WASHINGTON — President Bush has lost control of Iraq policy because of infighting among administration officials, the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.
The administration also came under criticism from presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for being unwilling to create an international coalition and for alienating governments.
The committee leaders urged Bush to take charge of U.S. postwar policy in Iraq.
"The president has to be president," Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." "That means the president over the vice president, and over these secretaries" of state and defense. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice "cannot carry that burden alone."
In the first week of the administration’s public relations campaign to explain its Iraq policy and highlight its achievements, Lugar noted that Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rice had all given speeches whose tone "was distinctly different" and that senators were rightly concerned about "the strength, the coherence of our policies."
Added the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware: "There’s no clear articulation within this administration of what the goals, what the message is, what the plan is. You have this significant division within the administration between the Powells and the Rumsfelds."
Lugar also predicted American forces might have to be in Iraq in some capacity for eight years or more. Both he and Biden said the country’s recovery would cost at least $50 billion more than the $87 billion, including more than $20 billion for the recovery, that Bush has requested and is pending in Congress.
Biden and Lugar said the administration had to improve its plan for turning over power to Iraqis, and Lugar added that it should make "a genuine attempt" to convince competent allies, including Germany, France, Russia and China, to join the peacekeeping effort.
Kerry said Sunday he was inclined not to vote for the administration’s $87 billion request, and criticized Bush for "haphazard, shotgun, shoot-from-the-hip diplomacy" on Iraq.
"He ought to apologize to the people of this country, because what they’ve done now is launch a PR campaign instead of a real policy," Kerry said. "We need to go to the United Nations more humbly, more directly, more honestly, solicit help in a way that brings the United Nations into this effort, or you are going to continue to see bomb after bomb after bomb."
Lindsay Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, responded that Kerry "changes his position on the war every week."
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