CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
President Bush Speaks to United Nations
Aired September 12, 2002 - 10:26 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president comes up in just about four minutes from now. Right now, we want to gauge other reaction to Kofi Annan's speech.
Let's turn to Christiane Amanpour, who is on duty in Islamabad.
Today, Christiane, any insights for us you can share with us right now?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Paula, as you know, most of the Islamic and Arab world last time around supported the United States and the United Nations in the first Gulf War. It's not the case right now.
Obviously, this is the beginning of the U.S. offensive to try to gather support. But right now, world leaders are telling us that they are either lukewarm, cool or directly against any intervention.
Pakistan, which is the key U.S. ally in this region in the war on terror, the president of Pakistan has told CNN and has spoken publicly about not supporting and not wanting Pakistan to get involved in any kind of military intervention in Iraq, saying that it feels it has too much on its hands right now, the war against terror, the hunt for militants here at home, also its Kashmir dispute with its nuclear rival, India. So a lot going on for Pakistan.
Afghanistan, a country which has directly benefited from U.S. military intervention, very nervous, very cool to the notion of possible military action in Iraq, saying that while they have no sympathy for what the foreign minister called the tyrannical rule of Iraq. They have plenty of sympathy for the people who are suffering under Saddam Hussein, they say, but they are very concerned that this crisis be resolved diplomatically, through the U.N. Security Council.
Iran, the other country the U.S. has named the "axis of evil." Iran, which was neutral in the first Gulf War told us, senior diplomatic sources telling us that it will remain neutral if there is any military intervention in Iraq, although Iran saying that it is quite nervous about the expanding U.S. power in this region. But when it comes to Iraq, they tell us right now that they will remain neutral.
And in the bottom of their heart, they say, they would like to see Saddam gone. Many in this part of the world feel that way. However, many are quite concerned about the outstanding issues, the Middle East peace crisis, the notion that any other attack or military intervention in a Muslim country may be perceived by their people in this region as just another U.S. war on Islam is very scary for many of the leaders here who support the United States, and also Afghanistan. You heard the U.N. secretary-general talk about keeping the commitment to Afghanistan, many people feel Afghanistan that Afghanistan is a test case. If that place is not reconstructed, rebuilt, followed through, many people feel that bodes very badly for any future U.S. military intervention, because follow-through after the war is what people are looking here to as well.
Back to you.
ZAHN: Let's just quickly touch on the Middle East, because Kofi Annan made it clear he thinks the U.N. needs to do more in that region. You had the defense minister of Israel today telling CNN that he is firmly behind U.S. efforts to deal with Saddam Hussein, and warned that Israel will respond if attacked by Saddam Hussein.
Some thoughts on that.
Well, that's what Israel's position has been. Obviously, they believe that this is a continuation of the war on terror. Iraq is one of the biggest threats to Israel, and of course they have always supported this policy of getting rid of Saddam Hussein.
The notion of Israel reacting is something that makes the people in this region very nervous indeed. You'll remember in the first Gulf War, the United States says to Israel, don't react, we'll take care of it for you. We'll defend you, because if you react, we could lose our Arab and Muslim coalition. So that a big worry, of course, as well.
But under this Israeli administration, they have already publicly said that they would respond if there was an attack on their soil. And so, the jury is out on what that would mean, but it is very, very certain that unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict right now is what gives many people in this region pause when it comes to one more U.S. intervention.
Although, very few people have any sympathy for what is going on in Iraq, have very much sympathy for the suffering of the Iraqi people. They want the Israeli-Palestinian situation resolved because that is a very definite thorn in the side of everything in this region, the suffering of the Palestinian people and the way that's perceived in this region is very, very important as the U.S. proceeds, and everybody you talk to here will tell you that.
ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour, thanks so much. We continue to be just minutes away from the start of the president's speech, and we are getting a better idea of some of what he may ask for -- Aaron.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And we also have a better idea of some of the problems that he will face.
Richard Roth is over at the United Nations. He is our senior United Nations correspondent -- as we wait for the president to arrive, Richard, a lot of concerns, skepticism about the United States, certainly, going in alone. Is it a movable audience? Is it a general assembly or a security council, at least, that approaches today with an open mind?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: I think it is an audience that could be moved here at the United Nations. But for now, it is a tough sell. Russia may be the last hold out against the United States in the security council, but other than that, members of the Arab League saying where is the proof on Iraq, we don't know what is going on there, so why attack? But an interesting spectacle in having Secretary-General Annan give such a speech right before President Bush. Secretary-General Annan in effect saying, Hey, don't go it alone, and that a country such as the U.S. -- though he didn't name Washington -- could achieve more and even gain more prestige by using an international organization such as the U.N. The secretary-general saying, This universal organization has a special place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOFI ANNAN, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: Any state, if attacked, retains the inherent right of self-defense under Article 51 of the charter. But beyond that, when states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: It's kind of a guns and butter approach for Secretary- General Annan. Secretary-general also telling Iraq it has to comply with the resolutions, but he -- as you mentioned earlier, Aaron, he doesn't exactly specify what he means when he says, otherwise it will be up to the Security Council to take its responsibilities.
BROWN: Richard, thank you. Richard Roth, our senior United Nations correspondent. The going on inside the hall, at least the last time I looked over there, the representative from Brazil was speaking. They are going through their normal agenda this morning, and this being an important public event, people take their time, making their case, and the issues that matter to them, and so we are not surprised, we run a few minutes behind time. That's been known to happen in my business, too.
ZAHN: They take the time or they seize the time.
BROWN: And that's been known to happen in my business also...
ZAHN: Well, we can all prey victim to that. Let's check in with John King, our White House correspondent, who has learned a little bit about the approach the president will take when he finally takes to the podium here a little bit later today. Is it true that he will set no deadline, but he will make it very clear there is going to be a very short window of time for inspections to take place?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In his speech, Paula, the president will put the burden on Saddam Hussein, and on the United Nations Security Council, and the United States will, as Jeff noted at the top of the show, in diplomacy, you put aside what you don't like when you hear a long speech, and you seize on what you do like. President Bush will make the case, he is at the will of the United Nations General Assembly, just because he does want to work with the world, and he does not want to act alone. But he will also say that to work with the world, the United Nations must prove its credibility.
So the United States will seize on the secretary-general's comments that Iraqi is in -- quote -- "defiance" right now to its commitment to the United Nations.
Mr. Bush will use that same word. So, the administration actually believes, despite all of the dust here, that it is making considerable progress, and that at center stage in the world debate today is what to do about Saddam Hussein. The administration is quite skeptical that Saddam Hussein will allow unfettered weapons inspections inside Iraq. The president will make the case today that the Security Council resolutions have been repeatedly violated, and that it is -- the burden is on the sheriff, if you will, the Security Council, to go after the outlaw, Saddam Hussein. And then the president -- the president will make the case, essentially, he would not be here to make this case today if the Security Council had done its job. If the Security Council does its job now, then the question is, if there are inspections, how does the administration pursue the broader policy of regime change.
That is a debate the administration would take down the road if it can get the upper hand in the debate right now.
But the bottom line is, the president will say U.N. credibility is act. He will not say this in the speech, but the United States will seek a new resolution, with a clear deadline, and the implicit words suggesting that if there are no -- if there is any interference with the inspections, military force will result.
ZAHN: Our U.N. reporter, Richard Roth, has just told us that in a highly unusual move, the U.N. actually supplied, publicly, copies of the speech Kofi Annan was going to deliver, and I'm curious whether you have been able to get any White House reaction to that, since the speech was in their hands very early this morning.
KING: They saw the speech yesterday, and Kofi Annan is a diplomat. He shared what he was going to say with the United States representatives at the U.N. before they released it publicly, even in advance.
And again, that is why the administration is saying it doesn't like to be lectured to, and it believes those lectures are unwarranted. It believes the president has, whether the case be Afghanistan or the case today, Iraq, this administration, despite its critics, would say it has tried to work within the international community.
But again, what the administration is seizing on is secretary of the general -- secretary-general, excuse me, of the United Nations makes the president's point. He said Iraq is in defiance. The president's point will be, if Iraq is in defiance, what is the United Nations here for, if it will not enforce its own resolutions.
ZAHN: All right. Thanks, John. I think one thread of conversation we need to revisit with Jeff is what you talked about very early on about the big hole Kofi Annan left in his speech when he talked about what the security council would do if these existing resolutions weren't (ph) complied with.
And the question from the administration is, Are you just going to make these resolutions, or are you going to make them stick?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: That's right. And that is why diplomatic language like "the council must face its responsibility, doesn't tell you very much. We should also note, Paula, that this administration comes to the U.N. in a very unusual place for an administration. Ronald Reagan was a conservative, but he was also an internationalist, because he served during the Cold War. President Bush's father, his whole career was spent in international world, and with China, head of the CIA, at the U.N.
As a candidate, you will remember, that George Bush said America has been acting arrogantly in the world, we need a little more humility, and now some people are saying, it is the U.N. that's the problem, and the U.N. sees us as not acting humble.
That's the president's challenge, I believe, today.
BROWN: And then that concern among other countries that the United States has become, in the language of the moment, unilateralist, plays here -- we see the president, by the way, waiting to take the podium. As he gets up, we will just -- and he gets up. So, here is the president before the General Assembly of the United Nations on a most important occasion.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates and ladies and gentlemen. We meet one year and one day after a terrorist attack brought grief to my country and brought grief to many citizens of our world. Yesterday we remembered the innocent lives taken that terrible morning. Today we turn to the urgent duty of protecting other lives without illusion and without fear.
We've accomplished much in the last year in Afghanistan and beyond. We have much yet to do in Afghanistan and beyond. Many nations represented here have joined in the fight against global terror and the people of the United States are grateful.
The United Nations was born in the hope that survived a world war, the hope of a world moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear. The founding members resolved that the peace of the world must never again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man.
We created a United Nations Security Council so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes. After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties and squandered lives, we've dedicated ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all and to a system of security defended by all.
Today, these standards and this security are challenged.
Our commitment to human dignity is challenged by persistent poverty and raging disease. The suffering is great. And our responsibilities are clear. The United States is joining with the world to supply aid where it reaches people and lifts up lives, to extend trade and the prosperity it brings, and to bring medical care where it is desperately needed. As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity. The United States will return to UNESCO.
This organization has been reformed, and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning. Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts, ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable.
In the Middle East there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides.
America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.
Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive intentions of our enemies. This threat hides within many nations, including my own.
In cells, in camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction and building new bases for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale. In one place and one regime, we find all these dangers in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to confront.
Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.
To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear to him and to all, and he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations. He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge, by his deceptions and by his cruelties, Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.
In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities, which the council said threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.
Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights and that the regime's repression is all-pervasive.
Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape.
Wives are tortured in front of their husbands; children in the presence of their parents; and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.
In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise.
Last year, the Secretary General's high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwaiti, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini and Armeni (ph) nationals remain unaccounted for; more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.
In 1991, the U.N. Security Council through Resolution 687 demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq.
Iraq's regime agreed that broke this promise.
In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel and Western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder.
In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Amir of Kuwait and a former American president. Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of September 11. And Al Qaida terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.
In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long range missiles and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections.
Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.
From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with scud warheads, aerial bombs and aircraft spray tanks.
U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.
United Nations' inspections also reviewed that Iraq like maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.
And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War.
We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.
Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program, weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, and accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon.
Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.
And Iraq's state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.
Iraq also possesses a force of SCUD type missiles with ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N. Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long range missiles that can inflict mass death throughout the region.
In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with Security Council Resolutions.
In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq's people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself and to buy arms for his country.
By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens. In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely.
Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations.
The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations, and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.
As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the last U.N. inspector set foot in Iraq -- four years for the Iraqi regime to plan and to build and to test behind the cloak of secrecy. We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left?
The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein regime is a grave and gathering danger.
To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble, and this is a risk we must not take.
Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The first time we may be completely certain he has nuclear weapons is when, God forbid, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.
The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment.
Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence?
Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?
The United States help found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective and respectful and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it -- as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkemens and others -- again, as required by Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown.
It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues as required by Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peaces, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq and it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis, a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty and internationally supervised elections.
The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal.
The people of Iraq deserve it. The security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest. And open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.
We can harbor no illusions, and that's important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and 40 Iraqi villages.
My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced, the just demands of peace and security will be met or action will be unavoidable and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.
Events can turn in one of two ways. If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom and isolated from the progress of our times.
With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorists allies, then the attacks of September 11 would be a prelude to far greater horrors.
If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government and respect for women and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.
Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind.
By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.
Thank you very much.
BROWN: The president before the General Assembly of the United Nations making the case in strong terms. "We will work with the U.N.," said the president, "but we will hold Iraq to account." And then, he suggested that should the Security Council of the United Nations not be willing to act together, then the United States is fully prepared to change what he called a "regime that has lost its legitimacy."
There is no question the president laid down the gauntlet to the United Nations to live up to its charter, its mission, its role in the world.
ZAHN: That's what I thought was so interesting about the speech, because on one hand, the president paid respect to the U.N. when he said it was exactly the kind of aggressive threat the U.N. was born to confront. On the other hand, he posed the question: Are you going to honor and enforce these resolutions, or cast aside them without consequence?
Let's go to Wolf Blitzer, who is standing by to gauge his reaction of the speech.
Wolf, what caught your attention?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, if there was any doubt whatsoever where President Bush stood within his administration on the possibility of going to war against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, he has erased that doubt.
Earlier, as you remember, there was a very hard-line speech, a couple of them, delivered by the vice president, Dick Cheney. Today's speech by the president made those words by Dick Cheney seem almost moderate in terms of the substance, as well as the tone.
The president was much more specific, much more forceful and much more direct in laying out a threat, a warning, to Saddam Hussein and, indeed, a challenge to the United Nations that the United States will go it alone. Indeed, the United States has no alternative but going alone, if the rest of the world doesn't stand up to what the president described as this "grave threat."
And just as the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan, in effect, in his speech was lecturing the Bush administration, the president in this speech was clearly lecturing the United Nations, speaking in terms that delegates of the U.N. General Assembly from some 200 countries and territories around the world will understand terms of diplomacy and human rights and the history of the United Nations.
A very forceful, powerful speech by the president, who made it clear that the U.S. will, indeed, go it alone if the U.N. doesn't join with the Bush administration.
Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Kate Snow. She is up on the Hill. She is gauging reaction there as well.
Kate, how is this speech likely to be seen by the president's own allies within the conservative base of his Republican Party?
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think it will be embraced. Certainly, one of the key audiences here on Capitol Hill for this speech, in fact, the Senate just a short time ago took a break from what they were debating on the Senate floor in order to let the senators go and watch this speech.
Critical here, because, as you know, there have been some Democrats, and even a handful of Republicans within the president's own party, criticizing, saying that the president had not yet to date made the case for military intervention in Iraq.
Joining me to try to gauge some of the reaction, we'll get some right here. We've got Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who is the Democratic minority whip in the House, a Democrat of California, and Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, the minority -- the deputy -- majority whip -- excuse me -- in the House. Let me start with you, Congresswoman Pelosi. There was a lot of anticipation about this speech. Clearly, he did not lay out specifics as far as what the United Nations should do, but he is embracing the U.N. and the international body. Was that a positive step?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I think the president's speech today is a positive step. I'm thrilled to hear his commitment to some of the pillars of our foreign policy, promoting democratic values and human rights, stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, trying to bring some resources to poverty and spread of disease, et cetera. I think it was an excellent speech in that regard.
I think, I disagree a bit with Wolf in saying that this speech was tougher than Vice President Cheney in this respect. Sure, it's tougher, because it's being made by the president of the United States, and anything he says has more weight than anything anyone else says. But he also -- he also placed a value on going to the U.N. and asking for the enforcement of the U.N. resolutions, and I think that that is something that was not held in as high a value in the vice president's speech.
So, this is an excellent first step. I hope that it will be enough. That the president with his remarks and the threat of the use of force will have the leverage with other powers to say, we must have these inspections, we must get rid of the weapons of mass destruction.
As far as going to war later, that's another skin off the onion, what form would that take? Is it aerial, is it surgical, is it ground troops? What's the length of occupation? What is the cost of the war?
SNOW: So, you still have a lot more questions.
PELOSI: There are many questions about going to war. But I commend the president for this speech that he made today, the values that he presented, the commitment of the United States that he brought to the U.N.
SNOW: Congressman, there are conservatives in your party who have said -- well, some who have said they haven't seen enough evidence, and then, others who have said the U.S. should just go it alone. They don't need to go and talk to the -- talk this through with the United Nations. Did the president make the right step by presenting this to the U.N.?
REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: I think the president did make the right step to go to the world community to make the case that time after time, Saddam Hussein has defied the U.N.
This is exactly the kind of case, the kind of individual that the U.N. was formed to stop. If you go back to the early days of the U.N. during World War II as we were fighting Hitler in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific, this was why we said we needed a U.N. If you've got a rogue dictator, someone who is willing to use weapons -- develop and use weapons that no one else in the civilized world would consider using.
This community of nations needs to act. The president challenged the U.N. to do its job to live up to its charter, but clearly made the point that he believes the job has to be done, and hopes to do it as part of the U.N. effort, but is willing to do it in whatever way it has to happen.
SNOW: Quickly, will this appease the critics here on Capitol Hill, do you think?
BLUNT: I think this is an important step in the direction of making the case to the international community. It's going to have a big and a helpful impact here as we go ahead and continue this debate.
SNOW: Last quick word.
PELOSI: I don't think it's about critics. It's about if the administration is saying that we must move because there is an imminent threat of a nuclear attack by Saddam Hussein, they haven't provided the evidence that that is -- that he has that capability. But it doesn't mean that we can't find a unified position on how to get at Saddam Hussein.
So, I wouldn't say critics, because I don't think there's any line in the sand on this. I think we're all listening and waiting, and if the case is a good one, it will not only work on Capitol Hill, it will work among our allies as well.
SNOW: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Roy Blunt, thanks for being here listening to this speech with us. We really appreciate it.
Wolf, there's a little initial reaction for you. We will certainly continue to gauge it, particularly over on the Senate side and see what some who have been waiting for answers say about what the president delivered today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Now, Kate, before I let you go, what do you know about this joint appearance that Trent Lott and John McCain have scheduled for later this afternoon? That could be significant in setting the tone, at least among Republicans.
SNOW: Right, two senators who don't often agree. McCain, of course, a Republican, but often takes a different approach than the president and his own party. So, Senator Lott, the majority -- the minority leader -- excuse me -- the Republican leader of the Senate, getting together with McCain.
We expect them to -- both of them have to date been very supportive of the president. McCain has been very vocal, pushing for action in Iraq. I would expect that they will be embracing this speech and saying that this is a step in the right direction -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And the reaction from Capitol Hill -- Kate, thank you very much -- is only just beginning. Reaction from others in Washington, elsewhere around the country, we'll be monitoring all of that as well.
The president of the United States delivering a very forceful, powerful speech, making his case for the possibility of going to war against Saddam Hussein -- Paula.
ZAHN: Wolf, let's talk about the next step here, though, because since John King confirmed earlier today that Secretary of State Powell will already meet with members of the Security Council to try to draft some resolution to set a deadline to get inspectors in.
But Ambassador Holbrooke, who was a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said this morning, it's sort of irrelevant what the whole Security Council does. What he thinks will be the pivotal vote is Russia and what it decides to do. And he said, even if Russia says no, you know, we're not going to agree with this deadline, you still have -- or the U.S. still has some leverage outside of the Security Council.
BLITZER: And as far as Russia is concerned, the personal relationship that President Bush has established with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, could be significant in trying to find some sort of common strategy, if the president, President Bush, can work that out. The Russian stance would be critical in affecting views elsewhere in Europe and the French view, in particular, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China almost always at the Security Council will then go along, or at least abstain.
So, the Russian position is very important, and there will be a lot of behind-the-scenes diplomacy between President Bush and President Putin in trying to find, trying to forge that strength.
In effect, Paula, what the president was doing was giving Saddam Hussein today one last chance. Let those U.N. weapons inspection teams come back in, go for the inspections, unfettered inspections. That might happen, but the assessment within the Bush administration is sooner rather than later those inspectors will want to visit a presidential palace or someplace else that's very sensitive. They won't be allowed in. And once again, the stage will be set for the possibility of a U.S. strike.
ZAHN: Yes, someone likened today to setting the plate for the sheriff coming to town if Iraq doesn't abide by these long-standing resolutions.
Wolf, thanks -- Aaron.
BROWN: All right, let's turn to Jeff. He used to write speeches for a living. Speeches are about things that are said. They're about things that are not said. They're about nuance. They're about the audience.
I knocked (ph) down 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 different elements of the audience that the president was speaking to, from congressional Democrats and Republicans, to the American people, to the members of the Security Council, to the General Assembly, and they're not the same in all of this. So, what was said and what wasn't said that jumped out at you?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think the degree to which the president cast his argument in terms of Saddam's defiance of the U.N. I don't think it was an accident that the phrase that jumped out at me was that Saddam Hussein has "unilaterally subverted the will of the U.N." There's been a lot of talk of whether the United States is going to act as a unilateral power.
And what the president was saying to this community was, look, everything that I am indicting Saddam Hussein for, you've indicted him for. You're the ones who set these conditions that he has violated. You're the ones that have put these demands on the table, you know, he knocked off the Resolutions 637 and 688.
And in an attempt to frame the argument as an international case, going all the way back to the League of Nations which, whose impotence in the face of Hitler was what many people think gave rise to World War II and ultimately the U.N. I'm not going to try to guess what the other five elements are that I should identify, Aaron, but that particular element, talking to the United Nations and saying, we respect you so much, we will take this fight to Saddam on your behalf, even if you won't, was I think was a rhetorically, quite deliberate and key element of the speech.
BROWN: It seems to me you have just proved you are better on an essay test than multiple-choice.
GREENFIELD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for those tests, but we'll stick with it (ph).
BROWN: The president's challenge to the United Nations I found interesting, because that -- in diplomatic language that's a very delicate thing to do is to say, you've let him get away with this. There are -- you know, here is 1, 2, 3, 4, these are all things you said are important, and you have let him defy it.
So, how do the members of the U.N. hear that little slap, gentle perhaps, but slap in the face?
GREENFIELD: Well, that's the part of the speech where I think the president may well have been addressing one of your other audiences, the home grown audience, and particularly the audience within his party that has long been skeptical of the United Nations. You know, as I said, the president's father served, if memory serves me well, in the United Nations.
BROWN: He did.
GREENFIELD: The current Republican leadership, post-Cold War, is not particularly -- they hold the U.N., I think it's fair to say, at minimum high regard. And I think when the president was saying, look, fellows, you have let the Iraqi people down, you have let the international community down. That was a way in which he is saying, if I have to make this fight, my fellow conservatives, I know that these guys, this international community that the Clintonites (ph) like so much, haven't been doing the job. So, I think that's two of the six we have knocked out.
BROWN: All right, well, I've got all day with you. I'll keep working on it.
Rula Amin is in Baghdad for us. Where are you over here? Rula Amin is in Baghdad for us. No official reaction I assume from state- run TV. We've got a good taste, by the way, of state-run TV and how they were playing all of this last night on the program.
What do you expect to hear? I assume something equally defiant?
RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have tried to get some kind of comments, a very quick comment from Iraqi officials. We haven't got any yet. We were told Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, had been watching this speech, no comments yet.
But I can tell you that Iraqi people, the Iraqi people who had been hearing this, this did not leave much of a chance or room that the crisis will be averted, because today, as we were talking to people, including officials here, some were hoping that maybe the line that President Bush will come up with is that if Iraq allows U.N. weapons inspectors back into Baghdad with unfettered access, without any restrictions, that may defuse the crisis for a little bit.
But President Bush was very clear. He says a regime that lost its legitimacy will lose its power, and this is a strong message to the Iraqi government here that the regime -- a regime change is necessary in order to avoid this crisis now. How will the Iraqis respond to that, we will see -- Aaron.
BROWN: We talked -- you know, in American political life, we'll talk about hawks and doves and supporters and opponents. Is it possible to get any sense within the Iraqi regime of any disagreement at all on the course that Iraq, so far at least, has chosen to follow?
AMIN: It's very hard to get disagreements within the government, at least that's something we would know about. We have been getting a very official unanimous line from the government, which is that they don't believe the issue of weapons of mass destruction is the real issue for President Bush. They say it's just a pretext. What the U.S. administration wants is to control the oil of the region, and this is just an excuse to launch an attack on Iraq to control the region.
But today, we heard from Iraq's foreign minister. He was talking about the return of weapons inspectors back into Iraq. And he was saying that Iraq will deal with the weapons inspectors if it is part of and in compliance with U.N. resolutions. And when the Iraqi say that, it usually means that they want to make sure that this is part of a process, that this will mean if they cooperate, if they give unrestricted access, they will get something in return. And what they are looking for is the lifting of the sanctions -- Aaron.
BROWN: A negotiation is on. Rula, thank you. Rula Amin doing a marvelous job of speaking over the chanting that sounded like it was coming over public address systems. We assume that was prayer chanting going on. It is not easy to do both -- Paula.
ZAHN: And not intentionally trying to drown her out...
BROWN: No, I don't think so.
ZAHN: All right, no conspiracy theories at work here today.
We're going to let you try to find out how this speech is playing in London, Moscow and Beijing.
Let's turn to our own Robin Oakley, Jill Dougherty and Jaime FlorCruz.
Let's start with you, Robin, the reaction to the speech?
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have no official reaction as yet. But from talking to diplomats across Europe before this speech as to what they were looking for, I think they will have been reassured under the growing momentum towards support for George Bush in possible military action against Iraq will have been helped by this address.
I think they were looking, particularly across Europe -- some interference there. But they were looking, particularly across Europe, for an assurance that George Bush would work through the United Nations. They were looking for a greater commitment to the United Nations than he had shown previously, and they were looking for assurances that he would also tackle the question of peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. That's crucial to the Europeans. George Bush's words there will have helped.
ZAHN: Thank you so much, Robin.
Let's go to Jill Dougherty and see if there was that same kind of expectation of more of a multilateral approach rather than a unilateral approach -- Jill.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Paula, that certainly is what the Russians would love to hear. That has been their message for a long time. But what they have been asking for is proof about Saddam Hussein, and now, it will be up to them to say whether or not they heard everything that they want to hear.
There is no question that the Russians want those inspectors back in Iraq. They agree with the United Nations.
There is also growing frustration in here Moscow about the intransigence of Saddam Hussein. But the question always been -- has been for Russia, the use of force. So far, they have been saying, no, force won't do it. It should not be taken, and certainly, no unilateral action by the United States.
But what Russia hasn't been grappling with is what happens now? What happens if the United Nations says it wants the inspectors back in, and Saddam Hussein either frustrates or interferes with them? And there are actually people here, Paula, who are pushing, want this threat of force explicitly in that U.N. resolution or U.N. decision. And there are many here who say that if the U.N. Security Council ultimately does decide to authorize force, that Russia would stand aside and would not use its veto.
ZAHN: Well, that's what all of the speculation is about how critical that Russian vote would be in the Security Council. That is the expectation, they'd simply abstain? They wouldn't do a no-vote on either forcing the immediate compliance or agreeing with the deadline to be set?
DOUGHERTY: It's step one, step two. You know, if, No. 1, they have to get this resolution to get the inspectors back in. But it's a question of continued defiance by Saddam Hussein and the decision to really authorize force. Russia doesn't want to do it, said all along that it would be a mistake. But many here believe, and that's not the final version, but many believe that Russia would simply step aside and let it happen.
ZAHN: Thanks so much, Jill Dougherty, from Moscow.
Let's hear the view from Beijing. Here is Jaime FlorCruz -- Jaime.
JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Paula, Chinese officials will credit President Bush for taking his position, his issue against Iraq to the United Nations, because after all, it shows that Washington is willing to defer to public opinion and to consult with other countries. China is opposed to any unilateral action, and prefers that this issue be resolved within the U.N. framework. So, that's a positive sign to them.
However, the Chinese are also hoping that President Bush will show a so-called smoking gun to show that Iraq, indeed, possess weapons of mass destruction. And I'm not sure that President Bush's speech delivered that.
However, he did make a strong case to show that Iraq has been defying U.N. resolutions for the past 10 years, and the Chinese may be willing to accept that. And if so, if the issue is put to a vote in the Security Council, where they wield veto power, they may just simply abstain -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jaime FlorCruz, thanks for that update.
I guess what we can glean from that latest report from Russia and China is that somehow there is a perception that the president fell short in trying to prove either that weapons of mass destruction exist or that the nuclear program is humming along after all.
BROWN: And I think what we also heard is that the game is on, in a sense. That no one has locked in stone yet that these are movable players, and that's as much as the president could possibly want at this point, it seems to me, from these other countries that they are still in the game. John King, our senior White House correspondent.
John, it is pretty clear that the White House, beginning a couple of weeks ago with the vice president's speech, began its campaign, and you know, since you (UNINTELLIGIBLE), its campaign to sell its vision of Iraq here and what the United States and the United Nations must do. Today, the president makes the next important marker in that campaign.
How, now, does the White House proceed to sell this at home, and to sell it around the world?
KING: Well, Aaron, the president is convinced he doesn't have that tough of a sales job here at home, and that reaction you heard from Congress, I think, is early evidence that the administration is right in that regard.
The main criticism from Republicans in the United States was that he should go to the United Nations first. He just did that.
As for selling folks overseas, you just went to two of the three big capitals in the White House strategy. Delegations will leave Washington in the days ahead, go to Beijing, go to Moscow, go to Paris as well, to lobby those three permanent members of the Security Council to make the president's case. And in those presentations, there might be some evidence of what the administration says is recent activity at Iraqi nuclear sites, recent efforts to procure materials for Iraqi nuclear weapons.
But the president's bottom line was outlined in that speech. Often, diplomacy is ambiguous. That speech was not. The president essentially making the case, why is the world asking me for evidence? There is more than enough evidence before you of Saddam's defiance of the will of this body, the United Nations, over the past decade. The president listed many of the broken promises, in his view. Obviously, he is speaking the day after September 11. He said the great concern was that terrorists would have a -- quote -- "short cut to mad ambitions by marrying up with a regime like Saddam Hussein."
The one promise the president said was most important to him, that he says Saddam has broken, was his promise after the Persian Gulf War to do away completely with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge. From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with scud warheads, aerial bombs and aircraft spray tanks.
U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, the administration is still quite skeptical that Saddam Hussein will accept a tough inspections regime. But you heard the president in his speech his publicly-stated goal of this administration is regime change in Iraq. Mr. Bush did say he could see that coming about through means other than military force, but he also, at the conclusion of that speech, did make clear he wants the United Nations to act. He promised to work with the United Nations, but he made crystal clear that if the Security Council will not endorse a new tougher resolution that says comply with the resolutions, and essentially, or else, that the United States is prepared to go ahead -- Aaron.
BROWN: John, thank you. I know you want to get to work on the telephones. That's what you do for a living. We'll let you go. Thanks for your work today -- Paula.
ZAHN: And, Aaron, you said the game was on. I think that's clearly going to be the next step. It's so interesting to watch what happens in the Security Council, particularly as Secretary Powell already starts the process of working on a new resolution tomorrow. And the gauntlet that was laid down today, are you guys just going to make these rules, or are you going to make them and make them stick?
GREENFIELD: And I think what we can expect is the Bush administration fighting for two things: that resolution of the United Nations and a congressional resolution sometime this fall authorizing the president for some kind of use of force. Some senators have said no blank check, but an endorsement. And that takes them in -- by the way, if I can allude to this into the November elections with the -- if he gets those two things with the backing of both the Congress and the international community, with perhaps some political consequences.
BROWN: We don't mean to, in any way, belittle the importance by saying the game is on, but this is a complicated international dance that is going on and it involves lots of players and lots of pieces and lots of sometimes conflicting interests. Of course, over the next hour as international governments around the world will start reacting more formally than we have been able to bring you, and as that reaction comes in, we'll be bringing it to you all afternoon and evening on CNN.
ZAHN: In the meantime, this team has to say good-bye to you. We appreciate your joining our special coverage today, and you can look forward to seeing Aaron later tonight at 10:00 p.m.
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