CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Showdown: Iraq

Aired October 26, 2002 - 12:05   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The consequences in order to be effective.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush holds firm. Iraq must allow weapons inspectors to do their job or pay the price. Hello, I'm Miles O'Brien in for Fredricka Whitfield today. Right now, the president is in Mexico, where Iraq is sure to come up during a series of trade talks. Helping us sort this all out, our senior White House correspondent John King who is traveling with the president. We'll be hearing very shortly from Jane Arraf, who is in Baghdad, but first, let's send it over to John King. John, what's the latest?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good afternoon to you from Las Pabbos (ph), Mexico. Mr. Bush is here. He arrived a short time ago for the Annual Asian Pacific Economic Summit. By name and by nature, these discussions usually about trade and economic issues, but the confrontation with Iraq, the broader war on terrorism and the new crisis with North Korea, now that it has admitted a nuclear problem, dominating the discussions. Much more talk about security here and military issues than about trade issues.

In Mr. Bush's first meeting, just a few moments from now, he'll meet with the Mexican president, Vicente Fox. The traditional issues like immigration on the table. But Mexico is a member of the Security Council at the United Nations, considering right now just what to do in the debate over Iraq. Mr. Bush hoping to convince his friend, President Fox of Mexico, to support the tough U.S. posture.

President Jiang Zemin of China also on hand. China, a permanent member of the Security Council. President Jiang met with President Bush yesterday. White House officials are confident in the end, after the debate, China will stand with the United States in the debate over Iraq.

The broader war on terrorism also a major issue here. Remember, not long ago the tragic bombing in Bali, Indonesia, killing so many. A couple of Americans, many Australians. The president of Indonesia is here, President Megawati. She says that, yes, she will crack down on terrorism in her country, but one thing she will appeal for at this meeting is for countries like the United States to lift the advisories urging citizens not to travel to Indonesia at this moment in time.


PRES. MEGAWATI SUKARNOPUTRI, INDONESIA: If panic and fear continue to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it would in turn encourage the terrorists win (ph) their objectives and expand their activities. Clearly, we must fight terrorism that might take place wherever, whenever and by whoever. In so doing, however, we should not apply the policy that at the end would upset the lives of our people and harm their welfare.


KING: President Megawati of Indonesia one of the leaders Mr. Bush will meet with face to face during this summit. The United States, though, not prepared to ease or lift its travel advisory against travel by Americans to Indonesia right now. The Bush administration saying the Indonesian government has not done enough to crack down on terrorism -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: John, there are no less than three proposals banding their way around the U.N. right now. A Russian, a French and a U.S. proposal. I know the U.S. formally submitted its proposal at the end of the week to try to maintain control of the debate, I guess, if you will. But with three proposals, is the administration worried that they'll lose the initiative, if you will, in all this?

KING: Well, the administration is certainly losing patience, Miles. The White House saying -- White House officials saying even as the president travels here, still some time for talking, still some time for negotiating at the United Nations, but President Bush made clear yesterday in Texas he does not like the new Russian and the French proposals. U.S. officials say their patience is running thin. They want to bring this to a vote in the Security Council in the week ahead, next week in the Security Council. One senior U.S. official saying the United States has not decided to give up on the United Nations approach, but also has said it's possible that that approach will fail, and it that's what happens, remember, Mr. Bush has made clear, he has said, if the United Nations will not act in a way that he likes, he will try to lead a coalition outside of the United Nations to confront Saddam Hussein.

O'BRIEN: But John, you mention the patience factor here. Clearly from a geopolitical standpoint, the U.S. at least has to have the appearance to going the last mile with the United Nations. When does the patience truly run out?

KING: Well, remember Mr. Bush's speech to the United Nations. He said he wanted the United Nations to act in days and weeks, not months and years. We are about two weeks from the point where we could say plural, months, from the date of that speech. So the administration saying it must happen soon. Most saying they want this to happen next week, in the week ahead. Perhaps a little wiggle room to add a week after that, but not much further. The administration says the United Nations must act. It is thinking about forcing a vote in the Security Council, even if those key members, Russia and France, will not agree to the U.S. proposal.

O'BRIEN: CNN's John King with the president in Mexico.

Let's turn our attention now to Baghdad, Iraq, where we find our Jane Arraf. We don't think we'll be finding her there for long. That's among the issues we'll be talking about. Jane is among the Western journalists who will be forced to leave Baghdad. Before we do that, talk about that, Jane, let's talk a little bit about the U.N. resolutions.

First of all, how closely is it being watched there, and what do the Iraqi people know, if anything, about this debate?

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Miles, it's being watched incredibly closely, as you might expect, all the way from the palace, we imagine, to the people on the street. Now, they're just reading the official newspapers. That basically tells them that Russia and France are solidly behind Iraq. It's full of happy news at the Security Council. But they do get more objective news as well, by listening to foreign radios and other sources. So they really do know what's going on.

Now, Iraq keeps saying that it won't accept any resolution that goes back on previous agreements it's had for things like searching the palaces. Now, it can afford to say that for a little while, but the feeling among diplomats here is that it will have no choice in the end but to accept any resolution, particularly if, obviously, Russia and France back it.

As for ordinary people, their feeling seems to be that no matter what happens at the Security Council, this is a done deal, that the United States is intent on attacking Iraq -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Jane, quickly, though, free and unfettered inspections. Is that something that Saddam Hussein would truly in reality ever agree to?

ARRAF: The feeling is that he will agree to whatever is that ensures his survival. Now, there's a reason that he's been in power as long as he has. And it's because he's managed to do everything he needs to to retain control and to stay in power. Now, if that means making the compromises that it would take to get those palaces inspected, the feeling here is that he will do that.

Now, the government certainly doesn't want to do that. It would see it as a loss of face, a loss of dignity. But the feeling is very much that they are realistic here, and even their allies, even their longtime friends, are telling the Iraqi leaders that this time they have no choice. They really will have to let those inspectors in, and pretty well let them search wherever they want -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Now, I began in talking with you about the possibility of your imminent departure. Western journalists have been told to leave, you among them. How soon might that happen? Is there any possibility of a reprieve?

ARRAF: Well, we've seen a little bit of a reprieve. Originally, I personally, being the bureau chief here, was told to leave two days ago, then I was told that I could actually stay a little bit longer, and we were told that all the CNN staff had to leave, every non-Iraqi. That's been rescinded a little bit, to the point where some people who still have valid visas can stay, but there are several of us who are being told that we have to leave.

Now, there is a lot of reasons for that, evidently. Iraq says it's just administrative, but it's also made clear that it's very unhappy with reporting from northern Iraq, that's the Kurdish- controlled territory. And it basically issued an ultimatum to news organizations, saying that they either have to close their bureaus in Baghdad or get rid of their correspondents in northern Iraq. And that's the dilemma that a lot of news organizations are facing -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. That's an interesting dilemma. And we will be watching that. We hope to see you from Baghdad in the near-term future. Jane Arraf, thank you very much for your excellent reporting, as always.

Now let's go to a segment we call "Guns and Ammo." CNN has learned the Air Force is using armed unmanned aerial vehicles over southern Iraq. It's new and deadly version, the surveillance-oriented Predator aerial vehicle, which got a workout in the Afghanistan campaign. For a look at that, we turn our attention to CNN security analyst Kelly McCann.

Kelly, the Predator armed with Hellfire missiles. For those who remember the days of Afghanistan and that Predator actually operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, had its first engagement in that war. Describe its advantages and, perhaps, some of its pitfalls.

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, certainly its advantage is that it's unmanned. In other words, you've got eyes on and you've got constant reporting by telemetry where it is, what it sees, et cetera. So it's a throw-away in that you're not going to lose human life.

However, also, it can't do what a pilot can do, which is if the operator is not tuned into the whole context of the terrain he's seeing in front of him, they've got to resort to a fairly mechanical kind of grid search. A pilot has autonomous control right there and can react to things as he sees it. So it's a fantastic device, but it still can't replace human intuition.

O'BRIEN: Yeah, I guess, quite literally, it's like trying to wage a battle with blinders on. You have a very limited field of view. And that can be challenging, can't it?

MCCANN: Exactly. I mean, you know, a pilot can look over his shoulder, he can look behind him slightly, he can have his whole area of vision, you know, he can take all that information in. This, you have to actually manipulate the device. But then, you know, to move even further, you've got to actually fly the Predator drone a little bit differently. So it's a little bit more onerous than if the man is right there. O'BRIEN: All right, let's try to analyze here why the Pentagon would allow something like this to leak out? This is clearly something in the nature of a message to the Iraqi regime. What are they trying to tell Saddam Hussein?

MCCANN: I don't know, number one, that it was leaked or that we shouldn't know this. I mean, it got widespread coverage during the war in Afghanistan. And I mean, it would be, I think, a little bit naive to think that they weren't going to use this in any upcoming engagements, because it was so successful in Afghanistan.

But it certainly tells -- or foretells that the use of theater ballistic missiles, the use of transporter erector launchers, which gave us such fits in the Gulf War, SCUD missile launchers, should be unnoticed. Because even though they don't emit a signal until they arm, certainly they'll be observable.

O'BRIEN: And the key here, the point that people should not forget, is that these Predators can loiter at altitude for quite some time and can be -- they are much more nimble when it comes to responding to a mobile SCUD platform, for example?

MCCANN: Absolutely. I mean, the fearfulness of the TELs is basically their mobility. The way that they can basically move, set up to shoot, decide not to, not even arm, move to another location, very, very highly mobile. While this, obviously, lets us loiter in place and be responsive that you don't have to worry about refueling in the same kind of way that you have with planes, where you are jeopardizing potentially planes to go out and refuel those planes. It's a lot better answer. And I'm sure that Iraqis are going to notice a big difference in the use of technology, if we have to engage with them.

O'BRIEN: All right. We were talking to John King a few moments ago, and he was talking about the administration's patience or lack thereof as it deals with this debate in the United Nations over these resolutions. To what extent is that patience, or lack of it, predicated on a concern that this campaign, should it be waged, has to be done in the wintertime, before summertime? There's been that discussion, and I wonder if that's a bit of a red herring?

MCCANN: Oh, I think it is, John. I'm sorry, Miles. Nobody would think that we are not an all-weather capable Army and Marine corps. I mean, Navy, Air Force, we are totally capable of fighting any environment. So I don't think it would be fair to say that we have to -- we certainly have druthers, but to say that we can't do it, based on environment, I think is a serious red herring.

O'BRIEN: Well, and I guess it's safe to say that the temperature would be the same for the adversary. Now, what you keep hearing time and again is that with the possibility of biological or chemical weapons, U.S. troops would have to suit up in these very bulky, very stifling protective suits. Is that something that is a great concern for the hierarchy planning such a battle?

MCCANN: I think it's a very great concern. However, of the same level of concern should be everybody's statements so far to the leadership in Iraq, which is, if they do resort to that in the battlefield, we will be unencumbered in our response. So I think that that should also be of serious concern to them.

O'BRIEN: And just to spell that out. Unencumbered means all bets off as far as any tool in the toolbox?

MCCANN: It means that we will rationally use any method necessary to combat the situation that they lay out. So I think that that means full-scale capability.

O'BRIEN: Wow. OK. Let's leave it at that. Kelly McCann, appreciate it as always for your insights.

Coming up on our program, jailed and beaten in Iraq. We'll have one man's story from Phoenix, of all places.

Plus, Iraq: Understanding the basics of the country. It can baffle some experts. Believe it or not, there is a book called "A Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq." We'll talk to its author very shortly.


O'BRIEN: After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, thousands of Iraqis fled their country. Among them, Jabir Al Garawi, who is now director of the Arizona Refugee Community Center in Phoenix. Let's talk with Mr. Al Garawi. And Mr. Al Garawi, you're a person who was taken to jail for three days and tortured by the Saddam Hussein regime for what offense?

JABIR AL GARAWI, ARIZONA REF. COMMUNITY CENTER: When I was 14 years old, I was in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I take that fall hard. And that fall, jump and kick, Saddam Hussein picture, it was in my classroom and fall down. That picture is fall down, and it's immediately reported to the authority, and I picked by, you know, by them from the school. For three days, I was tortured and beat up by the government, and they -- when I was 14 years old, as I say, and they thought I am -- you know, I did that on purpose. It was accident.

O'BRIEN: So a 14-year-old boy playing with a ball, knocks down a picture and you get three days of torture?

AL GARAWI: Yes. Three days of torture. I didn't slept, I remember, I didn't slept all these three days. They come, six people, and came in every night and beat me up.

O'BRIEN: Wow. All right. So obviously, your trip to America was an important one for you, but in between that time, you were involved in the insurrection in 1991, post-Gulf War, when Iraqis were encouraged to rise up against Saddam Hussein. That was a particularly difficult time for people involved in that insurrection, wasn't it?

AL GARAWI: Yes. That, you know, day after the cease-fire, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cease-fire, the Iraqi people felt it's that the golden opportunity to rise up and get rid of that dictator, especially when we encouraged by the former President George Bush in 1991 to rise up and to change the situation in Iraq for the better.

And unfortunately, we didn't get any support, and the support turned to the government against the Iraqi people, and we lost 1,000 of Iraqi people in the uprising.

O'BRIEN: Well, let me ask you this, Mr. Al Garawi. I know you're in contact with a large group of exiles from Iraq, no less than 4,000 of them right there in Phoenix, and we'll talk about that in just a moment.

I'm curious, when the Bush administration says any sort of military action might topple the house of cards that Saddam Hussein currently has in balance, and might cause an uprising in the streets, I wonder if people there will remember the experience which you remember all too well from 1991 and not do just that?

AL GARAWI: Well, you know, the Iraqi people, in Iraq, they oppose that regime and they want to, you know, to enjoy their freedom. And I think when they feel there is a support, you know, that's going to come from the world, they will rise up again, and they will -- you know, they will lead another uprising to get rid of that regime and establish a democratic government in Iraq.

O'BRIEN: But they must be a bit leery of another Bush administration making the same promises?

AL GARAWI: Well, now it's come here to us, as Americans. We should work to have -- you know, to have our government keep their promise to help the Iraqi people.

O'BRIEN: All right. You are responsible, or helped support a large group of exiles there in Phoenix. And there are other pockets all around the country. I'm curious what the general feeling is among these groups? I mean, because clearly, if there's U.S. military action or coalition military action in Iraq, many of your relatives and friends would come to harm. There's no question about that. Civilians would get hurt. What's the feeling among the exiled community?

AL GARAWI: Well, most of the Iraqi people out of Iraq and inside the Iraq support the effort of the United States changing the regime in Iraq. And we know -- we know there is going to be casualties, civilian casualties. But we -- in Iraq, the last (UNINTELLIGIBLE), since that this regime come to power, 1,000 of Iraqi people killed, executed, and he led the country to disaster of -- to war against Iran for eight years, and he went to Kuwait, and the world united against him, and it's caused the Iraqi people a lot of suffering. And I think the Iraqi people inside Iraq welcome the idea of changing their regime.

O'BRIEN: All right. But changing the regime, nothing less than change of regime is what the exiles want. That implies that there is somebody in the wings who can take the reins of power. It doesn't seem very clear that there is an heir apparent, somebody who could take over for Saddam Hussein if he were deposed tomorrow?

AL GARAWI: We have opposition inside the Iraq and outside of Iraq, and I think with the help of the United States and the world, we can -- we can establish a new government in Iraq, and we can see -- you know, we can help the Iraqi people elect their leader. And I think it's -- you know, saying that we can't have another person, I think that is a mistake. The Iraqi people can, you know, -- they are struggling, and suffering from that regime, and they want to celebrate their freedom, and they want to enjoy their freedom, and they are ready for the government, democratic government in Iraq.

O'BRIEN: One final question. Why do you believe that young American men and women should spill their blood to change the regime that is affecting your people so much?

AL GARAWI: Well, in 1991, when, you know, the Iraqi people sacrificed 1,000 civilians for freedom, you know, in 1991, the United States president, former President George Bush encouraged the Iraqi people to rise up against the regime, and we did. I was one of the people rise up, and we tried to change the situation in Iraq for better. And unfortunately, the United States government left us alone facing the dictatorship. And even, you know, according to the cease- fire in '91 between the Iraq regime and the United States government, he should not use the aircraft. They allowed him at that time to use the aircraft to crush our uprising.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're going to have to leave it at that. Thank you very much, Jabir Al Garawi, joining us from Phoenix, where there is a very large Iraqi exile group with which he is involved in. Thank you very much for being with us on SHOWDOWN: IRAQ this Saturday.

AL GARAWI: Thank you. Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Time for us to take a break. Iraq -- information overload. What do you need to know? Ahead, a little schooling from the author of a book called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Iraq." OK.


O'BRIEN: It's time now to talk Turkey, quite literally. Turkey, the country, that is, and it is home to a very important U.S. Air Base at Incirlik. It is also a member of NATO. But it is also in a very difficult position as a possible war with Iraq starts to unfold. To sort of sort all this out and see how the Kurdish problem weighs in on all of this, we turn our attention to the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Iraq," Joseph Tragert. He joins us from Boston. Good to have you with us, Joseph.


O'BRIEN: All right. Let's lay it out on Turkey. Turkey is a NATO member, and yet it is a predominantly Muslim nation. And therein lies the initial rub, doesn't it?

TRAGERT: That's right. Turkey's dealing with a situation where a lot of its population may feel some affinity to the people in the Middle East that are Arab, while the Turks, of course, are Turkic. But there is not necessarily a widespread well of support for the U.S. amongst the men on the street in Turkey.

O'BRIEN: And those bases there, are they a point of contention among people on the streets in Turkey?

TRAGERT: Absolutely. In a similar way that the bases in Saudi Arabia are a point of contention. The government is very aware of the fact that there would be probably increasing popular discord if it became apparent that their bases in southern Turkey were being used to attack Iraq.

O'BRIEN: And -- but to differentiate from the Saudis in this case, there is no indication that the Turks have indicated any desire to block U.S. usage of Incirlik primarily involved in this campaign, right?

TRAGERT: Not at all. That's right. As a NATO member, the expectations of their support are much more firm, and in fact, as a NATO member, they are obliged to do it.

O'BRIEN: They are compelled to do it.


O'BRIEN: It's an ironclad deal. If they want to be part of NATO, they've got to play, right?

TRAGERT: That's right.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's factor in the Kurds for just a moment. The first thought many people might have is that the Kurds would be a good analog to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan -- in other words, the U.S. could cut a deal with the Kurds and use them as allies on the ground. The problem with that is, the promises that the U.S. might have to make to the Kurds, which might fly in the face of what the Turks want. Correct?

TRAGERT: That's right. The Kurdish nation as a group is one of the largest minorities in the world that does not have its own state. The Kurds find themselves now shared between Iran, Iraq and Turkey primarily. Turkey has a very large minority of Kurds, and right across the border, in Iraq, of course, is another very large group of Kurds.

Turkey does not want to see the Turkish state lose a piece of its own territory that may become part of a contiguous Kurdish state, were the Kurds to demand some kind of independence as a payment for their participation in a U.S.-led effort against Saddam.

O'BRIEN: So it sort of forces the U.S. to make a decision, and I guess the decision is fairly straight-forward, because of the base at Incirlik, but nevertheless, if you side heavily with the Kurds, you might upset the Turks and vice versa?

TRAGERT: That's right.

O'BRIEN: To what extent does that complicate matters for the U.S. as it engages in war planning right now?

TRAGERT: I think it complicates things a great deal, because one would think one of the most staunch allies of a U.S.-led effort to topple Saddam would be the Kurds, in fact. However, because of the reservations, if you will, that the Turks would have and, in fact, maybe the Iranians also would have -- remember, they have a large unrest of Kurdish population of their own -- it would widen a war in a way that the U.S. is not prepared to probably deal with. Also, it would make it much more difficult for the Turkish leadership to maintain sort of unfailing support for U.S. military efforts.

O'BRIEN: So that's a bit of a problem, because having allies on the ground is a very useful thing, isn't it?

TRAGERT: That's right. And one of the biggest problems in Iraq is that the two main allied groups the U.S. would think they could count on, the Kurds in the north and the Shi'a in the south, both of those groups are basically widely unpopular with the rest of the regimes around them, except Iran, of course, which is dominantly Shi'a. But all the other Arabian, Persian Gulf states are dominated by Sunni governments or Sunni Muslims. They would not want to see a Shi'a-dominated Iraq on their borders.

O'BRIEN: So there is no real easy way to finesse this situation, is there?


O'BRIEN: All right. Is it possible -- well, put it this way -- does the U.S. need to worry about access to Incirlik as the campaign goes on? Assuming the Kurdish issue doesn't come to bite them, somehow?

TRAGERT: I think so. Because right now, they would be relying otherwise on bases in the Gulf states and possibly in Kuwait, and even if they did not utilize the Saudi bases. However, if you lose one of those bases, remember, Saddam Hussein does still have some SCUD missiles, and it is quite possible that he somehow he could maybe get at one of these U.S. bases. You need someplace else to come in from, and obviously Turkey's your best bet otherwise.

O'BRIEN: All right. We are going to have to leave it at that. Joseph Tragert, who is the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Iraq," thanks for being with us from Boston. We appreciate it.

TRAGERT: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're going to take a break. When we come back, take a look at some live pictures coming out of Washington, D.C. A big anti-war protest is planned today. The organizers would like to tell you that 100,000 people will there be. We don't have a head count just yet, but very reminiscent of Vietnam War, 1960s days, as the protest begins on a beautiful day in Washington, D.C. We'll have more in a moment in just a moment. Stay with us.



O'BRIEN: The possibility of another war with Iraq is drawing protesters to the streets of Washington and some other cities around the world today. A rally is under way already in Washington. The song continues there. We don't know (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Organizers are promising an angry, loud and yet peaceful demonstration. Other protests being held in San Francisco, Rome, Berlin, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Mexico City. We'll keep you posted on the headcount there.

Most Americans apparently still support sending U.S. troops to Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Checking the numbers in a new CNN/"TIME" magazine poll, 40 percent of respondents strongly favor sending American ground troops to Iraq, 15 percent somewhat favor that move, a quarter of the respondents are somewhat opposed, and 9 percent are strongly opposed. When asked what's the most important goal in Iraq, a third of the respondents say regime change. More than half say removing weapons of mass destruction. And that is the end of that poll for now.

For weeks, diplomats and military folks have been going back and forth on what action, if any, to take against Iraq and so have a lot of other people, including Victoria Jones and Steve Malzberg. Victoria's a special correspondent for Talk Radio News Service in Washington. Steve spends a little bit of time on WABC Radio in New York. Good to see you both back. Haven't chatted with you in a while. How are you?



O'BRIEN: We just saw those pictures, the protesters in Washington. Victoria, that's your turf. Are there going to be 100,000 people out there?

JONES: No. There aren't going to be 100,000 people out there.

O'BRIEN: Not even close?

JONES: I am just looking down -- no, I would think 50,000 tops, probably less than that.

O'BRIEN: Really?

JONES: I would think. I guess. Yeah. And maybe not so much because people don't support it, but I think probably more because most people didn't have a clue this was going to happen.

O'BRIEN: Somebody's right in the microphone there. We might want to turn that mike down. "No war" he's saying. I'm curious, though, about these polls. And you never know. I didn't get the exact question that was asked, but I think if you ask the question about whether it's unilateral or with a coalition, you get a big difference. Is that an important distinction to you? Steve, you go first.

MALZBERG: Well, you know, why don't you ask the question, and I've never seen this one posed -- do you think that France or Russia should determine the security needs and the security of the United States of America?

O'BRIEN: Counselor, counselor, a leading question I'd say, wouldn't you?

MALZBERG: No. Any poll question is a leading question. I mean, if you want to say a coalition, sure, most people would rather go in with a coalition. But if it's up to France or Russia to dictate the terms and to dictate our security, to us, I think 95 percent of the people responding to such a question in a poll would say absolutely not. The United States determines its security needs and determines what it does for its national security.

O'BRIEN: So you are a unilateralist on this deal. Should we just bypass the whole Security Council debate?

MALZBERG: Well, we're not. We're not. Miles, for weeks and months we've been in front of the Security Council. The president went to the United Nations. Right now we are working on a resolution. But if we, in fact, get a vote, and France and/or Russia or China veto a resolution that we're looking for, then the president said we will act alone if necessary. But it's not alone. We have other countries, including Great Britain that will act with us. So we're trying. He's not taking it upon himself, but if France or another country says, uh- oh. What are we supposed to say? OK, you know best what's OK for our country. No way!

O'BRIEN: All right, Victoria, I suppose, Steven that's one way of spinning it. There is another way of spinning it, and I invite you to do that now, Victoria.

Well, first of all, of course, Miles, you know, Steve's question is a non-question because it hasn't been asked. And second of all, we're not just talking about U.S. interests. We're talking about global interests. At least President Bush would have us believe that we're talking about global interests. So if we're talking about global interests, then the opinion of Russia and France and China and the U.K., which has already gone outside, they all do matter, as do the other countries.

Now, it seems to me that the ideal thing would be to go in with a coalition gathered from the U.N., and I don't think that's difficult to do if, in fact, we work out some language that makes sense to everybody. Our view of this as a country seems to be, at least the Bush administration, seems to be, we want a resolution that says exactly what we want, and if we don't get the resolution or if you don't do it quickly, we're going in anyway.

MALZBERG: That's nonsense, Victoria.

JONES: That's not nonsense.


JONES: That is exactly the position of the administration.

O'BRIEN: Steve, here's the one thing that escapes me every time. What is hurry? What is the big hurry here, Steve? We know...

MALZBERG: Because...

O'BRIEN: ... that yes, if we wait long enough, Saddam Hussein will, in fact, have a nuclear weapon pointed at us, but...

JONES: How long is long enough?

O'BRIEN: Well, minimum a year, maybe 10 years...

MALZBERG: That's Miles, Victoria. That's not me. That's Miles saying that.


JONES: This thing will take about two to three weeks to sort out this resolution.

MALZBERG: And it's been going on for a long time. When the president went to the U.N., he said days, not months...


O'BRIEN: All right, Victoria, Victoria, let him talk.

MALZBERG: We're waiting, we're still waiting. We've been doing it for weeks. The fact of the matter is, we want a vote. And when a vote comes, if it's vetoed by France or Russia or China, we're going to go ahead and say, well, you're the League of Nations, you're not the United Nations. You are now worthless to us in the quest. We're going to do it with Great Britain and our other allies that are willing to go ahead. We're not going to say that the United Nations and certain other countries are going to dictate our foreign policy.

O'BRIEN: Fine point. Let's have Victoria pick up on that point. Is the U.N. driving the bus here? And if so, that's not a very good thing, is it?

JONES: Well, it depends who it's a good thing for. I don't think the U.N. is driving the bus. I do think the U.S. is driving the bus and I think, actually, the U.S. would be more listened to if it participated more in the United Nations most of the time.

I think it's very important for us to get the rest of the U.N. onboard. We do have a coalition, there is no question. We can go in and we would win if we went up against Iraq. There is no question about that. We can, and we would, and we very well might.

What would make more sense, however, is for us to all go in together, and if that takes three week, then that's fine. If that takes a month, it's fine. If it takes a year, no, that's not fine. But do we have any information that Saddam Hussein is going to invade next Tuesday? I haven't heard. Maybe I'm not privy to it.

O'BRIEN: Steve?

MALZBERG: Well, I mean, you say weeks? We have waited weeks. We are still waiting. The president has not given a hard deadline. The president said at the U.N. when he gave the speech, he doesn't want it to go on months or years. And as CNN -- I think Jonathan (sic) King indicated, another couple of days, it will be months, it will be two months. So he's waiting, he's been very patient.

JONES: But when do you want him to go in then, Steve? When do you want...

MALZBERG: Oh, I don't know when they're going to go in. I don't think they're going to go in until we...

JONES: When do you want it to be? How soon are you willing to...

MALZBERG: I'm not a military expert. I don't know what the best logistical time...

JONES: OK, so why are we talking about it?

MALZBERG: Why are we talking about it?

JONES: Yeah.

MALZBERG: Because you say it's best that we follow the U.N. and let the world community (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our security.

JONES: No, I am not saying that. I'm saying that it's best if we work with the U.N., not follow.

O'BRIEN: Let me pose this question, I'll try to pose it in an objective manner as best I can. The question, I'll start with you, Steve, isn't it, ultimately if there is a victory in Iraq, isn't it a better, more complete and more defensible victory if it comes in with as broad a coalition as possible?

MALZBERG: Well, I mean, in a wonderful world, in the best-case scenario, yes, but it's not going to make any difference. I mean, I hear that if we don't have the Arab countries onboard with us, we're in trouble. What Arab country is going to attack the United States while we're attacking or even interfere with our attack on Iraq while we're attacking Iraq? They can't -- all of them combined can't ever beat Israel. I mean, it's ridiculous to come up with all these scenarios, as the detractors did in '91. Oh, get the body bags ready. Oh, get this ready. Oh, how can we defeat the Republican Guard? And we did.

Same in Afghanistan. Oh, Russia couldn't beat the Taliban, how are we going to do it? We did it. I mean, come on, we're the United States of America, we've been victimized on our own turf. Thousands were killed. We had a sniper now in Washington. There are all kinds of threats against us. Look at Chechnya, look at Russia. You want our movie theaters to turn out like that? We have to defend our country.

O'BRIEN: All right. So we had a sniper in Washington, so let's go after Baghdad. Let's just leave that aside for now...

MALZBERG: That's not what I'm saying, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Victoria, his point is, this is a U.S. issue. We are a sovereign nation, the U.S. has the right to take action. What's the matter with that logic?

JONES: Well, we do have the right to take action and the Congress has already passed a resolution, saying that we can. Of course, a resolution in which they didn't know the facts about North Korea, because they were withheld from them.

We can do that. But to go back to your original question, it does make more sense, it does give more credibility to everybody if we do go in together. In terms of Arab countries attacking us, of course they're not going to do that. In terms of terrorist cells attacking us, of course they're going to do that. And so it makes more sense if we go in, as we're fighting the international war on terror, let's fight this war together.

O'BRIEN: All right, Victoria Jones, Steve Malzberg, always a great pleasure to hear your reasoned and dispassionate debate.

JONES: Oh, Miles!

O'BRIEN: Always a pleasure to have you.

MALZBERG: Nice to see you, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. We'll see you soon.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to check in with Dan Sieberg, and he's going to tell you where to go on the Web to learn a little more about the Iraqi people. You know, this is a place that's called the cradle of civilization. In many ways, Iraq is as old a place in the world as there is, and in many ways it's very new. We'll explain in a moment.


O'BRIEN: As the debate over war with Iraq continues, many of you undoubtedly have a lot questions. As a matter of fact, every time we have an interview, there's a few additional questions in my mind about Iraq, its people, and just what its history is all about. If you'd like to learn more, there are a lot of places to do just that on the Internet, and Daniel Sieberg, our technology guru, joins us now to give us a little Web crawl and tell us how you can become an Iraqi expert. DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Miles. We're continuing our tour through cyber space, giving the people some insight into the people of Iraq and the culture there as well. And we've got a couple of sites we're going to look at today.

We're going to start with the site. You may have to poke around to come across this link on the site, but it offers the faces of Iraq, broken down by different regions. You can see here the mountain region, we've also got the delta marsh region, and the desert region, and each of these links provides something about the climate, the religion, the people. A lot of information also on the history there in it as well.

And we're going to go from there to another link from "The Washington Post" site, which looks at the faces of Iraq. There are captions offered on the side here to explain to people that they're looking at. We're seeing here an Iraqi woman sipping from a food bowl. Various shops. There is a gentleman with a fish that he's caught in the Tigris river. So a lot of insight into the people there as well.

From that site, we're going to go over to This is put together by United National Photographers out of the United Kingdom. They offer a lot of different photos here. One thing we should notice is that there are no captions as we look through some of the different photos here. Some people may have to poke around and find out what the information is about, but again, often pictures speak for themselves. If people go to this site, they can see a whole range of different pictures looking at people. Here we see someone who is painting a picture of Saddam Hussein. There are a lot of different images here. A real cross-section. Some of them may be slightly controversial.

And of course, finally we want to point out to people, if you need more information, you can always go to our own Web site,, where you can get all sorts of information. Miles, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Daniel Sieberg, ending with I personally think unabashedly, that's a good place to start as well. Thank you very much. Good to have you with us.

All right. That's it for SHOWDOWN: IRAQ. Up next, "NEXT@CNN." Actually, it won't be seen today. I apologize. You'll catch it tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. "CNN SATURDAY" with updates on this hour's news alerts continues in just a little bit. I'm Miles O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.


© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.