Lawmakers vow resolve in Iraq
An emphasis on international cooperation
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The bombing Tuesday at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad was a futile attempt to destabilize Iraq's reconstruction, U.S. senators said as they affirmed the will of the United States and United Nations to continue their efforts in the region.
Several lawmakers, particularly Democrats, also stressed the need to keep the reconstruction effort as broad and international as possible so the United States will not bear the burden alone.
"I condemn today's terrorist attack on the United Nations," said Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It cannot deter our nation from working with the international community to secure the peace, rebuild Iraq, minimize the burden on our troops, and deliver on the promise of democracy for the Iraqi people."
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is among a group of senators and congressmen visiting Iraq, agreed that the attack would not diminish the U.S. resolve. But the Iraqis will have to beef up their police force, she said, to help the mission.
"We're definitely in a combat situation," the Texas Republican said. "This is certainly a sad time."
Sen. Olympia Snowe, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the "horrific" bombing is a "clear indication of what Saddam Hussein's loyalists represent -- terrorism and the oppression of the Iraqi people."
Such terrorists are "sadly mistaken" if they believe their acts will push the international presence out of Iraq.
"This desperation tactic, by those who seek to dismantle the reconstruction process, will only solidify the determination of the United States and the international community to rid Iraq of these henchmen of Hussein's brutal regime and bring stability to the country," Snowe, R-Maine, said.
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the bomb attack emphasizes the need for more security.
"It is a stark reminder that no progress on reconstruction can be made in Iraq without establishing security. And, clearly, this is not just a problem for the U.S., but for the whole world," Biden said.
"The sooner we make security the top agenda item, and utilize sufficient American and international resources to achieve it, the faster we can help Iraqis improve their lives and bring home our troops."
The bombing proves that the United States is not the only target of terrorism, said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"It should also explode the illusions of post-war progress and stability the Bush administration continues to cling to," said Lieberman, one of nine Democrat seeking his party's 2004 presidential nomination.
"To achieve victory and a lasting peace in Iraq, we must directly involve the United Nations and commit greater force, more resources and stronger leadership."
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has been a particularly harsh critic of Bush's policy in Iraq, emphasized what he sees as the need for the United States to reach out more vigorously to allies on the international stage.
"Today's bombing appears to be an effort to dissuade other members of the international community from assisting in the reconstruction of Iraq," Dean, another Democratic White House hopeful, said in a statement. "We cannot allow terrorists to thwart efforts to internationalize the rebuilding process and the U.S. must redouble its efforts to recruit other countries to participate."
Sen. Bob Graham, a Democratic presidential candidate, said that even those who disagree with the U.S. military operation in Iraq remain supportive of the armed forces and others working in Iraq to provide stability.
"The men and women of America's armed forces and all citizens representing the U.N., and other nations must be reassured in times like these that they have our whole-hearted support and are in our prayers daily," Graham said.
In a separate statement, Graham called on Bush to reverse his May 1 declaration aboard an aircraft carrier that major combat operations were over in Iraq, following the U.S.-led invasion of that country. Since that time, U.S. forces have come under a steady stream of attacks, sometimes fatal.
"Combat operations haven't ended and President Bush's parsing of words does nothing but damage any confidence the American people have in their government's policy in Iraq," Graham said.