CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Expert Panel Discusses Day's Developments in Iraq
Aired April 5, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, U.S. troops are inside Baghdad and the desperate battle for the Iraqi capital is on, but urban combat is expected to be the toughest part of this war.
Meanwhile, the coalition death toll is now above 100, including nine killed in the ambush where rescued POW Jessica Lynch was captured. One of those, the first U.S. woman soldier killed in action. Private First Class Lori Piestewa, a Native American.
We'll have the latest on those stories and more with reporters at the front lines.
And, what a lineup of guests, from Winston S. Churchill, War Correspondent and Grandson of the late great Winston Churchill, to Jean Phillips, "Dear Abby" herself, to tell us about Operation Dear Abby.
We begin, as always, with Nic Robertson on the scene at the Iraqi-Jordanian border in Ruwashied. Now, what is it Nic, they went into Baghdad and then they went into the center and then left, what happened?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They took control of the airport, went into the center of Baghdad or very close to the center of Baghdad, reinforced the airport, withdrew from the areas that they had gone into in the city. We know from people who are in the city, from residents there, that the coalition forces have been seen in the southwest of the city and the southeast of the city. There's apparently a coalition checkpoint on the northern outskirts of the city.
The way this is playing with the leadership right now, they're denying this is actually happening. The information minister is saying that what we're seeing, the pictures we're seeing of the airport, the international airport the coalition controls, are mere theater. This is a creation of Hollywood he has said.
There appears to be two views by Iraqi residents of the situation, those that are fleeing the city because they're concerned about the fighting, and those we saw pictures of earlier today celebrating and jumping up and down on what appeared to be a destroyed or semi-destroyed U.S. tank.
So, it's very unclear at this time, Larry, which way the population is going to go. Certainly there seems to be a move towards a military defense by a civilian departure at the same time.
KING: What is the point, Nic, do you think of the Iraqi leadership lying to the citizenry about the airport?
ROBERTSON: They need to convince the people of Baghdad that it is worth standing up and defending the city against the coalition. The principal operating driving force, if you will, behind the Iraqi leadership appears to be create enough coalition casualties to convince the coalition that it isn't worth proceeding with this war.
They know that if they can keep the civilian population in Baghdad, fight street by street, then that would increase the likelihood that there would be civilian casualties inside the city of Baghdad. The coalition would find that deeply troubling.
The international community would find it disturbing and would move - would try to move against it and perhaps that's why Iraqi officials are calling for defense of the city because that's - this is essentially going to be their last stand, and if they can hold out here, convince the international community this war is too bloody for the coalition to continue with, perhaps they hope that they can bring an end to it without their defeat. It does seem unlikely at this time but that seems to be their hope at the moment.
KING: Nic, we'll be asking other guests later. How does this scenario end? Does the coalition want someone to come out and surrender on behalf of the government? What's the end game?
ROBERTSON: It's difficult at the moment. The best military defeats, if you will, of large urban populations have been when the military commanders have capitulated. The times in history when that's happened, and perhaps Paris was an example during World War II, was when the political leadership backing at that time the Nazi commanders in Paris, the political leadership was in Berlin. There was nothing really stopping the military commanders.
Baghdad is a wholly different situation. The political leadership and the political will to keep up with the fight and the political drive behind the military commanders is right there co- located in Baghdad. So, at the moment the scenario for a peaceful handover, a step down of the military commander, which is perhaps what coalition forces are hoping for up to now, that doesn't seem to be as easily achievable as it would be if the political leaders had fled and they're not showing any sign of doing that right now - Larry.
KING: And, Nic, will you just stay where you are? Do you think you're going to be moving somewhere?
ROBERTSON: Larry, if I could I would head back towards Baghdad. I need an Iraqi visa to do that and the Iraqis still won't permit CNN back to the capital of Baghdad. So, we have so many people from CNN covering this, so many great correspondents embedded, Walter Rodgers, right there at the airport in Baghdad, Brent Sadler, Jane Arraf in the north, so many other people, the best thing I think for CNN right now is for me to stand here and move in when I can - Larry.
KING: Thank you, as always, Nic Robertson on the scene on the Iraqi-Jordanian border.
Let's go down to Palm Beach, Florida. Winston S. Churchill joins us, the grandson and namesake of the famous British wartime prime minister. He's a former war correspondent, covered the Vietnam War and the Six Day War, among others, served 27 years as a conservative in the House of Commons, a member of course of the British Parliament.
You recently wrote, Winston in the "Wall Street Journal" article that your grandfather invented Iraq. What do you mean?
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, GRANDSON OF FMR. P.M.: Well, not only is it a good line but it happens to be true, Larry.
As British colonial secretary in 1923 at the Cairo Conference he created the political states of Jordan and Iraq and delineated the frontiers, the political frontiers of biblical Palestine and he put the Hashemite (ph) rulers Emil Spicel (ph) and Abdullah on their respective perches in Amman and in Baghdad.
KING: What do you guess your grandfather would be saying about the coalition today?
CHURCHILL: Well, Larry, I don't like to put words or thoughts into my grandfather's name but if you look at his track record he believed in standing up against big nasty dictators and he also believed in the concept, when it was necessary, of a preemptive strike.
He, in fact, called the Second World War the unnecessary war, believing that right up to 1937 if the former World War I allies, Britain, France, and the United States had been united, we could have stopped Hitler dead in his tracks without a shot being fired.
KING: I asked Nic this. I'll ask you. We'll ask other guests tonight, and Winston you'll be remaining with us for some time, what's the end game here? How does this end?
CHURCHILL: Well, I think it ends as Don Rumsfeld has said with unconditional surrender. There can be no parlay or terms offered to Saddam, his family, or the clique immediately around him.
The way I would think it would end would be when senior commanders realize the game is up and are prepared to rise up against him and what is left of his regime and at that point the whole house of cards will come crashing down.
KING: Do you eventually see three states again, the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shias, and divided somewhat like Yugoslavia?
CHURCHILL: That is always a possibility, Larry, because there is clear parallels with the former Yugoslavia in that you have three distinct ethnic minorities and one could ask does it only hang together with one big nasty dictator sitting on top of it like Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia and Saddam Hussein in Iraq?
My grandfather, in fact, back at the Cairo Conference wanted to create a fourth entity, namely Kurdistan but he was persuaded against his better judgment not to do so. I think that was a great mistake and the Kurds have suffered untold sufferings over the years under the Iranians, under the Iraqis, and under the Turks.
KING: Winston, you're a member we know of the Conservative Party. What's your assessment of the Labor Party's Tony Blair?
CHURCHILL: I think in this particular action he has been brilliant. He's been absolutely right in assessing where Britain's true interest lies and that is to be at the side of the United States, to take a stand against this monstrous dictatorship which once the nexus is made with international terrorism and Saddam Hussein's panoply of weapons of mass destruction, which I'm sure we're going to find strong evidence of in the days and weeks ahead.
If that had been consummated and there was evidence already that it was starting to be consummated, the acts of terrorism that we could have been victim of, our civilian populations could have been victim of in the years ahead just don't bear contemplating. We wouldn't be taking of 3,000 killed on 9/11 but 30,000, 300,000 or even three million.
KING: Why do you think so many of your fellow countrymen are opposed to this war?
CHURCHILL: Well, you know they've come around to an amazing degree. Before it all started, there were on 15 percent who wanted the war to go ahead with Britain playing a part without a second U.N. resolution. It then very rapidly went up to 45 percent once we committed troops, and today 80 percent of the British population in recent opinion polls say that until Saddam is gone we shouldn't let up.
KING: Mr. Blair wants the U.N. to play a big part in post-war Iraq, do you concur?
CHURCHILL: No. I think that Mr. Blair has his problems with his party, very major problems incidentally, but he can in the short term ride over that because he can always count on Tory bayonets in the House of Commons to support him.
But he's looking for a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to give his back benches but frankly I don't think it's necessary to do so and I think it's very undesirable to do so because the idea of giving the French and the Russians and the Chinese a veto on the future shape of Iraq which will have been won by British and American blood and in defiance of the strenuous opposition of France, Germany, and Russia, I think it would be monstrous.
KING: We'll take a break, come right back. Winston Churchill will remain with us. We'll be joined by Arthur Kent, contributing editor of "McClean's Magazine," host of the History Channel; by Salah Negm, the news director of Al-Arabia. That's the organization that just hired Peter Arnett. He's going to be in Dubai. And Nihal Saad the senior political correspondent for Nile TV, that's Egypt's English language satellite channel. They're next. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Remaining with us in Palm Beach is Winston S. Churchill. Joining us from London is Arthur Kent, contributing editor, "McClean's Magazine" and host of the History Channel, and in Washington Nihal Saad, the senior political correspondent for Nile TV. That's Egypt's English satellite channel. She recently conducted an interview with Colin Powell.
Arthur, do you agree with Winston that public opinion is changing in Great Britain?
ARTHUR KENT, HISTORY CHANNEL HOST: You know I listened with fascination and respect of course, and I could agree with everything that Winston Churchill said if this was only about the United States and Saddam Hussein.
But unfortunately, we have a big, wide world out there. We have 1.5 million Muslims, the fastest growing religion on earth. We have Arab states surrounding, 75 percent of their population below the age of 25 years of age. I mean the fact of the matter is that the Unites States has got itself in a terrible bind here without regional allies.
Tommy Franks is in an impossible position. He can win the battle of Baghdad and lose the propaganda and geopolitical war because the Bush administration just has not put in place enough allies to back up the U.S. and British position.
And one point about Winston Churchill's grandfather, here was an alliance builder and a politician, a statesman who could hold alliances together. He even put up with Charles DeGaulle, the most perhaps difficult Frenchman of recent history.
You know President Bush is fond of sort of striking a Churchilian pose but there were ways to handle Jacques Chirac. There were ways to keep the United Nations on track and this idea of having a U.S. led administration in Iraq, in post-Saddam Iraq without U.N. legitimacy, forget it, never work, Vietnam quagmire next stop.
KING: Before Winston gets a chance to respond, Nihal, what's your point of view from your spot in Washington and representing Egyptian TV?
NIHAL SAAD, NILE TV (EGYPT) CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, I do agree with what Mr. Kent said. We are seeing this war with two different lenses. The Arabs, 1.5 million, I mean they are seeing this war from a different perspective, from the kind of war that you're reporting here in the United States.
The U.S. will certainly as military experts are saying will win this war militarily but the U.S. administration has failed dismally in winning the hearts and minds of the Arab people and you can see that from the demonstrations in the Arab streets. This is something.
The sentiments have been boiling for quite some time for the past two years or so because of U.S. policy, the U.S. foreign policy in the region, and I guess the Iraqi issue was the tip of the iceberg as they say.
KING: Mr. Churchill, your response.
CHURCHILL: Well, I think there's no question that Tommy Franks and his boys are going to win the war but Nihal has a very good point. We've got to follow through and win the peace and that means putting in place a government which can have legitimacy in Iraq, a government of Iraqis because we certainly don't want to go in there as a colonial or aggressive power. That's the last thing we want to do.
And, we need to build up Iraq once again, the basics of life in Iraq, and I think we will be measured by our success, a) in that field; but secondly, we have to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the Arab-Israel problem and we need to move forward very rapidly in the wake of a victory in Baghdad to constitute and recognize a Palestinian state so that there will be an Israel and there will be a Palestine and I think that will take a great deal of heat out of the vicious anti- Americanism and anti-Westernism that is to be found in the Arab world, the Muslim world today.
KING: Arthur, how do you know that the post war developments will be poor? How do you know that the coalition may not handle this very well, install an Iraqi government popular with the people? How do you know that's not going to happen?
KENT: Let's talk about that vicious anti-Americanism, and it is a very serious factor, and Americans have to be concerned that their administration is not making the right moves to try to control, contain, and reduce anti-Americanism.
Case in point, who has the administration put forward to head this post-Saddam administration in Iraq? A retired general, Jay Garner. James Woolsey, former CIA Director is tipped to be the new minister of information in Iraq.
Now how do you think the surrounding Arab populations feel about that when they realize that General Garner and James Woolsey, both of them are very strongly attached to the Israeli right to Jewish groups in the United States that have sponsored for instance trips to Israel by General Garner and other generals like him who align themselves with the very harsh military and political policies of the government of Ariel Sharon?
Of course, Arabs look at this and say wait a second. A United States Army has just invaded a sovereign Arab state, Iraq. It is now proposing to put into place with no U.N. participation yet announced or even foreseen, you heard Condoleezza Rice yesterday, they're not even considering it yet and it's going to be headed by a couple of figures.
I mean three are 23 American department heads in the Garner administration and many of them have ties to a cause which is not a red flag to Arab populations but a deep insult.
KING: Nihal, isn't that only temporary? SAAD: Let me just comment on what Arthur and Winston just said about the post-war Iraq because I was there when Dr. Rice was giving her briefing at the White House yesterday talking about post-war Iraq and she was talking about the makeup of the IIA, the Iraqi Interim Government, and there was a lot of talk there who is going to be represented in the IIA.
And, at this point, I know that the Defense Department and the State Department are at odds with each other who is going to be ruling Iraq exactly. Would it be under, entirely under military rule and the rules are going to be coming from the Pentagon, or that the State Department would be taking part on that.
This is something that Secretary Powell wants evidently and obviously also Secretary Rumsfeld is totally against the eight diplomats that Secretary Powell had said that he had selected and singled out to be in the team who is going to ruling Iraq.
So, this administration is confused. It didn't make up its mind yet who is going to be ruling Iraq and it's also confused about the role of the United Nations which is going to be giving legitimacy to the rule in Iraq and the authority in Iraq.
KING: Winston, how do you see post-war Iraq?
CHURCHILL: Well, I don't think it's a question of the U.N. being the ones who can give the hallmark of legitimacy to a post-Saddam Iraqi government. Only the Iraqi people can do that and the idea that the United Nations with the ever present threat of Russian and French vetoes so as to get the sort of outcome that the would like that that would produce a better settlement than an American-British interim administration until we can get, which I hope will only be a matter of weeks before we can get up an running an Iraqi administration.
I think that is what will provide the legitimacy, and frankly I think the moment will come when suddenly the facade of this decrepit regime will finally crack and at that moment I think that people across the world, including in the Arab world, the Muslim world, they're going to see scenes of very considerable rejoicing that they have been liberated from 30 years of torture, of murder on a massive scale.
And I think that that will have an amazing effect, beneficial effect from the western point of view in the so-called Arab street. And, we've got to make a success of that. We've got to make sure that we follow through, that we don't just move onto something else and forget about Iraq and let it stew in its own juice. Certainly not, we must build it up, make it a showcase, but at the same time we must tackle the thorny issue of Palestine and Israel.
KING: And, Arthur Kent, if that happens won't Winston be correct?
KING: If that happens won't Winston be correct? KENT: I agree. I think - absolutely, there will be a period of rejoicing. The Iraqi people will be - will love to the see the end of Saddam Hussein, the back of his regime. But the fact of the matter is, and I hate to bring this up, but Mr. Churchill, the Russians and the French happen to be a lot more popular in Iraq than is the United States of America.
And, you know, I think the reporting of this issue in the United States has to take into consideration the fact that there is deep animosity among the Iraqi people for the fact that the United States and Britain maintain these killing sanctions under U.N. auspices.
Funny how the U.N. was fine to be used for 12 years to impose and maintain these crushing sanctions and cover four bombing campaigns against the Iraqi people, but now when it comes time to reestablish a supposedly free and democratic post-Saddam government, the U.N. is not going to be involved. Where's the logic in that? The Iraqi people are not buying it. Neither is the Arab world.
KING: And the Egyptian government shares those views Nihal?
SAAD: Larry, the position of the Egyptian government, President Mubarak has always said that the core and the crux of the problems, of all the problems, is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It's the mother of all problems and once the administration is going to throw its political will behind that process, give it a real push, this is going to be good for the image of the administration in the Arab street.
But, I guess as I said at the beginning, this has been building up for the past two years because of putting the Palestinian issue on the back burner of the American foreign policy.
KING: Do you think, Winston, that the administration is viewed as pro-Israel?
CHURCHILL: Oh, certainly. Up to now it's been seen as pro- Israel, not just in the Arab world but also in Europe, but the idea that the French and the Russians have a particular respect among the Iraqi people I would doubt.
In the present Saddam regime, absolutely, but the Saddam regime is out. It is finished. It is in its death throws and I don't think they will have much credit. They were the friends of Saddam. They were in many ways the sponsors. The French over 30 years have had massive arms-for-oil contracts with Saddam, and I think it will be very interesting -
KENT: As did the United States.
CHURCHILL: ...when we lay our hands on the documentation that shows chapter and verse of what has gone on behind the scene there, Larry. But so far as the Middle East, Arab-Israel is concerned, I think the time has now come for the United States to start playing the role of honest broker to lean both on the Israelis and on the Palestinians to hammer out a deal that is fair to both peoples. KING: Nihal, we only have a minute. What did Colin Powell have to say about post-war Iraq?
SAAD: Well, Secretary Powell was basically talking about the Iraqis taking part in the rule of Iraq but he was not quite clear about the United Nations' role, something that we want the United Nations to do, to have a big political part in the administration of Iraq.
And, also, he would not answer my question on the difference and the debate between the Defense Department and the State Department, the debate over who is going to be ruling Iraq.
KING: Nihal, thank you very much, Nihal Saad, the Senior Political Correspondent for Nile TV; and Winston S. Churchill, grandson and namesake, the former war correspondent who served 27 years in the House of Commons.
Remaining with us is Arthur Kent and when we come back Walter Rodgers will join us with the 3-7 Cavalry.
And then we'll meet General John Wickham, United States Army (Retired), and Colonel David Hackworth.
And then, Jean Phillips, you know her as "Dear Abby," and Linda Patterson and Tom Carhart, and we'll talk about America supporting Americans and Ms. Phillips' endeavor to get 1,400 newspapers nationwide to participate in communicating with the troops, all that is ahead.
Right now, Fredricka Whitfield with the headlines and a word or two and we'll be right back.
KING: Remaining with us in London is Arthur Kent, contributing editor of "McClean's Magazine."
In Tucson, Arizona is General John Wickham, United States Army retired, former Army chief of staff. He is the four-star general, served in Korea, was critically wounded in Vietnam. Colin Powell calls him "my mentor."
In New York, our regular Colonel David Hackworth, U.S. Army, retired, the highly-decorated veteran. His latest book is "Steal my Soldier's Hearts."
But first we're going to go near Baghdad. Walter Rodgers is with the 3-7th Cavalry. What happened today and where are you, Walt?
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, we're west of the Baghdad International Airport and what happened today, at least, actually it was yesterday because it's dawn here. But yesterday, the 7th Cavalry went out again on a reconnaissance patrol, through an area which it engaged in a heavy tank battle the previous day. Again, five Iraqi tanks loomed into view and immediately the 7th Cavalry with its very powerful optics and 120mm gun just knocked out those T72 tanks in five shells and, of course, there was an enormous explosion and secondary explosions inside the tanks.
But the 7th Cavalry has actually been under fire pretty much for the last two weeks. Now, that's not continuous fire. It's intermittent but there hasn't been a day go by that the 7th Cavalry has not been shot at - Larry.
KING: Now, Walter, when they go do you go with them? Explain your travels vis-a-vis them.
RODGERS: Indeed we do. Oftentimes we're no more than five vehicles back, five or six tanks back from the lead vehicle, and then there are other tanks behind us or Bradley fighting vehicles behind us.
We have been in the thick of it. Whenever they would go into an ambush, we would be in the middle of the ambush with them. There would be shells falling on either side of the road or particularly small arms fire and more than a few times we've had rocket-propelled grenades just whish, whish, whish, right over our heads, and then explode in the field beside us. We've been mortared. We've been with them the entire time - Larry.
KING: There is no then extra protection provided for the embedded reporters?
RODGERS: No, not really. Indeed in some respects we're less protected, less protected in the sense that we have a soft skin vehicle, which is to say it's just a Humvee with fiberglass sides. Most of the 7th Cavalry is in Bradley fighting vehicles which can certainly withstand an RPG and the others are in tanks. They can virtually withstand nuclear war.
We're riding down the road virtually unprotected except we do have our body armor on. We have our helmets on and we have a very fine troop commander, Captain Clay Lyle (ph), who tries to shield us from incoming fire with his tank. But, of course, he's running a battle so he can't - we're not his primary concern but the Army's been pretty good about sometimes lining up tanks to protect us. But still, we've been under some alarming fire at times - Larry.
KING: The war in the living room. First, before you leave us, Walt, if General Wickham or Colonel Hackworth might have a question for you. Hack do you have a question for Walt Rodgers right on the front line?
COL. DAVID HACKWORTH, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Yes. I just salute those guys. They're doing an incredible job. They certainly are magnificent.
KING: And, general, do you want anything to add or a question of Walter Rodgers?
COL. JOHN WICKHAM (RET.), FORMER ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: No, I just echo the point there that the young men and women of the coalition are really doing an absolutely superb job and our hearts go out to all of those that have been injured and lost their lives and their families.
As we said earlier, the question of course is what are we going to do after all of this. But the first order of business is to solve this - settle this war and we're going to do it and we're going to do it in reasonable time.
KING: Thank you, Walt Rodgers, as always. You're an amazing journalist and we appreciate all your work. Walt Rodgers on the scene with the 7th Cavalry near Baghdad.
Arthur Kent, politics aside you will admit that the war is going very well for the coalition to this minute?
KENT: Well, you know, listening to Walt strictly on the reporting side of things, let's face it this is what our industry and what we as journalists have been demanding for years.
I'm part of an organization called Military Reporters and Editors, and we actually have a Web site, militaryreporters.com, where embedded journalists are relaying back to us their experiences, and very definitely and we mentioned last week that we were in chains 12 years ago by comparison. I mean I watch Walter's stuff and...
KENT: ...and really yearn for those conditions to be maintained.
KING: General Wickham did you agree with the embedded journalism idea?
WICKHAM: Oh, yes. I think it gives a much better perception of what's happening and also a much better perception across the world and particularly in American and British homes of the extraordinary quality of young people that are putting themselves and being put in harm's way.
So, but one of the downsides of the embedded reporters, probably there's going to be a post mortem on this, is that it may just give us microcosms of events as opposed to a coherent picture of what's really happening, and I think it's a coherent picture that's going to be very important to understand the extraordinary action that's underway here.
KING: Now to the war at hand. Hack, is the siege next? What happens next? They went in. They pulled back a little. What's next, Hack?
HACKWORTH: Well, one thing I'd like to jump on before that is just how magnificent this 3rd Mech Division has performed. You know it's Audie Murphy's old division from Africa to Czechoslovakia.
KING: Yes. HACKWORTH: And he would be mighty proud of how those young men have performed. Stop and think of it, Larry. They drove 300 miles through scattered resistance, arrived at that airport, seized the airport, broke off a brigade, dashed into the city, left their calling card telling the Iraqis we'll be coming back at any time, and then pulled out.
One thing it left behind besides the calling card was a tank, an Abrams tank, and that was from Russia with love. That was knocked out by an AT14 Cornet Russian missile. That's the second tank that they've knocked out with their weaponry in this war and they have delivered according to my sources 1,000 of those very mean antitank missiles.
KING: General Wickham what's next?
WICKHAM: Well, I think what's next as we said earlier we've got to settle this fight in Baghdad. The end game is going to be when the military elements in there and/or the political elements give up and quit, sort of an unconditional surrender as President Bush has said and I think that's what has to happen.
But, in fact, what's beginning to emerge is the reality that the leadership, whatever remnants are left in Baghdad, does not control the rest of the country. So, in a sense we've isolated these remnants and the reality is going to become abundantly clear that they can not leave.
And, we also I don't think need to get into the city in typical urban type warfare where it's very dangerous. There are clever ways of tightening this Gordian knot and bringing special power to bear as we identify special elements in the city and take it out without a lot of infantry or close fighting.
So, I think the near future is going to see some extraordinary changes in how this war is going to come out. If I could just, if I might just Larry jump in this point about we talked of earlier here what kind of a regime is going to be replacing all of this. I think the important thing that's going to develop in the future, as this war is over, is how the United States and the coalition allies create the conditions for growth of opportunity in the country there, humanitarian things.
The effect of that humanitarian effort, like the Marshall Plan in Europe, could be profound, could change the whole course of history in the Middle East, and we ought not to be a Cassandra and say we've got all this irritation and it's just going to blow in our face. I think the victory that we're going to bring to bear and the follow-on humanitarian effort that we're going to bring to bear could have profound influences for the future.
KING: Arthur Kent on that point couldn't they turn it around by handling everything the way the general just suggested?
KENT: Do we all wish it would turn out that way, but you know, Larry, the fact of the matter is that particularly in the region and a good deal in the wider world, people just do not buy the whole label Operation Iraqi Freedom. They know this is about building U.S. bases, a long term occupation.
KING: In other words, you don't buy that?
KING: You don't buy it?
KENT: I really don't. I really don't believe. I don't buy it. Those of us who have worked in the region, who've watched the U.S. come and go before, and the fact of the matter is there's just no broad based alliance. Egypt, you know, Hosni Mubarak, America's best friend in the region says this whole approach was wrong. It's going to create 100 new bin Ladens.
WICKHAM: Yes, but there's never been the united...
KENT: You want to see...
KING: Hold on, one at a time. General, go ahead.
WICKHAM: Arthur, there's never been a United States like the United States today. As powerful as we are, as influential as we are, yes we'll make mistakes but I do believe that the power that we bring to bear, the commitment we bring to bear can make a difference and I don't think you ought to equate our behavior with what historically has taken place.
KING: Let me get Hack's viewpoint before Arthur's response. Hack, what do you think?
KENT: Let me ask you one question.
KING: Hold on, Arthur a minute. Hack what do you think?
HACKWORTH: Well, in political matters I'm a dummy, Larry. On military matters, I know a little bit about it and I know that...
KING: OK, when we...
HACKWORTH: ...the 3rd Mech is swinging around Baghdad and they're going to meet on a pincer with the Marines and we're bringing in two large elements from Germany, armored elements. We're flying them in the north. The 4th Mech, the thing that we've talked about on your show so often, we've been so worried about, is now moving forward, so there's going to be sufficient combat power to do the job.
KING: Hack, you're our military man. Arthur, you wanted to ask the general something or respond.
KENT: I just wanted to ask the general, 12 years since Gulf War I, why didn't the U.S. and British military develop some new tactics and strategies so that we could avoid this shameful situation where the people of Basra are besieged, where the people of Baghdad are besieged?
Because you know we talked about British and American blood being spilled here but for the long term security of the American people, to try to rebuild the image of the United States abroad, it's how much Iraqi blood is spilled that really matters here and there is too much civilian death going on here and the U.S. military flunked, flunked the test of devising a way to have an inside out removal of this regime instead of setting up these almost medieval siege situations.
WICKHAM: Well, I respect your opinion but I think it's outdated. You can't expect any military in the world to undertake miracles. What we have to do now is what we have been doing, and as Colonel Hackworth indicated in a superb way, is destroy the ability of the Iraqi regime, which is repressive, to continue to repress its people and we are taking them out.
And, eventually we're going to bring to bear some extraordinary humanitarian efforts which I think are going to turn around the attitudes in the Middle East. You know, Arthur, you ought to give the United States and Britain a chance to prove that what they are committed to is going to work, rather than to naysay it right from the get-go.
KING: All right, general, thank you very much. We'll be calling on your again and Colonel Hackworth thanks. Arthur Kent stay with us one second. Joining us quickly from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, is Salah Negm, the news director of Al-Arabiya. His news organization has just hired Peter Arnett. Why, Salah, did you hire Mr. Arnett?
SALAH NEGM, DIRECTOR OF NEWS, AL-ARABIYA TV: Well, I think Mr. Arnett is a very experience journalist. He covered a lot of wars. He covered the first Gulf War and he's giving a fresh view to our coverage in Baghdad. We are going to rely on him there during the period of the war, plus our own correspondents who are there in Baghdad as well. It's a good asset to the channel.
KING: Did you have any problems with the thought that he was, as some think, partial to the Iraq side?
NEGM: Well, partial to the Iraq side I think that's a point of view. We don't share that point of view. I think he's actually impartial in all the coverage he's done to us he appeared very balanced and we're following him before. We don't think he was partial.
KING: And how, in your opinion, is the war going?
NEGM: Well it's a very confusing war to follow its developments day by day. You have conflicting tales from both sides and usually before you can take the statements from the United States, U.K. and put them on air right away but they're now party in a conflict as well as the Iraqi government. So, we have to be very careful in what we put for our audience and we have to convey the two points of view and two tales of what is developing there. It's confusing for all the reporters I think.
KING: Arthur Kent, quickly, what did you think of their hiring Peter Arnett?
KENT: Well, you know, this is news to me. Peter is a survivor. You know he was man enough to apologize and to admit his mistake in speaking to the Iraqi regime. He's going to keep reporting. He always has. He worked with my brother, Peter, in Vietnam for goodness sake, and we've seen him over the years. So, he'll be working years from now.
I think the important thing to note here is that when we look at how the television coverage is going around the world, you know, the Arab media treats it one way, European media the other, tries to balance it.
KENT: I think in the United States the initial view we're getting so far is there just isn't enough hard questioning about the political and military policies that have gone into this campaign.
KING: Thanks, Arthur. We'll be calling on you again. We thank the general. We thank Nihal Saad and we thank Salah Negm as well.
When we come back we'll get into things domestic and what two young ladies and a gentleman are doing about these soldiers. I think you'll find this most interesting. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back. We now welcome here in Los Angeles, Jeannie Phillips. You know her as "Dear Abby", her column in 1,400 newspapers. "Dear Abby" is helping people e-mail the troops through operationdearabby.net. Troops in the Gulf are getting 50,000 e-mails through this operation.
Also here is Linda Patterson, Executive Director and Founder of America supporting Americans, a nationwide non-profit organization. Linda lost her brother during the Vietnam War. That inspired the idea. Her organization works with cities and military communities throughout the United States.
And, in Washington is Vietnam Veteran Tom Carhart who served in the 101st Airborne, recipient of two Purple Hearts and Chairman of the Board of America Supporting Americans.
First, let's discuss each idea. What happens, Jeannie? What do you do?
JEANNIE PHILLIPS, ""DEAR ABBY"": I operate operationdearabby.net, which is an official program of the Department of Defense for sending messages to the troops. It's a secure Web site.
KING: What do people do? PHILLIPS: They go to www.operationdearabby.net, click on send a message, click on a branch of the service because it services all branches of the military.
KING: So, if you click on Navy.
KING: Then what?
PHILLIPS: Then you type in your message.
PHILLIPS: To any service member and at which point these messages are sent into the ether and they are downloaded on official military sites and handed to the troops.
KING: And they see them wherever they are?
PHILLIPS: Any place that a service member has a computer, under the ocean.
KING: Because it's hard to write to these people right right now?
PHILLIPS: Yes, it is. You can't at this point.
KING: What is America Supporting Americans Linda?
LINDA PATTERSON, EXEC. DIR. AMERICA SUPPORTING AMERICANS: Excuse me, Larry. America Supporting Americans is an organization that links active military units with cities and towns across the nation to support them in a more supporting program.
KING: Give me an example, so Minneapolis might do what?
PATTERSON: Minneapolis, we would link ASA, America Supporting Americans, with a link an active military unit of any branch of the service with Minneapolis to adopt...
KING: Do they sort of adopt them?
PATTERSON: They would adopt them through a formal resolution and then they would set up a citizens' committee within their community and the citizens' committee is assigned to go out into the community and gain the support from the entire community.
KING: Tom Carhart, can't talk when I'm being talked to. Tom Carhart, you are the chairman of the board of America Supporting Americans. You served in the 101st Airborne. What does this mean to these people, to the soldier, to know that someone in Tucson is talking to them?
TOM CARHART, CHMN. OF BD. AMERICA SUPPORTING AMERICANS: Let me briefly - sure. Let me give you what happened to us in Vietnam. I arrived in Vietnam in December, 1967. I was an infantry platoon leader with the 101st.
In the middle of December, Joe Artavia (ph) who was a young paratrooper wrote a letter to his sister, Linda, who you just met, and said if you could get us adopted by San Mateo, where Linda lived, that would raise our morale as high as the clouds.
Linda was a secretary. She didn't know anything but she made some phone calls and on March 4 she appeared before the city council and lo and behold San Mateo adopted us. Now, she had a list of the men, the 130 men in A Company from the company commander and cards and letters went out from private citizens, school groups, associations and so on, from San Mateo. And then on March 24, Joe Artavia was hit and killed in a firefight.
KING: That's your brother?
CARHART: That's Linda's brother, and that really hit San Mateo hard, and so the outpouring of letters and presents and love, really, and the personal communications just ballooned.
The following December, Linda came to Vietnam and her escort officer was Steve Patterson who had been Joe's platoon leader, and after a couple of day on Christmas Eve, A Company came out of the field because there was going to be a ceasefire on Christmas Day.
On the evening of Christmas Eve, there was a memorial formation in which the men killed in the latest operation were remembered with a special prayer for Linda's brother Joe, and then the first sergeant called the names of each man in the company, and as each man came forward, Linda gave them one of these medals with the City of San Mateo seal on one side, and each soldier's name engraved on the other side, and a sisterly kiss on the cheek.
A Company went back to the field the next day and no one ever forgot that. When Steve came back from Vietnam a couple of weeks later, he went to visit Linda and asked her to marry him, and in '72 when A Company came home, even though it was different men, there was a welcome home parade and party in San Mateo for three days and there was an outpouring of love and affection.
What we're trying to do with ASA is recreate, reestablish the personal relationships between men and women in uniform and the American people in their communities.
KING: I got it. How do people get involved, Linda, with ASA?
PATTERSON: Well, we have a wonderful Web site up.
KING: Which is?
PATTERSON: Which is called www.asa.themilitary.net.
KING: Dot what?
PATTERSON: The military.net.
PATTERSON: Right, and through that Web site we have a history about ASA and we have forms on how cities can fill out and request a unit and, Larry, in many cases some of these cities have their own National Guard and Reserve Units which they choose to adopt. We have a set of guidelines. We have suggestions and ideas.
KING: That's a great idea.
PATTERSON: And I can't tell you how excited I am because I've been with this program for over 35 years and I am seeing America come together like you can't believe.
KING: How did you come up with your idea?
PHILLIPS: My idea is a continuation of the original Operation Dear Abby Program that was cards and letters and cookies and brownies for the troops for so many years.
PHILLIPS: Before the anthrax scare, and it was brought back to life on the Internet. You're a participant.
KING: How many people come into you every day?
PHILLIPS: Oh, you mean...
PHILLIPS: Oh, my Lord. The e-mails now for operationdearabby.net, a week ago there were a million messages sent. Today there's almost a million five. They're coming in at a rate of about 50,000 a day.
KING: How important, Tom, is it to the serviceman? I mean he's busy enough. She's busy enough.
CARHART: The soldiers, yes, when soldiers are off at war we have to remember but most soldiers are very young and the connection, the human personal morale building connection to someone back at home who cares about them personally is beyond description.
It's a psychological bond and a real establishment of a cultural commitment and connection that defies description. I can not overemphasize how important this personal connection between America and soldiers in harm's way can be, and particularly in a city or a town that adopts them. Now they have another home. San Mateo will always be my second home.
CARHART: Because when I go there I know these people loved me in an unpopular war. Linda has established 60 odd unit connections in eight states with communities and it's growing by leaps and bounds. It is a house on fire.
KING: Linda, are you doing it now with these soldiers?
PATTERSON: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. As a matter of fact I have so many of the units adopted now with - I'll give you an example, Larry, Malibu, the city of Malibu is doing an outstanding job of supporting their troops and had actually just prior to them being deployed sent for two of the soldiers and their wives from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The adopted the second alpha company, the second are the 327, which is the unit. This particular unit here is...
KING: That we're showing.
PATTERSON: ...that we're showing is the unit that was adopted by Las Vegas, Nevada, and these guys just sent a CD of themselves to their adopted home. They feel that close connection. This is a bonding that is indescribable.
KING: Jeannie, do you know that your e-mails are getting there?
PHILLIPS: Yes. They're downloaded at chow time and given to the people who don't have computers of their own.
KING: Was Vietnam tough going the fact, Tom, that so many people back home didn't support you?
CARHART: Oh, sure but you know we were young men and we've all turned the page on that now and I have no concern about the support of the American people for men and women in uniform today, and this is a different era and a different time.
But I can not overemphasize the importance to each young man and woman in uniform, particularly at war but at sea, in the air, everywhere else, to know that there's a very direct personal cultural connection where people care about that man or woman personally and wish them well and want them to come back and have Italian dinners or parades and play softball in the park with the kids or whatever. That human relationship is very important.
KING: How much of your time do you devote to this, Linda?
PATTERSON: Well, I devote I really would say 24/7. It's a seven day a week job. There's no let up. I get e-mails from the Web site. I get calls from the city. ASA actually represents, is a liaison between all the cities and we share on our Web site so other cities can pick up on the...
KING: So, cities can contact you.
PATTERSON: Oh, yes.
KING: Mayors can contact you?
PATTERSON: Oh, yes because the cities pass the resolution and they set up that citizens' committee. Then the liaison of that committee is directly connected between the unit. KING: And, Jeannie, let's go over it again. You want to hit some, you want to reach somebody.
PHILLIPS: You go to www.operationdearabby.net.
PHILLIPS: And you click...
KING: Type out a message.
PHILLIPS: Click on send a message. Select your branch of the service. Click on that one and send your message.
KING: And for America Supporting Americans it's www.asa.themilitary.net.
PATTERSON: That's right, Larry.
KING: And who should correspond to that? Anybody interested in contacting people?
PATTERSON: Anybody interested. Anybody interested.
KING: City officials?
PATTERSON: Anybody. We've gotten businesses say that they want to adopt a unit and how do we go about getting our community involved.
KING: Want to reach a person, www.operationdearabby.net, or to contact and get involved in a major organization, www.asa.themilitary.net.
That's it for tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Fredricka Whitfield has the headlines and Anderson Cooper hosts "NEWSNIGHT" right around the corner. Thanks for joining us and good night.
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