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WAR WATCH : Will We Settle Dangerously Short With Iraq?

January 06, 1991|MEL LEVINEBD Rep. Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica) is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Next, Rep. George Miller (D-Riverside). Troops and tanks move. Washington and Baghdad hurl threats across the continents. Is it all talk, or a real runup to war? The Times asked some of California's members of Congress to interpret the signs as the days count down to President Bush's Jan. 15 deadline.

When Secretary of State Baker meets with Iraq's Foreign Minister Aziz in Geneva, Baker must leave Aziz with no doubt that we believe the principal threat to world peace and American security is a Saddam Hussein bent with chemical and biological weapons, the near-term potential for nuclear weapons, and the fourth-largest military.

President Bush has failed to communicate adequately the seriousness of that threat. Instead, he has mistakenly focused on restoring the emir of Kuwait to his throne.

While a complete Iraqi withdrawal is a fundamental condition for peace, it will not remove the threat that Hussein poses to our interests. Iraq's war machine must be dismantled.

I hope that this threat can be removed through diplomacy or the use of sanctions. A land war exclusively for the purpose of restoring the Kuwaiti emir could be a disaster. But correct application of force now may, indeed, be the only way to prevent a greater loss of life--perhaps a nuclear holocaust--in the future. Unfortunately, it is not all clear that the President has the will to accomplish that.

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