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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Bush Reasserts U.S. Can Preemptively Attack Any Country; U.S. Initiates New Bombing Campaign In Iraq; Americans Weary Of War; Chinese Human Smuggling; Latin American Military Officers Now Receive Training From Chinese Government; Francis Fukuyama Interview; Juan Hernandez Interview; Senate Voted Today To Raise Debt Ceiling To Nearly $9 Trillion

Aired March 16, 2006 - 18:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, U.S. troops have launched the biggest helicopter assault in Iraq in three years. This assault comes as new opinion polls show American support for the war plummeting. We'll have complete coverage.
The Bush White House today asserting the United States will launch preemptive strikes against enemies of the United States if necessary, but the administration's strategy fails to give any details on how to confront Iran and other potential enemies. We're live at the White House with the latest.

And tonight, has U.S. policy in Iraq failed? My guest, one of the country's leading authorities on international affairs, Francis Fukuyama, he will tell us why he turned from being a strong supporter of war to one now of its biggest critics.

Also tonight, what could be one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world, smuggling Chinese illegal aliens into this country, now a $10 billion a year business. We'll have that special report.

And I'll be talking with a former member of the Mexican government cabinet, Juan Hernandez. He will be here to tell us why Mexican illegal immigration into this country is not an issue for Mexico. I assure you, I will argue with him that it is.

All of that and a great deal more coming up here. But we begin tonight with the Middle East and today's polls showing public support for the war in Iraq plunging. The White House today unveiled a new national security strategy, again establishing a U.S. policy of preemptive strike and placing Iran at the top of the list of threats.

In Iraq, parliament today adjourned after 30 minutes. They failed to select a new government. In Samara, north of Baghdad, the United States launched the biggest air operation since the beginning of the war nearly three years ago. The operation coincides with rising fears in some quarters that Iraq is on the verge of civil war. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon will report on the massive air assault.

Elaine Quijano from the White House will report on the Bush administration's response to rising public concern about the conduct of this war. Ed Henry on Capitol Hill reporting on Republican efforts to maintain a united front on the conduct of this war.

We turn first to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Lou, a major military offensive to go after insurgents, but also to showcase those Iraqi security forces.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): The Pentagon provided this first video of Operation Swarmer, 1,500 troops, U.S. and Iraqis, moving into a 10- square mile area north of Samara, led by the 101st Airborne Division, it was billed as the largest air assault mission since the invasion of Iraq. Iraqi intelligence had a number of tips showing insurgent activity in the area, some activity including foreign fighters.

The coalition did not take U.S. media on this mission, but took great pains to discuss what Iraqi security forces were doing.

MAJ. TOM BRYANT, U.S. ARMY: It was absolutely a jointly planned mission, just as it was a jointly executed mission. The Iraqis -- as I mentioned earlier, the Iraqi forces, their intel, their tips are really what drove this operation.

STARR: But it's not clear what impact this one mission will have on the sectarian violence in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. Sectarian attacks against civilians are up 65 percent in one week according to the U.S. military. In addition to the 650 U.S. troops now moving into Baghdad from Kuwait, more than 3,000 U.S. and Iraqi forces are moving from other areas of the country into the Baghdad region to attempt to control the violence.

Still, the top commanders saying the only solution, a new Iraqi unity government.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, CENTCOM: I think that Iraq remains a long way from civil war. I think that the sectarian tensions in the country are higher than I have seen since we started this endeavor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Lou, it is still the man they cannot find, Abu Musab al- Zarqawi and fighters who are loyal to him that the U.S. believes is behind much of the recent increase in violence -- Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, reconcile, if you can, the statement by General Abizaid, that sectarian violence is at a level that he has ever seen since he has been put in charge of the operations there, and the fact that he thinks that Iraq is a long ways from civil war.

STARR: What military commanders are talking, Lou, is perhaps what you and I might consider a technical definition. Civil war, by definition of the military, is the breakdown of government, the breakdown of security structures. Iraq, by their definition, still has that. They say that 14 of the 18 provinces are relatively peaceful for Iraq. But clearly, Lou, in these places where the violence is on the upswing, 65 percent in one week, it is terrible news for Iraqi civilians. They are suffering greatly.

DOBBS: Barbara Starr from the Pentagon, thank you.

A new opinion poll today shows Americans becoming more pessimistic about the progress of this war. The CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll says the number of people who believe things are going badly in Iraq has now risen to 60 percent over the past two months. Our poll also shows only 22 percent believe the United States is certain to win the war in Iraq, compared with almost 70 percent three years ago.

The White House today insisted the air assault in Iraq has nothing to do with the president's efforts to win support for his conduct of the war. At the same time, the Bush administration unveiled a new national security strategy that reaffirmed U.S. willingness to launch preemptive strikes against potential enemies.

Elaine Quijano reports from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly three years after the Iraq war began, a reminder that the U.S. military's mission there continues. Thursday's air assault near Samara comes just as President Bush is engaged in a renewed push to turn around falling public opinion on Iraq.

The White House dismissed any suggestion that the assault or the military's effort to publicize it was tied to coincide with this latest PR campaign, saying the president's authorization wasn't required.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He knows about the operation, he has been briefed on it. But this is a decision that is made by commanders who are in the best position to make the tactical decisions about the operations that are undertaken.

QUIJANO: The White House also released its updated nation security strategy, emphasizing worldwide democracy as the best defense for America. The plan says the U.S. will strive to use diplomacy first, but does not back away from the doctrine of preemption, saying, quote, "to forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense."

The national security adviser defended the doctrine.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And the president believes that we must remember the clearest lesson of September 11th, that the United States of America must confront threats before they fully materialize.

(END VIDEOTAPE) QUIJANO: But some say that staunch defense of preemption ignores the lesson of acting on bad intelligence on WMDs in Iraq. The administration officials insist they have learned that lesson. They also argue that Iraq is not a preemptive war, because, they say, 12 years of diplomacy preceded the U.S.-led invasion -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Elaine Quijano from the White House.

The Bush administration's new national security strategy reiterates the right of preemptive strike and it identifies Iran as the most dangerous threat to this country. But for all the administration's tough words, the White House has failed to give any specifics about what the United States would do were diplomacy to fail.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran is the highest ranked threat to the United States, the new national security strategy update reads: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran." Just last week, Condoleezza Rice came out using harsh language against Iran for supporting terrorism, and used the same phrase on her trip to Australia this week.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: It also, of course, is involved -- sort of central banker of terrorism.

PILGRIM: But what language can stop the activities described in the national security report? "The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism, threatens Israel, seeks to thwart Middle East peace, disrupts democracy in Iraq, and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom."

Iran today said it was willing to hold talks with the United States about Iraq, but a State Department spokesman said Iran's call for talks is no substitute for real action.

ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: We've made very clear on any number of occasions what our concerns are, what the problems are, what they need to do. And we look for actions.

PILGRIM: U.S. policy, for the moment, is all talk and no action on Iran. The United Nations this week is deciding exactly what language to use in denouncing Iran's activities.

When asked last week in a congressional hearing about military action, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was clear.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I know of no plans to attack Iran, if that's the thrust of the question.

PILGRIM: And the recommended action in today's national security report vaguely reads: "In the interim, we will continue to take all necessary measures to protect our national and economic security against the adverse effects of their bad conduct."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, the Security Council is now working out language to demand Iran return to negotiations over its nuclear program. The United States trying to step up pressure against Iran with the threat of penalties, but few other nations show any willingness to go that far -- Lou.

DOBBS: And we should be certainly clear, Kitty, that there is no certainty at all that the United Nations Security Council will denounce, in any way, Iran's nuclear ambitions. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Still ahead here, General David Grange will share his expert view on Operation Swarmer, the major new U.S. offensive in Iraq, the largest air operation since the onset of the war in Iraq three years ago.

Also, communist China is expanding its military reach in this hemisphere. And U.S. law is permitting China to do so. We'll tell you about that in a special report coming up next.

And liberals blasting liberals. Why George Clooney and Arianna Huffington are coming to blows over the Internet. We'll have that story and a great deal more. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Bush administration is making a determined effort to make sure the congressional Republicans remain united behind the president's policy on the war on Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to Capitol Hill. He briefed lawmakers who are worried that the war and the president's sagging poll numbers could damage their prospects in the upcoming midterm elections.

Ed Henry reports from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the U.S. military launched its largest air assault in Iraq since 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld huddled behind closed doors with House Republicans to ramp up administration public relations efforts.

But Rumsfeld was in no mood for a question about whether it would have helped to reach out to lawmakers earlier in the war.

RUMSFELD: That question reflects a monumental lack of knowledge. I come up to the Hill and meet with congressmen and senators every period of weeks.

HENRY: Pressed on the fact members in both parties privately say Rumsfeld meets with them, but doesn't always listens to them, he dismissed the critical lawmakers.

RUMSFELD: There are 535, you can find someone who will say anything.

HENRY: Despite private concerns about the war and the midterm elections, Republicans are publicly sticking with the president.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MAJORITY LEADER: Beyond the hotspots -- the three or four hotspots in Iraq, the rest of the country is becoming more prosperous. There are more kids in school in Iraq than any time in their history. Their economy is beginning to come back. And so, there's a lot of good news there.

HENRY: But Democrats pounced on news of the new air offensive.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The fact that it was necessary shows you the failure to-date on the part of the policy of this administration.

HENRY: But some Democrats fear a backlash from Senator Russ Feingold's move to censure the president over the NSA domestic surveillance program.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Many in my caucus don't want to talk about this because, rightly, they want to point out the Bush administration's failures with regard to national security and how we could do better. What I think some of my colleagues are missing is that this actually fits in perfectly with this.

HENRY (on camera): But Republicans are painting Feingold's move as an overreach, noting that he also tried to block renewal of the Patriot Act. John Boehner said he is starting to wonder if Feingold is more interested in the safety and security of terrorists than in the safety of Americans.

Ed Henry, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Joining me now to assess Operation Swarmer and U.S. strategy in Iraq, General David Grange.

General, the timing of this operation, given that the war in Iraq started just about three days from now three years ago.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think the ground commander will tell us, Lou, that the timing was because they had good intelligence. They knew that the insurgents and terrorists were building up in this area for some time. And they wanted to take the momentum away from the enemy and take it back into the friendly side.

And that the Iraqi army actually had forces trained to this level of competency at this time to execute. A little bit, maybe, of Iraqi politics, but I think that's about it.

DOBBS: A little bit of Iraqi politics on a day when the Iraqi parliament adjourned just about 30 minutes without forming a government. These -- the timing, again, perhaps symbolic, perhaps political interest in moving the timing in Iraq. How will we judge the success of Operation Swarmer?

GRANGE: Well, one level, of course, is going to be how well the Iraqi military and the U.S. military operate together with this complex operation. The other is that they gain support from the people in this area to provide support to the Iraqi government and not the insurgent forces, and then also to preempt bomb-makers, materiel that's used on the streets against our forces and others where we react to it instead of taking it out early.

So I think those are some measures of success that can be measured.

DOBBS: Do you see this as a change or an aberration in what has been deemed U.S. strategy, that is, to move to the rear echelon, if you will, and move Iraqi security forward?

GRANGE: I believe that the U.S. forces will move out of the spotlight as much as possible. And I think this demonstrates, and I've had much information lately, especially the other day at Ft. Benning, about how well these military units are now performing in Iraq, that you want the Iraqi forces out there with the people as much as possible.

The air assaults themselves, Lou, that happen all the time over there, this just happens to be one larger than the others.

DOBBS: And the fact that we're adding, in this case, elements of the 101st, more troops rather than a drawdown, is this a signal, despite what the Pentagon says, that we can expect to see that drawdown limited in the months ahead and, in fact, raise the possibility that we could see more of our troops moving toward Iraq rather than away from it?

GRANGE: Lou, I believe you're going to see a combination of both. As conditions demand, more troops of a certain type, you'll see an increase. You'll also see a decrease as opportunities provide themselves to redeploy our forces back home. And it's going to go back and forth for some time.

DOBBS: General David Grange, good to have you here today.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Still ahead, indentured slavery thriving in this country. We'll have a special report in a trade with China and human beings.

And a new war in cyberspace. Liberals come out fighting one another. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, two of the most prominent figures on the liberal left are trading shots in cyberspace. George Clooney and Arianna Huffington are feuding over what appeared to be a Clooney blog posting that blasted liberals this week.

Louise Schiavone has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a media dust-up that could only occur in the 21st Century. Big movie star George Clooney, irate over a posting attributed to him on an Internet blog. People who know Clooney because of his Aunt Rosemary don't even know what a blog is. Clooney is saying he was quoted out of context on an Internet Web site hosted by political commentator Arianna Huffington.

In the posting attributed to him, replete with profanities, Clooney lashes out at Democrats for going along with the invasion of Iraq out of fear of being labeled unpatriotic.

Post posting, Clooney issued this statement, quote: "Miss (sic) Huffington's blog is purposefully misleading... with my permission, Miss Huffington compiled it from interviews with Larry King and The Guardian. These are not my writings -- they are answers to questions and there is a huge difference," end quote.

The blog does not appear to be a precise representation of quotes from Clooney's interview on CNN last month. He did say this.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR, FILMMAKER: We have to agree on the idea that we're allowed to question authority. We have to agree on the idea that that's not unpatriotic, and I think most people do.

SCHIAVONE: But almost anything goes on the Internet. And what's printed in a blog is not the same as classic journalism, a disappointment, no doubt, for the man who conceived of "Good Night and Good Luck," a movie set in the early glory days of broadcast journalism.

For her part, Huffington, on her Web site, explained that her people had drafted a sample posting from Clooney based on things he had said in the media, sent it to Clooney's publicist and asked if he would allow it to be posted. Quote: "Three days later, she," the publicist, "e-mailed again, approving without any changes what we had sent... and once we had the approval, that's what we ran."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE: Lou, there's a lesson in here somewhere now, far be it from us to tell a big Hollywood star and a political commentator what it is. But if one were to venture a conclusion, it might be, be careful of what you say, because sometimes people are actually paying attention -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I don't think it's all that bad to, you know, get it out there. As George Clooney said, going after authority, whether it's blog postings or actors or whatever, not a bad idea. Arianna Huffington will...

SCHIAVONE: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: ... be thrilled with that remark, I'm sure.

(LAUGHTER)

DOBBS: Louise, thank you very much, Louise Schiavone.

SCHIAVONE: Thank you.

DOBBS: In tonight's poll, tell us, do you believe that there's a meaningful difference between Republican and Democratic parties that represent us now in Washington? Yes or no. Cast your vote on loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Take a look now at some of your thoughts. Don in Georgia wrote in to point out something that we just had to share with you, in fact, we sent a camera crew to show you exactly what our viewer was writing about.

Don wrote to say this: "Lou, I was driving by the Mexican consulate in Atlanta the other day and couldn't help but notice that they've installed a series of "no trespassing" signs along the front of the consulate grounds. Highly ironic, isn't it? Mexican officials obviously want to have some say in who enters their property, but actively promote illegal entry into our country."

Don, thanks for sharing. We appreciate it. And ironic, indeed.

Ken in Florida said: "Dear Lou, instead of subsidizing employers who hire illegal immigrants, why don't we just send the money to their home country and tell them to stay home? It would save Congress a lot of trouble passing a bill. And lord knows they need a break."

And T. Petrie in New Jersey said: "Dear Lou, I hope when some of our pandering politicians watch these illegal alien rallies, they remember just one thing. Americans vote, illegal aliens don't."

Are you really so sure about that, T.? Think about it.

Donna in Iowa: "Lou, I can't help but believe the ports and borders are going to be so much safer now that Americans will need a passport to get in and the rest can sneak in with our apparent blessings."

Angel in Georgia: "Mr. Dobbs, from a legal immigrant, thank you for your reporting. The ludicrous position of the so-called activists supporting open borders is shameful and discriminatory."

Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. We'll have many more of them later here in the broadcast.

Up next, from Mainland China to the shores of New York, exploiting people desperate to get into this country. We'll have that special report.

And it was once considered America's backyard. Now, China is moving into in to South America and the United States government isn't doing a single thing about it. We'll have that story and one of the original war hawks withdrawing support for the Iraq war, I'll be talking with Francis Fukuyama here next, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: This just in to CNN. The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved $91.8 billion that is President Bush requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Gulf Coast hurricane relief. This emergency spending bill also includes language that bars Dubai Ports World from managing any facility at an American port. Several members of Congress insisted the ports language be included in this deal despite the public statement by DPW that it will sell those ports within the United States.

The woman found guilty of financing the deadly voyage of the Golden Venture more than a decade ago today was sentenced in New York City. Sister Ping, as she is known, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for financing the Golden Venture voyage and other human smuggling operations from China to this country.

During her sentencing, Sister Ping was called one of the most powerful and successful illegal alien smugglers in American history. The Golden Venture, filled with 300 illegal alien Chinese nationals, ran aground off New York City in 1993, 10 people drowned trying to make it to shore.

Chinese human smuggling operations into this country have only grown since the Golden Venture. It is now a multi-billion dollar a year business. Chinese nationals will do and pay just about anything to make it into the United States.

Christine Romans reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Indentured servitude is thriving in this country. Asian smugglers, called "snakeheads," charge up to $70,000 to bring a Chinese immigrant here illegally.

KO-LIN CHIN, RUTGERS SCHOOL OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: They know that once they got here to the United States, they will have no problem finding a job. And secondly, and that's the most important reason, and that is sooner or later, they were able to find a way to become U.S. citizens.

ROMANS: Professor Ko-Lin Chin has interviewed hundreds of smuggled Chinese immigrants and their snakeheads. Their families pay the bill and it takes six years of work, 70 hours a week to pay it back.

Once free of their own debt, they're expected to pay for their extended families, ensuring an endless cycle of smuggling. They come largely from Fujian Province, the majority by land. So common is the trip via Mexico, many Mexican smugglers, called coyotes, now speak Chinese. They also come by commercial air travel and by ship in dangerous shipping containers and they settle all over the country.

It's a $10 billion a year criminal enterprise with tens of thousands of willing participants. Once here, parents fulfill the dream of an American-born child, but can't work off their debt and care for them.

CHIN: A lot of these illegal immigrants are now sending their babies back to mainland China.

ROMANS: Dr. Henry Chung has studied this trend in New York City's Chinatown and says it's happening nationwide.

DR. HENRY CHUNG, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: All the parents report that they are doing this because they must work and that typical work schedules require a minimum six days a week, sometimes seven days a week at a stretch.

ROMANS: Once they pay off their debts, they bring their children back. There are 35 million people living in Fujian Province and the greatest accomplishment there is to have a family member smuggled into the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Once here, many file for asylum (ph), they have American-born children and frankly face little risk of being sent back. The Department of Homeland Security says China is, by far, the least cooperative country in taking back its own citizens. DHS says China refuses, Lou, to take back 39,000 Chinese nationals the Department of Homeland Security has identified must go.

DOBBS: And it's correct, that's the only country in the world that is refusing to take back its citizens, right?

ROMANS: At this point there are a couple of others, that the DHS won't say who they are, but that they're having trouble getting those to take them back too.

DOBBS: OK, Christine Romans, fascinating, thank you.

Also tonight, the United States is being forced to sit back and watch as Communist China expands its military foothold in this hemisphere. Latin American military officers are now receiving much of their training from the Chinese government. And because of U.S. law, the Pentagon is completely unable to challenge this growing threat to our national security in this hemisphere. Casey Wian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three years ago, the United States banned military aid to 11 Latin American nations. The reason they refused to exempt U.S. citizens working there from the jurisdiction of the international criminal court in The Hague.

But the policy has backfired and allowed Communist China's People Liberation Army to step in to the military void left by the United States. According to congressional testimony this week by General Bantz Craddock, leader of the U.S. Southern Command, Chinese military influence in Latin America is...

GEN. BANTZ CRADDOCK, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: ... widespread and growing every day. We see more and more that military commanders, officers, non-conventional officers, are going to China for education and training.

WIAN: Reportedly, China has already offered to sell anti- aircraft missiles to Bolivia, jet fighters and military radar to Venezuela, and satellite equipment with potential military capabilities to Brazil.

General Craddock also spoke of even more non-lethal Chinese military equipment going to Latin America. And of the lost opportunity to promote Democratic values in a region teaming with tenuous democracies. The ban on U.S. military aid is fueling anti- American sentiment in the region.

JULIA SWEIG, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The prohibition on military assistance in Latin America is seen by Latin Americans as U.S. hypocrisy. On the one hand, the United States wants Latin America to support the war on terror, to support the counter-drug effort. On the other hand, we're seen as hypocrites in order to redress this one narrow issue.

WIAN: Lawmakers are outraged.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: The Chinese are standing by and I can't think of anything that is worse than having those people go over there and get indoctrinated by them.

WIAN: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during her recent visit to Latin America that current U.S. policy on military aid there is the same as shooting ourselves on the foot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: So far the White House has not officially endorsed a policy change, but several lawmakers are not waiting and say they will introduce legislation restoring the U.S. military's ability to work with nations in its own backyard. Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.

DOBBS: Three lawmakers are taking their complaints about Communist China's predatory trade practices directly to Beijing. Senators Charles Schumer, Lindsey Graham, and Tom Coburn will be in China next week. There, they'll be discussing intellectual property theft and currency manipulation by the government of Communist China.

The Senate later this month is scheduled to consider slapping a 27 percent tariff on Chinese goods. That, say its supporters, would make up for the unfair advantage that China receives from its undervalued currency.

In Iraq today, coalition forces launched Operation Swarmer, the largest air assault since the war began almost three years ago. More than 1,500 troops supported by 50 helicopters and more than 200 vehicles moved into an area near Samarra, north of Baghdad. This coming as public optimism about the war continues to slip.

Our new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows 60 percent of Americans believe this war is going poorly. Francis Fukuyama is among those who are having second thoughts about this war. In her new book, "America at the Crossroads," he criticizes the war that he once supported. Francis Fukuyama joins me here in New York. Good to have you with us, Professor.

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, AUTHOR: Good to be here.

DOBBS: Let's talk about first the issue of the national strategic report today, coming just about four years after it was first drafted, reasserting the right of preemptive strikes. What's your reaction?

FUKUYAMA: Well, I think that policy began after September 11th, this idea that if you have undeterrable terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, you can't stop them, so you have to go out and get them. But it was applied to Iraq, which was not that problem.

It was a rogue state that could have been handled, I think, in very different ways. And the problem with this preemptive doctrine, is first of all, it requires that you actually predict the future and give them the intelligence that we had on Iraqi WMD, it doesn't give you a lot of confidence that we'll be able to do it well in the future.

DOBBS: As you say, the fundamental issue, if you're going to exercise a right of preemptive strategy, you better have 100 percent reliable intelligence. And the United States, obviously, still does not have anything approaching acceptable levels of intelligence.

FUKUYAMA: And you never will, because you're talking about intangible intentions on the parts of foreign governments that you don't really know terribly well.

So, I think that's why the great German statesman Bismarck said that preventive war is committing a suicide for fear of being killed. I mean, that's what it amounts to.

DOBBS: And you, after 9/11, joined with others in a letter saying that any effort, any strategy should include the regime change in Iraq. You changed your mind by 2002 on that issue...

FUKUYAMA: Yes.

DOBBS: ... in large measure. You're still, however, credited with supporting the war on Iraq as a neoconservative. What has led you to this reassessment to this new view? FUKUYAMA: Well, I think that prior to the war, I had a lot of doubts about whether we would actually be able to handle this. This was just looking back at American history. We're not good at nation building. We tend not to stick to these projects once we get in trouble.

The other thing was that there was a lot of ideas about benevolent hegemony and preventive war and the like that I think really put us in a very difficult situation with regard to the rest of the world, including a lot of our closest European allies.

DOBBS: What are the things you address in the intellectual framework as a neoconservative, and I wasn't too clear whether it's important to you to be considered a neoconservative or to consider yourself a neoconservative or if you, point of fact, reject the label all together.

FUKUYAMA: Well, look, I don't think the label is terribly important. One of the things I try to do in the book is explain that neoconservatives had a very rich and I think important intellectual legacy prior to the Iraq war.

One of the things that was a theme in the public interest, this was Irving Kristol's magazine that unfortunately shut down last year was the difficulty in domestic American social policy of doing basically social engineering, welfare, affirmative action, bussing, crime, all of these things were areas where the government really could not control outcomes.

DOBBS: Do you still, as the neoconservatives did, as we go back to the period specifically after September 11, leading up to the launch of the war on Iraq, do you intellectually, as a neoconservative would, still believe in regime change, unipolarity if you will, benevolent hegemony, the capacity to engineer perhaps not domestic -- and this is something I find fascinating. Neoconservatives who reject engineering domestically ...

FUKUYAMA: That's right.

DOBBS: ... have found great harmony with those who believe in nation building. To me, it's personally mind boggling, but reconcile it for us.

FUKUYAMA: Well, no, I mean, I think the part of that legacy that I think is important is the belief in the universality of human rights, democracy. I think that we actually have to worry about what happens inside other countries, how rulers treat their citizens.

But benevolent hegemony, you know -- there's this idea that the United States would be able -- you know, the United States spends as much on its military as the entire rest of the world put together, and we would use that margin of power to fix rogue states, WMD, terrorists and that everybody would applaud this basically. They would say this is legitimate because the United States has got better intentions and it's a virtuous country and it just didn't work that way. DOBBS: Francis Fukuyama, the book is "America at the Crossroads." And I think a fascinating book and a fascinating examination of thinking. And those who would criticize you for changing your thoughts and your mind over the course of four years aren't very thoughtful people. Most of us do some reconsideration along the way. Thank you very much for being here, Professor. Good to have you.

FUKUYAMA: Thank you very much.

DOBBS: Still ahead, who is afraid of Mexican immigrants? My next guest says Americans are. We'll be talking about that and more.

And the nation's debt -- a trillion here, a trillion there, the next you know, we're raising the debt ceiling. The Senate votes to borrow even more. We'll have that special report. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Illegal aliens receiving in-state college tuition in the state of Georgia may soon lose the privilege. A bill as just passed the Georgia State Senate that gives the State Board of Regents the power to set policy on illegal alien tuition.

And the Board of Regents says if illegal aliens cannot produce necessary documents, they will have to pay out of state tuition rates, a difference of more than $12,000. That bill is now headed to the House of Representatives in Georgia.

In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee today failed to finish work on a comprehensive U.S. immigration reform bill before next week's Congressional recess. Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he will introduce legislation himself, making certain that the Senate has a border security bill to debate when it returns on the 27th of March.

Senator Frist says this bill will focus mainly on border security. The Senate Judiciary Committee says it's making progress in its efforts to mark up the bill, but it has not been able to reach consensus on issues such as President Bush's so-called temporary guest worker program.

As Congress continues to debate this bill, Mexican President -- and this issue, Mexican President Fox says the border crisis is not his nation's problem. He's putting responsibility solely on Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. VICENTE FOX, MEXICO: ... with intelligence. Congress will decide what is best for United States, what is also good for our partnership, our relationship, our friendship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: My next guest is Juan Hernandez. He has served in the Vicente Fox cabinet. He also says the U.S. illegal alien crisis is not a Mexican issue. He's the author of a new book called "The New American Pioneers, Why Are We Afraid Of Mexican Immigrants?" He joins us tonight from Washington, D.C. Juan, good to have you with us.

JUAN HERNANDEZ, "THE NEW AMERICAN PIONEERS": Thank you, my friend. It's great to be here.

DOBBS: You really think Americans are afraid of Mexican immigrants?

HERNANDEZ: Well, I think that, and I'm sure that we have a ...

DOBBS: Be honest now. Be honest.

HERNANDEZ: Yes, we have a divided nation. We have a nation that on the one hand has a large group of people who are saying that after September 11th, we need to close our borders totally. There are people who are shooting at shadows and that see terrorists in everyone who is a foreigner.

And then we have another group that is saying exactly the opposite. If we close our borders totally and, if we became a different type of nation, then the terrorists will have won. And, obviously, I'm on the side of those who say let's work with Mexico, let's work with Canada, let's work with Central America so that we are a more secure America.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this and let me just put forward a syllogism to you that I didn't see evidenced in your book. But let me just try this. If you can't control your border, you can't control immigration. Would you agree with that?

HERNANDEZ: I think I know where you're headed. And I think I agree.

DOBBS: And if you can't control immigration, how in the world can you reform it?

HERNANDEZ: OK, that's a great question, but let me put it to you in just a little bit of a different way. I don't think that we need to build walls to control immigration. We are in the 21st century now. We are a country that has always broken down walls.

Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, bring down this wall." That's the America that I believe in. And by the way, most Americans, as you seen in the last polls, even in California recently, it's coming out now that most Americans favor the legalization of the undocumented people who are here now in the United States.

DOBBS: Juan, let me go back.

HERNANDEZ: Let's go back.

DOBBS: Before we get to the implementation and the execution, see if we can agree on this syllogism. If we cannot control our borders, we can't control immigration. If we can't control immigration, we can't reform it.

HERNANDEZ: I think I agree with you, except in the way that we control our borders.

DOBBS: OK, well, let's move to that.

HERNANDEZ: OK, let's move ahead then.

DOBBS: But first let's agree with the basically precepts here.

HERNANDEZ: Very good.

DOBBS: Now we're there. To reform immigration, we have to make a decision about a lot of things. But one of the things we have to decide is what we're going to do with the estimates that range as low as 11 million and the estimates that range as high as 20 million people who are in this country illegally, illegal aliens. What do we do?

HERNANDEZ: OK. First of all, most Americans would like to follow five-point criteria, very quickly. They want to make sure that none of the undocumented are criminals. And I think that's fair.

Number two, they want to make sure that these undocumented are not taking jobs from U.S. citizen -- fair -- that they pay Social Security and taxes, that they work on their English and that they pay a fine.

If that criteria is met -- and I think it is met by almost all the 12 million, let's say, undocumented, then I say let's document them. If they are "good citizens" in quotation marks, already of this nation, let's not criminalize them.

DOBBS: And not criminalizing them, not having any penalty whatsoever for crossing our borders, what does that say to the hundred million other Mexican citizens, to the millions of others in Central and South America and, as you know, nothing happens soon enough to prevent word moving across. What do you say?

HERNANDEZ: I understand, Lou. And now we have also the people coming from China in just dire situations. Nevertheless, if we are concerned about our security, we already have these 12 million people. Now, when Reagan passed amnesty -- and I'm not talking about an amnesty today -- he did not create a new program. Let's create a new program that's realistic for our needs in the United States.

DOBBS: Juan Hernandez, we thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.

HERNANDEZ: Thank you sir.

DOBBS: It's nice we agreed on at least the syllogism.

HERNANDEZ: We did agree on a couple of things.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. HERNANDEZ: You bet.

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with none other than Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. We're following today's top story, a major U.S.-led air assault in Iraq, the largest such operation since the war began. Can conventional warfare beat back insurgents and why did the Pentagon keep reporters from this operation? We're looking at all those questions and more.

And the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM joining us.

Plus, preemptive strikes. The White House lays out its national security strategy and puts North Korea and Iran on notice.

And President Bush at an all-time low in the polls. So why can't the Democrats get any traction? At least not yet? We're covering all sides of that story as well. Lou, much more coming up right at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.

And a reminder to vote in our poll tonight. The question: Do you believe that there's a meaningful difference between those Republicans and Democrats that Wolf was talking about and their respective parties, those who represent us in Washington? Yes or no? Cast your votes at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up in just a few minutes.

Also ahead, more of your thoughts and e-mails. And the Senate raises the roof on the nation's debt ceiling. We're deeper in debt than ever, and we owe most of it to foreign countries and companies. We're in a mess. We'll have that special report next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Senate voted today to raise the nation's debt ceiling to nearly $9 trillion. Earlier, the Senate blocked an amendment to look at the impact of foreign-held debt, even though most of the government's debt is held by foreign banks. Bill Tucker has the story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are numbers like one, two, three that you learn as a child. Those are easy. Then there are numbers that only a government could be responsible for, like 9 trillion -- dollars no less.

That's $28 million for every man, woman and child, enough to pay one year's tuition, room and board, at the University of Connecticut. And increasingly, foreign investors hold more and more of that debt, $2 trillion at last count. That's double what they held just five years ago. ROBERT BIXBY, CONCORD COALITION: The president mentioned our addiction to foreign oil, but we also have an addiction to foreign debt. We're going around the world with a tin cup, having to borrow to finance our own deficits.

TUCKER: Conduct hardly becoming a superpower. We now pay more in interest to foreign investors than we pay out in foreign aid.

The three top countries holding American debt: Japan, China and the United Kingdom. Last year, 96 percent of America's debt which was sold on financial markets was bought by foreign investors. They are not just buying American; they are buying America. The numbers are big. The solution, simple.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: The only way you can get our house in order, there's only a couple of simple ways. You've got to cut spending and you've got look at revenue and just match the revenue with the spending. And we're not doing that as a country, and we're, frankly, we're living on borrowed time.

TUCKER: And borrowed obligations.

Bill Tucker, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Stanford University taking a courageous step that will help low-income and middle-class students afford higher education. Stanford says it will virtually eliminate tuition for students from lower income families. Students whose families have an annual income of less than $60,000 will be paying less than $4,000 a year in tuition. Stanford says it can't afford to lose talented students because of rising college tuition.

Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll. More of your thoughts coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. You're closely divided on this one. Forty-nine percent of you say there is a meaningful difference between the Republican and Democratic parties representing us in Washington. More than half of you, 51 percent, say nope.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts. Lanny in Virginia said, "Lou, last night's show explained a lot. The Democrats' strategy, according to your guest Sheinkopf, is just to let the current administration keep making their many mistakes. Isn't there plenty of opportunity for the Democrats to actually come up with a proactive strategy that could really help this country? Seems like there's some available room."

Jack in Texas -- "Lou, you've got to admit that Bush is a multi- tasker. He can screw up several things at one time."

And David in Texas -- "One reason that Bush rates so low is that he and Congress are only concerned with those who have capital. I suggest that we officially recognize this policy, and, therefore, start using the term Capital Hill -- with an 'a."

Barbara in Florida -- "I'm getting tired of hearing that this administration, just 14 months into its second term, is tired. Why did they ever run in the first place if they lack the stamina, ideas and inspiration to go another four years?"

Tracy in Illinois -- 'Isn't it amazing how well Congress is listening to the voters? How long do you think this will last after the election?"

Great question.

And Linda in Alabama -- "Lou, you said that your comments last night would anger Republicans when I referred to the poll numbers as Nixonian. You were right. You know what they say, the truth hurts."

And Dave in Louisiana -- "Lou, hurry, get out of Washington. Immediately, before you get tainted."

We're home in New York. Thanks for worrying. So were we. Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. Each of you whose email is read here receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please joins us here tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins now -- Wolf.

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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