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CNN SHOWDOWN: IRAQ

'Sound Off'

Aired March 11, 2003 - 12:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: In our debate segment today, from San Francisco, Norman Solomon, the syndicated columnist and co-author of the book "Target: Iraq." And here in Washington, the political commentator Deborah Perry. She coauthored "Unfinished Business."
Deborah, let me begin with you.

We just heard Ari Fleischer say any proposal that these undecided six members of the U.N. Security Council for another 30 or 45 days of discussion is a nonstarter as far as the White House is concerned.

What's wrong with waiting another 30 or 45 days?

DEBORAH PERRY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, part of it is just the conditions in Iraq alone. We know that our military cannot be in the middle of the summer with their chemical warfare suits and being able to fight effectively. We know just in a very short period of time, the Iraqi desert's going to be 95 degrees. We end up putting our soldiers at risk.

But the real problem, Wolf, is that we're in a real quagmire. Here, we try to play by the rules as best we can, and you've got French and a whole other list of dissenters on the Security Council who didn't in good faith sign on to resolution 1441. So we're trying these diplomatic efforts as best we can. But we continuously go back just to tweak additional resolutions, thus providing Saddam Hussein more time, and essentially looking like we're kowtowing to Saddam Hussein's interests rather than our own.

BLITZER: Norman, what's wrong with her argument?

NORMAN SOLOMON, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, rather than trying to follow the rules, I think the United States government right now is thumbing its nose. We just saw Ari Fleischer claim that the president is preoccupied with making clear that U.N. Security Council resolutions have meaning to -- quote -- "Fleischer." He seems oblivious to the huge irony even of saying that, while it's the United States government that's declaring no matter what happens in terms of a U.N. resolution this week or any time, the United States is ready, willing and eager to go to war. That is a preposterous, Orwellian kind of hypocrisy that people around the world, I think, have rejected, and that's reflected in the declarations we're getting out of the Security Council right now.

Kofi Annan yesterday said that, in fact, the U.S. would be violating the U.N. charter if it goes ahead with war without a resolution from the Security Council. BLITZER: Kofi Annan did say that yesterday, Deborah.

PERRY: You know what, it's interesting, because if we look back in history these are countless examples, whether it was us going alone in the Cold War, whether it was Churchill during World War II, who exuded leadership, and there's a lot to be said for stepping up and recognizing that some dictator like Saddam Hussein does not have the right to amass weapons of mass destruction that could essentially kill hundreds of thousands of individuals and harm many more so.

So we have waited for years to do the diplomatic route, Norman.

SOLOMON: But, Deborah, you can't have it both ways -- you can't say the U.S. must attack Iraq because it violates resolutions, and then say the U.S. Has a right to go it alone by ignoring, even violating, the U.N. charter.

PERRY: It's not -- we're trying to do the best we can to work through this multilateral effort. But there have been examples in history where initially it looks as if Churchill didn't have the support necessarily that he needed in England during World War II. In fact, we didn't even get involved had it not been for Pearl Harbor.

SOLOMON: Why the charade?

PERRY: It's not a charade, Norman.

SOLOMON: It's boiling down to it. When you violate the rules...

PERRY: Let me tell you what the charade is, is France and all these additional countries that are now dissenting, who truly have not followed through on 1441. That is the charade.

SOLOMON: This is the process to evaluate whether the inspections are working. The verdict is in from the Security Council. The U.S. is willing to violate the entire process, and as Annan said, the U.N. charter itself.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, Norman and Deborah, we have to leave it right there. Let's continue this next week. I don't think the subject is going away any time soon. Norman Solomon, Deborah Perry thank you very much for joining us.

SOLOMON: Thank you.

PERRY: Thank you.

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