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[casi] Trent Lott: 'Mow the Place Down' -' Dealing with the Insane.'Indeed.




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Published on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 by The Hill
GOP Unity is Strained by Attacks
Lott on Iraq: 'Mow the whole place down, see what happens'

by Geoff Earle

Senior Republicans have begun raising concerns about the administration's
strategy in Iraq amid daily attacks on U.S. forces there.
But congressional Republicans still echo President Bush's overall positive
assessment of reconstruction, even as some warn of political trouble unless
signs of improvement become clearer fast.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who recently compared aspects of the conflict to
Vietnam, yesterday said U.S. forces need to be more proactive.
"To set up roadblocks after the bomb goes off is not the answer," he said.
"We've got to get into prevention."
The number of attacks on U.S. forces has increased to about 30 a day in
recent weeks, and a series of apparently coordinated attacks rocked Baghdad
on Monday. Another attack targeted the a-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, where
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.
"We need more troops," said McCain. "We need more special forces. We need
more marines. We need more intelligence capabilities."
McCain is often among those Republicans most willing to criticize the
administration - although he often refrains from doing so on military and
foreign policy matters.
But other Republicans joined him in raising questions about U.S. tactics.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee,
said he was concerned that U.S. forces were unable to anticipate many of the
attacks in a situation he described as tantamount to a guerrilla war in
which the enemy is able to strike and then quickly retreat into the
population.
"I can tell you, I'm very worried about the lack of pertinent intelligence
to fight that kind of a war," he said. "It appears we have some real
problems."
Asked whether he favored any policy changes in Iraq, Sen. Trent Lott
(R-Miss.) responded: "We need to have a different mix of troops, is the key.
We may need to move some troops around."
Lott suggested moving more troops from the relatively stable south closer to
the region around Tikrit, where attacks on U.S. forces have been common. He
said there was a need for more trained military police, adding that his
comments were not a criticism.
"Honestly, it's a little tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lott
said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution:
"If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're
dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need
to be very aggressive in taking them out."
Republicans fear they could suffer in the polls if the situation does not
improve, since the administration's Iraq policy is so closely associated
with Bush.
"Politically, it is difficult," said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), "because
certainly for the American public... they read: 'Americans killed every
day,' and it hurts. But I, at least at this point, am convinced that we're
doing the right thing, and we're doing the best we can.
"What's the alternative? It's not to cut and run."
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)said the situation in Iraq "will continue to be a
political issue because it will continue to be a matter of public concern as
long as there are any casualties." Results so far had been mixed, he said
and cited the recent conference in Madrid which secured loans and pledges to
help rebuild Iraq, as well as passage of a new U.N. Security Council
resolution.
"What I worry about most is that we will simply lose our resolve, and we
won't finish the job," he added.
GOP criticisms have emerged only recently and no Republican has come close
to statements by retired Gen. Wesley Clark and other Democrats that the
administration has no plan for Iraq.
In fact, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) chided the media for focusing on
casualties at the exclusion of positive developments in Iraq's
reconstruction. In a sign of the administration's ability to secure GOP
unity, Brownback acknowledged that he probably lacked the votes for a
compromise plan to provide some aid to Iraq in the form of loans - an idea
the White House opposes.
"The opposition, the terrorist groups, the Baathists read our media and read
our public opinion polls, and are trying to play to the country's opinion,"
he said.
Brownback even said U.S. adversaries were using attacks to drive down
support for Bush.
"Absolutely," he said. "No question in my mind. This is an international
media. They know the importance of this."
Bush, who was criticized on the Hill yesterday for saying that attacks in
Iraq were a sign U.S. progress and the terrorists' desperation, was resolute
at a White House press conference. "This country will stay the course," he
said. "We'll do our job."
 2003 The Hill
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