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Has Bush Done Enough to Convince You War is Only Solution?

Aired October 14, 2002 - 12:34   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Public support for an attack on Iraq remains steady. According to the latest "Newsweek" magazine poll, 66 percent of those questioned favor an attack on Iraq. That's up if from 63 percent two weeks ago. But 89 percent say it's important to get support from European allies, 89 percent also say they want any military strike to come with United Nations backing.
Has President Bush done enough to convince you that war is the only solution to this conflict, or is he better off focusing on domestic concerns right now? The debate is a strong one. We're joined now by two guests, the syndicated radio talk show Armstrong Williams. He's here in Washington, and by the investigative reporter Peter Noel. He's in New York. Thank you for both of you joining us.

Peter, you're not convinced that there is no alternative right now but to use muscle in dealing with Saddam Hussein. Why?

PETER NOEL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Look, we've been scammed, we've been shim-shammed, we've been flim-flamed on this issue by the president. No evidence that Saddam Hussein has these weapons of mass destruction. No one has been able to discover anything.

I believe the president right now should be focusing on finding this terrorist who is terrorizing our lives. We can't pump gas. We can't mow our lawns. We can't sit down and have coffee. You know, what is going on in this country? The president is totally missing the point. He should be jumping on his helicopter, and going to the District of Columbia and finding out, talking to the people, and showing them, we have this thing covered, we'll find this guy.

BLITZER: What about that, Armstrong?

ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, the president has let it be known since January of this year that Saddam Hussein was a threat, he talked about the axis of evil, along with North Korea, and Iraq and others. You know, many people have opinions on this, but as you just have shown, 66 percent of the American people would like for the president to go forward. I think the president has done a very good job trying to rally the United Nations and also European support, and he also slowed down here to get the Senate on board. They wanted to debate the issue, the issue was debated, and he got approval from both houses.

The longer we allow Saddam Hussein to continue to be the bully that he is, the more we are threatened. I do believe that this administration through its intelligence sources have solid evidence with this intelligence community to let us know that Saddam Hussein is trying to develop nuclear power. I think president is focusing on economy and other issues that are important to us. I think he is focusing on this sniper.

BLITZER: Peter, let me bring you back into this. Don't you think the United States government, the huge apparatus of the Bush administration, is capable of doing many things at the same time, fighting a war on terrorism, dealing with economic issues and also planning for the possibility of war with Iraq at the same time?

NOEL: No, no, Wolf, you can't walk and chew gum at the same time at this time. Let's fight the war at home. Let's fight this domestic terrorist. Let's fight issues of the economy. Let's deal with that first. And I believe right -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we are talking about the 66 percent. Who are the 66%? It does not represent all of America? People are not concerned about war. People don't want to go war right now. Let's go to war on the economy. Let's go to war about prescription drugs, schools, different things.


BLITZER: All right, Armstrong, I want to bring you back in, I have an e-mail that we got. I want to read it to you, see if you can handle this one. "Iraq has willingly agreed to U.N. weapons inspections. The U.S. should not stand in the way of that. Bush is the one who is trying to stop the inspections, not Saddam Hussein."

What do you say to Steve?

WILLIAMS: I'm sure he means well, but he's misinformed. It's just rhetoric. We've heard this for the last several years. At one point, you can not inspect my palaces, and now you can inspect my palaces, and no, you have got to limit your inspection here. I mean, it's just rhetoric, he's stalling for more time, and we don't know why he's stalling. I find it baffling that Mr. Noel would consider the president, with all his cabinet officials which independently run their departments that this president cannot focus on many issues.

You're talking about your well being. Where were you on 09/11? Were you in New York on 9/11? Did you see what happened in Bali over the weekend? These people are serious. We need to take action, and action is now.

NOEL: I live in New York. I live in New York City.

WILLIAMS: That's what I assume you do.

Where with were you?

NOEL: I was right there in the thick of things when the buildings came down? Where were you?

WILLIAMS: I was in D.C. in the thick of things.

NOEL: New Yorkers are really concerned about health, they are concerned about the economy, and that's what they are concerned about.

WILLIAMS: How many issues can you focus on?

NOEL: They're concerned about a madman roaming the country, and we don't want to it come here. Fight (ph) and find this guy.

BLITZER: Peter, let me read this e-mail. We've got an e-mail for you from Otto in Montreal, who says, "The removal of Saddam is the first step in paralyzing the terrorists and their organizations. For the sake of international security, the U.S. should act now. Inaction will bring grave consequences."

What's wrong with Otto's way of thinking?

NOEL: It's a gung-ho thing, let's go get him, let's send our boys and girls across there to die, we don't care -- it's all about protecting oil. This is all about George Bush trying to avenge what Saddam Hussein allegedly tried to do to his daddy. Saddam Hussein does not like my daddy, tried to kill my daddy. So we're going to send our sons and daughters to protect his daddy. It's not going to happen.

BLITZER: Armstrong, we've got another e-mail for you. Let's pick it up over here. This from John in Memphis. "The majority of Americans do not want to go to war with Iraq. Why then did our lawmakers vote in favor of this horrendous measure that allows the president to attack? We have lost our system of checks and balances."

Lopsided three to one margins in Senate and the House, in favor of giving the president the authority he sought, Armstrong. What do you say to John in Memphis?

WILLIAMS: Most of us would prefer not to go to war, not lose any more sons and daughters. We know what war can do. But this Congress has realized, along with Britain and Australia and many of our other allies, at this point, we cannot be isolationist, we cannot not act now. Remember what happened in World War II when we decided not to attack Adolf Hitler? I mean, he continued to wreak havoc around the globe.

We can not allow that. We don't know the consequences on our soil and other foreign soil around the country. It's a very complex issue, you have to trust your president and his advisers, believe me, this is a tough decision, but in tough times, we need tough leaders, and the president is very adamant about this, he's showing leadership, the American people trust and respect him, and we have to believe the president, whether we like it or not. This is not a time to be a naysayer; this is a time to be an American and support our president.

BLITZER: We thank you both for sounding off on our segment just now. We'll have both of you back. Obviously, this debate is not going away.



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