CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of Bombing of U.N. Headquarters in Iraq
Aired August 19, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Terror in Baghdad caught live as it happened today. A truck bomb kills at least 17 people and wounds more than 100 at the United Nations headquarters in the Iraqi capital. It's the boldest act of terrorism in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to major combat.
With us in Baghdad is Salim Lone, spokesman for the United States (sic) envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was among those killed today. Plus Colin Soloway, on assignment in Baghdad for "Newsweek" magazine, and CNN's Baghdad bureau chief, Jane Arraf. At the United Nations in New York, Shashi Tharoor, undersecretary general for communications. Also with us later, Robin Wright, "L.A. Times" chief diplomatic correspondent, an expert on militant Islam. In the Middle East, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee. And General George Joulwan, former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe and an old friend of the U.N. envoy murdered in Iraq today. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Well, let's first get an update with Jane Arraf. Can you briefly tell us, Jane, where we stand now? What happened today? And what's the total figure of dead and injured?
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, it still seems to be 17 dead, including a sizable number of senior U.N. staff now. Of that number, a little more than half of them were international staff, the rest Iraqi staff. And as you mentioned, more than 100 injured. Now, there is one person still unaccounted for, according to people on the ground. Not clear whether they've simply lost track of that staff member or whether they, indeed, may still be trapped in this building. The rescue operations for tonight, though, are over.
And what we've been seeing here tonight is the U.S. Army and its engineers bringing in heavy equipment to try to lift huge pieces of that concrete that just collapsed. It's as if part of that building had just been sheered off when this massive explosive device went off. It appears to have been a suicide bomb. There were people on the ground who said that it was a cement truck. They saw the body afterwards of the driver. and it was a cement truck that went down an access road and exploded with huge force right beneath the office of the envoy -- Larry.
KING: Thank you. I was told I said "U.S. envoy." Of course, it's the U.N. envoy who was killed today.
Shashi Tharoor at the United Nations, do you think this was an attack aimed at him and -- why the U.N., do you think?
SHASHI THAROOR, U.N. UNDERSECRETARY GENERAL FOR COMMUNICATIONS: We have no idea, Larry, and it's so difficult to try and get into the twisted minds of those who would perpetrate this kind of atrocity. From our point of view, the U.N. was there to do good.
Sergio Vieira de Mello, who's made so much of a difference to so many people's lives around the world in his U.N. career, was there really trying to work to restore the independence and sovereignty of Iraq and get Iraq back into the hands of the Iraqi people. He was working for the good of the Iraqi people, and the entire U.N. mission, with its humanitarian workers and other advisers, were there really to assist the people of Iraq. And for us, absorbing this blow, this news has been difficult enough. We have no good explanations for why us, why now.
KING: Before we ask Colin Soloway's thoughts, let's show you a statement by the late Mr. de Mello talking last month about his U.N. mission. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - JULY 22, 2003)
SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO BAGHDAD: I am here to listen to you. I am here to learn. I am not here to make long speeches. I am not here to teach you anything. You don't need me for that. I'm here to convey to you the message from the United Nations and its secretary general, Kofi Annan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He served in every major hotspot there is. Colin Soloway, what is your read on this? Oh, I'm sorry. I thought Colin was ready. And Salim Lone is not ready, either? OK.
Jane Arraf, what are they saying there?
ARRAF: They're essentially saying that this wasn't just an attack on the U.N., it was more an attack on the U.S., in fact, an effort to show that the United States cannot control this country, cannot stop these attacks. Now, this was a softer target, as they say, than any U.S. military installation. And that was the message of the U.N., that they didn't want to be seen as connected with the occupying powers.
But Iraqis are genuinely shocked by this. The U.N. has been seen as quite benign. It has, in essence, been sidelined recently by the United States. And Vieira de Mello himself, from that sound bite that we saw -- that was from a trip to Basra -- was, to people who met him, to Iraqis who met him, thought to be genuinely endearing, someone who really they truly believed genuinely cared about them and their country and really did want them to govern themselves and get beyond this phase of occupation -- Larry.
KING: Salim Lone, the United Nations spokesperson in Iraq, did Mr. de Mello have any fears for his life? SALIM LONE, U.N. SPOKESMAN IN IRAQ: No. I think he knew was a potential target, but he never expressed any fear whatsoever about his life. In fact, the whole United Nations staff here, all of us knew when we came here that there was a big risk we were taking, but that didn't matter to us. We came here to help the Iraqi people, and we didn't want to live behind sandbags and tanks and, you know, submachine guns. So no. He knew he was a target. He had a close bodyguard unit that was always around him. But no, he never once expressed any fear that he might actually suffer this horrendous fate that he and at least 17 others have suffered so far.
KING: Now we can make contact, we understand, with Colin Soloway of "Newsweek." And Colin, the question I asked earlier -- what's your read on this?
COLIN SOLOWAY, "NEWSWEEK" CORRESPONDENT IN IRAQ: You know, it's tough to know, at this point, Larry. I don't know if you can see me, at this point. But it is very tough to know. You know, one of the questions everyone is asking is, Who would attack the United Nations? Coalition authority, you know, officials are -- one would regard them as fair game. But as far as who would go after Sergio de Mello and the United Nations, it's tough to know.
I don't think anyone really believes that Ba'ath Party members would be going after them, but rather, you know, I think, lots of people are thinking, What sort of Islamic group would be going for a relatively soft target to discourage foreigners here -- to discourage people from coming out? I'm sure this is going to be -- it's going to make it a much more difficult choice for people to come out here and work for the United Nations when their own special representative is being hit.
KING: Shashi, is there a theory at the U.N.? They must be talking about this all day. Why them?
THAROOR: One of our concerns clear is, as Jane Arraf also suggested, that, of course, they were aiming at a larger target than us. We were a -- if you like, a vulnerable side of the benign international community. But the message was undoubtedly to the world, to the coalition, to the U.N. community as a whole, that Iraq was ungovernable under present conditions.
We don't accept that message, and we don't accept that the people who did this have any business pretending to speak for a majority of Iraqi public opinion. Far from it. Sergio met with every segment of Iraqi political opinion, from the Shi'ite clerics to the Communist Party. And overwhelmingly, the reception was, You are welcome. We like what you're trying to do here. We'd like to talk to you. And he was really the independent, neutral eyes and ears of the world in Baghdad. He was not part of the occupation. And as far as we are concerned, we think this is a small terrorist group, unable to persuade a majority of Iraqis to go with them, that have resorted to these cowardly atrocities.
KING: Thank you, Shashi. One other question for Salim Lone before we -- I know it's been a long day for you. Do you intend to stay there, Salim?
LONE: I'll be here as long as the U.N. is here, Larry. No problem with that at all. And I think that, you know, as for as all the other staff members who work with me, if anything, what happened yesterday has absolutely convinced us of the need to continue to help the Iraqis. You know, the United Nations has been here for a very long time, Larry.
And those of us who came to take this risk came because the people of Iraq have suffered for so long, you know, through an Iraq- Iran war, through Kuwait, through the sanctions. And we knew, you know, there was a misunderstanding of the U.N. role here. When I arrived here about three, four weeks ago, one of first things I discovered is a lot of Iraqis actually did not even distinguish much between the U.S. and the U.N. One of our senior officials told me that he went to a barber right after the war, and the guy said, Oh, I see you've joined the U.N. -- I mean, the U.S. And he said, What you to mean? He said, Well, aren't you with the U.S. now? I see you driving that big blue car.
LONE: There is a historic situation, where many people thought we were basically part of the U.S. operation here.
KING: But Salim plans to stay.
LONE: Salim plans to stay as long as the U.N. lets me stay, yes.
KING: We'll be calling on you again. And we thank you, Shashi. We'll be calling on you again. Jane and Colin will remain. And when we come back, we'll be joined by Robin Wright of "The L.A. Times," Governor Bill Richardson, former ambassador to the U.N., and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. Stay right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All nations of the world face a challenge and a choice. By attempting to spread chaos and fear, terrorists are testing our will. Across the world, they are finding that our will cannot be shaken. We will persevere through every hardship. We will continue this war on terror until the killers are brought to justice. And we will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jane Arraf and Colin Soloway remain with us in Baghdad. Joining us now in Washington, Robin Wright, the chief diplomatic correspondent of "The L.A. Times," a close friend of the slain U.N. envoy; Governor Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., also a friend of Sergio; and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, majority whip and chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.
Governor Richardson, why the U.N.?
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I believe the terrorists were sending a message that even international institutions, sacred international institutions like the U.N., are at risk. And they were trying to send a message to discourage any, I believe, further U.N. participation, which is going to be needed in Iraq -- peacekeeping, reconstruction, civil administration, refugees -- basically, sending a message to the U.N. that, If you send some of your people here, they are going to be substantially at risk.
I also lost a dear friend, who a week ago sent me a message. This guy was the ultimate troubleshooter. But I think the main message here, Larry, is that the international community is at risk. These terrorists -- the biggest threat to the international community and the United States is international terrorism, and we cannot be deterred. But it does show that Baghdad is unstable, that our troops are at risk, and that we've got to strengthen our resolve and expand our multinational efforts to deal with this problem, bring other countries, keep the U.N. in, bring a larger role besides just the United States. I think that's the main message for us.
KING: What did Mr. de Mello say to you?
RICHARDSON: He sent me a message. He was lecturing at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which is my alma mater. And he was just saying -- basically, was talking to me about North Korea, to sort of hang in there. But this is typical of the guy. He was accepted by the United States. He was accepted by the superpowers that are part of the Security Council. Every top trouble spot in the world he volunteered for -- East Timor, refugee issues, human rights issues. He was the ultimate diplomat, totally selfless. He would put himself in harm's way. And I think it's a great loss to the international community.
KING: Senator McConnell, what's your reading on this event?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), CHMN, FOREIGN OPS SUBCOMMITTEE: Well, Larry, my take on it is the terrorists have attacked the United States through its soldiers, trying to pick off our soldiers from time to time. That hasn't worked. And now, in the last few days, they're attacking the Iraqi people by taking out oil pipelines and water lines and the U.N., the international community.
I hope what this is going to do is further convince the U.N., which has been pretty skeptical about the American operation in Iraq, to now take a greater interest. And I think it clearly brings the message home that the terrorists are not just after the United States, they're after the international community and after, for that matter, the Iraqi people themselves. So I think this should make it easier for us to get other countries interested in helping us in this operation in Iraq, which is clearly going to take a while.
KING: In other words, Senator, are you saying that, in effect, what they did hurts their own idea?
MCCONNELL: I think so.
KING: If their idea was to discourage the U.N., they will encourage the U.N.?
MCCONNELL: I think so. I think the U.N. clearly has to react to this attack on its own people. I think it makes it more likely that we're going to have greater loyalty among Iraqi people and more interest in the international community.
KING: Robin, what did -- tell us about your relationship with the late Mr. Vieira de Mello.
WRIGHT: Well, he was in Lebanon when I was there in the 1980s. And there is a generation, almost two generations of war correspondents who knew him in all the hotspots -- in Beirut, in East Africa, in the Balkans. And he was a man with extraordinary political savvy and tremendous personal charm. And he used both to be able to reach out and bring together people who opposed each other. He was a true peacemaker and clearly destined some day to be a secretary general of the United Nations.
KING: Was -- and this is strange to ask, but was he as nice as he looks?
WRIGHT: Absolutely. The last time I saw him was in June, at the Dead Sea summit in Jordan, and he was as charming as ever, coming out of Baghdad.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll ask Jane Arraf and Colin Soloway to remain with us. We'll have some more questions for Robin and Governor Richardson and Senator McConnell, as well. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL BREMER, U.S. CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATOR: ... is a clear act of terrorism that took innocent lives, Iraqis, people working for the U.N., whose only goal was to help make Iraq a better place to live. It's really the ugliest face of terrorism you can imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jane Arraf, do you think they were specifically targeting Mr. de Mello?
ARRAF: Perhaps not specifically targeting him, but certainly, targeting as high-profile individuals as they could get in the U.N. or anywhere else, for that matter. And he would appear and this whole building would have appeared to have been perhaps the perfect target. It was very high-visible. It's been a feature of Baghdad for more than a decade. And it was full of people who made a point of saying that they did not want the kind of security that would make it look like a U.S. military base. And indeed, they didn't have that kind of security. They had recently beefed up security measures. There had been specific threats against the U.N., as there have been specific threats against other international agencies, and general threats, as well, against foreigners here. But they really did make a point of making clear they were not part of the coalition, they were not part of the occupying powers -- Larry.
KING: Governor Richardson, what does the U.N. do now?
RICHARDSON: Well, the U.N., I believe, has to have a broader role in Iraq. I would hope that the Security Council, which authorizes peacekeeping and reconstruction and refugee operation, should redouble its efforts to not be deterred by what happened. I do think that a lot of U.N. personnel -- I think we should do everything we can to give them added security, since the United States is the primary military force there.
But again, Larry, it shows that terrorism is a threat not just to America but to every nation in the world. There was a tragic bombing in Jerusalem today. And so my hope is that the Security Council very soon, on an emergency basis, establishes broader parameters for U.N. participation in Iraq. It's in our interest. The U.S. can't do it alone. We've got to broaden the participation, get troops from other nations as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force, but also perform other police functions that U.S. troops are doing -- reconstruction, refugee, civil administration, eventually elections.
I think the U.N. can play a very constructive role there, and the worst thing to do would be to shirk from that responsibility by letting these terrorists win by reducing the U.N. presence there.
KING: Senator McConnell, these deaths today and the deaths of the servicemen and women -- is it starting to get frustrating for you?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, Larry, the president said all along this was not going to be easy. We knew that it would go on for a while. The United States is prepared to stay there for as long as it takes to complete the mission. And the mission is to give the Iraqi people a chance to have a democratic country in which they choose their own leadership, to have peace and security and an opportunity to speak freely whenever they choose to do that. That took quite a while, even in our own country, where we had a history of it inherited from England.
We knew it was going take a while, and we're going stay the course. And I do think that the stupid mistakes that were made today by the terrorists are going to, exactly as Bill Richardson indicated, make it more likely that we'll be able to get additional help from countries around the world and an added interest in helping on the part of the United Nations.
KING: Colin Soloway, are you concerned about your own safety as a journalist there? SOLOWAY: Well, we're always concerned about our safety here in Baghdad, Larry. This event is just another sort of soft target which has been gone -- which has attacked here recently. You know, the Jordanian embassy was a couple of weeks ago. And you know, for journalists working here, you know, anytime a soft target like this is attacked, it certainly raises the question of, you know, Are we going to be next? We take security precautions in how we work and how we travel. We try and get security on the places where we're living. But you know, just as with the United Nations, you know, we have a job to do out here, and you know, we try and be as careful as we can. But it's always a possibility.
KING: Robin Wright will be remaining with us. So will Colin Soloway and Jane Arraf. And as Governor Richardson will be leaving shortly, so will Senator McConnell. And then we'll be joined, as well, by General Joulwan.
Are you pessimistic now, Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: Well, I am a bit pessimistic because I agree with Senator McConnell. I supported the president in the war. I just think we have got to recognize that we don't want to step into a quagmire. Yes, we have a responsibility to be there, but I want to see more outside participation, other countries, the U.N., a peacekeeping force, not just of Americans. I worry about every American every day. I just -- I'm very depressed after what happened today, not just to our country and to the international community, but my friend, Sergio, who died in the line of duty.
KING: Robin, we have a minute before we go to break. And you'll be remaining with us. But do you have any thoughts as to who might have done this?
WRIGHT: Well, one of the most striking things about today was the full range of possible suspects, from those loyal to Saddam Hussein on one side, to the Islamic extremists on the other. There's not a single one of the six borders with Iraq that is secure. And there are a number of particularly religious extremist groups who have used the suicide bomb, the truck bomb, car bomb as their favorite weapon, that are possibles, from Ansar al Islam, small groups, small cells that once operated in northern Iraq, to al Qaeda operatives moving across Iran into Iraq, agents possibly, again, affiliated with al Qaeda moving in from Saudi Arabia, and then others from Hezbollah and groups that actually tries to get into Iraq during the war, that penetrated via Syria. There are a full range of Islamic extremists and also some secular groups.
KING: All right, I'm going to take a break. We thank you, Governor Richardson and Senator McConnell. We'll be calling upon you again, we hope under better circumstances. We appreciate your spending this time with us. Jane Arraf and Colin Soloway and Robin Wright will remain with us, as will -- and we'll be joined by General George Joulwan, the former NATO supreme allied commander. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: With us now for the rest of the program in Baghdad is Jane Arraf, CNN's Baghdad bureau chief.
And Colin Soloway, the correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.
Staying with us in Washington is Robin Wright, the chief diplomatic correspondent of "The Los Angeles Times, " the author of "Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam" and a friend of the slain United States -- U.N. envoy.
And now joining us is General George Joulwan. Always a great pleasure to see him. The United States army retired former NATO supreme allied commander and a long time friend and colleague of the late Sergio Vieira De Mello.
We'll start with you, general. What do you make of today's events? What can you tell us about your friend?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, FMR. NATO SUP. ALLIED CMDR., EUROPE: It's tough. It is very difficult, not just for what occurred in Iraq but elsewhere.
But Sergio clearly not only was a good friend. He understood what needs to be done in today's environment. He and I worked very closely in how to do the simple military integration and that's what has been required in the sort of missions that we have had in Afghanistan and now Iraq and elsewhere -- how to bring the civil military agencies together.
And Sergio knew that. We did it in Rwanda. We were trying to do it in the Balkans. But he had a great sense of humor, Larry. And he was just a good friend.
KING: Are you concerned now about where this is all going, the whole military presence, the rents in Jerusalem today. Are you on the downside here?
JOULWAN: Well, let me be clear -- what I think, and this is my own personal opinion here, what is -- we're in danger. It's not there yet. But if we're in the careful here, we're in danger of losing the initiative in Iraq, and to a degree in Afghanistan. And that concerns me.
We had the initiative going into Baghdad. We had a whole groundswell with us. But now that is turning. So it's extremely important, I think, that we reassess how to bring in the international community. NATO right now is in Afghanistan and Kabul. I think we need to broaden this and really get a secure environment in that country for the agencies to operate from the U.N., NGOs, et cetera. That is what concerns me. I don't see that happening right now.
KING: Robin Wright, my memory fades a little. But did this occur in Germany and Japan at the end of World War II? Uprising, the killing of American military?
WRIGHT: Well, the administration likes to point out these days that after World War II, Germany was also a mess, both in terms of the political transition and the military, that there were SS officers known as werewolves who attacked U.S. troops, and that he first reconstruction effort in Germany failed, which led the United States to launch the Marshall Plan, which is the most ambitious and successful foreign aid policy ever launched.
That's the -- looking at the glass half full, frankly there were more and more people who are looking at the glass half empty. And I think there's a growing concern in Washington about the prospects that Iraq could become another Lebanon,, not just because of attacks that we have seen, but also because of the emergence of militias around many of the key politicians, the kind of polarization of society that without the United States presence or without the international involvement might lead to open clashes and open tension.
KING: Jane, is it a stretch or do you see any connection between what occurred in Jerusalem and what happened in Baghdad?
ARRAF: Sorry, Larry, the connection between...
KING: Jerusalem today and Baghdad today?
ARRAF: Perhaps just in the sense that these are tactics that are taken by people who are desperate, and tactics that ultimately have the desired effect of creating this climate of uncertainty, of chaos, of making it very difficult to move forward. It's really difficult to know who is responsible for this particular bombing, as was mentioned earlier by one of guests, it could be a wide range of people. But the connection would certainly be that it has essentially had the same effect. IT has bred terror throughout a large part of the city now.
KING: Colin Soloway, do you think events can trigger other events?
SOLOWAY: It depends, really. We just don't know who is carrying these things out carrying this attack out. We don't know who carried out attack on the Jordanian embassy.
I think it is pretty doubtful there is a connection between the attacks in Jerusalem. I mean, these are very different issues. But I think the question is what sort of effect will this have on, you know, Iraqi people. I mean, people here, more than anything, want stability and order. They want some security for themselves in their lives here. And, you know, this sort of attack just simply frightens people, quite frankly, here as much as it does, you know, people in the international community here. And it raises real doubts about the ability of the United States to -- the occupation forces here to provide security for people.
And that's -- I think that's probably the biggest goal of the attackers here was simply to raise doubts about whether this place will ever be stable as long as the Americans are in charge.
KING: I guess we meant, General Joulwan, can terrorism be infectious? Can one group see another group do something and say we'll do something? JOULWAN: I think so, and I think you have to guard against that. But within that particular region, this will get -- this will get the fanatics a bounce to a degree. And I think we have to recognize that.
KING: Yes. And is terrorism -- is it preventable, General, really?
JOULWAN: Well, it takes, I think, a broad group of nations and people that understand the values that we share. That's what it's going to take. I think you're always going to have some degree of terrorism. I have seen terrorism in Europe now for all the time I was stationed there in the '60s, the '70s, the '80s. You'll have some form of it.
What you're facing now though is much different. This is very well organized. It's global in scope. And we have to understand what we're facing here. And so I think it -- you can minimize it. I don't think you could totally prevent it.
KING: Yes. Robin, your book calls it "the wrath of militant Islam." Why the wrath?
WRIGHT: Oh, the wrath relates to different things in each country. But the issue in Iraq, obviously is the foreign occupation.
Iraqis are arguably the most nationalist people of all the 22 nations in the Arab block. Now, there is a saying that books are written in Egypt, printed in Lebanon and read in Iraq. They are fiercely nationalistic and opposed, as the British learned at the beginning of the 20th Century, to foreign occupation. And if there is an agenda by Islamic militants, it is to undermine the American presence in Iraq.
KING: But they don't appreciate the ending of a regime that harmed them so much?
WRIGHT: That may be the case, but they also don't like the idea of a foreign army staying there for another year or five years or, you know, the kind of terms that have been mentioned by American politicians. There are those who looked at Afghanistan and said it took us 10 years, but we got the Soviet Union to leave. We can do the same thing to the Americans. As they see it, another empire in -- or empire builder in Iraq.
KING: We're going to take a break, come back and go to your calls for Jane Arraf, Colin Soloway, Robin Wright and General George Joulwan on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Sun rise in Baghdad, Iraq, the scene of a horrible bombing today and the killing of 18 innocent people. Before we take some calls, Colin Soloway wanted to add something about the Iraqis' feelings towards the forces there -- Colin. SOLOWAY: I would disagree with Robin's interpretation that all Iraqis are -- that Iraqi nationalism is a driving force in trying to get the Americans out of here. I mean, in fact, you know, despite the feelings in places like Fallujah and Ramadi and the sort of beliefs that some of the smaller more radical Shia groups most Iraqis here aren't necessarily opposed to an American presence here for next one or two years to get things stabilized. I think the frustration and anger you see from Iraqis has more to do the incompetence of the American Occupation here. People here say, look, we understand this place is chaos. We understand our politicians may not be able to get this place up and running. But we need the Americans here, but for god's sake, give us some security here, allow us to be able to walk the streets at night.
Get the -- why isn't the electricity running?
It is the anger of Iraqi with simply the sort of bumbling occupation and bumbling administration that really prompts a lot of the anger. That doesn't necessarily translate into the belief that the Americans should all leave and some how it would be get better right away.
KING: Makes sense. Robin.
SOLOWAY: It is really what..
KING: Go ahead. Robin, does that make sense?
I'm sorry, Colin. Go ahead, finish.
Let Colin finish and then Robin comment and then we'll get some calls.
SOLOWAY: What really made de Mello and the United Nations mission so valuable here was that in a way de Mello was a reality check on the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority. And it was de Mello's experience and de Mellos' diplomatic skills that often helped bridge the gap between the Iraqis and the Americans on political issues. He was seen as more of an independent arbiter bit Iraqis and Iraqis who didn't really want to talk to the Americans. In that role, he and the U.N. were and I hope will continue to be a very valuable resource.
KING: Robin, you want to comment?
WRIGHT: I'm not sure we disagree. I think Iraqis are deeply frustrated with the kind of presence the Americans have had so far. And they don't like the idea that the Americans might be there for a longer time. I -- you know, a year is one thing and the United States has said a year from this summer there will be elections to a permanent Iraqi government. That is very hopeful. I don't think they welcome the idea of American troops being there for a long time. I think that could make us vulnerable down the road.
KING: Hawaii, Hawaii. Hello.
CALLER: Aloha. I was wondering if your guests would comment on President Bush's taunt, I'll say, to the terrorists "To bring it on.
KING: General, want to comment?
The president was very strong today.
JOULWAN: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the question.
KING: The question was what you make of the president's forceful remarks about, like, bring it on and we're going to get all of you?
JOULWAN: I didn't hear that today. I heard that earlier by the president. I don't agree with those sort of statements. I think what we need to do now is really come up with the a strategy. I did not hear the president's statement today with those sort of words. I thought what he was talking about today was very direct in terms of the U.N. and the actions taken against it.
KING: Stroughburg, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. When is the rest of the world going to come on board and take a stand, because this attacks the whole world, not just only the United States. Is the rest of the world a bunch of cowards.
Don't they have the stamina to stand up to the plate and help, like their supposed to do?
WRIGHT: Well, one of the most interesting things will to be watch over the next few weeks whether the international community actually agrees to deploy troops and not insist on a new U.N. resolution as India has and some of our European allies have. That's a critical question.
KING: Fayetteville, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Yes, I am calling if we say we're going to be resolution and we're not over there fighting, why doesn't he send in more troops?
JOULWAN: I believe that's being looked at right now. I think that is part of this reassessment that I talk about. You must establish control of the country. You must create a secure environment. And if that takes more troops, then so be it. We have got to be able to do it. But those troops don't have to be all Americans, Larry. We have to internationalize this. Bring NATO, 46 nations in the partnership for peace. We need a broader coalition here than what we have right now and I believe that's going to be worked on in the future.
KING: Jane Arraf, what do you think?
ARRAF: It is certainly would help if there were more international troops here. The perception has been that the United States has discouraged that in a way that many countries would need that U.N. approval to be able to send troops here. Now, one of the striking things is, well, there is very little Arab participation here. There on a political level, on a military, there are few Muslim countries that are really stepping up to the plate if you will. There are a lot of reasons for that. One is that they are reluctant to be seen as participating in an occupation of this country, and it is a huge problem. We cannot deny there is a huge cultural gap between the American soldiers and the Iraqis they deal with. As one person said to me, they don't understand us and we don't understand them and it is a very big problem.
KING: Somerset, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I just wanted to say, I have a daughter in Baghdad. She's in the army. And it appears to me my opinion, the Iraqis don't want us over there.
Why are we still over there?
KING: Did she say that to you, caller?
KING: Your daughter said that to you, she feels they're not wanted there.
CALLER: They're not wanted there.
SOLOWAY: Why are they still there?
Well, obviously there is U.S. -- the president and the government inside there is a U.S. national interest in being here. You can argue on what that is, to liberate the Iraqis, oil price stability, whatever, since we haven't found weapons of mass destruction at this point. But I think there is a lot of sort of basic hostility and frustration with the American troops here. Her daughter probably experiences that on a daily basis. But, again, underlying that is again, I think, more than anything a frustration with the American troops rather than necessarily a hostility towards America. I mean, from the face of the American troops, most Iraqi see tends to be a guy sitting at checkpoints, yelling at them, giving them orders, driving around, pointing guns at them. And at the same time not really providing a whole great deal of security for them. So, it is extremely frustrating. At the same time, I know there are a lot of American troops here who actually have a very good relationship with the Iraqis that they work with and they like it.
I've been surprised seeing young combat soldiers who arrived here after the war who are saying, you know, wow, I want to get out of the army and come back here this place is great. It depends on your experience. But, again, I don't think the hostility level is basically to the face of what they see as kind of an impersonal uncaring sort of military force occupying their city. I think the more results people see from the U.S. military and from the CPA, the better that relationship is going to be.
KING: We'll be back with more in our remaining moments with our panel after this. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iraqi people face a challenge and they face a choice. The terrorists want to return to the days of torture chambers and mass graves. The Iraqis who want peace and freedom must reject them and fight terror. And the United States and many in the world will there be to help them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Another shot of sunrise in Baghdad. And we go to Chaparral, New Mexico. Hello.
CALLER: Hello there. Larry King, I really appreciate your program and I want to say hi to your guests.
KING: Thank you. What's the question?
CALLER: OK. My question is is this, when our troops are there, they were supposedly security outside and security inside. How are we going to be able to protect the people from this happening again?
KING: All right. You want to take that, Robin?
WRIGHT: I don't think we can protect that from happening again. Unfortunately I think we're beginning to see a pattern. And the problem for American troops is probably going to be having to more and more protect themselves. This happened in Lebanon, when the Marines came under suicide attack. They ended up changing their mission to a great deal, and that's the danger for American troops, that it's not just trying to engage in the kind of stabilization that Iraq needs, but they have to protect their -- themselves and other international groups that are participating with the coalition.
JOULWAN: The United States has responsibility on the ground for security now. And I think creating this secure environment is a mission for the United States military. I've said often, we can bring about an absence of war, but only the civilian agencies can bring about peace. And so how do we win the peace? And that's going to require a secure environment for all those agencies that Sergio de Mello and others represent to go out there and develop the sort of organizations to help win that peace. That's going to take U.S. military providing that secure environment.
KING: Tampa, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Good night. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in your program. My heart goes out to all the families of the people being hurt today. My question goes to the panel, in regards to what plan does the United States really have to actually protect the people that are trying to restore peace in Iraq?
KING: Do we have, Jane -- do we have a well laid out plan of protection here?
ARRAF: No, there haven't been a lot of plans for a lot of anything. I believe the question was what plans does the U.S. have to protect people in Iraq. Is that correct?
ARRAF: If that is the question, they've made very clear that they cannot ensure security for everyone in Iraq. And as was pointed out, that it is up to Iraqis themselves to maintain a secure environment. The problem is that after the war, they're essentially reinventing and rebuilding this country. The war created a vacuum of almost every structure that existed here before that had been built up over the past 35 years. So what there has been is an absence of almost everything. With one sweep of a pen, the army was dismantled, security services were dismantled. It was felt that was needed to create a new Iraq. But the effect that had meant that there is hardly anything on the ground apart from U.S. soldiers to be able to protect anything. And there simply aren't enough soldiers.
KING: And Robin, finally, is the Mideast peace in big trouble after the bombing in Jerusalem today?
WRIGHT: I think so. The -- there has been a kind of tentative compromise of what to do with the Islamic groups and to give them a chance -- to give the Palestinians a chance to disarm them, but perhaps not force them to dismantle completely.
And now I think the Israelis are going to play hardball. I think one of the -- the United States faces three critical challenges in the next year. A year from now, we're supposed to have elections in Iraq, a year from now, elections in Afghanistan to create the first permanent post-Taliban government, and you have the scheduled transition to a temporary Palestinian state by the end of this year. These are three extraordinarily tough mandates, and it is going to be very difficult, I think, for the United States to pull all three off without, you know, more trouble.
KING: Thank you all very much. And General, we hope you're in good health. We thank you very much for coming back with us.
JOULWAN: Thank you very much, Larry. A pleasure.
KING: General George Joulwan is the former NATO supreme allied commander. Robin Wright is chief diplomatic correspondent for "The L.A. Times." Colin Soloway is correspondent for "Newsweek." And Jane Arraf is CNN's Baghdad bureau chief.
I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow right after this.
KING: Tomorrow night, we'll revisit the trial of the infamous Menendez brothers, a case that riveted the world. That's tomorrow evening. Right now, of course, it's time to turn our attention to New York, and who's in New York but our man Aaron Brown, and what show is it, it's NEWSNIGHT. And it's kind of an appointment viewing. So there he is. I like the tie, I like the look. I like you, Aaron, and I like your program.
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