28 February 2003
As the United States continues to negotiate with key allies over the latest U.N. resolution on Iraq, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly impatient with what they see as attempts by some of those allies to undermine U.S. interests, and the war on terrorism.
Day by day, the frustration grows, bubbling over in hearings on topics ranging from Iraq and the Middle East, to arms control, the budget, even education.
Republicans or Democrats, many lawmakers are unhappy with such close U.S. allies as Germany, France, and Russia. Even Turkey, respected by many as one of the most reliable of NATO friends, has come in for criticism.
With Turkey's parliament poised to approve the basing of U.S. troops in advance of a possible military attack on Iraq, some Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives fumed over what Washington had to do to gain this cooperation.
Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot said, "I think it is sort of shameful how the United States is being held hostage buy some of the folks whose cooperation ought to be there anyway. "It's amazing when I see that we have to buy the support of Turkey at such a high price in order to get them to cooperate with our international war against terrorism that will end up benefiting Turkey as much as it benefits the United States," said Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Criticism of Turkey spilled on to the floor of the House of Representatives during discussion on President Bush's economic stimulus plan, as in these comments by one of the newest members of Congress, Illinois Democrat Rahm Emmanuel.
"I think the notion of the last two weeks, in Turkey where it's 'Let's Make a Deal' unfortunately Turkey has walked away with the resources that our kids need, our police department needs, and our doctors and nurses need, to provide health care," he said.
But the harshest criticism was reserved for the core traditional U.S. allies in NATO who have opposed the United States position on Iraq in the U.N. Security Council.
"Look at how many tens of thousands of Americans are buried in France today, having landed on the shores of Normandy and all the other battlefields in France, for one reason, to free the French people, and the people of Europe from tyranny and oppression," said William Janklow, a South Dakota Republican. "This is now our war on terror. It wasn't the Eiffel tower they flew airplanes into. It wasn't the Bundestag in Bonn, and it wasn't the fields of Belgium. It was the United States of America. We've drawn a line in the sand. We're fighting that war on terror. They ought to be with us."
U.S. lawmakers also directed criticism at Russia and President Vladimir Putin. "Russia's support of France's efforts to hinder action by the United States and Britain regarding Iraq is an unfortunate development and along with other policies, such as its construction of a nuclear reactor in Iran, constitute major impediments to good relations between our two countries," said Congressman Henry Hyde.
Some lawmakers are going to great lengths to avert a backlash in Congress they fear could permanently damage relations with U.S. allies in NATO.
Some lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, recalled that Turkey's support was crucial during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm to free Kuwait from Iraqi control.
However, based on comments in both the House and Senate, congressional observers say it's clear that France and Germany face the hardest task in repairing their image on Capitol Hill.