Andreasen urges more caution in Iraq action

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 30, 2002

DFL U.S. House candidate Steve Andreasen raised warnings about taking military action against Iraq, calling for a multilateral non-military approach through the United Nations and congressional scrutiny on the administration, in a speech at Gustavus Adolphus College last week.

&uot;I would caution that any hint that the administration is politicizing this debate, or that the Congress is acting simply to move the issue off the mid-term election agenda, will undermine the long-term durability of the policy,&uot; Andreasen said.

Andreasen stressed the need for active involvement by Congress in the debate to prevent the executive branch from having free reign.

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&uot;Your congressman may not sit in the Oval Office, but he does have a seat in the United States House of Representatives,&uot; he said. &uot;The people of southern Minnesota expect him to represent their concerns in that House, in particular, when the lives of our men and women in uniform are on the line.&uot;

Andreasen, a former staff member of National Security Council specializing in defense policy and arms control, said that an imminent attack by Iraq does not appear to be the issue and questioned if the potential threat form Iraq would justify a preventive strike.

&uot;If we adopt a policy of prevention by military means, will we lose the support of allies and other key countries for our long-term war against terror?&uot; he said. Andreasen’s prescription is to let the president work to build the broadest possible consensus for international action in the UN, both to return weapons inspectors to Iraq and to specify the consequences if Iraq doesn’t cooperate, including the possible use of force.

But he articulated that the administration and Congress should make every effort to avoid war.

&uot;We should do everything possible to effectively disarm Iraq through international inspections and monitoring; we should pursue our stated goal of regime change in the near-term only if disarmament requires it; and military action should be a last resort, for both disarmament and regime change,&uot; he said.

Andreasen also expressed his concerns about the negative economic impact of war. He pointed out the federal budget surplus was evaporated by the last year’s tax cut, and warned the cost of the war, and subsequent occupation and rebuilding, would require further cuts in funding for other needed programs.