without U.N. participation -- if Hussein refuses to allow disarmament
"It's a tough decision we're all wrestling with," Schiff said. "I
truly believe that Saddam Hussein understands only force, or the
credible threat of force. I do hope that the credible threat of force
will be enough."
Schiff, a member of the House International Relations Committee,
did not support an original resolution drafted by Bush because it was
"too broad," and pushed for amendments that required the president to
pursue diplomatic measures before using force. Although some of the
amendments failed, he voted in support of the resolution as it made
its way out of the committee.
His stance has come under fire from local residents involved in a
group called Glendale Peace Vigil, which protested outside his
Pasadena office Friday.
"I think using force against Iraq is not prudent because I think
that puts us in greater danger of having terrorist attacks on our
soil," Glendale Peace Vigil co-founder Nancy Kent said. "Having a
first-strike policy is just a terrible precedent to set for the rest
of the world. We should not act out of fear of what another nation
might do to us in the future."
Schiff said that while the peace protesters conviction was "in the
highest tradition of democratic values," his meetings with the
president, secretary of state and secretary of defense ultimately
brought him to a different conclusion.
It's important for Congress to stand behind the resolution because
the Bush administration's stance over the past year has hurt attempts
to develop an international coalition, Schiff said.
"I have significant reservations about some of the rhetoric that
has been used," he said. "Throughout the past year, on the whole, the
president and members of the administration have spoken disdainfully,
have ridiculed some of the international efforts and have created a
perception around the world that we are only too happy to do as we
wish and ignore the wishes of the rest of the globe."
Perhaps most important is sending the message, both at home and
across the world, that the U.S. is committed to fostering democracy
in a post-Hussein Iraq, he said.
"It's not enough to replace one party dictator with another,"
Schiff said. "I think the rest of the world knows that we are
committed in the long term to a free Iraqi people."