The president wants lawmakers to pass a resolution before they return home next month to campaign for the November elections.
“That will be part of the resolution — authorization to use force. If you want to keep the peace, you’ve got to have the authorization to use force,” Bush told reporters in the Oval Office.
The president has been working with leaders from both parties to build consensus towards some form of authorization, although the details will be worked out over the next few weeks.
Although some Democrats have expressed concerns, both Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) said they support the president, and the Senate Democrats planned a caucus Thursday afternoon to hammer out language for their version of the declaration.
Meanwhile, the president has sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to work with other members of the United Nations Security Council to draft a resolution forcing Iraq to disarm.
Powell must overcome the reservations expressed by Russia and France, two of the five permanent members of the council who have veto power over any action. The Russian defense minister said he would like to see if Iraq’s offer to readmit U.N. weapons inspectors has the intended effect of easing tensions and ensuring that Saddam is not building or hoarding weapons of mass destruction.
“Being experienced in that sort of business — both Americans and Russians — I think we can easily establish [whether) there exist or not weapons of mass destruction technology,” Ivanov said Thursday at a joint press appearance with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
On the NewsHour Wednesday, Sec. Rumsfeld said inspections are not the answer.
“You can’t go in and inspect a country that is resisting those inspections and expect to find very much because so much of it’s mobile, so much of it’s underground,” he said.
President Bush indicated Thursday that the U.S. is not willing to wait. He told reporters that if the United Nations Security Council doesn’t “deal with the problem, the United States and some of our friends will.”
Rumsfeld said several U.S. allies have said privately they would back military action against Iraq, but are reluctant to say anything publicly for fear of a response from Saddam and his supporters.