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Is It Possible For U.S. To Rebuild Iraq Without International Help?

Aired October 11, 2003 - 12:19   ET


RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: When it comes to Iraq itself, is it possible for Washington to rebuild the country without more international help? To talk about that, Nile Gardiner, in Washington, he's a visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Norman Solomon in San Francisco, he's author of the book, "Habits of Highly Deceptive Media," he's also with the Institute for Public Accuracy.
Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us today.


SAN MIGUEL: Let's get right to the point of Wolf Blitzer's package there. The shake-up that has gone on here, it used to be the military that was in charge of the reconstruction, now it's Condy Rice. Mr. Gardiner, the message that this sends to the rest of the world when the U.S. is asking for help with Iraq?

NILE GARDINER, FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, I think that debate is healthy within the Bush administration, but I think that there are a series of common goals to be pursued by the Bush administration.

As Dick Cheney mentioned yesterday, in a major speech in Washington, Iraq is now the central front in the war against terror. We are fighting a major battle against international terrorism in the country. The United States is appealing to the international community to join the battle against international terrorism this. It's in the interest of the entire world for Iraq to be a great success.

SAN MIGUEL: Mr. Solomon, doesn't it at least tell the rest of the world that the president is trying to get things in order and trying to -- you know, bring everybody's policies views in line?

SOLOMON: Well, it tells the rest of the world the president of the United States has contempt for the United Nations unless it bends to the will of the White House. I think it's preposterous for Dick Cheney or anybody else to claim that what the U.S. is doing in Iraq has anything to do with fighting terrorism. On the contrary, all the evidence is that there was no tie between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda or 9/11 and any influx of terrorist activity inside Iraq is the result of this war, rather than the war being a response to terrorism. So, I think what we're seeing is a rhetorical assault coming out again in the last day from Washington. But, Dick Cheney, I think, has lost so many credibility, given his claims before the war and the lack of weapons of mass destruction, now.

SAN MIGUEL: Mr. Gardiner, you heard Mr. Solomon mention the United Nations. Why even go to the United Nations at this point? I mean, there is no -- nobody is moving from their position, the French and Russians and the United States, in terms of how quickly to turn over power to the Iraqi governing counsel. Why even bother with the U.N. at this point?

GARDINER: Well, the United States did go the extra mile, once again, at the United Nations. Unfortunately the United Nations seems to be unwilling to take on any additional responsibility in terms of wider war against terrorism, in dealing with rogue states, proliferating weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. has become a sort of glorified debating society. It's now very difficult to get a new resolution passed through the U.N. because of opposition from countries such as France, Germany, Russia, these are nations that appeased the Saddam Hussein regime, who try to prevent regime change in Iraq. And, I believe the United States should move forward now and I believe that unless the U.S. can get a decent resolution, which is in the interest of the Iraqi people, the U.S. and the U.K. should walk away from the U.N.

SAN MIGUEL: And, Mr. Solomon, there...

SOLOMON: This is very typical of the line coming out of the White House. The Bush administration says that the United Nations is terrific unless it doesn't bend to the president's will, then they're just shirkers and should go to the dust bin of history. You know, I think it's quite ironic that the same day that Dick Cheney was launching this new rhetorical assault on the United Nations, which most Americans do want very much involved in Iraq, we had this huge demonstration, not just in some traditional Sunni areas, but in Saddar City, the former Saddam City in Baghdad, 10,000 people at a funeral basically turning that funeral of people killed by U.S. troops into a demonstration against the U.S. occupation. I think the fact is the U.S. has lost enormous credibility in Iraq in the last six months since the regime fell and it's time to let the U.N. go in and get the United States troops out.

SAN MIGUEL: But, does -- there the question here, Mr. Solomon, let me challenge you on that point, that the French are more involved -- more concerned about what is going on with their financial interests in that country -- in Iraq, than they are the orderly progression of power. The United States says, you know, a couple of months to turn over to Iraq is just way too soon, it wouldn't be ready for that yet.

SOLOMON: Yeah, well that's the argument of projection, in other words, in Washington, we hear that the French are interested in oil, for instance, as though the U.S. policy had nothing to do with 112 billion barrels of oil under the sand in Iraq. That's -- you know, not credible at all. I think more to the point is a statement quoted by the "New York Times" yesterday, senior Bush administration official, who wanted to remain unanimous, he said, quote, "the governing council is not seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people. They're not ready to take power," unquote. That's an extraordinary statement coming from the Bush team. Why are they making it now? Because, they're trying to argue that the United States government should make no commitment whatsoever to receding from total control over Iraq. I think that's a recipe for disaster

SAN MIGUEL: Mr. Gardiner, should the U.S. and the other countries that are -- that are involved in Iraq go ahead with the donor's conference in Spain later this month, if indeed, there is no Security Council agreement agreed upon?

GARDINER: Yes, I think the donor's conference should go ahead, but let's not forget, of course, the United Nations failed to enforce no less than 17 resolutions calling for Iraqi disarmament. This is a world body which lacks moral credibility. On the other hand, the United States and Great Britain, together with a coalition of 45 nations took action, liberated a people from Tierney, and this I think, is a great action history and I believe that history will look back favorably upon the actions of the U.S. and the U.K., at this time.

SAN MIGUEL: Gentlemen, we will leave it there, we'd like to talk more about this, but we are -- we run out of time.

Nile Gardiner with the Heritage Foundation, Norman Solomon, with the Institute for Public Accuracy, thank you both for being with us today.

SOLOMON: Thank you.

GARDINER: Thank you.


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