Bush: Use of Nukes is available - keep politics out of war!

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 07:46:18 -0000

WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Wednesday defended a politically charged
Pentagon proposal to create new types of nuclear weapons and expand the
nation's list of potential nuclear targets, saying that a commander in
chief "must have all options available." 
 
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Bush backed the notion of a more flexible nuclear arsenal, suggesting
that it is critical to deterring post-Cold War threats to the United
States and its allies, even as he said his administration remains
committed to nuclear arms reduction. 

"We want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the
United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us or our
allies or friends," Bush said. 

The president's remarks--his first since details of the classified
Pentagon document emerged last weekend--came during a White House news
conference that he called to pressure Senate Democrats who are blocking
a White House appeals court nominee, Charles Pickering. 

Bush complained bitterly about the Senate's treatment of Pickering but
spent much of the 45-minute session discussing his administration's
diplomatic efforts, his planned trip to Latin America next week and the
progress of the evolving war on terrorism. 

At one point, Bush described how his decisions on the war in Afghanistan
have been colored by lessons he gleaned from the U.S. experience in
Vietnam. He said he is careful to be sure that the nation's mission is
clear and mindful of the need to separate military considerations from
the pressures of domestic politics. 

While stressing that the United States will be "judicious and wise"
about troop deployments, he said that national objectives and military
analysis, not political pressure, should guide deployment decisions. 

"Politics ought to stay out of fighting a war," Bush said. "There was
too much politics during the Vietnam War. There was too much concern in
the White House about political standing." 

Asked whether he worries that U.S. efforts to help other countries
excise terrorist cells might escalate into more direct military
involvement, Bush said he doesn't relish sending U.S. soldiers abroad
but would not adhere to the post-Vietnam ethos in which "the definition
of success in war was nobody lost their life." 

He also sought to connect the objectives of the current conflict to
those of the most storied--but also most costly--war of the 20th
century. The war on terrorism, he said, "is more akin to World War II
than it is to Vietnam. This is a war in which we fight for the liberties
and freedom of our country." 

His comments came as the bloodiest battle to date in Afghanistan--a
10-day engagement near Gardez in which eight Americans died--was winding
down. In general, the U.S. military in Afghanistan has employed a
strategy largely reliant on air strikes and proxy forces that has
protected American soldiers from much of the front-line fighting. 

Bush said he is pleased with the progress of the war. He said he does
not know whether Osama bin Laden is alive but said that, at the least,
the Al Qaeda leader is on the run, his terrorist network has been
crippled and his host government has been destroyed. 

"He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited, and met his
match," Bush said of Bin Laden. "He has no place to train his Al Qaeda
killers anymore." 

Preparing for his trip to Mexico, El Salvador and Peru next week, Bush
praised House passage Tuesday of a bill that would allow thousands of
foreigners to seek legal residency in the United States, even if they
entered the country illegally. Currently, these immigrants are required
to return to their native countries as they apply for green cards. 

"That's a good reform," Bush said, adding that he hopes the Senate will
move quickly to approve the bill. The measure is one ingredient in a
package of immigration-easing reforms that Bush and Mexican President
Vicente Fox were pursuing before the Sept. 11 attacks disrupted the
talks. 

Bush also sounded new warnings to Iraq, as Vice President Dick Cheney
continued a trip to the Middle East seen largely as an effort by the
administration to lay the groundwork for potential action against Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein. 

Iraq is among seven nations on the expanded list of potential U.S.
nuclear targets listed in a classified Pentagon report that was
submitted to Congress earlier this year, and whose contents were first
reported in The Times on Saturday. 

The document, called the Nuclear Posture Review, calls for the creation
of "low-yield" nuclear weapons that could be used against smaller
targets, including chemical or biological weapon facilities buried deep
underground. 

The document has created a stir in Washington, where several leading
Democratic senators have expressed alarm at the report, saying it could
undermine efforts to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The
review has also drawn protest from leaders of China, North Korea and
other nations identified in the document as potential targets. 

Bush sought to soften the aggressive posture outlined in the report but
signaled that the United States is moving to strike a new balance
between disarmament and deterrence. 

"My interest is to reduce the threat of a nuclear war," Bush said,
noting that the administration is pursuing disarmament negotiations with
Russia and is even prepared to consider unilateral reductions in its
nuclear arsenal. 

But Bush did not back away from language in the report calling for new
categories of weapons. "I view our nuclear arsenal as a deterrent, as a
way to say to people that would harm America that . . . there is a
consequence," Bush said. "And the president must have all options
available to make that deterrent have meaning." 

Bush opened his news conference by attacking Senate Democrats who have
stymied the nomination of Pickering to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of
Appeals in New Orleans. Bush defended Pickering's commitment to civil
rights and dismissed Democratic allegations that the nominee has a
troubling record on issues ranging from employment discrimination to
voting rights. 

Pickering's nomination is scheduled for a vote today in the Senate
Judiciary Committee, where it is expected to be defeated on a party-line
vote. Bush argued the matter deserves consideration by the full Senate
and criticized Democrats for what he said is a pattern of obstructing
worthy judicial candidates. He complained that only 40 of his 92
judicial nominees have so far been confirmed. 

"This is unacceptable," Bush said. "It is a bad record for the Senate." 

But Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, rejected Bush's complaints, saying the committee is moving
quickly on the appointments but has been delayed by the need to "undo
the damage of the last six years," in which Republicans who controlled
the Senate repeatedly blocked the nominees of President Clinton. 

Source:  Los Angeles Times

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