Two of Oregon's congressional delegation are convinced the United States is on the right path in its handling of concerns over North Korea and Iraq.
U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith and fellow Republican counterpart Rep. Greg Walden said they believe a diplomatic solution was the best option to defuse tensions with North Korea.
The legislators pointed out that the administration's policy differs with Iraq, saying that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses a danger to the country.
"I believe the North Korea situation will ultimately be resolved diplomatically," Walden said. "Their economy is in shambles, their people are starving. They are a nation you have to be fairly cautious with. But I believe the president has taken the correct approach in getting China, Russia and South Korea to work with the North and get them back to where they should be internationally with the world community.
"The president has been tough where he needs to be and smart in pursuing other diplomatic channels. It's important for North Korea to get back in compliance with U.N. agreements and not develop further nuclear capability, which would be a further destabilizing move," Walden added.
Smith finds some similarities between North Korea and Iraq, though the United States has known of North Korea's nuclear capacity for some time.
"But this is also in an area where there are other interests at play," Smith said. "Russia, China and Japan are all on our side in trying to get some straight answers."
That isn't true in the Middle East, Smith said.
"I think Saddam is a different situation, in that the western world went to war against him and at the end of that war got his promise to disarm and not procure weapons of mass destruction," Smith said. "It is clear he has violated that agreement for the last 12 years. He has chemical and biological agents that could result in the murder of millions of people. We can naively ignore that but we do so at our own peril and in dereliction of the common defense."
Both Smith and Walden said Hussein continues a pattern of defiance and non-compliance with United Nations' resolutions.
"I think President Bush made it clear that he doesn't see a distinction with terrorism and Saddam Hussein," Smith said. "There are many shadowy links between al-Qaida and Iraq. The president has signaled he will not wait until America is hit again, where we can intervene and interdict to protect the American people. He has made it clear we will not wait for another 9-11."
Both Smith and Walden said they believe the Bush administration has been building its case against Hussein.
Walden noted that due to top-secret briefings, it's not been possible to reveal all the information the intelligence community. He called it a matter of "what we know versus what we can say."
Smith said Secretary of State Colin Powell's upcoming presentation to the United Nation's Security Council Wednesday "will make a difference" and that Powell will cite additional evidence.
He also noted, "The president shared more with the country" regarding Iraqi non-compliance during Tuesday's State of the Union address.
Smith said there remains a large amount of nerve agent and the rockets to deliver that agent are missing.
"It's easy to draw logical conclusions about violations of U.N. resolutions on weapons of mass destruction if you're willing to look at the inferential evidence," Smith said. "The evidence was clear in 1998 that thousands of tons of chemical weapons had been hidden from U.N. inspectors."
"Questions still have not been answered about the whereabouts of the shells, the biological growth agent, the chemical bombs," Walden said.
Both lawmakers said they hope war can be averted but remain skeptical of Saddam's willingness to do so.
"To avoid it, we have to believe Saddam will provide all information and destroy all weapons," Walden said. "And it seems he does not intend for their scientists to disclose anything. That's not encouraging. It's the same games and deception we've seen from Saddam."
Unfortunately, "the only thing he responds to is the threat of force."
The U.S. policy is the right one, Walden and Smith said.
"We're not the bad guy," Walden said. "It's our aim to prevent these weapons of mass destruction being given to terrorist organizations or other nations."
"I think you have to draw a lesson from history, that diplomacy absent military muscle means little in the realm of consequences in geo-politics," Smith said. "A good example is the League of Nations. They made a lot of resolutions and had endless debate with no enforcement. And that gave the world the rise of Adolf Hitler."