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Hart Says Iraq Invasion Will Increase Terror Attack Risk
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Source: Common Dreams

Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 by the San Francisco Chronicle

Hart Says Iraq Invasion Will Increase Terror Attack Risk

Ex-senator may be fashioning political comeback

by Carla Marinucci

Sounding increasingly like a presidential candidate, former U.S. Democratic Sen. Gary Hart warned Monday in San Francisco that Americans should "get prepared" for more terrorist attacks if the U.S. goes to war against Iraq.

"We're going to kick open a hornet's nest, and we are not prepared in this country," Hart told about 200 people at a joint gathering of the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Affairs Council. "When we engage in a military conflict in the Middle East, the threats to this country will skyrocket."

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Hart's speech, intending to present an alternative to the Bush administration on foreign policy, particularly regarding Iraq, is one of a quartet of such "major policy addresses" he will deliver nationally to measure support for a run at the presidency. At a press conference, Hart -- who wrote a report on terrorism that predicted domestic attacks two years before Sept. 11, 2001 -- said he would announce his intentions in the spring.

He said the Bush administration's "preoccupation with military superiority" could undermine "the admiration the world has for American character."

"We drive the world's prosperity," Hart said. "We are the champions of the ideal of democracy. We are the world's greatest source of optimism, energy and hope. To compromise that goodwill through belligerence is to squander our greatest resource."

Hart, who chairs the Council on Foreign Relations task force on national security, offered a blistering view of the president's handling of the current world crisis, saying the Bush administration "has embarked on a dangerous effort to apply power without relationship to America's principles."

"Its doctrine seems to be that we are powerful enough to do as we wish, and those not with us are against us," he said.

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Offering his own proposals for "a foreign policy based on principle," Hart said America must continue to support democracy and free speech around the world, but never allow "elites and special interests" to determine our foreign policy or our actions abroad.

"When we resort to manipulation, deceit or intrigue in our dealings with other nations, we become some other kind of nation than who we truly are," said Hart. "And when we do so, we always pay a price. Indeed, we diminish our authority as a world leader when we abandon our ideals or violate our principles."

The former senator from Colorado warned against U.S. preparations to engage in Iraq and create a permanent U.S. presence there afterward, saying "this secret dream of empire represents hunger for power at its worst and is contrary to America's traditional principles. This is the kind of aggressive and arrogant post-Cold War thinking the American people must steadfastly resist."

Hart was an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1984, but he led the Democratic pack in 1988, when his run was derailed by a sex scandal over an extramarital affair the senator was having with a young model named Donna Rice.

But Hart's troubles paled in comparison with the far more salacious sex scandal involving President Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky, and the former senator's expertise in foreign policy and national security issues has in recent years drawn attention and followers.

Several other Democrats, including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the Rev. Al Sharpton, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts have already set up exploratory committees for possible runs. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Florida Sen. Bob Graham and Sen. Joseph Biden also are strongly thought to be considering running. Rep. Dick Gephardt has already signed on prominent California Democratic political consultant Bill Carrick as an adviser, and Tom O'Donnell, the political strategist who helped shape Gov. Gray Davis' two election wins.

Democratic strategist Garry South said Monday that an apparently crowded field of Democrats, including Hart, will help the party sharpen its message.

"There's an advantage to (Democrats) to having a cacophony of voices taking on Bush on every front," says South. "This is a sign that people don't think Bush is an 800-pound gorilla that can't be beaten."

2003 San Francisco Chronicle

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