Bush policy called bad for war on terror

By Otto Kreisher

November 4, 2003

WASHINGTON Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a strong critique yesterday of President Bush's foreign policy, arguing that "unilateralism, pre-emption and an over-reliance on the military dimension of American power" are weakening the nation's fight against terrorism.

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Feinstein challenged the administration's claim that the threat posed by Iraq justified the U.S.-led invasion, contending that the intelligence that led her to vote for the use of force has been shown to be wrong.

Based on her analysis of the intelligence available since the conflict, Feinstein, a Senate Intelligence Committee member, said: "No incontrovertible evidence of an imminent threat has been found in the case of the war in Iraq."

Contrary to the administration's insistence that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons, searches by the military and by experts have uncovered no sign of weapons of mass destruction, she said.

The only illegal weapons discovered were ballistic missiles with a range longer than allowed under U.S. sanctions, Feinstein said.

"Without the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction," the attack on Iraq was not a pre-emptive strike to protect the United States or its interest, which would be legal, she said. "Rather, it was America's first preventive war, the purpose of which was to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"Preventive war, targeted against speculative threats, is not legitimate under international law," Feinstein told the council audience.

But regardless of how the nation got into Iraq, "I believe it is crucial that we win the peace," she said.

A premature pullout might result in a bloody civil war that could see Hussein's Baathist party return to power and could destabilize further the Middle East "with consequences for Israel, America and the entire globe."

Feinstein said the struggle in Iraq must not detract from the war on terrorism, "where pre-emption may be both justified and necessary."

Feinstein's remarks about the administration's reasoning for going to war were disputed by Kenneth Adelman, a council member who introduced her and then questioned her before the council audience.

The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan think tank that seeks to increase America's understanding of the world.

Adelman, a former Pentagon and State Department official in previous Republican administrations and a vocal proponent of ousting Hussein, argued that presidents must rely on the best evidence available and that U.S. and allied intelligence agencies had said for years that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Adelman also challenged Feinstein's assertion that Bush should have worked harder to get U.N. support for any action against Iraq, insisting that the French and Russians would never have permitted a Security Council resolution allowing military force.

"Are you going to give the French, the Belgians and others a veto over our ability to protect America," Adelman said.