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CNN HOTLINE: U.S. Shouldn't React With Military

Aired September 20, 2001 - 01:39   ET


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Not everybody in the United States supports the idea of responding to the events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with military action. Dr. David Krieger is the founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He joins us tonight from California. His group is opposed to military retaliation. He has been the president of this organization since 1982, so it's around awhile.

Dr. Krieger, nice to have you with us. Thanks for joining us tonight.


CAFFERTY: If we don't use the military, how do we go after this problem? What should this country be doing instead of mustering the armed forces?

DR. KRIEGER: Well, I think -- I think we need to think about what criteria we're going to apply, if we're going to use the military and how we're going to go about responding to what happened on September 11th.

I think there are three basic criteria that we need to look at for any kind of action that we take. The first is that it must be legal and that means legal under international law, and legal under international law means authorized by the United Nations, probably multilateral. Keep in mind that when the World Trade Centers were attacked, it wasn't only Americans that died there. It was -- it was many people from many countries suffered injuries and loss at the World Trade Center.

And so, I think -- I think whatever is done needs to be done internationally.

CAFFERTY: All right, doctor, are you talking about passing a resolution at the United Nations that would authorize the use of force or some resolution similar in warning to that, that would kind of green light some sort of response to this.

DR. KRIEGER: Well, I -- yes, I think that -- I mean I think we definitely need to go through that process with the United Nations Security Council, and I think that whatever they -- whatever decision is taken there, it needs to be more than simply unilateral action on the part of the United States. It needs to be multilateral, made up of many countries.

But that -- but legality is just the first of three criteria that I want to mention to you. The second criteria is that it should be moral and that means that it should not result in the loss of more innocent lives. The third criteria is that it should be thoughtful and by that I mean that it should decrease the cycle of violence, bring it way down, rather than running the risk or in fact, incurring an increase in violence through the use of military force.

So I think if -- I think if we take those three criteria into account, legality, morality and thoughtfulness, and I should add with thoughtfulness that we also need to be thinking about why this happened and why these people are so hateful of the United States.

CAFFERTY: Let's get to ...


CAFFERTY: Let's get to that in a moment. Let me -- let me ask you, though, about your view of using the military to do this at all. I mean are you of the opinion that the military can accomplish this and if not, who can and what's the alternative approach to get at this problem with international terrorism?

DR. KRIEGER: You know, I'm not -- I'm not at all sure the military can solve this problem. The military is a pretty blunt instrument. We've had a terrible crime has been committed in the United States and as of this moment, we don't know with certainty who committed that crime.

I mean I think the first thing -- I think a couple of things need to happen before we even begin talking about the military. I think it's very premature to be talking about war at this point. We need to know who did it. We need to -- we need to do what we can to apprehend whoever did it. We -- and we need to be paying attention to protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.

And that's something that I think is quite different from simply mobilizing our forces and going after somebody who, at this point, we simply suspect of being the perpetuator of these acts.

CAFFERTY: All right, we've got a caller on the phone in Tennessee. Edith (ph), good evening. Welcome to CNN's hotline. What's your question?

EDITH (ph): Actually, it's more of a comment.

CAFFERTY: Go ahead.

EDITH (ph): I am all for military action taken. I need to remind the gentleman who is upsetting me a little bit about the preamble to our Constitution.

CAFFERTY: Go ahead and remind him. He's listening.

EDITH (ph): Can I recite it for him? CAFFERTY: Well, quickly yes.

EDITH (ph): OK.

DR. KRIEGER: I think I know -- I think I know what the preamble says.

EDITH (ph): Well, we have to secure the blessings of liberty.

CAFFERTY: All right, what about that? And I'm sure you realize Dr. Krieger that coming on the program at a time like this, that the bulk of public opinion will probably run against you. But, what about ...


CAFFERTY: This idea that she raises?

DR. KRIEGER: The bulk of public opinion may run against me. The polls seem to indicate that, but I've certainly talked with a lot of people out there in America who are not eager to jump into a -- to try to achieve a military solution ...


DR. KRIEGER: Which could be a solution that backfires on us. It could be a solution that's the worse thing in the world for our security.

CAFFERTY: Also explain how it could backfire.

DR. KRIEGER: Well, if we send military force in and we kill a lot of other innocent people, that's going to simply increase the hatred toward the United States. That is not going to diminish the problem that's occurred here. It's not -- it's not likely that we can send military force into Afghanistan, as an example, and suspect that we're going to be able to stop this whole thing.

We don't know how many terrorists are still in the United States. We don't know how many terrorists are still elsewhere.

CAFFERTY: All right, let's assume for a minute ...

DR. KRIEGER: We have to break the cycle of hate, and I don't think the military is capable of doing that.

CAFFERTY: All right, but let's assume for a minute that they can compile enough evidence to suggest beyond a reasonable doubt that Osama bin Laden and his colleagues are behind this. Who gets the job done? Who goes after him? Whose responsibility does it become? How do we then address the problem once we decide who did it?

DR. KRIEGER: Well, I would -- I would say -- I would say that it's certainly be a multilateral force that would be authorized by the United Nations to apprehend Osama bin Laden. I would say once the United Nations has acted, it would be quite appropriate, then, for the Afghan leaders to do everything in their power to turn over Osama bin Laden to the international community.

I would -- I would personally like to see Osama bin Laden stand trial before a specially created international tribunal that would be put in place for that purpose. I think we need to -- I think we need to go through a process of law similar to what happened at the Nuremberg trials ...


DR. KRIEGER: After World War II when the German leaders at that time were put on trial and there was a process that made a huge difference ...


DR. KRIEGER: And it was a -- it was a process that didn't simply go in, try to wipe out who we thought was the perpetuator and in the process, perhaps, leave a lot more people injured and dead.

CAFFERTY: All right, we're talking to Dr. ...

DR. KRIEGER: Who are innocent.

CAFFERTY: We're talking to Dr. David Krieger in California. Sit tight doctor, if you will, I've got to take a little commercial break, and we'll continue our discussion, take some more calls from you viewers right after this.


CAFFERTY: Our guest from California is Dr. David Krieger. He is the founder and president of an organization called Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and he doesn't think the military is necessarily the way to go about this at all.

Dr. Krieger, I have a caller on the line from Arizona. Jeff, who has something to discuss with you, I think. Jeff, go ahead.

JEFF: Hi Jack, I like your show.


JEFF: But I think Dr. Krieger might be missing a very valuable point here. He's advocating that our response be moral, that it be multinational and that it be judicial. You mentioned ...


JEFF: Nuremberg earlier...

DR. KRIEGER: That it be legal.

CAFFERTY: Legal, Yes.

JEFF: Well, OK. Well he mentioned Nuremberg earlier and does he realize that Nuremberg only came about as a result of a moral military action?

CAFFERTY: Dr. Krieger.

DR. KRIEGER: I understand that Nuremberg came about as a result of the end of World War II and that was the way that they chose to deal with the German leaders after the second World War.

Nonetheless, I think that we -- that this is a critical time for the United States, and we should be very thoughtful about what we do here. Power -- raw military power really does not have the capacity to overcome hatred and in fact, it has -- it has exactly the opposite effect. The use of raw military power will increase the hatred toward the United States in that part of the world.

CAFFERTY: Isn't that exactly what bin Laden wants? He wants us to wage war against Islam, against the Middle Eastern countries, because then he's got his Jihad. He can, you know, he's got a holy war. He becomes even more powerful and influential, if he can get a conflagration (ph) going. Is that not so?

DR. KRIEGER: I think that's right. I think -- I think his stature will increase enormously if we go into the region with military force. Not only that, I think that military force will be entirely ineffective in accomplishing the primary goal that we want to accomplish for America and that is to make Americans secure.

And we need to really be thinking deeply about why these people hate us so much. I don't think the reason that we're so hated by these people, whoever they happen to be, is that they want to bring down democracy or they want to bring down our freedoms. I think -- I think that's not it at all. I think they have far -- some far deeper grievances against us with regard to policies that we've instituted in perhaps in the Middle East region ...

CAFFERTY: All right.

DR. KRIEGER: In various respects, and there's a lot more to it. We need to know what those things are. But the most important point is that military force is going to end up -- the use of military force in that region, I believe, will make us less secure and we'll be missing an opportunity ...

CAFFERTY: All right.

DR. KRIEGER: To try to turn that region into friends of the United States by changing our policies.

CAFFERTY: Dr. Krieger, the clock has won the war against you and me here. I've got to say good night to you. I appreciate you coming on the program. I enjoyed the visit, and we'll do this again as events continue to unfold, if you're agreeable.

DR. KRIEGER: Thank you. I certainly am.

CAFFERTY: Dr. David Krieger ...

DR. KRIEGER: Thank you very much.

CAFFERTY: All right, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.



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