Congress Has Few Details on Postwar Plan
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|Sat, 04-05-2003 - 3:30pm|
By KEN GUGGENHEIM
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress say they know few details about what kind of a postwar government is envisioned for Iraq, how long American troops will have to remain there and how much taxpayer money will have to be spent.
Some worry about how frayed relations with allies can be mended and whether anger in Muslim nations can be soothed.
They say they don't know whether the Bush administration has failed to give enough thought to postwar Iraq or if it is simply reluctant to discuss its plans with Congress. Either case is troubling, some say.
"When the troops are safe and when the conflict is over, there are tough questions that need to be asked," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Some lawmakers, including Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, say it is unrealistic to expect the administration to provide detailed plans at this point.
Until "the conflict is concluded in terms of the fighting and the borders now existing for Iraq can be secured, and the assessment of the damage of the conflict made, how can you make estimates?" Warner, R-Va., said.
Warner said he has been briefed about plans in private and is satisfied with what he has heard. Still, some lawmakers remain frustrated about the lack of information.
"Our hearings might have been more productive if the administration had been more forthcoming, but that is really water over the dam," said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Lugar said he believes the American public should be prepared for a potentially expensive, long-term commitment in Iraq to prevent it from falling into chaos.
The United States needs to help set up an Iraq that is "not a harbor for terrorists, not an incubator for all the problems that came in a failed state (like) Afghanistan, after we abandoned that situation 10 years ago," Lugar said.
Osama bin Laden took advantage of Afghanistan's political turmoil to train terrorists there.
Rebuilding Iraq will be expensive and the Foreign Relations Committee's top Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, said Iraqi oil revenue will fall far short of paying the costs. If the United States doesn't want to bear the burden alone, it will have to work with other nations - including some like France and Germany that have opposed the war.
"We need to make peace in Iraq the world's responsibility, not just our own," he said.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said he is concerned that the war has contributed to anti-American sentiment among poor young Arabs who feel humiliated by U.S. power.
"I'm not sure we haven't lost the fight for the Arab street," Rockefeller said. Though that was a problem before the war, "I think that sealed it in some sense," Rockefeller said.
"We're going to have to find a whole new way of connecting," he said.