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CNN CAPITAL GANG

U.S. Efforts to Win U.N. Support Undermined by France; Bush Lays Down Road Map to Israeli-Palestinian Peace; Congress Approves Budget

Aired March 15, 2003 - 19:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson, and, in Greensboro, North Carolina, Robert Novak.

Our guest is Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On Thursday, Richard Lugar cast his 10,000th vote in the United States Senate, the 22nd senator in history ever to do so.

Congratulations, Dick, and thanks for coming in.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SHIELDS: Good to have you here.

U.S. efforts to win United Nations Security Council approval of a military attack on Iraq were undermined by France's opposition to the imposition of a deadline on Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC, FRANCE (through translator): It would be moving, then, from a system, a system of inspection, to another system, which says that within X number of days, we will go to war. France will not accept this, will -- would refuse that resolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: The U.S. responded that it could go to war without U.N. approval.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are working hard to see if we can take this to a vote that will be a vote that can help unify the council. But we haven't excluded any of the other obvious options that are out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: President Bush called a summit meeting in the Azores Sunday, with British and Spanish leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This meeting will discuss all final diplomatic options. I think you can see this meeting as a sign of the determination of the president to go the last mile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is it now likely that the United States will attack without U.N. approval?

AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Yes, it is, Mark. I think we'll probably pull the British-American in the U.N. It's a much better option than to try to bring it up and vote on it and lose, and then go to war, because whatever its imperfections, we're going to need the United Nations afterwards.

I still think this administration's ineptitude over the last couple months has been stunning. Somehow around the world there's a moral equivalency with this murderous thug Saddam Hussein. I wish what the president would have done would to have made one last effort in a -- in the U.N. Security Council to offer a serious alternative, April 5 deadline, specific conditions he has to met, which -- meet, which I don't think he would have met.

And I think we could have gotten 10 or 11 votes in the Security Council. The French probably would have sabotaged it. But at least we would have had the high ground going into war.

SHIELDS: Dick Lugar, you've been close to this. Are we going to war?

LUGAR: It would appear that way. I think at the Azores we may see the beginning of a coalition of the willing, and that would be a coalition that would enforce Resolution 1441. I don't disagree with Al that perhaps more could have been done in public diplomacy. But it appears to me that France was probably unwinnable from the beginning. The Russians have taken some cover from that.

So as a result, we have to face the fact that the Security Council is not going to move, and there are other nations that will.

So now building the coalition not only for military action but for the postwar situation is really imperative.

SHIELDS: Robert Novak down in Greensboro, North Carolina, your take on it.

ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: This is something I think, Mark, that the historians are going to be studying, what in the world the United States was doing here, for some time to come, particularly if the ramifications of it are not too pleasant.

Sometime or another, the president was convinced by the hawks in the administration, including the vice president and the secretary of defense, to attack. It was necessary to change the regime in Iraq. At that point, Secretary of State Powell convinced him to go to the U.N., and this very difficult, unpleasant process has come out of it.

Would he have been better attacking without going to the U.N., with just shunning Secretary Powell and driving him out of the administration? I don't really know, because I think the decision that was made was to attack Iraq without the usual grounds for a cause of war. And once you do that, you have a difficult situation.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, Tony Blair's in a tough position here. Nineteen percent of the British people favor an invasion of Iraq without a U.N. resolution, only a bare majority with a U.N. resolution. I mean, is -- the Azores, to some degree, is about that, isn't it?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: He looks wan. He's got a cold. His hair's getting thinner. The White House initially thought, instead of going to the Azores, they'd go to England, and then remembered that Bush is said to be -- or Blair is said to be Bush's poodle, and Bush is about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as popular there as Princess Di's butler, so don't go there.

The poor guy has -- he's the one who's been most on the line in this, and he's stood fast.

Bush could have said initially that 1441 was enough to go without a second resolution. Apparently he did it to help Blair. It hasn't helped, because it's exposed the weakness of our position within the U.N., and it forces us this week, probably, to pull it out and, you know, pull out the resolution without having gotten it and being exposed as not having it.

HUNT: I want to just say a word about Tony Blair, because whatever your view on the war, he has been an extraordinary profile in courage. We've never had a better ally. He's certainly been a lot tougher than Margaret Thatcher, because he's faced tremendous political and public opposition, as Margaret said. And I think anything we can give him, we ought to give him.

I don't quite understand why our secretary of defense undercut him this week, but I don't understand a lot of what our secretary of defense does. The Spanish, our other ally in Europe, asked Donald Rumsfeld to shut up this week.

SHIELDS: Dick Lugar.

LUGAR: Yes, let me just say that there are two countries that have armed forces in that area, the United States, with a lot, Great Britain with some. Everybody says that's the only reason why there's any negotiation going on at all.

So all the other nations are really playing off of the United States and England and our determination in this respect. We really have to revere the fact that Tony Blair was constant. But we also have to recognize the fact that only Britain and the United States have lift capacity, the only countries that could make a difference anywhere in the world right now.

Now, we hope that France may get there some day, likewise Germany, Russia perhaps. But they're not there now. And that's why England and Britain are indispensable.

CARLSON: If Britain and the United States haven't -- hadn't put the gun to Saddam Hussein's head, we wouldn't be where we are. But unfortunately, I think, too many guns were put there, so that now the United States is painted into a corner and has to proceed no matter what.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak and Greensboro, after the war, if there is a war, and if it is mercifully brief and with minimum casualties, the reconstruction, the pacification, the rehabilitation, the nation- building, to which the administration has pledged, is going to require a lot of nations that aren't involved in this, aren't they?

NOVAK: Yes, it is, and it's going to take a lot of international relations of people like Colin Powell and Dick Lugar and George W. Bush to try to bring these people together, because it's very difficult going to war when most of the world is against you, most of the people in the world are against you, and then afterwards to have cooperation in the rebuilding effort.

SHIELDS: Dick Lugar, we just have a few seconds. But tell us about the rebuilding, not to rush through the war. But it's a major, enormous undertaking, isn't it?

LUGAR: Yes. And this is why our committee has tried very hard to get the administration to testify about it. And they're working hard at it. But it is big, it is immediate. It is feeding, policing, the boundaries, the Kurds, the Turks, the Iranian tribes, all of these things. And as many countries brought into it as quickly as possible.

HUNT: Any idea of the cost?

CARLSON: Is it 200,000 troops?

HUNT: Any idea of the cost?

LUGAR: Well, tens of billions of dollars and many years. And we really...

CARLSON: And the estimate of...

LUGAR: ... better get that straight in the beginning, or the am people are going to be misled.

CARLSON: Is the estimate of 200,000 troops remaining a valid one?

LUGAR: Not in these plans that I see there. It's all the military situation has to be resolved, but the peace situation doesn't involve 200,000 troops.

SHIELDS: Last word, Dick Lugar. Dick Lugar and THE GANG will be back with the Bush road map for peace in the Middle East.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

President Bush laid down the conditions for Israeli-Palestinian peace and said he would pursue his road map when a new Palestinian prime minister is confirmed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Palestinian state must be a reformed and peaceful and democratic state that abandons forever the use of terror. The government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves must take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable and credible Palestinian state and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: I really hope that the American president meant that he will introduce the road map for implementation, because that will be the key to breaking the vicious cycle between Palestinians and Israelis now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Palestinian cabinet minister later said he had from the Bush administration that the road map of December 20, 2002, is not negotiable. At the Israeli foreign ministry, Deputy Director General Gideon Meir told CNN, quote, "Mr. Erakat is again not speaking the truth. An empowered Palestinian prime minister will be Israel's partner, who, together with Israel, will comment on the proposed road map," end quote.

Bob Novak, why would the president at this point bring up a Palestinian state?

NOVAK: Because Tony Blair, the British prime minister we've been talking about it, insisted on it. He has -- he said we have to take a position of coming out for peace in the Middle East. He was on speaking out shortly after the president. And our friends in the Arab world said we have to do something there. We can't seem to be the toady of Israel.

Now, I can tell you that the present Israeli government and its many friends in the United States do not want a Palestinian state, and the whole idea that you don't do with Palestinian state, you don't do the road map until terrorism ends, is a kind of a catch-22 on that.

But I think the president is serious. I think he has to be serious, because the idea of Prime Minister Sharon that all terrorism and trouble with the Palestinian ends when you get rid of Saddam Hussein is nonsense.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, does Bob Novak make sense?

CARLSON: Well, it's momentarily good to see that the president wants to play well with others, especially to help out his good friend and his only friend in some ways, Tony Blair. But he's used every excuse to delay, move pressing ahead on the road map, which has been out there and everybody's known about it.

And he used the new prime minister of Palestine, a more moderate person, to proceed as well.

But the idea that this parallel road map is going to go along, the Palestinians do something, the Israelis, back and forth, is not going to work unless the president presses Ariel Sharon to take the steps he needs to do, the first being to freeze the settlements.

SHIELDS: Senator Dick Lugar, Tony Blair reportedly said that the president had to demonstrate that the United States was more evenhanded than it had been up until now in the Middle East, and that our only priority there was not getting rid of Saddam Hussein, that we had other interests and other concerns in the Middle East. Does that make sense to you?

LUGAR: Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the president told me a couple of weeks ago, face to face, that he wanted to proceed here as soon as the prime minister was appointed. And one has been appointed. It was not the one that Arafat wanted, Mr. Abbas is not his choice. But still, the road map is very controversial, simply because terrorism -- how do you wind it up? What are the benchmarks for how this occurs?

And then the settlements issue for Israel is a very big issue in Israeli politics.

But these are the two things, terrorism and settlements. And I think the president was courageous to proceed, whatever the timing. Better now, while we are still having some hope of diplomacy with regard to Iraq and the Security Council, than after that situation, obscured by military strikes or whatever may follow.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, 13 years ago, though, President Bush's father, President George Herbert Walker Bush, tied U.S. aid to stopping the settlements.

HUNT: Well, that's a good point, Mark, and there was real follow-through with the first President Bush. I hope Bob Novak is right. I hope that President Bush is serious this time. But I remember on this show last June, the president gave his June 24 speech about a Palestinian state. We all took it quite seriously. Bob called it a remarkable speech and said it was a real jolt to Sharon.

I think -- I thought Bob was absolutely right at the time. But there was no follow-through. It was only rhetoric, it was not a policy. And I think that's the pattern with this administration on the Middle East. And I would go further and predict that more than the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister or the end of the Iraq war that the key counterdate here is the 2004 election. I think Karl Rove told the president, We don't want to do anything to upset the Christian right, who cares a great deal about this issue. And I don't think we'll see any action for a year or so.

NOVAK: Well, I don't think...

SHIELDS: Go ahead, Bob.

NOVAK: ... I don't -- I don't think that's quite fair to the president. I think that -- I think he is sincere about a Palestinian state. When he spoke to the American Enterprise Institute and talked about democracy in the Middle East, and he was getting all the applause from the place was loaded with neocons, and then they all sat on their hands when he talked about a Palestinian state.

I think it's -- it takes courage to even talk about it, and I think he will try to pursue it, at least I hope so.

SHIELDS: Well, I'd just say this, Bob, that the administration tilt toward Ariel Sharon throughout the entire election campaign was so marked and so total that Labor -- the Labor nominee was not even had a chance to visit Washington and say hello to official Washington. I mean, that showed where the United States was in this whole dispute, right?

LUGAR: Well, I think we waited the election out. There was a primary situation, then the general election. I think that's fair enough, to let the Israelis determine their leadership and try to get leadership from the Palestinians.

But I agree with Al, then the follow-through is going to be of the essence. We're on the road now, the road map, and follow-through is controversial, very tough for the president.

SHIELDS: OK, last word again, Dick Lugar. That's enough.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, the battle of the budget.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: The Republican-controlled House and Senate Budget Committees approved budget resolutions with deficits for the current fiscal year slightly smaller than the $338 billion proposed by President Bush.

The Republican budgets would cut taxes and promise a balanced budget in 10 years or more by making deep spending cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

The budgets do not account for the war costs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE: This has got to be beyond the wildest riverboat gamble ever engaged in in the fiscal future of our country. There can only be one possible outcome of this, that is, massive cuts in Medicare, in Social Security, and in every other part of the federal government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Congressman Jim Nussle of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, said his plan would, quote, "one, protect Americans, two, get Americans back to work and strengthen the economy, three, get the budget back on a path to balance," end quote.

Margaret Carlson, what are the prospects for these Republican budgets?

CARLSON: Not very good. And Republicans were howling after Congressman Nussle put out his proposal, because the spending cuts are so deep to accommodate a tax cut that Republicans are ashamed of, because, in the face of the largest deficits in history coming up and the war, the president insists on giving money back to people who don't need it.

And the moderates are howling.

SHIELDS: Dick Lugar, the Tax Policy Center estimates that the -- on the president's tax cut that a person earning a million dollars in 2003 will get a $90,000 tax cut. That's a tough sell politically at a time when Americans are at risk, under peril, in harm's way, isn't it?

LUGAR: Well, it's at the extreme case. The case for the taxes are that Americans get back to work, the economy grows again. Absent growth, why, we're not going to have a balanced budget any time soon. If that's the gamble, so be it. But that up front is why the tax cuts, all of them, make some impact on that, give you some hope of getting revenue coming in to pay the expenses.

Absent that, you really have deficits as far as the eye can see with low growth.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Greensboro, the $214 billion in reductions in Medicare over 10 years, and $93 billion, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Congressman Nussle was pretty candid and up forward -- up front about it, over the next 10 years, Medicaid, of course, for the old, the disabled, the poor, and children without health insurance.

Boy, that sounds awfully reminiscent of 1995 and Republican problems under Newt Gingrich.

NOVAK: You know, you know, Mark, I'm sick and tired of that kind of stuff. It's high...

SHIELDS: Those high cuts, you mean, yes.

NOVAK: It's high -- no, the kind of stuff you were saying. It's high time that we, that we get some control over the welfare spending. The American people want to reduce the budget and have less taxes and less spending. And I think this could be solved.

And I am shocked, shocked that a good reporter like Margaret Carlson would be so wrong in saying Republicans are all against this. There was two Republican senators came out against it, a few moderates in the House. And I'll predict that the budget that is passed will be very close to what the House and Senate committees have passed.

SHIELDS: Margaret, you want...

CARLSON: Yes, Republicans are ashamed that the president is asking for these tax cuts at this time.

NOVAK: Nonsense.

CARLSON: Yes, they are. Yes, there are people who agree with you, Bob, tax cuts at any price, but the moderates...

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARLSON: ... I'm saying Republican moderates do not want these tax cuts.

NOVAK: Dick, Dick, Dick Lugar is a moderate, and he's not ashamed.

SHIELDS: Al...

CARLSON: No, he's -- Senator Lugar just said it was a gamble. It's a gamble to think that these tax cuts are going to stimulate the economy...

NOVAK: Let him speak for himself.

CARLSON: ... and get the, and get the, and get jobs and growth. Am I right, senator? It's a gamble.

LUGAR: Well, it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SHIELDS: Let's get -- let's have Al Hunt.

LUGAR: ... every budget is. But I'm for it. I think we've got to have the growth.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: One cheer for Jim Nussle. It's a terrible budget with dreadful priorities, but at least it's honest. It says, if you're going to have -- you're going to meet these legitimate military needs and homeland security needs and reconstruction needs and have a massive tax cut, then what you're going to have to do is, you're going to have to, over the next 10 years, slash Medicare spending by $214 billion, slash Medicaid by $93 billion, cut veterans by $15 billion for all of our patriotic flourish.

And I'm a charter member of the Dick Lugar fan club. I mean, I'm a Lugar sycophant, I've been accused by Bob Novak, among others. Dick, the problem is...

SHIELDS: Me too.

HUNT: ... the problem is, almost every economist, including Republicans, including my friend Bob Novak, even, says this is not stimulus. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) before, but this isn't going to stimulate the economy.

LUGAR: Well, we don't always (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stimulate some of the wealth. And you really can't pay everybody their benefits without getting more money in the Treasury or running deficits for a long time.

All of these cuts are in latter years, with the thought being that you get growth before you get to those years.

NOVAK: Al, Al, like Karl Marx, you hate any tax cuts that are across the board. But unfortunately, it's -- what they do is, they build growth in the capitalist system, and without an immediate stimulus.

HUNT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARLSON: But these aren't across the board, because somebody earning $1 million gets $27,000...

NOVAK: And they pay a lot more taxes too.

CARLSON: ... and somebody -- and somebody earning $40,000 gets about $30 in tax cuts.

HUNT: Well, there's question the very wealthy will get a lot out of these tax cuts in a time that we're asking American men and women to make sacrifices that -- to me, to give those kind of tax cuts to the very wealthy and tell people who are on Medicaid they're going to be tossed off the rolls is unconscionable.

NOVAK: That's class...

SHIELDS: Amen.

NOVAK: ... that's class warfare, my friend.

SHIELDS: Amen, amen, Brother Hunt, amen, Brother Hunt.

NOVAK: That's class warfare.

SHIELDS: Robert Novak, we'll be back to you later. We'll be back with the CAPITAL GANG Classic, the first President Bush seeking allies for Gulf War. And later, CNN correspondent Tom Mintier direct from Pakistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. In November of 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush visited U.S. troops gathering for the Gulf War, and then continued his quest for international support. THE CAPITAL GANG discussed these developments on November 24, 1998. Our guest, then as now, ironically, was Senator Lugar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, November 24, 1990)

PATRICK BUCHANAN, CAPITAL GANG: Mr. Bush flew on to Geneva to meet the dictator of Damascus, Hafez al-Assad. Now, why would Mr. Bush sit down with a man his own State Department lists as head of a terrorist regime?

NOVAK: The worst part about it is the -- this -- the absolute disorganizational picture of Americans going around the world and begging for support from people like Hafez al-Assad, the president, of the secretary of state going down to Bogota and trying to get the vote to go to Yemen...

HUNT: I'm generally supportive of the president's policy in the Persian Gulf. But let me tell you one thing. I also want other countries to have to share the risk and the burdens there. That's terribly important.

But it made me sick when George Bush went and sat down with Hafez Assad. Every bit the brutal killer that Saddam Hussein is.

LUGAR: What George Bush is about right now is attempting to make certain that before the United States military is engaged, we have the best playing field with regard to the Arab countries, and Assad may be a mistake now, be helpful...

SHIELDS: Ninety-eight percent of their income is cut off. That's got to affect a country eventually. They're -- sanctions have to hurt them before they hurt us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: I stand corrected, that was 1990, obviously, and Bob Novak looked even more youthful then.

Bob, was the first President Bush more interested than his son is in building an international coalition for war?

NOVAK: Yes, this was a different kind of an operation. It was -- the whole world was on the side of the U.S. And looking back at it, I think all of us except Dick Lugar were a little too tough on the first President Bush on sitting down with the Syrian dictator. I don't think it did any, it did any harm, and probably did some good.

SHIELDS: Dick Lugar.

LUGAR: Well, I would hope that the president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, others, would travel widely soon. We're going to need partners in the post-Saddam Iraq, and this is a good time to begin building that, because it's likely to go on for quite a while.

SHIELDS: Margaret, you weren't here. You do any thoughts on the classic?

CARLSON: Oh, I'm so sorry I wasn't. If only the acorn hadn't fallen so far from the tree, if this President Bush had been more concerned -- or just as concerned as his father in the diplomatic order and the world at large, we'd be better off.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Oh, I think Dick Lugar is absolutely right. When the bills come due, we're going to need allies. And I must say, in retrospect, even if you have to go see latter-day Assads, it be probably worth it.

SHIELDS: A mellowing of Al Hunt.

Dick Lugar, thank you for joining us.

Coming up in the second half of CAPITAL GANG, our "Newsmaker of the Week" is award-winning reporter Dana Priest on generals making foreign policy. And "Beyond the Beltway" looks at Pakistan's dilemma with CNN correspondent Tom Mintier. And our "Outrage of the Week." That's all after the latest news following these important messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson, and, in Greensboro, North Carolina, Robert Novak.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is "Washington Post" intelligence correspondent Dana Priest.

Dana Priest, age 45, residence Washington, D.C., political science degree from the University of California-Santa Cruz. Reporter for 16 years. Since 1995, has covered the military. Winner of the Gerald R. Ford Defense Reporting Prize for the year 2000. "Washington Post" series, "The Proconsuls."

Author of the new book, "The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military."

Our own Al Hunt sat down with Dana Priest earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Dana Priest, you've written a great book about the American military. Why does such distinguished retired military leaders as ex-Marine general Anthony Zinni, Army general Wes Clark, Air Force general Brent Scowcroft, have such reservations about an Iraq war now?

DANA PRIEST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's not because they don't think the war can be won militarily. It's because they all have reservations about what comes next. In Iraq, when you talk about regime change, you have to talk about building a new country, and that's where the unintended consequences and the risks seem so high.

HUNT: Well, you focused so much on this book and so fascinatingly on the enormous power of the regional commanders, the CINCs. Is that good or bad?

PRIEST: The military themselves are worried that there've been given too many things to do that they aren't trained for. As General Zinni a Marine Corps four-star, who was the head of Central Command, repeatedly said to me, What am I doing here? Why isn't there an ambassador out there?

And the reason is, the ambassador corps doesn't have the resources. We have a military that's very efficient, very organized, lots of resources. But they are the first to say that they shouldn't be the ones out there.

HUNT: And Iraq, I would guess, would be the most massive exercise in nation building, probably, since post-World War II. Do you really think the administration has -- is committed to a long, costly, and potentially dangerous mission?

PRIEST: Well, they say they are going to make this as short as possible. We really haven't got even a glimpse into reality and the sort of troops that they're tasking to get ready to go into the nation building, nor do we have, really, an organization to hand off things to. Once they're there, and you tamp the violence down, and you want to hand it off to a civilian corps.

We don't have a standup corps that really is capable of doing the hard work of policing, judicial work, and beginning a process of new political development in a country that's been wartorn.

HUNT: There is about only 40 percent of the men and women that we had during the peak of the Vietnam War. Is the military overextended?

PRIEST: Well, they certainly make that case every time they go up to the Hill. And they were making that case prior to 9/11. Part of the reason that they're overstretched is that the largest force, the Army, is still a very cumbersome organization, and it takes -- for every one division they send in the field, 15,000 people, it takes two to get them there.

Now we have them everywhere. And we have a war on terrorism that taxes them because it's an unconventional war and it's asymmetric, which means our tanks are not going to defeat al Qaeda terrorist networks.

HUNT: Well, if we have to then put 100,000 or 200,000 forces in Iraq for an undetermined length, could we address another crisis, say, in the Korean peninsula?

PRIEST: Well, the military would certainly argue that they could, and that would probably be -- it would be a stretch. So we've seen this administration so far, it's said it had a commitment like George Marshall in Afghanistan. But the words and the rhetoric in that case do not match at all.

Whether Iraq will be a commitment like they say now is hard to tell. But if it is, then Korea's will be difficult to prosecute.

HUNT: In this book, you offer insightful portraits of contemporary defense secretaries. Les Aspin fares poorly, Bill Perry gets high marks. Assess Don Rumsfeld.

PRIEST: Everyone in the military was looking forward to Donald Rumsfeld coming in. They thought, finally, adults in the chair. Rumsfeld had a lot of transformation ideas that rubbed them wrong.

But really, it was his mannerism and the manner of his staff, very gruff, disrespectful. I quote the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hugh Shelton, a team player if there ever was one, saying, These guys didn't believe us at all. We said the sun came up, they said, Raise the blinds and let us see.

They believe that he thought they were loyal still to Bill Clinton, which is a misunderstanding of the military culture. They had learned that the United States needs to be out in the world doing things. He, on the other hand, until 9/11, wanted to bring so many people home.

And then you have on the hyperpower that we're exerting now, preemptive strikes is very frightening to many people in the military who've learned to abide by the rule of law and defensive mechanism for the use of force.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, just how much harmony is there inside the military on the eve of this war?

HUNT: Mark, I think there's considerable apprehension, not about the war, but about the aftermath, which, especially with limited international support, is going to fall chiefly on the military. The Army and the Marines will not only be providing security after Saddam, but they're going to be doing all the nitty-gritty nation building, not what they were trained for.

You know, Mark, if you care about the contemporary military, you really ought to read Dana Priest's book, because you come away with, I think, a greater respect for the institution and greater reservations about its missions.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Greensboro.

NOVAK: I think there's nothing new about the uniforms and the suits at the Pentagon being at odds with each other. But it seems to me, this -- somebody's been watching a long time, it's a little more intense than usual, which is not a good thing on the eve of war, and particularly, as Dana Priest has reported, with this tremendously exalted role for the CINCs, and for -- in this case, Tommy Franks.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: You know, General Shinseki said it was going to take 200,000 troops to keep the peace, which is the hard part of this war. And without allies, the military is not set up, it's not trained to do that. And I think that's where we're going to see the wages of war come home to hurt us.

SHIELDS: Just point out that 50 years after since the end of the Korean War, there are 37,000 American troops still in South Korea. Anybody that thinks we're going to get in and out of there in a matter of weeks or months, or even short years, is smoking something that isn't legal.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at where Pakistan stands on Iraq with CNN international correspondent Tom Mintier, live from Islamabad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Pakistan, a Muslim country identifying itself as an ally of the United States in the war against terrorism, has argued against a military attack on Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAFARULLAH KHAN JAMALI, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: We have on and on, in consensus, taken a decision that it is going to be very difficult for Pakistan to support the war against Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: As a member of the U.N. Security Council, Pakistan has not taken a position on the United States-sponsored resolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMALI: It's difficult for us to take a position, but it's very difficult for Pakistan. There's no pressure as far as we're concerned. We and the United States, we are friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Joining us by videophone from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad is Tom Mintier, CNN's Bangkok bureau chief.

Tom, can the Pakistani government politically afford to support the United States' resolution in the United Nations?

TOM MINTIER, CNN BANGKOK BUREAU CHIEF: Well, I think you have to listen to the prime minister's words very carefully. He used the words "It would be very difficult." He did not say impossible. Now, just on Friday, President Bush lifted sanctions against Pakistan. That amounts to about $250 million in assistance that could be provided, not to say -- and they were quick to say that that would buy Pakistan's vote in the Security Council.

But I think a lot of Pakistanis, especially those involved in politics, are praying that this next resolution doesn't even come to a vote so they don't have to make a move.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Greensboro.

NOVAK: Tom, the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has been rather rocky for a very long time, since the days of the so- called Nixon tilt. Is it possible that, as difficult that this -- as this is for Pakistan, that this terrorism crisis is bringing Washington and Islamabad closer together?

MINTIER: Well, there's no doubt that they're closer together than they were before September 11. You look at what President Musharraf did. He made what some considered a very courageous decision to join the United States in the effort against the Taliban. There were those here in Pakistan who were extremely concerned when he made that political decision that it might backfire.

Now, two years on, there's another decision facing Pakistan, how supportive to be of the United States. Hopefully many here feel that it is support behind the curtain, not in front.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Tom, President Musharraf has been -- has shown courage since 9/11. But it seems that Pakistani intelligence twice tipped off Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and allowed him to escape before the United States finally captured him.

How well is it working, having the Pakistanis help America root out these remaining al Qaeda operatives that are hiding there?

MINTIER: You know, I think there was just another arrest last night of an al Qaeda operative in Lahore. There were two arrests last night.

I think that the Pakistanis would have trouble with your words, Margaret, that the U.S. captured him. They feel very strongly that the ISI and Pakistani police are the ones making the arrest. They feel that they haven't been given enough credit.

But it is a continuing, ongoing operation, they say, and a lot of the material from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's residence that they were able to pick up, including computer disks, computer hard drives, notes, and things like that, they have been conducting raids, as we saw last night. It's quite possible this arrest last night of an al Qaeda operative was directly linked to the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

So there's a lot of I did it, you did it, I did it going on.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Tom, however popular Musharraf may be in Washington, we hear that he is increasingly disliked, if not despised, by both the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan and by the reformers. How precarious might his situation be if the added problem of a war in Iraq occurs?

MINTIER: Well, I don't think -- he's not really taking a front position. As you heard from the prime minister, it is going to be difficult for Pakistan to support the United States. Now, the prime minister is traveling at the end of this month to Washington, and it'll be interesting to see what kind of backdrop that meeting is held against.

I think President Musharraf, you know, there may be divisions within the Pakistani government how to respond to this request for Pakistan's vote on the U.N. Security Council. I think a lot of people here would like to see the vote not take place so they don't have to show their hand.

But as far as President Musharraf standing in the public, his numbers still remain very, very high. There is some difficulties with this government, some coming out very early and very strong on the political side, saying that they cannot support the U.S. Many of the politicians going stronger than the prime minister, saying it's not difficult, it's impossible.

SHIELDS: Tom, beyond the U.N. vote, just how will it play out among Pakistanis in the street, of United States, a Christian nation, which is a strong supporter of Israel, invading and occupying a Muslim nation?

MINTIER: Well, you have to also remember that it's Iraq, and Iraq has not supported Pakistan in Pakistan vis-a-vis India. So there is no great love here for Iraq. But I think it is on the basis, as you say, a Muslim nation.

The streets have been filled in the last few weeks with people demonstrating against the United States, against the United States waging war against Iraq. But as far as people turning out in the streets, it might be more likely if indeed Pakistan is forced to show their hand.

If they don't have to show their hand, things probably will remain quiet here.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Tom, do you see any kind of public pressure for a more democratic system in Pakistan, of getting to a multiparty election for president, or do you think that people are happy with the stability they have now?

MINTIER: Well, they did that already last fall, and the results were not exactly what everyone might have been expecting. The religious parties did much better in those elections and had a much stronger hand in putting together this coalition government that exists right now.

So the U.S. is -- has rewarded Pakistan, if you will, by lifting, or continuing to lift the sanctions against Pakistan that will allow it to receive foreign assistance.

So is democracy here? Maybe not in the way that a lot of people would like to see it. But many here in Pakistan feel that, you know, they've already done that, they did that in the elections last fall.

SHIELDS: Thank you very much for being with us, Tom Mintier.

THE GANG will be back for the "Outrages of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week."

According to senior administration officials, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the al Qaeda leader who allegedly conspired in terrorist acts, is being deprived of sleep, light, food, water, clothing, and medical attention.

Polls show Americans approve even more direct forms of torture of suspected terrorists.

Wait a minute. This is not Hitler's Germany or Mao's China. This is the United States of America, which ratified an international treaty against torture, which is defined as, quote, "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person," end quote.

Torture is morally indefensible.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: The Associated Press reports that of the 17 U.S. House members who made term limit pledges, only three will keep their word and not run again, and two of them are actually running for the Senate.

Typical of the word-breakers, the pledge-breakers, is Congress -- Democratic Congresswoman Grace Napolitano of California, who admits her pledge helped elect her in 1998, but now says three terms in Washington are just not enough.

The renegers like her are safe because House districts are tailored to keep out opposition in congressional elections. You look at America, democracy? Not in the 21st century at Congress.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, for months I've supported Martha Burk against Hootie Johnson, head of the Augusta National Golf Club, who's determined to keep women out.

Now, I'm still pro the women. Boys in the clubhouse is juvenile and exclusionary. Former CBS president Thomas Wyman was right to resign.

But I'm no longer with Burk. She told "Golf Digest" she couldn't be sure protesting the Masters tournament wouldn't go the way of the antiglobalization protests in Seattle, which ended in violence.

Martha, you're becoming threatening, like the men you want to reform. Get a grip, and I don't mean on a five-iron.

SHIELDS: Albert Hunt.

HUNT: Mark, March madness is a fantastic phenomenon. Next week, I'll be feverishly calculating my final four pool.

But the fun this year has been marred by several cheating scandals. University presidents need to take control of big-time athletic programs. The president of St. Bonaventure was forced to step down after problems there. Institutions like Georgia and Fresno State should look to St. Bonaventure for guidance.

Most schools compete vigorously and fairly. Those that don't need to be held accountable.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: Showdown Iraq -- Lines in the Sand."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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