CONGRESS should hold a vote on President Clinton's new plan for Somalia, says Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana, the ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Clinton's plan, to send more United States troops to the African nation to provide cover for a US withdrawal by March 31, has been greeted with some measure of skepticism and a thorough debate in Congress would allow the administration to ``refine'' its policy, Senator Lugar told a Monitor breakfast Friday.
``I think that, as a matter of good foreign policy, authorization to do things when you're putting Americans in harm's way is always a good idea, maybe even essential when an operation's as large as this one and additional resources are about to be allocated,'' Lugar said.
``The president ought to advocate the policy and gain the support of people, and it also means that people have a chance to refine the policy, to ask the tough questions.''
Lugar is also worried that the US military has just begun its involvement in Haiti, with nary a flicker of public attention to it. Yesterday 250 US troops were due to arrive in the Haitian capital, and in two weeks 300 more will arrive. Their mission is to sensitize the Haitian military to democratic ways in preparation for the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
``Anyone taking a look at Haiti knows it's a dangerous predicament,'' Lugar said. ``A lot don't wish him [Father Aristide] well. Six-hundred Americans have been devoted to this thus far with a minimum of debate....
``This worries me, because even as we're busy putting Somalia to bed we have other things arising with almost the same sloppiness as far as public discussion and congressional participation [are concerned],'' Lugar said.
* Linda Feldmann reports from Washington.