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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Showdown Iraq: War Debate

Aired October 29, 2002 - 12:24   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Waging war against Iraq. U.S. lawmakers have given President Bush authority to do just that.
One person who strongly disagrees is Mark Green. His latest book is, "Selling Out: How big corporate money buys elections, rams through legislation and betrays our democracy." He's joining us now from New York.

With a very different point of view from Orlando, is Marc Bernier. He hosts his own radio talk show.

Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us.

Let me begin with an e-mail for you, Marc, and get your reaction to...

MARK GREEN, AUTHOR, "SELLING OUT": Which Mark?

BLITZER: Marc Bernier. It's a good point, Mark Green. We've got two Marks here.

"The American public and most of our allies are against attacking Iraq, and yet the administration continues to willfully pursue its own agenda. They are scaring us into going to war against Saddam Hussein, so they can get what they want: oil.

Marc Bernier, what do you say to Pat?

MARC BERNIER, "THE MARC BERNIER SHOW": Well, I don't think that -- Pat, I don't think that that's the administration's agenda. I think what they see as a real threat -- and it's been well-documented. I mean, there has been hearing after hearing on this. The evidence is there.

I believe that in the end, if the U.N. doesn't come around, the allied forces that are going to work with the United States and Britain on this. We are not going at it alone, and this is not an agenda of the administration.

BLITZER: All right, Mark Green, what do you say to Marc Bernier?

GREEN: I agree that there is no serious evidence that President Bush and his associates want to go to war for oil. Now, it's true that if we went to war and there was a Douglas MacArthur-like regency taking over Iraq, we would control the oil fields.

But I take President Bush at his word. I believe he believes there's an authentic national security threat.

What undermines his argument, though, is when he is asked, why now? He says, "September 11," even though, of course, there is no serious evidence -- horrific as September 11 was in the city I'm in -- that it was tied to Iraq, no serious evidence shown that al Qaeda and Iraq are related. And a lot of evidence that, while Iraq is despotic and murderous, his army is 40 percent less than it was a decade ago. He's hemmed in by hostile neighbors. He doesn't control two-thirds of his country. This is no modern Adolph Hitler in terms of threatening the West or us.

BLITZER: All right, let's let Marc Bernier respond to that.

BERNIER: See, I would...

BLITZER: Go ahead.

BERNIER: I would disagree with that, Wolf, and I think, Mark, it raises some general good points about the president.

But here's the deal. You know, Iraq has been setting themselves up, they are quietly trying to arm themselves, they are quietly trying to get the materials they need to build their nuclear weapons. They shoot at us every time that we fly over. Those no fly zones where they're not supposed to be, they've shot at us, I believe it's 67 times this year.

Now, if they're trying to comply with a resolution that they signed off to, why do they shoot at allied forces when they patrol the no-fly zones?

GREEN: You absolutely can argue why Iraq is murderous to its own people and something of a threat to others. But before the United States goes to war, which we've done in the defense of the country or in hot pursuit, like December 7 and September 11, you have to exhaust all remedies. It's not a first choice; it's a last choice.

BLITZER: Let me interrupt this...

GREEN: And if our...

BLITZER: Let me just interrupt, Mark Green, for a second. And I think what the president is referring to, while not making a direct connection to 9/11 saying the Iraqis were specifically behind 9/11 -- they've been searching for that evidence, they don't have it, as you correctly point out. But I think what he's trying to make the broader point, the U.S. doesn't want to be caught by surprise as it was before 9/11.

And as Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, said to me, they don't want that smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

GREEN: Now...

BERNIER: Exactly. If we don't stop this guy now, we're going to have exactly what happened us to, but it will be even worse. I mean, this is a diabolical evil person who has to be stopped.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Let me let Mark Green weigh in, but as you do, I want you to also think about this e-mail we got from Bob in Watertown, Connecticut. He says this: "I think we should bomb Saddam back to the stone age before he has a chance to do the same to us. Anyone suggesting we shouldn't, clearly does not understand the facts."

Mark Green, go ahead.

GREEN: If the other Marc is right, then absolutely, let's invade and bomb North Korea and Iran.

When the United States says to the rest of the world, we're militarily superior. If anyone approaches us or could get sufficient enriched uranium to have a nuclear bomb, we ourselves will decide whether to invade and destroy a sovereign nation. If we decide to do that, it works in America. Politically, President Bush looking like the Marlboro man and Dirty Harry is a winner.

Around world, it will cause more terrorists to come out against us, inflame the Muslim world. And we will then become a level of aggressor that the United States has never done before.

So, the standards you used, Marc, justify us taking military action. Whenever we think...

BLITZER: All right.

GREEN: ... like Tom Cruise in "Minority Report,' someone may commit a crime.

BLITZER: All right.

BERNIER: Yes, but the situation with North Korea is not the same. For one thing...

BLITZER: Hold on for a second, Marc Bernier, on that point, because I want you to speak about North Korea, but also in the connection of an e-mail that we got from yet another Mark, a third Mark, this one in Las Vegas, in Nevada, who says: "Why are we more willing to go to war with Iraq than we are with North Korea? It seems like a double-standard exists since we think both countries have weapons of mass destruction. What happened to the war on terror and the axis of evil?

Mark Bernier, go ahead.

BERNIER: I hear this a lot on the radio program. The fact is the situation with North Korea is different from Iraq. North Korea is a poor country, they can't feed their people. I mean, there are reports of feeding them birth bark. I think they're holding out for money, frankly.

This thing can be disarmed. The situation in North Korea is certainly negotiable by peaceful means.

China doesn't want North Korea to start lobbing bombs at neighbors. And despite the fact that what they said to Japan today about the fact they wouldn't disarm, I think you can reach a peaceful resolution to this with North Korea.

Let us also remember, North Korea doesn't do to its own people with Iraq. I mean, they're not the best of societies perhaps right now under this regime, but they don't do what Iraq and Saddam Hussein has done to his own people.

BLITZER: Well...

BERNIER: And North Korea is not threatening...

BLITZER: On that point...

BERNIER: ... all of its neighbors right now.

BLITZER: On that point, Marc Bernier, that could be debatable. I think the human rights record of North Korea probably rivals that of the Iraqis.

But let me bring back Mark Green and ask you to respond to Preet from Huntington Beach, California, who just e-mailed us this question: "I don't understand why were are even talking to the U.N. about Iraq. If the U.S. dropped its seat, the U.N. would fail to exist. We do not need the permission of such an insignificant body to defend our country."

Mark Green, go ahead.

GREEN: If the United States goes it alone, we really will infuriate the rest of the world. And is that a relevant standard? No.

We may be the most powerful nation, but we lead not only because of our arms, but our example. And Sir Thomas Moore in "The Man for all Seasons" said, OK, if you level all of the trees to get it to double -- and the trees being the laws -- and then the devil turns around and comes at you, what's to protect you?

If we set up a standard that whenever we want, we invade a sovereign nation, evil as Iraq is, get ready for it to be turned against us in the Middle East, in India, in Kashmir and...

BLITZER: All right...

GREEN: ... and in Pakistan.

Finally, I agree with Marc. North Korea is different (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by China and Japan. Deterrence and containment may work in the Southeast Asia peninsula, deterrence and containment will work with a far greater threat called the Soviet Union. Are we really giving up on that so quickly...

BLITZER: All right...

GREEN: ... because President Bush wants to go to war?

BLITZER: Marc Bernier, 10 seconds to wrap it up -- go ahead.

BERNIER: Oh, quite frankly, Iraq, if they're not stopped, they will move. You know, the situation in North Korea, you can negotiate with them. And quite honestly, I think this guy has weapons the size of washing machines in Iraq that we haven't found yet. We need to move in on this, and this is about a resolution with the United Nations.

BLITZER: All right.

BERNIER: They've had seven weeks to work this out. Let's get it done.

BLITZER: All right, we're unfortunately going to have to leave it right there. Mark Green, Marc Bernier, Mark in Los Vegas. A lot of Marks going on around here. I guess your moms had the same idea many years ago.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

GREEN: Thank you.

BERNIER: Thank you, Wolf.

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