Jeffords says Bush is ‘blinded’ by war priorities

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(Host) Senator Jim Jeffords said Wednesday afternoon that President Bush is ignoring the most important domestic issues facing this country because the administration is fixated on a war with Iraq. Jeffords urged the president to stop the war effort before it’s too late.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Speaking on the Senate floor, Jeffords issued his strongest statement concerning a possible war with Iraq. Jeffords said the president’s determination to wage war has “blinded” the administration to many of the pressing issues in this country.

Jeffords says he’s concerned that the administration claims it doesn’t have enough money to fund education. At the same time, it’s willing to offer billions of dollars to Turkey to support the war against Iraq:

(Jeffords) “More importantly, the American people deserve an administration that devotes the same degree of energy and concentration to the crises here at home. I think on more careful inspection, the president will realize that the domestic crises are truly imminent and they actually pose more of a threat to America’s long term security that the situation today in Iraq.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says the long term foreign policy goals of this country will be seriously hurt if the United States takes military action against Iraq without the support of the United Nations:

(Jeffords) “The administration’s push for war with Iraq undermines our relations with other countries and the strength of our international bodies at precisely the moment when they are most important to the United States. President Bush has sought for many months to rally this nation and the world community behind the notion that the threat from Iraq is imminent and the preemptive military action is required. He has not succeeded in making this case.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says he also finds the administration’s plans for a post war Iraq to be very troubling. He says it will require the United States to be directly involved in Iraqi internal affairs for many years to come.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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