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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] 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 ### _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk