March 20, 2004 - Hartford Courant: Dominican Republic RPCV Senator Chris Dodd is an internationalist

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: Peace Corps Dominican Republic : The Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic: March 20, 2004 - Hartford Courant: Dominican Republic RPCV Senator Chris Dodd is an internationalist

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Dominican Republic RPCV Senator Chris Dodd is an internationalist

Dominican Republic RPCV Senator Chris Dodd is an internationalist

Dominican Republic RPCV Senator Chris Dodd is an internationalist

A Great Divide Over War In Iraq: Connecticut's Members Of Congress Reflect On Their Decisions

March 19, 2004

By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- Connecticut's congressional delegation was divided about the war more than a year ago and it's divided about the war now.

Its two senators and three House Republicans voted to give President Bush broad authority to go into Iraq. Three Democratic House members opposed it.

Decisions about war and peace - and life and death - are more personal than most congressional decisions. The votes must be explained not only to constituents eager for explanations, but also to families whose mothers and fathers and spouses and siblings will go off to war for months and perhaps years - and perhaps never return. These are decisions that will stick with, and in some cases even define, a lawmaker long after all the hundreds of other votes on the budget or education or anything else are forgotten.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., helped lead the pro-war fight; Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, was a leading voice to slow down the march into Iraq. Today, both remain unapologetic and convinced they were, and remain, correct.

"Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to the region and to the world," Lieberman says.

Maybe, says Larson, and he agrees that "clearly the world is a safer place than it was with Saddam Hussein. That's not disputable." But, he adds, "What is disputable is whether we should have focused on Osama bin Laden and not taken our eye off the prize."

Put the delegation in a room and this debate would go on and on - just as it has around Connecticut. "Spending on Iraq is not taking anything away from the war on terror," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District. "When we get this guy [bin Laden] it's going to be because of intelligence, information and special forces."

The war of words is unlikely to subside.

The members of the Connecticut delegation, who are so good at putting aside partisanship for the good of the state in so many ways - remain locked in their views.

"I feel I'm standing on very, very solid ground," says war resolution foe Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3rd District. "The administration said we'd be received with open arms in Iraq. That was a misjudgment. One has to ask where it came from."

"I continue to think of the families. I deal with the families a lot," counters Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, "and I continue to think the war was the right thing to do."

These are their views of war, a year after it began:

Sen. Christopher Dodd
"It was stunning to me how ill-prepared they were for the after-effects."

Chris Dodd's image is one of the last gentleman politicians. He's partisan enough to have been picked once to be party chairman, yet he somehow has rarely met a politician, Republican or Democrat, that he couldn't get along with.

The Dodd mantra of "disagree without being disagreeable" fits snugly into his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he's been a member since he arrived in the Senate 23 years ago.

Dodd is also an internationalist. He's spent much of his adult life scrutinizing ambassadors and treaties, heading the subcommittee dealing with the Caribbean, lobbying for the Peace Corps and working with like-minded senators from both parties to fashion a sensible foreign policy.

The credo among the 19 members of this committee is that politics stops at the water's edge, and even during the last year, they were a band of brothers and sisters routinely asking Bush officials hard questions about their plans to conduct the war and deal with the peace.

Dodd backed the president on the 2002 war resolution, believing it was the right thing to do, though he had misgivings about the timing. He said the bipartisan show of political resolve would send a strong message to Hussein and "reduce the likelihood that force will be necessary."

Instead, Hussein remained defiant, and Bush took the Senate mandate as a call to act against Iraq, coalition or no coalition. The committee had a hard time getting White House officials to talk to them about the post-war strategy and when they finally came, Dodd recalled, "it was stunning to me how ill-prepared they were for the aftereffects."

They talked as though the war's end would be "the equivalent of the liberation of Paris in 1944," Dodd recalls. Now, says a sullen senator, "that was a complete hoax." There was no plan, he says, not even a logical reason to think Iraqis would celebrate in the streets. There was no attempt to involve the world community in the rebuilding effort, and most depressing, no attention paid to the views of coalition-builder Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Dodd shudders at what's to come. "You're going to have a hard time getting people to re-enlist, to re-up in National Guard units. We're losing ally after ally around the world," he frets. "This is very troublesome for the country's immediate future."

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Story Source: Hartford Courant

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Politics; Iraq; COS - Dominican Republic; Congress



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