Friday, Aug 23, 2002
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
"Regime change is in the interests of the world. How we achieve that is a matter of consultation'', the President said with his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, looking on. But Mr. Bush sought to allay apprehension in the world that the United States was in some sort of a war mode against Iraq. "When I say I'm a patient man, I meant I'm a patient man and that we will look at all options and we will consider all technologies available to us, and diplomacy and intelligence. But one thing is for certain, is that this administration agrees that Saddam Hussein is a threat'', Mr. Bush remarked.
The President had about a two-hour meeting with his top national security team, that, apart from his Defence Secretary, included the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Advisor, and several senior officials of the Pentagon.
For the record, the meeting at the ranch is said to have covered such issues as missile defence, budget and weapons procurement. But the Defence Secretary made no bones of the fact that Iraq was on the mind of the President even if no formal decision has been taken. "The President has made no such decision that we should go into a war with Iraq. He's thinking about it'', Mr. Rumsfeld remarked.
The White House is quite conscious of almost daily media reports that none of America's allies want to be associated with the United States in any military showdown with Iraq. As a result, the point is being made rather repeatedly that the President will come to a decision only after careful deliberations. The Bush administration has been especially taken aback by a rash of criticism from senior Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Law makers are particularly worried that Washington stands isolated right now in the international community with key allies such as Canada and Germany saying that they will not be a part of war efforts against Mr. Hussein.
Senior administration officials like the Defence Secretary are making the point that Mr. Bush has not asked any of the allies to join in any military action against Iraq.
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