WASHINGTON – The United States probably will go to war with Iraq, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said Sunday, believing the timing uncertain but that force must be used to oust Saddam Hussein.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., led hearings last week that highlighted both the gravity of the threat posed by the Iraqi president and the difficulty of replacing him with stable leadership.
Other lawmakers, too, spoke supportively of President Bush's goal of removing Saddam. But Democrats in particular said the administration must do far more to convince Americans, allies and Iraq's neighbors that force is necessary. They also said Bush must seek congressional approval if he decides on war.
``I think the case can be made but there's a lot more to do,'' Biden said on NBC's Meet the Press.
``I believe there probably will be a war with Iraq. The only question is, is it alone, is it with others and how long and how costly will it be?''
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Congress must weigh in before America goes to war. ``I don't think the president has the authority to launch a full-force effort'' without congressional approval, said Daschle, D-S.D.
``We all support strongly a regime change,'' Daschle said on ABC's This Week. "But I think we have to get our ducks in order. Do we have the support of our allies? Do we have an appropriate plan?''
Biden, citing expert testimony in his committee hearings, said it is clear Iraq has chemical and biological weapons of some sort. Less certain is whether Saddam has the means yet to use them effectively, he said.
``We have no choice but to eliminate the threat,'' he said. ``This is a guy who's an extreme danger to the world.''
He said the United States, acting alone if necessary, probably could get Saddam out of power but America would then face a long rebuilding job in Iraq.
``This is very difficult to do by yourself,'' he said. ``There's a lot to do after he's taken down.'' Biden cited estimates that 75,000 U.S. soldiers might be needed in Iraq for anywhere from 18 months to 20 years.
Like Bush, Biden brushed off an Iraqi offer to negotiate over the return of weapons inspectors. ``I think it's important we push for real inspections,'' he said, and not negotiate over a faint offer.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who favors a hard line on Saddam, said leaks from the administration have raised questions about whether Bush's advisers are all on board with his tough policy.
``I think we're at a point where it's critically important for the president, as commander in chief, to take hold here,'' said Lieberman, D-Conn. ``He's got obvious disagreement within his administration.''
Lieberman said ``every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.''