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N.C. Lawmakers Respond to Initial Attacks

Posted December 15, 1998

— Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms released the following statement concerning the attacks on Iraq:

"I am convinced that Saddam Hussein has left the United States with no choice but to strike Iraq, and I believe most Americans will support the decision by our defense leaders.

"For too long, this administration has stood idly by as the fruits of victory in the Gulf War were frittered away. In the past year, Iraq has been foolishly allowed to return to status quo ante and better.

"While the energy of the United States has been wasted on a meaningless search for consensus within the U.N. Security Council, Saddam has enriched himself and his cronies, bolstered his weapons programs, and disrupted the work of UNSCOM, the last vestige of a serious international effort to contain and defang his regime.

"These strikes, however, must be the beginning of a new Iraq policy: Saddam must go. His ouster must become the centerpiece of U.S. policy -- and that of our European allies. U.S. troops cannot be asked to return again and again to the Gulf, jeopardizing their lives, while our friends in Europe (with the exception of Britain) sit on the sidelines.

"I, like the vast majority of Americans, will continue to support the actions of our military leaders in the Gulf -- If, and only if, these strikes are followed by a sustained and vigorous international effort aimed at ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein once and for all."

U.S. House Representative Bob Etheridge responded to criticism of the President concerning the timing of the attacks.

"Anytime our troops are put into combat, having been in the Army myself, the last thing we need from any member of the United States Congress is to second guess. We need to support our troops who are in the field when they're under the gun."

Rep. Etheridge also commented on Senate Majority LeaderTrent Lott's public questioning of Clinton's timing.

"[Trent Lott] has been one to say that we ought to be doing something all along. It seems to me that he should have kept that advice to himself. When our troops are out there on the front line defending this country and carrying out a mission, it bothers me, and it makes no difference who you are. I just think in those conditions with troops out there, we ought to be standing behind them.

"I want to ask all Americans and all North Carolinians to pray for the safe return of our men and women who are in uniform during this holiday season."

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