Maryland members of Congress responded to President Bush's war-winning speech last night with exclamations of joy, incredulity and caution about the road ahead.
"Never did I think it was going to be so brief with such a minimum of casualties," said Rep. Constance Morella, R-8th. "So it really was a fantastic operation."
"Wonderful," said Rep. Beverly Byron, D-6th, who as chairwoman of the armed services personnel subcommittee feels close to service people and their families.
Byron, who has a son and an employee serving in Operation Desert Storm, said the effort was worth it.
". . . I think had we not moved and taken a stand when we did we would have to be doing this several years hence."
Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, was the most somber. He had opposed Bush's decision to go to war in the Persian Gulf and later urged him to negotiate its end.
"This is a time now for . . . reflection on why things like this take place, more importantly also for resolve, realizing we must now look inward, back here at home, at problems and battles and wars . . . in our communities and throughout our nation, whether it's the war on drugs, against violence in our streets, the shame of inadequate health care," he said.
"I would hope now that Kuwait has been liberated, that the Arab League, those nations in that part of the world, and not so much the U.S., set the framework for a peacekeeping force and a structure that would monitor and maintain stability in the Middle East."
Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd, agreed. "Our objective must be a stable Middle East. I'm very pleased to see the president is using the opportunity that now presents itself to bring up those issues and begin diplomatic efforts."
Cardin said the disparity in wealth among Middle Eastern nations must be among the issues addressed. "That's led to a lot of hostilities among the Arab countries."
Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-1st, said Bush's demands of Iraq in connection with the cease-fire "are perfectly reasonable."
"We're proud of the American troops, the coalition troops," said Gilchrest, a former Marine who was wounded in a less popular war in Vietnam. "We will never forget those who gave their lives and we're also proud of all the families who have relatives" in the Persian Gulf.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, said Bush may need to be flexible on the 48-hour deadline he gave Iraqi commanders, given that "communications are tough or non-existent" in the field.
"I think this has been an almost no-downside effort," he said. "Everybody in America has to be very proud of our men and women and our technology."
In a prepared statement, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said, "Isn't it wonderful? We should all be very thankful that we are blessed by the grace of God and our excellent military leadership that allowed this to end so quickly."
However, she doubts whether Saddam Hussein will live up to all the terms set by Bush, said her spokesman, Mike Morrill.
Morella is hopeful of a satisfactory diplomatic outcome.
"No, it's not going to be easy, but I just have a feeling there are going to be some very good plans floated almost immediately," she said. "I think this is going to link it up, make the war worthwhile."