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Former Ambassador Discusses Iraq

Aired October 4, 2002 - 12:17   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That tougher resolution on Iraq, that's what the Bush administration wants, but convincing other countries is a difficult matter. One man who knows the process quite well, and the players involved, is -- including the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, is the former United States ambassador and State Department official, Richard Gardner. He joins us live from New York.
Professor, thanks for joining us.

How important is this debate that's unfolding between the U.S. and some of the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council on the terms of the new resolution? To most viewers out there, it might seem pretty arcane whether there is one resolution or two.

RICHARD GARDNER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, it's vitally important, Wolf, and will decide whether we're going to have peace or war and whether we're going to effectively disarm this terrible man. The key language in the excellent resolution draft which the United States has put forward with Britain is that the inspectors must have, and I'm quoting, "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all areas and facilities, equipment" and so on and unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons, that is, Iraqis who can tell the inspectorate what is going on. Now, we must have that language. And there's some other good language requirement...

BLTIZER: From what I understand, Professor Gardner, most of the Security Council will probably go along with that language, including the French, probably even the Russians. The key, though, is what would happen if the Iraqis don't comply, the so-called use of force clause, the French apparently want that to come down the road, the Bush administration says put it all in now.

GARDNER: Yes. I was just getting to that. My position would be that if we can get the strong language I've just described and some other strong language about the kind of inspections, we could trade acceptance of that for agreeing with the French that we would not insist that this first resolution have in it the trigger mechanism authorizing the United States to use force. I think we could settle for coming back to the Security Council in the event that he's not cooperating and asking the council than to take action.

I would like in the initial resolution a final paragraph saying the council agrees that failure to perform under these conditions by Iraq would require the council to meet immediately and consider measures, including chapter 7 measures, that is use of force measures, to enforce the resolution. That would still meet the French position that the council would have to meet a second time. If the second time, they fail to meet their clear responsibilities, the U.S. would go ahead on its own. That would be the fall back. We have the authority do that. In resolution 678 and 687 I believe we have that authority which was granted ten years ago, we should use it.

BLITZER: We have an e-mail question for you, professor, from Edmond (ph) in McLean, Virginia, wants to know this, how does Bush expect to get any resolution passed in the U.N. with his my way or the highway attitude? Can he really get what he wants from the U.N. by bullying? --

GARDNER: Well, bullying is the phrase that the questioner uses. Let me just say this, I think we have not always shown the best type of diplomacy here over the last few months. I'm particularly concerned that we chose this moment to launch this new strategic doctrine of preemptive strikes against anyone who might be preparing weapons that could threaten us. That opens a Pandora's box, that any country could attack another country simply because they think that weapons might be used. And it's unfortunate. We don't need that doctrine to deal with Iraq. So I think it was a mistake to bring the two things together and muddy the waters. I do believe...

BLITZER: Let me interrupt you for a second, Professor Gardner. You heard the secretary of state, Colin Powell, say that this is not a new doctrine at all, it's long standing U.S. policy. The same policy, he says, was used during the Cuban missile crisis, of a preemptive strike if necessary to deal with those Soviet missiles in Cuba which could have threatened, let's say, Florida.

GARDNER: Look, I was involved in the Cuban missile crisis and helped craft the doctrine that was used to justify the quarantine of Cuba. First of all, it wasn't a strike and an attack, it was a limited action on the high seas.

Secondly, it was justified not under the doctrine of self- defense, but because the Organization of American States, a regional organization, authorized it.

These sound like technical matters, but there's a big difference between a limited act on the high seas, justified by a regional organization and a unilateral assertion that we will go to war, go to war, against any country that has weapons. This would be a retroactive justification of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. We have to be very careful about the words we are using and signals we are sending. That's my basic point. Of course...

BLITZER: Richard Gardner, unfortunately professor, we have to leave it right there, professor of international law at Columbia University, former State Department official, U.S. ambassador, Professor Gardner. Thanks you helping us understand what the to many people seems arcane, but obviously very, very critical issues.


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