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Sound Off: Is War Warranted?

Aired October 28, 2002 - 12:43   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So is war with Iraq a good idea or a bad idea? Joining me here in our Sound Off segment our two guests, Robert Borasage. He's co-director of the Institute for America's Future, and an international policy adviser to Jesse Jackson, and Frank Gaffney. He's founder and president of the Center for Security Policy.
Bob, thanks for joining us. Frank, thanks as well.

Bob, do you think these demonstrations are really going to make much of a difference?

ROBERT BORASAGE, INST. FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE: Well, the demonstrations are just a small edge of what is an incredibly widespread opposition. It includes much of the Pentagon, a lot of the diplomatic core, a significant portion of the Republican Party foreign policy establishment, but it also includes people who have really not been in politics before, who don't quite understand the rush to war in Iraq. There was a neurosurgeon at MIT who did an e-mail, and overnight got 20,000 academics signing a petition in an e-mail against the war. This is not a person who's been active before. And you see this across the country, people are very concerned about this.

BLITZER: Do you sense, and all of us are old enough to remember the Vietnam war and the antiwar demonstrations in the '60s and early '70s. Is that what you sense is happening right now?

BORASAGE: What's extraordinary, of course, is there is no draft. The war hasn't started. So to have this level of opposition, while we're having the debate about whether to go to war is quite extraordinary, much different than Vietnam.

Frank, what do you say?

FRANK GAFFNEY, CTR. OF SECURITY POLICY: I think it is different from Vietnam. The principle difference is the famous chant from Vietnam was, "Hell, no, we won't go," and I think it was heard again in the various meetings around this country and elsewhere. The problem is, this isn't a case of opting out. The war has come here. We have terrorists that are operating in this country now, have done immense damage, and as your previous segment with Gary Hart indicated, are perfectly capable of doing vastly more.

While I'm sure that the vast majority of the people who are participating in these various conclaves were well meaning, were serious about their concerns, and there is reason to be concerned, any time one is involved in war, I'm afraid many of them are being manipulated by people who like what went down in the last great demonstrations of the Vietnam era, and I think are misleading them into thinking somehow we're going to be able to prevent that from happening again.

BORASAGE: A huge portion of this opposition is in favor of the war against Al Qaeda and terrorism. A good portion of the people who spoke, including Jesse Jackson, was in favor of attacking Afghanistan in order to respond to 9/11. What they're worried about, is that going after Iraq, which is now under a coercive containment that the United States has held for over a decade and this military is now weaker than it was a decade ago, will distract us from that war. Clearly, it's splitting our allies apart. Clearly, it splits our allies in the region. So instead of adding to the war, it's detracting from it. So a huge portion of this opposition is concerned about that.

BLITZER: Frank, We've heard that argument even from some senators, like Bob Graham of Florida, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who's concerned that a preemptive strike right now against Iraq would detract from the overall war against terror.

GAFFNEY: I think that you have to understand what the war on terror is. It's a war not only against individual cells, and cadre and networks; it's a war also against the people who empower them, who are giving them, not least, training, logistical support, intelligence and financial assistance.

BLITZER: And you're saying Iraq is one of them.

GAFFNEY: I think there is no question that Iraq is one of the terrorist-sponsoring nations, and we have to deal with it as such.

BLITZER: The State Department does include Iraq as a state that supports international terrorism.

BORASAGE: But mostly, because of the support for the Palestinian opposition against Israel. The ties to Al Qaeda are tenuous, at best. And in fact, this administration has gone out of its way to exaggerate things, that it turns out it now doesn't have proof for, like this famous meeting in Prague.

In fact, Saddam Hussein is a secularist. He's hated by the kind of Islamist fundamentalists across the world.

GAFFNEY: This is the sort of naive view of the world that I think led us astray during Bob's early incarnations. It is a mistake today to think that secular fascists who hate America cannot make common cause with Islamists who hate America. In fact, I think their is evidence there, and it's there in a lot of different places that we need to be looking at much more carefully than we have. Oklahoma City being an example of it. I believe the World Trade Center being another one.


GAFFNEY: It is being made, and we're going to be making more of it, I think, as we get to the bottom of it.

BLITZER: You got the last word -- go ahead, Bob.

BORASAGE: Oklahoma City was done by Americans, not by foreigners, except for kind of conspiratorial types. And there is no evidence that...

BLITZER: That issue we can debate on another day.

BORASAGE: There's been no evidence presented against Iraq and its connection with Al Qaeda, and the president thinks he has a case, but he certainly hasn't made it to our allies, he hasn't made it to our allies in the region, he hasn't made it to his own foreign policy establishment, and he hasn't made it to the American people.

BLITZER: We got to leave it right there. Bob Borasage, Frank Gaffney, we'll have both of you back. We can debate other issues, including Oklahoma City, if you both want to do that on another occasion. Thanks for joining us.


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