Canton Repository

September 12, 2002

Ohio lawmakers believe Bush needs to make strong case for military action 

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Ohio lawmakers are wary and even deeply skeptical of President Bush’s apparent intention to use military force against Iraq.

While Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation have expressed the strongest objections, Republican colleagues agree that the administration has yet to make a case for going to war.

“I have not seen enough evidence to warrant the loss of American lives,” said Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township. “That to
me is the bottom line test. You’re going to sacrifice the lives of young Americans and you’ve got to be awfully sure of what you’re
doing.”

Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, wants evidence “there is a direct threat by Saddam Hussein or his government upon us on this soil.
We have to have direct information that in fact he’s got some biological weaponry, he’s got some type of weapon that he is going to try to use against us.”

Vice President Cheney has warned repeatedly in recent days that the Iraqi dictator poses a lethal threat to American security
interests by pressing ahead with long-standing plans to build a nuclear arsenal to supplement an existing inventory of biological and chemical agents.

However, administration officials have yet to establish a link between Iraq and last year’s Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Even if Bush makes a strong argument for going to war, lawmakers said the administration still must put forth a credible plan for
military action and its aftermath and build a coalition of allied support.

“I don’t see any evidence yet that says to me we should be invading Iraq,” said Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Lorain. “The president hasn’t answered the questions of cost, what we do when we win, the questions of what happens to our standing in the Middle East and our ability to survive (as a presence) there. Until he does, I don’t think we have any business invading.”

Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lucasville, worries that action against Iraq would be a diversion from the “fight against terrorism and those
who caused the terrorist attack on our country a year ago.” He opposes action until there is “convincing evidence that Iraq presents an imminent threat to our national security and our people.”

Ohio’s Republican senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, view Hussein as a serious menace but agree that Bush has only
begun to make his case.

“We are facing very tough choices,” said DeWine. “We can only assume that Saddam has improved his chemical weapons capability,
his biological weapons capability and that he is advancing in trying to develop his nuclear weapons. He’s a more dangerous threat to
the world.”

Some insist the U.S. should launch an attack only if there is a clear threat to national security. While he considers Hussein to be
“evil,” Regula said that is not enough to justify war.

“It’s got to be evil translated into athreat to the interests of the United States,” he said.

Referring to the vice president’s remarks on possible action against Iraq, Regula said: “It’s not enough for Dick Cheney to stand up
and say he’s a threat to us. We’ve got to have concrete evidence to vote” on war.

Many lawmakers heard strong opposition to attacking Iraq from constituents when they were home in August.

“I don’t remember anybody telling me that I should” vote for military action, Regula said.