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What Is Solution To Iraq?

Aired November 23, 2003 - 18:12   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like 11 presidents before me, I believe in the international institutions and alliances that America helped to form and helps to lead.

The second pillar of peace and security in our world is the willingness of free nations. When the last resort arrives to retain aggression and evil by force.

The third pillar of security is our commitment to the global expansion of democracy. And the hope and progress it brings.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that was part of a speech President Bush delivered in London last week. He was reaching out to critics of his foreign policy.

Joining me now from Washington is Evo Daalder. He is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of "America Unbound." And Niles Gardener from the Heritage Foundation. Good afternoon to you, gentlemen.



LIN: Evo Dalder, let me ask you first and foremost, when you hear that portion of President Bush's speech, what is your reaction to that?

DAALDER: I guess twofold. One is the three pillars of security that the president was talking about in London aren't the three pillars of American foreign policy now for a good 60 years. The real question is, are Mr. Bush's words going to be translated into action and deeds, because so far at least, at least on the first pillar in particular, and we can argue on the third pillar, the first being commitment to international institutions and on the third a strategy to promote democracy abroad we have seen a lot of words in the last couple of weeks, but have seen very, very little when it comes to deeds.

LIN: In a way, President Bush continues to contradict himself. Do you see that is a pattern?

DAALDER: Well, I believe after what the president says is he's a man who says don't look at what I say, look at what I do. Well I do. When you look at what he has done with regard to international institutions, walking away from every treaty, whether it dealt with global warming or the international criminal court or the biological weapons convention what have you.

Or when it comes to Iraq, where he has not embraced international institutions, he's kept the U.N. at arm's length, he has not invited in NATO in order to help on the security situation, he's left the World Bank and International Monetary Fund outside, we see a president who believes that just because America is as powerful as it is today, it can do everything by itself. And the result is, frankly, we are now doing most of the things we need to do in Iraq alone at a time when we desperately need the kind of help that international institutions, friends and allies would otherwise offer.

LIN: Mr. Gardener, when President Bush talks about the use of force, it sounds like he's really saying it's a force for good.

GARDENER: I think this is a president with a very clear vision, a clear sense of direction. A president who follows through upon his promises. And I believe President Bush's speech showed real leadership on the world stage. It was a terrific speech, probably his finest foreign policy speech.

I believe the president made very clear his support for international institutions, including the United Nations, but he emphasized that if the U.N. and other institutions are not willing to enforce national security, are not willing to abide by their own resolutions, then the United States, great Britain and other members of the coalition will take action in order to deal with tyranny and threat posed by rogue regimes and terrorism.

LIN: Mr. Gardener, how do you explain to the American audience then the number of protests, the demonstrations, the opposition to President Bush, not only to his policies, but to him as a person?

GARDENER: Well, the protests in England were actually rather small, in fact. There were about 70 or 80,000 protesters, far fewer than the half million expected and many of those were certainly members of extremist organizations. By no means representative of the wide British public. In fact, opinion polls before the visit showed very clearly that a majority of Britains were in favor of the visit.

Certainly, there was widespread to the bush administration's policies across Europe. It's going to be hard, for example, win over people in France or Germany, but I do believe that the president's visit to London was very successful. I believe a clear majority of Britains back his policies, particularly on Iraq. Two-thirds of Britains are absolutely opposed from withdrawing forces from the country.

LIN: Mr. Daalder, do you expect to see President Bush's foreign policy evolve given the number of deaths, almost daily now, on the ground in Iraq, attacks against American forces and now increasing attacks against American forces in Afghanistan? DAALDER: Yes, I think we are seeing an evolution. In fact, we saw it about two weeks ago. Just as the president finished making a speech about how important democracy is in Iraq, he also announces a fundamental, in fact, a second fundamental shift in American policy towards Iraq where we're handing over control as quickly as policy possible, not to a democratic government, not to a government that has written a constitution, but one that has been appointed by us, the occupiers and done exactly what the French and a number of other countries were asking for for a long time, which is to put Iraq in the hand of the Iraqis.

Unfortunately, unlike Mr. Bush, I don't have great confidence that Iraqis are ready yet to govern themselves in a way that is Democratic or enhances the freedom of all Iraqis and guarantees them. I believe that the staying power of this country ought to be increased rather than decreased. Unfortunately, what we see is that the kinds of opposition we now have to the American occupation in Iraq is leaving us to minimize our involvement rather than maximizing it, and I think that's unfortunate.

LIN: What do you think the solution should be?

DAALDER: I think there's a twofold solution. One, we should have from the beginning brought in the international community in order to help and legitimatize the strong post-war reconstruction and development effort that needs to be done. And second we need to accelerate the point at which we can have elections and an elected government.

So do you have a provisional government that has legitamacy with regards to the people in Iraq, but then it needs to be supported in the long-term systems mission by the international community, of which the United States has to be a central, if not a leading part.

That is what we have done in the Balkans and it has worked. That is what we ought to be doing in Iraq, and I'm afraid that not willing to involve the international community, insisting that we should maintain control until the point that the Iraqis maintain control and then frankly walk away is not the way we're going to have the kind of democracy the president keeps talking about.

LIN: Mr. Gardiner, what do you think is the solution on the ground in Iraq then?

GARDENER: I believe we are involving a large number of countries on the ground. There are about 30 nations contributing forces to Iraq at the moment. There are 20,000 non-U.S. troops, 10,000 of those are British, but another 10,000 drawn from a wide an repair of countries across Europe. In fact, a majority of European countries are involved on the ground in Iraq. So I think it's quite untrue to suggest that we do not have a high degree of international involvement.

If you look carefully at the reconstruction process, we do have U.N. involvement, we even have involvement by the World Bank and IMF. We have practically every single major financial institution on the ground in post-war Iraq.

So, I would argue that already we have a huge international effort there. But we do need to ensure that we transfer power as smoothly as possible to a legitimate government that is elected by the people themselves.

LIN: All right. And that may happen as soon as next June. Thank you very much, Niles Gardener with the Heritage Foundation and Evo Daalder, the author of a new book "America Unbound." A pleasure to have both of.

DAALDER: Thank you.

GARDENER: Glad to be here.


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