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Democrats Criticize, But Call for Unity

Democrats Criticize, But Call for Unity

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic lawmakers Monday lamented President Bush's failure to win a new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq, but said now is the time to unite as war appears inevitable.

"Those of us who have questioned the administration's approach, including this senator, will now be rallying behind the men and women of our armed forces to give them the full support that they deserve as it now seems certain we will soon be at war," Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said on the Senate floor.

Levin and other Democrats said the lack of U.N. support could result in less international assistance in the fight against terrorism, trigger more terrorist attacks, and make it more difficult to win international contributions for rebuilding Iraq after a war.

"The path to a safer world and a more secure America has rarely come from a go it alone approach," Levin said.

Sen. Diane Feinstein of California said while she has disagreed with Bush's Iraq policy, "I stand fully behind our troops who may be going into harm's way."

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses "a threat that we just simply cannot tolerate." But he criticized the Bush administration for handling the problem "ham-handedly diplomatically," prompting anti-American sentiment in Europe.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a presidential candidate, said U.N. Security Council members are partially to blame for world division because they did not enforce the resolution calling on Saddam to disarm. But he also faulted "the Bush administration's unilateralist, divisive diplomacy, which has pushed a lot of the world away from us and this just and necessary cause."

Republicans stood behind Bush. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas praised him as "a man who values innocent life and rightly despises tyrants and dictators who end lives to further their schemes of domination and destruction."

Sen. Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois said the president's judgment is sound.

"We cannot give the U.N. veto power over our decisions to protect our national security interests," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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