In an Aug. 22 op-ed column, David Broder characterized my position on the Persian Gulf crisis as "downright mainstream" and "hawkish." I am sorry to disappoint him, but it just ain't so. The position that I advocate is designed to stop Iraqi aggression, get Iraq out of Kuwait and free the hostages -- all without a bloody and expensive war.
On Aug. 8 I expressed my support for three specific aspects of American policy. They were:
The use of U.S. forces to deter an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia.
The imposition of an economic embargo to compel Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
The use of diplomatic initiatives to mobilize international pressure against Iraq.
At the same time, I criticized our recent military and economic support of Saddam Hussein's regime, the superpower funding of military dictatorships around the world and our failure to develop a national energy policy.
To date, the three-pronged policy of deterrence, embargo and diplomacy has been successful. Security analysts believe that the U.S. military presence has reached a level that probably precludes an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia, the economic embargo decreed by the United Nations is gaining a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy and American diplomacy has mobilized broad international backing for U.S. policy.
But in the wake of these successes an ominous policy debate has erupted in Washington foreign policy circles. The debate concerns the ultimate objectives of U.S. policy. One side, which apparently speaks for some in the Bush administration, wants the violent and immediate removal of Hussein and the destruction of Iraqi military power. It favors offensive military action, probably culminating in a U.S. invasion of Iraq. The buildup of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, expected to reach at least 100,000 troops, the rapid expansion of American naval and air power in the region and the largest call-up of the military reserve since the Vietnam War suggest that the administration might at least be considering this option.
I side with those who reject this aggressive stance. The United States is in a position to peacefully achieve its objectives. A U.S. invasion of Iraq would be costly beyond calculation and self-defeating.
-- Bernie Sanders The writer is an independent candidate for Congress from Vermont.