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Q&A WITH ZAIN VERJEE

Q&A

Aired January 9, 2003 - 12:30:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resolution 1441 is the classic catch 22, and only a trigger for war, and that war is coming unless the people of this country and the people around the world come together and become a potent political anti-war force so powerful that it can stay the hand of the administration.

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In America, around the world, a growing anti-war movement. Determined activists traveling to Baghdad, whether in a show of solidarity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to make a connection, and say I can reach out to people.

TUMI MAKGABO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): People are making the journey to try to dissuade allied forces from dropping bombs on Iraq. These so-called human shields are aggravating the war pundits to the delight of the Iraqi government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The anti-war movement in the whole world is growing, and it shows also that many, many honest women and men in the world do not believe the lies which are being fabricated in Washington and London.

CLANCY: On this edition of Q&A, the human shields, protecting the people of Iraq or giving comfort to President Saddam Hussein?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Hello and welcome once again to Q&A.

Members of four American families are in Baghdad this day, all of them lost relatives in the September 11 attacks.

MAKGABO: Now they're on a personal peace mission, identifying with others who lost loved ones in conflicts that they don't understand.

Terry Rockefeller's (ph) sister was killed on September 11. Her goal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can reach out to people who at the moment my government may be defining them as my enemy. I want to do something to say they are not my enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: The families met Wednesday with Iraqis who lost loved ones when an allied bombing killed 200 people in a bomb shelter. That was in 1991, of course. And war, they say, isn't worth the cost.

MAKGABO: These families are not alone. Other groups of protesters are also in Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And therefore we are saying very clearly that there must be no attack on Iraq and we are here to show solidarity with the people of Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Now Hollywood actor Sean Penn drew furious criticism, if you remember, when he went to Baghdad. That was only last month.

MAKGABO: And also, some prominent clerics are joining in to sound the call for peace.

Well, with us now, from Jacksonville, Florida, when he's a visiting professor at the University of North Florida is Archbishop and Noble peace laureate Desmond Tutu.

CLANCY: Archbishop Tutu, thank you so much for joining us.

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE: You're welcome.

CLANCY: You know, the question, I guess we -- anybody -- has to ask is, is there such a thing as a moral war? And if there is, would a U.S. attack on Baghdad qualify as a moral war?

TUTU: There are times when the world uses war as the last resort, and then that becomes the closest thing that you can get to it being morally justifiable, just as when the allies had to fight Hitler to end the Holocaust. But, no, a unilaterally declared war by the United States on Iraq would not be.

The United States is a country one admires enormously for promoting respect for the rule of law. And there is international law. We have international institutions, such as the United Nations, which would be the appropriate body to determine whether a war should then happen in Iraq.

MAKGABO: Now you've also been very critical of the British government particularly in the support of the United States. In fact, you've called it mind-boggling. Can you tell us a little bit more about those thoughts?

TUTU: It's just that as a South African who was held by the enter national community to become free, the Labor Party was amongst our foremost supporters against the inequity of apartheid. And they were very largely a peace party.

One is saddened, distressed, that the British prime minister called in this fashion be supportive of war-mongering. And I am appealing as someone who has seen the devastation of war and conflict. I am appealing to the people of the United States who helped us to become free; please don't spread devastation such as you saw on September 11. Spread peace. Spread or share some of your prosperity. And end the anguish and the suffering of people. You are able to do so, and I am sure that most of you in the United States would agree with me, that you want to be known as the people who helped Nelson Mandela become free, not the people who killed innocent civilians in Iraq.

CLANCY: Desmond Tutu, there's good and bad in the world. I think many people look at you and they see the good. They also look at Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, and they see the bad. They remember Halabja. They remember what has happened to the Kurds. They remember what has happened to the Shia Muslims. They see what has happened to his political foes.

Do you think that he is worth defending? Do you think that it's right for people to be human shields to protect his government?

TUTU: We are speaking about the people of Iraq. Are we sure that war is going to improve the lot of the people of Iraq? No.

Clearly it isn't going to do anything of the sort.

We must find other ways of bringing about a change. And remember, the United States, for a long time, promoted Saddam Hussein. They were supportive of him and provided him with the wherewithal with which he dealt with the Kurds.

I don't want to speak about that. I am just saying that we have a window of opportunity where the world can show it respects law, and that it has said we have got these inspectors. Let them report.

CLANCY: Do you think.

TUTU: . to us.

CLANCY: You have marveled -- Desmond Tutu, you have marveled at the freedom that Nelson Mandela has. How about the freedom of the Iraqi people?

TUTU: Exactly. But we've got to find out -- are your promoting the freedom of the Iraqi people by killing them? Because, you see, those weapons that the United States and others would unleash are unlikely to kill Saddam Hussein. They haven't succeeded with the people who.

CLANCY: Osama bin Laden.

TUTU: . Bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Most of the people who are going to be the casualties are innocent civilians, precisely the people we want to help.

That is why we in South Africa usually try to find other ways, but war must be the absolute last resort.

MAKGABO: All right. Archbishop Tutu, if I could ask you this, you talk about how war has to be the absolute last resort.

TUTU: Yes.

MAKGABO: And we've talked about the issue with regards to the situation that the Iraqis find themselves, that the Kurds have found themselves in, but when you are trying to (AUDIO GAP) and it appears, which we're looking at right now, that perhaps Saddam Hussein doesn't want to go, at which point do you then say enough is enough, we cannot negotiate because he doesn't necessarily want to talk about that. What do you do then?

TUTU: I believe that we can still find other ways, peaceful ways. We can strengthen the opposition in that country.

And we ought to listen when people are saying, you know, your sanctions are not doing anything to remove Saddam Hussein. They are killing our children. We've got to listen to them. We shouldn't be the ones who are omniscient and know precisely what is good for the other.

And even if we were to say we know what is good for you, I can say to you categorically, war is not one of the solutions that the Iraqi people would say, please use war against Saddam Hussein to liberate us, because that war is one that will devastate exactly the people we seek to help.

You know what some -- I want to say to the president of the United States, if -- especially on this issue -- you were to say categorically, I am going to stick by the resolution of the United Nations and I will do what I am suggesting I want to do with North Korea, use diplomatic means, and therefore war will be out, I will be prepared to nominate you, sir, for the Nobel Peace Prize of this year.

MAKGABO: The man who himself won the Nobel Peace Prize, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, once again, thank you very much for joining us.

TUTU: Thank you.

CLANCY: We are going to take a short break here. When we come back, more about the activists who are willing to risk their lives to prevent any bombing of Iraq. Are they shielding the innocent or.

MAKGABO: Or are they protecting a dangerous regime. We'll be hearing those arguments and a little bit more just after the break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there is a great global community that is searching for peace here, and I think we can make a difference. I think that the way to see this new century begin is to make common cause with everyone who shares our goal of peace and our dream of peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MAKGABO: And welcome back to Q&A.

Now, we want you to be part of this show, so you can visit our Web page for YOUR WORLD TODAY at CNN.COM/YWT and sign up there for the Q&A newsletter.

CLANCY: You know, that's going to give you a little bit of advanced notice on the topics that we'll be covering along with the people that are going to be joining us on the program.

MAKGABO: Of course, and then you can also send us your questions that you would like for us to ask. Send them via e-mail to Q&A@CNN.COM.

CLANCY: But right now, they've been called human shields because they plan to go to Baghdad, and they hope that their presence there at key sites that are likely going to be bombing targets will actually prevent those bombs from falling.

MAKGABO: Well, some may call it noble, however there are those who would call it indeed very dangerous. But the group We The People is certainly making its point very loud and clear.

CLANCY: And joining us now from London to talk a little bit about this is the leader of that group, that's Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe. Also, in Washington, we're joined.

MAKGABO: By Jonah Goldberg. He's the editor of NationalReview.com. Thank you, both of us, for joining us.

Perhaps, Kenneth O'Keefe, if I could begin with you, what is it that you would like to achieve?

KENNETH NICHOLS O'KEEFE, WE THE PEOPLE: Well, we want to stop the war, and I know that we can stop this war, because clearly our governments are not going to represent our best interest.

The vast majority of people do not support this war, not only in the United States and Britain, but around the world, and the fact is, as long as we let the United States government or Britain determine our actions, then we're going to have a war.

So it's time for us as people to stand against it.

CLANCY: Jonah Goldberg, this isn't the first time that anybody's seen all of this. I mean, the movie stars all come out, everybody comes out. They say yes, we understand that this guy may be a bad guy, but we just don't want anybody to get hurt.

What's really happening in politics here? Is this grandstanding? What is it?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONALREVIEW.COM: Of course it's grandstanding. I mean, I don't dispute the fact that the people who are gathering human shields are against the war. That seems self-evident.

The question is -- I always want to know, why didn't we see human shields protecting the Kurds when Saddam Hussein was gassing them? Why didn't we see human shields in Kuwait when he was invading Kuwait? Why didn't we see human shields fighting the Taliban or the Soviet army when they invaded Afghanistan?

It seems to me that these human shield organizations only show up when it's to score propaganda points against Western nations who they know have more of a conscience than these countries they're ending up defending.

MAKGABO: Kenneth O'Keefe, indeed there are so many conflicts and so many scenarios the world over where people are being abused, where people are being killed. Why aren't we seeing more in those places?

O'KEEFE: Well, I can speak for myself, and the reason why is because my government is the one that supplied Saddam Hussein with the same weapons he used against the Kurds. My government is the one that supported Suharto, has supported Pinochet, has supported Noriega, has supported bin Laden, has trained terrorists around the world, literally, through the CIA.

And the fact is that it's not representing me, and therefore I'm resorting to this action.

The fact that this gentleman would call me grandstanding is absolutely absurd. I'm risking my life along with a lot of other people. Would he grandstand at the risk of risking his life?

GOLDBERG: Well, look, you can take offense at being called a grandstander, but you are a grandstander. You're obviously scoring propaganda points, and look, bully for you for standing up for your convictions and, quote/unquote, "risking your life," but this notion -- you know, this sort of silly argument that because -- which steals a lot of bases which we don't have time to get into -- that says that because we created Saddam Hussein that therefore you're going to defend Saddam Hussein, which is in effect what you're doing, when you say we created Osama bin Laden, which is actually a lie, that you're going to defend Osama bin Laden, is so silly.

If we created these Frankenstein monsters, which we did not, but say we did, let's stipulate to all your propaganda and say that the United States created these Frankenstein monsters, isn't it our obligation to do something about them now rather than to allow them to continue to wreck havoc around the world?

Your position says we should be consistently wrong whether than inconsistently right.

CLANCY: All right, let me pipe in here, because one of our viewers wrote in a good question, a reasonable one.

Theiss (ph), in Amsterdam, had this to say, a question. This is for Ken Nichols O'Keefe. "Aren't you afraid that Saddam Hussein will exploit your peace mission"?

O'KEEFE: I'm far more frightened of the United States carrying out a war than I am of Saddam Hussein doing that.

The bottom line is that I can't control what Saddam does. I can't control what the United States does. Neither can the United States voters. The fact is, they have a president that didn't even receive the majority of votes, and that's a fact.

And this gentleman keeps referring to the grandstanding issue. Again, I pose the question to him: would you risk your life to grandstand? And have you ever risked your life in grandstanding?

GOLDBERG: Look, you can try to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) me and play this game all you like. No, I haven't risked my life. I haven't served in the army.

Then again, are you going to be the one.

(CROSSTALK)

O'KEEFE: And I don't think you'd be willing to either.

GOLDBERG: Oh, that's garbage. Are you going to sacrifice your life if Saddam Hussein ends up killing me through a terrorist act?

This game can be played any way you want it.

O'KEEFE: This has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein.

CLANCY: Well, it's got to have something to do with him, doesn't it?

GOLDBERG: It does -- he is -- Saddam Hussein is the guy that you want to protect. You don't want to protect the Kurds. You don't want to protect all these other innocent people around Africa who are being attacked by terrible regimes. You have decided that Saddam Hussein is uniquely worthy of risking your life for and making a war much more difficult for the United States to fight.

And I'm sorry if, you know, you take offense at being called grandstander, but you're a prop. You're a prop for Saddam Hussein, and you can, you know, you can smile and be proud of it. And bully for you for standing up for your convictions and saying that Saddam Hussein's evil regime, which tortures people, is worth protecting, because that's the position you're taking.

It's the position -- as Orwell pointed out during World War II, pacifists end up being.

O'KEEFE: I want to know how many.

GOLDBERG: . pro-Nazi.

O'KEEFE: I want to know how many articles.

MAKGABO: All right, gentlemen. If I could just come in there for a second. Ken O'Keefe, if you could just hang on for just a second.

Of course, here at CNN, we do conduct a poll. It's not scientific, we want to point out, but we just like to gauge what our viewers think. And we asked them whether they indeed would be willing to be a human shield.

Now, we're going to take a quick look at some of their responses. About 35 percent are saying that yes, they would, and 65 percent saying no, they wouldn't.

Ken O'Keefe, what do those numbers say to you?

O'KEEFE: Look, regardless of whatever a poll says, the bottom line is this: Iraqi people have done nothing to bring bombs on themselves. This is about oil. This whole thing is about global domination.

The fact is that the September 11 attacks, which are basically the impetus for these entirely insane policies that the United States is carrying out right now, the fact is that over a year later, we don't even have a genuine independent investigation into the largest single terrorist act in the United States.

And in fact, President Bush, who wasn't even receiving the majority of votes in the United States in the first place, tried to appoint Henry Kissinger, a patented war criminal for his bombing campaigns in Southeast Asia, on this commission. This commission won't exist in a genuine form because the fact is that the United States is complicit or potentially directly involved with the September 11 attacks, and it's using that very day to justify these insane preemptive war policies and threatening the rest of the world, even with the use of nuclear weapons.

And regardless of what this gentleman says in the "National Review," the fact is he probably said nothing about Saddam Hussein's crimes and continued to endorse the policies of the United States when Saddam Hussein was being supported directly by the United States government. So it's absurd that he's claiming.

(CROSSTALK)

CLANCY: All right, we have a lot of viewers -- everybody hold it for a second, because I really want -- you know, I asked the viewers to weigh in here, they do weigh in, and I want to express their views.

Iza (ph), in Brazil, wrote in to say, and you know, Jonah, I'm going to put this one to you. "Should thousands die so that Bush and Cheney can lay their hands on the Iraqi oil fields so Americans can carrying on driving their gas-guzzling SUV's"?

GOLDBERG: All right, look. First of all, this is a -- the war-for- oil argument has been so thoroughly discredited by almost every single serious person who knows anything about international oil markets.

If the United States wanted to get Saddam Hussein's oil, it would have lifted the sanctions against Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein has made it absolutely clear that he would love to do business and sell oil to the United States.

Prior to Bush's election, he was actually calling for -- or I should put it this way. The National Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil companies, wanted the lifting of sanctions. If Bush is all about oil, the cheapest way to get it is to let Saddam Hussein be Saddam Hussein.

This gentleman is basically an ultra-orthodox sort of conspiracy theorist, anti-American guy. He's saying that America was involved in the September 11 attacks, which is sort of the crudest Web-based lie, and he knows it, but he's just making himself good propaganda points by turning himself into a prop, and he should be ashamed.

CLANCY: All right. We've heard all of the charges, and I want to thank both of our guests.

One last word to Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe, and I just want to ask you whether or not more people, you think, will be joining you? Very briefly.

O'KEEFE: Oh, I know more people -- this is a movement, and it's not going to be stopped. The fact is that our governments don't represent us. And going back to the September 11 attacks, that's rubbish. There is tons of empirical evidence that indicts.

Saddam Hussein is not the reason for this war. It is in fact about oil, and the fact is that the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

CLANCY: All right, gentlemen, we're going to save this for another day. We're going to save it for another day, but we thank you both for being with us.

Those are the views of our guests, and they weren't sugarcoating it for us, were they?

MAKGABO: Certainly not. Getting straight to the points, and we'll be getting to some of your straight to the point comments in just a moment.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: All right, let's take a look at the mailbag. A lot of opinions today.

MAKGABO: And we're going to be starting with Alma, in Jordan, who says that "This movement indicates it must be the beginning of the new millennium. Humanity is speaking and acting against tyranny and wrong- doers, regardless of their banner."

CLANCY: Now, Scott, from Denmark, says "Attacking Iraq to get rid of one man simply means United States and British forces will be involved in the murder of women and children." And he asks, "How can anyone support that"?

MAKGABO: Abdul, in Nigeria, wrote in to us, and he's wondering whether the ". Bush family inherited a stubborn gene that can only be expressed as war with Iraq? If so," he says, " they need gene therapy so the world does not have to endure its catastrophic expressions."

And just a reminder.

CLANCY: Now everybody thought that way, though. There's one here we didn't get in from the Quinn (ph) family. He says, "If Kenneth Nichols," and that's the young man we heard from, "goes to Baghdad, will he provide his exact GPS coordinates to the coalition forces"?

We'll never get an answer to that.

END

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