Daschle's Criticism of Bush Diplomacy Fails to Add up

By David Thibault | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) Tuesday refused to back away from the criticism he had leveled at the Bush administration Monday regarding its diplomatic efforts in the Iraq crisis. But by Daschle's own numerical definition of success, the Bush-led "Coalition of the Willing" represents a great victory in diplomacy.

On Monday, Daschle maintained that he was "saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war." He added that he was "saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."

Tuesday Daschle expounded on his definition of diplomatic success during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the U.S. Capitol. He pointed to what he considered the diplomatic achievements of President George H. W. Bush before war was launched against Iraq in 1991.

"A diplomatic success is what we saw in 1991. A diplomatic success is getting a broad coalition of countries. We had nearly 20 countries in 1991," Daschle said.

However, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday there are 30 nations publicly supportive of the currrent U.S. policy - comprising the Coalition of the Willing - and 15 other countries that support America but are doing so privately.

Most of the 30 countries listed by the State Department would not have a combat role in a conflict with Iraq, Powell said, but are allowing American troops on their soil and U.S. planes to fly over their territory. Others have offered help in the event of chemical weapons attacks, he said.

Daschle Tuesday criticized other aspects of the current buildup toward war with Iraq, again comparing the current situation to the one that existed 12 years ago.

"A diplomatic success is having 200,000 international troops present instead of the 225,000 U.S. troops, which are present today," Daschle said. "A diplomatic success is getting other countries to pay 90 percent of the costs incurred. All of that happened in 1991; none of that is happening in the year 2003."

Daschle insisted he supports U.S. troops, despite his criticism of President Bush's diplomatic efforts. "I always will. I feel very strongly about our obligation to support the troops, and I have said in every way, shape and form that will continue. But I do think we have to be honest and open in a democracy."

Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) took Daschle to task Tuesday, complaining that while the Senate Democratic leader's "comments may not undermine the president as he leads us into war" and "give comfort to our adversaries," they "come mighty close."

"Senator Daschle has spent more time criticizing the leadership of President Bush than he has spent criticizing the tyranny of Saddam Hussein," Hastert added.

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