Originally created 03/18/03

Graham: President taking only reasonable course



MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. -- With thousands of South Carolinian troops already deployed in the Middle East, President Bush was expected to give Saddam Hussein an ultimatum in a speech Monday night: leave Iraq or face war.

It is, said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the only reasonable course.

"The president has determined that murderers and terrorists won't set the course of the 21st century," Graham, R-S.C., said Monday afternoon.

About 3,000 South Carolina Air and Army National Guard members are on active duty - although not all of them in the Middle East - as the result of the recent troop buildup. Officials have said that's about 1,000 more than were activated during the Gulf War.

"We have reached this point after 12 years of attempting to have Saddam Hussein part with his weapons of mass destruction through U.N. diplomacy," Graham said. "After 17 resolutions have been passed, he still possesses weapons of mass destruction and has shown no real indication or inclination to disarm."

"I have always believed that 500 or 5,000 U.N. inspectors cannot make Saddam Hussein part with his weapons of mass destruction unless he voluntarily chooses to do so," Graham added. "The president, in my opinion, is taking the only reasonable course available to him to protect this country."

He said the danger from Iraq is that weapons of mass destruction could be provided to terrorists for use against the United States.

If war erupts, America will be fighting to liberate Iraq from a brutal dictator and get control of weapons already used against the Iraqi people, Graham said.

He doesn't think the U.N. would be permanently damaged if the United States begins a war opposed by some of America's key allies.

"One thing about the United Nations - your enemies today are your allies tomorrow," he said. "At the end of the day, no president, including President Bush, should ever allow the United Nations to be able to veto what is in our national security interest."

Graham added that if American troops attack Iraq "they are not going there to procure oil. They are not going there as conquerers. They are going there to protect our way of life."