe that it's helpful right now to show there's disarray around the world as well as in our body at home," said Lugar. "We really need, at this point, to get on the same page."
Biden and Lugar appeared on ABC's "This Week."


Updated : 2021-08-01 19:55 GMT+08:00