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Democratic foes of war heading to Baghdad

McDermott, left, and Bonior speak Tuesday about their upcoming trip.
McDermott, left, and Bonior speak Tuesday about their upcoming trip.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Democratic critics of U.S. military action against Iraq will leave Thursday for a trip to Baghdad, where they say they will make a personal appeal to Iraqi officials to allow unfettered access to U.N. weapons inspectors in order to avoid a potential war.

Rep. David Bonior, D-Michigan, formerly the House minority whip, and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, will travel with a delegation of humanitarian workers and others. They return to the United States next Tuesday.

"We want to avoid war, and we will make our case as strong as we can to not only the Iraqi leadership, but the leadership here in this country -- that this war is not necessary," Bonior said.

"It will destabilize, we believe, many parts of the world. It will result in much loss of life, and to the extent that we can raise our concerns and have them heard, we're anxious to do so."

The congressmen do not expect to meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but "hope to see" Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, as well as other senior Iraqi officials, McDermott said.

Neither congressmen supports the Bush administration's proposed congressional resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

"The biggest mistake we will make is trying to do this alone," McDermott said, adding that the wiser course in his view is to see first what can be achieved through the United Nations.

McDermott said other Democrats are meeting to craft a resolution with more acceptable language, but he does not expect "the other side to buy it," referring to the Republican leadership in the House.

While in Iraq, the congressmen will also visit hospitals, food distribution sites and other similar locations to assess the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi citizens.

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