Archive for Thursday, May 7, 1998


May 7, 1998


U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts says the United States should consider opening the door to Iran with agricultural products.

A Kansas senator on Wednesday called on the Clinton administration to redefine the length of the mission in the Persian Gulf as a means to improving troop morale.

``I really detected a sense of real frustration in regards to the mission,'' Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told reporters during a telephone press conference from Washington, D.C. ``What we're really doing is wearing out the military.''

Roberts just returned from a four-day, fact-finding trip through the Persian Gulf and Eastern Europe with seven other senators.

They traveled to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bosnia.

Roberts said the purpose of the trip was to review the missions of the U.S. military forces in the Persian Gulf and in Bosnia.

He was critical of the Clinton administration for not setting clear-cut goals and not planning when to bring the troops home.

Roberts said there were about 36,000 U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf, costing $10 billion a year.

In Kuwait, the senators found the Air Force personnel ``very fatigued'' from flying repeated missions, he said.

Army forces stationed in the desert were also experiencing low morale because there wasn't much prospect of leaving any time soon, he said.

He said specialized troops, such as linguists and search and rescue personnel, said they were not going to sign up for another tour of duty in the region.

Roberts said U.S. forces can't trust Iraq President Saddam Hussein, but the Saudis and Kuwait leaders have said U.S. military forces in the region can be reduced.

In contrast, the Senate delegation found the opposite morale situation for U.S. forces stationed in Bosnia, Roberts said.

``Forces have high morale and they do feel like they are making a difference,'' he said.

However, as with the Persian Gulf situation, there is no end in sight for troops to be able to withdraw, he said.

``We need a specific and clear mission as to what we do,'' Roberts said.

The Kansas senator said the unbudgeted costs for peacekeeping and the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf is having an impact on the readiness of the military.

Roberts said it is time for the United States to send a delegation to Iran to offer agricultural products as a tool of peace.

``I think that will send a great pause to Saddam Hussein,'' Roberts said.

He called Iran a ``rogue nation,'' but quoting former President Eisenhower, Roberts said the United States should consider selling Iran ``anything they can't shoot back.''

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is

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