MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota's congressional delegation remained undecided Wednesday on President Bush's resolution to authorize a war with Iraq, although Republicans appeared more supportive than Democrats.
Critics want to narrow the focus of the resolution, which gives Bush broad authority to use force in the region and diminishes the need for building an international coalition in dealing with Iraq.
The seven Democrats who represent Minnesota in Congress expressed support for limiting the resolution, which was delivered last week. One of the three Republicans said the country should be prepared to take on Iraq by itself, while another said the chance of that happening is overstated.
A vote could come as early as next week.
The state's senior senator, Democrat Paul Wellstone, plans to oppose any resolution authorizing unilateral action to oust Iraq President Saddam Hussein, his spokeswoman said. In a news release earlier this week, Wellstone said: "Only a broad coalition of nations, united to disarm Saddam, while preserving our war on terror, can succeed."
Rep. Martin Sabo, also a Democrat, said in an interview Tuesday that he tends "to be skeptical of the entire operation."
"I think the ongoing threat of terrorism should remain the much higher concern," he added. "It's heavily dependent on cooperation with countries around the world. I don't think Hussein represents an immediate threat to the United States."
Democratic Rep. James Oberstar, who voted against the resolution authorizing the Persian Gulf war in 1991, said the Bush administration hasn't convinced the public of the need for force. He also said a unilateral attack would harm the United States' relationship with European and Arab allies.
"I will oppose any congressional resolution that would provide President Bush with 'fast track war making authority,"' he said Tuesday in a news release.
Republican Reps. Mark Kennedy, Gil Gutknecht and Jim Ramstad said they're receptive to Bush's call for "regime change" in Iraq but were learning as much as they could about the region and Iraq's capacity to use weapons of mass destruction.
Ramstad, who was briefed Tuesday by National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet, said "the whole world would be better off if Saddam Hussein were gone." But he said he hadn't made a decision on any resolution. "I intend to make a fully informed decision after I receive all of the information I can from intelligence briefings," Ramstad said.
Gutknecht said the potential for unilateral action is "one of the prices of being the world's sole surviving superpower."
"Somebody has to make it clear that we're not going to wait for a smoking gun, especially if that smoking gun happens to be a nuclear warhead," he added.
Kennedy, however, said Wednesday the idea that the United States will go it alone in Iraq has been overstated.
"I don't think there's any consideration of us doing it ourselves. Britain, Spain, Denmark, Australia -- several countries have indicated their support. It's not a question of unilateral action versus multilateral action. The question is whether or not we will be held hostage by the action of (United Nations) Security Council members."
Bob Decheine, chief of staff for Rep. Bill Luther, said the Democrat was taking a "wait and see" approach.
"It's so up in the air, it's too early," he said. "(Luther's) been very consistently concerned about the force option first. He wants to make sure that if we do it, it's with our allies and that we have a clear plan. Having said that, if a resolution comes through that he finds favorable, he could support it."
Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, said: "We need to work with our allies. There needs to be many nations coming together. The behavior of Saddam is unacceptable, but we should decide together that we aren't going to tolerate it, much like with the action in Afghanistan."
Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton, in a news release Tuesday night, said war with Iraq should be the last resort. "I have received no information which requires precipitous decisions or precipitous actions to be taken at this time," he said. "So I will not make any final decisions or commitments until the time and situation warrant."
Said Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat: "I am working with the President and Congressional leaders to develop a resolution that gets weapons inspectors into Iraq with clear support from the U.N., and speaks to questions of international law and humanitarian concerns."
Gregg Aamot may be reached at gaamot(at)ap.org
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.