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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

What Kind of Plans Does White House Envision for Iraq?

Aired February 25, 2003 - 08:18   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: While the world considers the prospect of war with Iraq, the Bush administration is already making plans for what would happen after such a war. What kind of plans does the White House envision for Iraq once Saddam Hussein is pulled out of the picture?
Joining us now from Washington to talk about that and some other things, our military analyst, General Wesley Clark.

Good morning.

Thanks for joining us this morning.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Good morning, Paula.

ZAHN: How dangerous do you think the rebuilding process would be if the U.S. ends up going to war?

CLARK: I think it's going to be difficult and complicated. How dangerous depends partly on the conditions under which we go in. But clearly al Qaeda will be there and they will be trying to stir up opposition to the United States as we rebuild.

ZAHN: When you say al Qaeda will be there, be where?

CLARK: Inside Iraq.

ZAHN: So are you subscribing to the view that the administration is sharing with the American public that there are, indeed, strong ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?

CLARK: Not necessarily now. But in the aftermath, as the humanitarian situation flares into the open, as these Islamic charities come in, both from Iran and from Saudi Arabia, we know from our previous experience in dealing with them that they are, in many cases, fronts for radical recruiting efforts.

ZAHN: And what do you think they would be capable of doing in the aftermath of a war?

CLARK: I think there will be a lot of tensions inside Iraq and I think that we will be welcomed very warmly at the outset but afterwards, as these tensions begin to assert themselves, it'll be convenient for many different groups to look on us as the source of their problems rather than the solution. And I think our troops will be at some risk there. ZAHN: What kind of risks are you talking about?

CLARK: The kinds of risks from assassination attempts and shootings and so forth that already we're taking precautions against in Kuwait.

ZAHN: And how would U.S. forces, along with any help they might get from friendly allies, protect themselves from that?

CLARK: Well, we're going to have to take the normal or maybe even extraordinary security precautions in the aftermath. When we first go in there, we're going to want to make sure that the humanitarian assistance is distributed. We're going to put people in with the Iraqi government to try to get control of its treasury and to see where the funds have been going. We're going to cut off the payments to countries that have been providing illegal weapons. We're going to try to divert the oil revenues to the benefit of the Iraqi people and help establish some kind of a government that will bring security, stability and humanitarian assistance to the people.

But then as the days go on and as other groups become involved, we will also have to be concerned about the security of our own forces. We'll be careful where we bivouac. We'll be careful how we move. We'll have our contacts the local agencies. We'll be looking for the threats against Americans and it'll be the normal sorts of security precautions that you would expect.

I think it'll be more difficult there than, let's say, it was in a place like Kosovo.

ZAHN: In closing, can we talk Turkey here?

CLARK: We can.

ZAHN: You have a piece in the "Wall Street Journal" this morning that questions what exactly the U.S. promised in exchange for access to its territory for any war on Iraq. You write, "What exactly did we buy from Turkey, war time access at the cost of significant post-war complications?"

What sort of complications are you talking about?

CLARK: The Turks have vital interests in northern Iraq from their perception. They don't want an independent Kurdistan. They don't want an infiltration of Kurdish forces or guerrillas back into Turkey. And at the same time, the Kurds have their own interests. And so what we've got are two neighbors that are poised for a struggle and a clash. And it looks like, based on the scanty information available to the public, that what we've done is we've gotten an agreement to enter northern Iraq through Turkey, but that will bring some Turkish forces with us to establish a sort of protective zone in the north, to prevent refugees from coming in and that the Turks will take a very active interest in the disarmament of Kurdish groups and who controls the Kirkuk fields and what the policies are of the post- Saddam government.

And all of these will generate friction with the Kurdish minority.

ZAHN: General Wesley Clark, as always, good of you to join us.

CLARK: Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate your time this morning.

Also coming up a little bit later on this hour, an exclusive from our Kyra Phillips. A behind-the-scenes look at special ops forces at Fort Bragg training for urban combat, something U.S. troops could face in an invasion with Iraq.

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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