By ESTHER NGUONLY, Capital News Service
WASHINGTON - Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, joined a group of representatives Thursday in supporting a pre-emptive move to check any U.S. military action against Iran, which President Bush has accused of supporting attacks on American troops in Iraq.
This joint resolution would require congressional approval before any military force is used against Iran unless Iran attacks the United States first.
"I'm just saddened and appalled by our lack of knowledge - both in the administration and in the U.S. Congress - of the complex culture of the Middle East," said Gilchrest. "It's complex, but it still lends itself to negotiation and dialogue, infinitely better than hostile actions."
Gilchrest is also among many in the president's party who opposed Bush's call for an additional 21,000 troops to be sent to Iraq. It is a move, Gilchrest said, that "is not likely to be successful."
Earlier, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt sponsored a Republican bill to keep the House from cutting funding to troops in Iraq.
Many found language in Bush's speech last week on changes in Iraq policy to signal possible military extension into Iran.
Iran has resisted pressure from the international community to dismantle its nuclear arms program, leading many to see the refusal of diplomacy as replication of the Iraq situation, which began after suspicions that the country was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the administration has said Iran is supplying explosives and other materiel for anti-U.S. forces in Iraq.
Such problems should be discussed through multi-national diplomatic efforts, Gilchrest said, to stave off historical problems stemming from unilateral action.
"History is replete with violence and chaos and failed crusades," he said. "The perpetrator of this is ignorance and arrogance and dogma."
Supporters of the bill argued that Congress has constitutional responsibility to oversee and check presidential power, including the authorization of war.
The resolution would be a preventative move to avoid further military action so that "events don't get in the saddle and ride us like in Iraq," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, warned that the odds of a U.S. attack upon Iran are "greater than 50/50."
Abercrombie said that the presence of a new aircraft carrier group outside Iran is clear evidence that the United States is planning to enter the country.
The U.S. sent the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier group to the Persian Gulf in December, and the USS John C. Stennis strike group was ordered there as well earlier this month.
The bill collected a varied group of supporters from both parties, including Abercrombie; Paul; Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., and sponsor Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.