WASHINGTON – George W. Bush has been strutting like a rooster since the capture of Saddam Hussein but several Democratic presidential candidates renewed calls to bring the United Nations into Iraq and bring our troops home.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, of Ohio, commented, “With the capture of Saddam Hussein, the administration’s stated goal of removing him from power has been accomplished. Now the focus must be on ending the occupation. …The U.S. must reach out to the world community with a new plan to stabilize Iraq, bring UN peacekeepers in and bring U.S. troops home.”

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun hailed Hussein’s arrest but added, “It does not change the fact that our troops remain in harm’s way, and we are no closer to bringing them home.”

Rev. Al Sharpton said the administration “should appeal to the UN to come in with a multilateral redevelopment plan. This is all the more reason this war should come to an immediate end.”

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, in a major policy address in Los Angeles, Dec. 15, said Hussein’s arrest “is good news for the Iraqi people and the world.” It presents “an opportunity to move ahead,” he added, saying, “Let me be clear: My opposition on the war has not changed.”

Dean said the arrest makes U.S. soldiers safer but “does not make the United States safer.” He continued, “To succeed, we also need to remove the label ‘made in America’ … to make the reconstruction a truly international project… that reduces the burden on America and our troops.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), in an apparent effort to breathe life into his flagging campaign, unleashed a venomous attack on Dean, the current frontrunner among the Democrats. Lieberman voted for the Iraq war resolution last fall.

Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), and Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.), who voted for the war resolution, also joined in the attacks on Dean for his anti-war stand, seeking to slow his drive for the Democratic nomination.

Peace Action spokesperson Scott Lynch called Lieberman’s baiting attack “indicative of how desperate his campaign is. He’s dead in the water and he’s grasping at straws.”

While Hussein’s capture will give Bush a “short-term bounce” in the polls, it will not be easy to exploit this in the 2004 elections, Lynch said. Even putting Saddam on trial is “dicey,” he added. “Saddam knows a lot about his deals with the first Bush administration. And there are those infamous photos of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand. They knew then that Saddam was using nerve gas on the Kurds.”

Win Without War (WWW) Co-Chairperson Susan Shaer urged the Bush administration to transform the U.S. military occupation into “a truly international effort to help the Iraqi people stabilize and rebuild their country while transferring authority to a legitimate Iraqi authority.”

WWW National Director Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressmember from Maine, added, “The fundamentals of the quagmire in Iraq have not changed. Iraqi resistance to the U.S. military occupation is not simply the work of Saddam loyalists. It is being fueled by the widespread and deep-seated anger and frustration of the Iraqi people with the U.S. military occupation.”

He cited heavy-handed tactics such as encircling villages in barbed wire, aerial bombing and strafing, raiding homes and personal body searches.

To “build bridges” with the Iraqi people, Andrews called for changing the way procurement and reconstruction contracts are awarded. Stop handing lucrative deals to Halliburton and Bechtel with their crony ties to Bush and Cheney, he said.

The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.com