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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
US doubts grow over Iraq attack
US President George W Bush
Bush: Says he is open to comments from all sides
Two former prominent Republican politicians have added their voices to the growing dissent within the United States regarding a possible war against Iraq.

US voices of caution
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Former US Secretary of State Laurence Eagleburger
Former US National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft
Republican Congressman Dick Armey
Democratic Senator Carl Levin
General Norman Schwarzkopf, head of US forces in 1991 Gulf War
Former US Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Laurence Eagleburger have both appeared on US television expressing doubts over the wisdom of such an operation.

Mr Kissinger told the NBC network that any prospective attack on Saddam Hussein's regime would have to be first discussed with the American people.

And on Friday Mr Eagleburger argued that any attack on the country would not be legitimate "unless the president demonstrates to all of us that Saddam has his finger on a nuclear, biological or chemical trigger and he's about to use it".

UN warning

The comments are the latest from a series of high-profile politicians from President George W Bush's own Republican party.

They also coincide with a warning from chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix that the threat of military action against Iraq by the US would not persuade the Iraqi leader to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Blix said that if the Iraqis concluded that an invasion was inevitable they might consequently feel that inspections would be meaningless.

"If inspectors are allowed in and if they are given really unfettered access with no delays... then I think this might play an important role and we would be eager to do that and to help towards a non-belligerent solution," he said.

Political battle?

Mr Kissinger had already expressed his doubts in an article for the Washington Post newspaper last Monday, in which he wrote that "military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed."

General Norman Schwarzkopf
Schwarzkopf: Iraq "not going to be an easy battle"

The US president has stressed that he is open to comments from all sides of the political spectrum, but said that "America needs to know I'll be making up my mind based on the latest intelligence and how best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies."

The BBC's Nick Childs in Washington says that although Mr Bush has sought to play down differences in his party regarding an Iraqi strike, the prospect of war has highlighted deep divisions in his party that may lead to a damaging political battle.

Last week Brent Scowcroft, a former US national security adviser and retired general, warned that an attack on Iraq could jeopardise or destroy the American-led war on terror.

Prominent right-wing Republican Congressman Dick Armey has also spoken out against the Iraq policy, in addition to senior Democratic senator Carl Levin.

Allies issue

General Norman Schwarzkopf, famous for leading US troops during the 1991 Gulf War, said that the US would have to rely heavily on allies in the region such as Kuwait, Turkey and Saudi Arabia if an attack was to be successful.

"It's not going to be an easy battle," Schwarzkopf told NBC.

"Obviously, you don't want to be at war on two fronts if you can avoid it."

However former defence administrative official Richard Perle told the ABC network that the scale of any future attack would not be on the same level as 1991's Desert Storm operation, and said Washington need not be concerned with European allies.

"We are not talking about a massive invasion along the lines of 1991," he said.

"Our European allies are just not relevant to this... and the one of some importance, the United Kingdom, is, I believe, going to be with us."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Former NATO commander General Wesley Clarke
"You can get strategically decisive results without having to use strategically destructive military power"
The BBC's William Horsley
"Mr Schroeder has decided to make opposition to US policy [on Iraq] part of his election campaign"

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18 Aug 02 | Middle East
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02 Aug 02 | Middle East
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