Senator: I was Fooled on Bush Iraq War Plans

Des Moines Register (Iowa)

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa said Thursday that if Congress were voting now on its resolution authorizing the president to take military action against Iraq, he would oppose it.

“I’m not going to be fooled twice,” said Harkin, who backed President Bush on the resolution last year.

Harkin said he did so because the language required the administration to seek diplomatic solutions to the standoff with Iraq and to make full reports to Congress on the progress of diplomacy.

Instead, “In my adult life, with the exception of Vietnam, this has been the biggest failure of diplomacy we’ve had,” said Harkin.

The Senate voted 77-23 last October in favor of the sweeping resolution, which was also approved by the House. While Congress put constraints on President Bush in the document, the resolution does not require legislative approval for a military strike against Iraq or mandate United Nations approval.

Harkin, who at the time was in a re-election race against former Rep. Greg Ganske, was one of 29 Senate Democrats who backed the resolution. Ganske supported it in the House.

Harkin said that at the time, he believed Bush was trying to seek a peaceful solution in Iraq, but instead the administration has been “like the cowboy who rode out of Texas, all guns blazing” in pursuit of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

“As I look back, it sure looks like the administration was never serious about resolving the situation peacefully – I thought they were,” said Harkin.

He said others who voted for the resolution also did so with that belief. Asked whether that means it is unfair for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a presidential contender, to continue criticizing Democratic presidential candidates who voted for the resolution, Harkin said he’s not familiar with what Dean has said.

“I could be criticized,” he acknowledged.

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