Union Tribune

February 27, 2003

Feinstein criticizes Bush's military policies, rejection of treaties


WASHINGTON President Bush's focus on unilateral international actions and the use of military force rather than diplomacy "undermines United States security and will make the world more dangerous, not safer," Sen. Dianne Feinstein said yesterday.

In an unusually hard-edged speech, Feinstein, D-Calif., criticized Bush's rejection of multiple international treaties and his new policies of pre-emptive military action and the possible use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states as actions that have damaged America's international standing.

"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," she said, "I believe that the administration's policy runs the real risk that the United States will become increasingly isolated . . . and dependent on its military might to protect its interests and its citizens."

Although she broke ranks with fellow California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer and voted last year for a congressional resolution authorizing use of military force against Iraq, Feinstein told a Center for National Policy luncheon audience that the U.N. weapons inspectors should be given more time.

"Suppose we can avoid war by taking six additional months, what's to be lost by that?" she asked.

Feinstein also criticized Bush's refusal to negotiate directly with North Korea, which she called "a greater threat than Iraq" because of its admitted nuclear weapons program.

Feinstein noted that she had supported many of the president's efforts to improve national security since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"But given the very serious and potentially explosive crises we now face in Iraq, North Korea and in our war on terror, I believe we must take a closer look" at the administration's actions.

"Specifically, the administration's focus on unilateral action, its dismissal of international law, treaties and institutions, and its apparent emphasis on military power to the exclusion of other policy options, have created serious concerns both here and abroad."

The actions, she lamented, "have lost much of the good will generated after 9/11."

Feinstein cited Bush's rejection of the Kyoto global warming treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the agreement creating an international court to try war crimes.

She was particularly critical of last year's Nuclear Posture Review and a national security policy statement, which suggested the use of nuclear weapons in a preventive strike against chemical or biological weapons facilities and the development of smaller atomic devices that could be used in place of conventional arms.

Together, she said, "These two policy initiatives cite contingencies for the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons or the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to a nonnuclear attack.

"Such an approach is neither in our national interest nor is it consistent with our nation's standards and values. A first use of nuclear weapons by the United States should be unthinkable," Feinstein said.