THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, TONY BLANKLEY,
MORT ZUCKERMAN, AND PAT BUCHANAN
TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 13-14, 2002
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Doomsday scenario.
UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN: (From videotape.) We call on Israel to refrain from the excessive use of force and undertake all possible efforts to ensure the protection of civilians.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary of State Powell's Middle East mission took on a new and dangerous urgency this week. The war expanded outside Israel. Along Israel's northern border with Lebanon, Israeli jets attacked a Lebanese town. This prompted retaliatory rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into a town in northern Israel. Syria has 25,000 troops in Lebanon, and Syria's President Bashar Assad is close to both the president and prime minister of Lebanon. Vice President Cheney called on the Syrian president to urge forbearance. Colin Powell appealed to Iran to use its influence to restrain Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon rocketing Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon answered Russia, the European Union, and Powell. Quote: "It's our right to defend our citizens, and there should be no pressure put on us not to do that. Our wonderful soldiers have to be able to continue this struggle," unquote. Sharon added that "thousands of terrorists," quote-unquote, remain to be routed out.
U.S. diplomats and their counterparts around the globe are wondering how far Sharon will go and how long the military occupation will last. In 1982 when Sharon invaded Lebanon, he said Israeli forces would be out in a few days. They stayed for almost 20 years, until the Hezbollah forced them out of southern Lebanon. If Israel invades Lebanon now, many fear an all- out Mideast regional war.
In a U.S. poll this week, 80 percent of Americans think there will be an all-out Arab-Israeli war within the next 12 months. This brings to mind a ghastly thought. In 1973, the last time the Arabs and Israelis fought, the U.S. prepared for World War III; it went on full nuclear alert. Could it happen now?
The answer to that question hinges in large part on another question: How long will Sharon maintain his offensive?
I ask you that question, Pat. How long will that be?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sharon will keep the army in there for weeks on end because he's got a long job to do and he's got pressure taken off of him because of these massacres in Jerusalem.
But John, there may be a wider war between Israel and Lebanon and the Syrian army. The United States of America is not going to get involved in that, because we have no vital interest there. Sharon's war is not America's war. It would be an utter disaster for this country to line up on the side of Israel against the Arab states. That would be precisely the war of civilizations and war of religions that the president has sought to avoid. I think he's going to avoid it because, again, Sharon's war is not America's war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, how long will Sharon's military action last?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I think the military action continues in some form or another for weeks and perhaps months. But there will be a sort of a graduated withdrawal so that he can claim he's giving something to the American president. He cannot afford to embarrass President Bush by completely defying him. So there will be the appearance of a withdrawal. But the decimation of the Palestinian cities will make the creation of an inevitable, eventual Palestinian state all that much harder. We're going to have to go in -- somebody's going to have to go in and rebuild that infrastructure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that's going to be a matter of weeks?
MS. CLIFT: No, not weeks. Months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Months?
Tony, how long do you think the offensive will last?
MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, no one knows. I suspect it's measured in weeks rather than months.
I think, by the way, the assumption that there's some analogy to now and 1973 is inapt because then the Soviet Union was aligned with Israel's enemies. There is no Soviet Union anymore, so there's no reason for America to get sucked in on a geostrategic kind of a basis, as we were in the '70s.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, how long do you think it's going to last?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'd say three weeks out the outside, from where we are today, and I don't think it will go beyond that. And there actually have been real withdrawals, not just token withdrawals, and there will continue to be real withdrawals as the terrorist cells in each part of the West Bank get extirpated. So I think that is what's going to happen.
I will point out, however, that it should be clear that what you had in the way of Kofi Annan, you left off the part in which he condemned the terrorist bombings, called it "illegal and immoral" for the first time, and called upon not only the Palestinians but all the Arabs to condemn the terrorist bombings and the suicide bombings or the homicide bombings, as they're now being called.
MR. BUCHANAN: John?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And with respect to Lebanon, you should also understand the U.N. agreed, by drawing a blue line border, which Israel honored, and Hezbollah now is firing their Katyusha rockets over that border in violation of the all the U.N., and where is the U.N.? Nowhere.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were admonished on Friday by Powell strongly because the firing had -- the missile -- the rocketry has increased from the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They fired over that while Powell was flying in the region just to get a look at the terrain.
MR. BUCHANAN: But Tony -- Tony is exactly right. I was with Nixon in '73. I think you were too. What happened was the Soviet Union was putting airborne troops on it air bases and moving nuclear weapons toward the Dardenelles when Nixon called that nuclear alert. Nothing like that exists now.
Now the vital interests of the United States dictate cooling this war down. The problem is, Bush's policy, which calls for negotiations with the authority, Palestinian Authority, getting out of the West Bank, getting rid of the settlements in a Palestinian state, collides directly with the Sharon/Netanyahu policy, which is to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on! Hold on! Hold on! Hold on!
Netanyahu was in the nation's capital and he had a conversation with Cheney.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Cheney, amongst others, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, is he undermining the Bush position?
MR. BUCHANAN: He is.
MS. CLIFT: He's saying that the Powell peace mission is going to go nowhere. And he is running to the right of Prime Minister Sharon in the hope that that government will be destabilized and he will be the next prime minister. He is one of the most destructive figures for this whole peace process and he's operating in this country and getting enormous broadcast time.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait -- wait a second --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Sharon believes it's a three-part war, and one part is a political war, and Netanyahu is his --
MS. CLIFT: Is his adversary.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is his agent here --
MS. CLIFT: There are two people who don't want --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. Eleanor, you've got it totally --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish!
MS. CLIFT: There are two people who do not want Netanyahu to become prime minister. One of them is President Bush. The other one is Prime Minister Sharon. It's a balancing act.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, is it fair to say that Sharon has no reason to capitulate to Powell if he's winning the political war in Washington?
MS. CLIFT: He's got to capitulate and have the appearance of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he winning the political war in Washington? I ask you.
MS. CLIFT: No, he's not winning the political war.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Is Sharon winning the political war?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No -- yes, yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN (?): Yes. Yes.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, really he's not. But look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's got Netanyahu over here.
MR. BLANKLEY: Netanyahu is not moving to the right of Sharon in this instance because he is a representative, a formal representative of the Israeli government.
MS. CLIFT: Oh --
MR. BLANKLEY: Whatever he said must have been sanctioned by the Israeli government.
MS. CLIFT: He's a team player?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. A quick question to you, a quick question to Mort.
The military offensive appears to be sparing Gaza, whereas the West Bank has been pretty much ravaged. Do you think that what Sharon has in mind is to confine any future Palestinian state to Gaza?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. Look, Sharon has very explicitly stated that he supports a Palestinian state in the West Bank, and he's stated it for years. How big it is and what its contours are is a different thing again. The answer is no. The reason why they're sparing Gaza, if you want to call it that, is because there is a fence that divides Gaza from Israel and the West Bank, and very few -- virtually no terrorist attacks have come across from Gaza; all the terrorist attacks have come from the West Bank. Those are the terrorist cells they're trying to get at.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. A new question for you. Powell is talking about revivifying the peace process. Is there any hope of a parallel peace process development between these two belligerents? Is there any hope that Sharon will consent to a political process?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John. No, I don't believe there is. And I'll tell you what; Sharon is winning the battle. The president blinked on Friday, and Mr. Powell, they're backing away from the idea that the Israelis have got to stop and get out. There's a head-to-head confrontation, and the United States is backing down. What Sharon -- what they did do, they wanted to get the Arab states to play the role of negotiator with Israel. They rejected that. They're all saying you've got to deal with Arafat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. What I detect on this platform is that there is not universal consent to the notion that a doomsday is in the making. (Laughter.)
Okay, here's the doomsday scenario.
One: Israel invades Lebanon to stamp out the Hezbollah. Two: Syria's 25,000 troops in Lebanon are drawn into the fighting. Three: Bush warns Syria that the U.S. will back Sharon if Israel proper is attacked. Four: Arafat is killed by an Israeli soldier.
Five: The Arab "street" is radicalized, both by the prolonged Israeli military occupation, constant televised images of Palestinian civilians slain, and the provocation of inside radical military and intelligence elements in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Jordan bringing pressure on those governments to join the fray.
Six: Saddam Hussein seizes his opportunity to gain Arab support for him and to preempt Bush's planned anti-Iraq offensive. He fires a flight of reengineered, more powerful Scud rockets into Tel Aviv, several of which carry lethal biochemical warheads purveying anthrax, botulinum toxin, assorted germs and viruses. Over 1,000 Israelis are killed, with others soon to die. Seven: Sharon responds with an attack on Baghdad, including a thermonuclear device, an undersized atom bomb.
Eight: Eighty thousand U.S. forces in the Gulf move on Iraq to further subdue the attacker, but Saudi Arabia denies Bush the use of the ultra-strategic airbase in Prince Sultan and in Qatar. Nine: Iran, the second leg of the axis of evil, propelled by Muslim Shi'ites to join their brother Shi'ites in Iraq, sides with Iraq and attacks U.S. forces.
Ten: U.S. calls on NATO to aid its beleaguered forces. Russia waits to see what will develop. China sympathizes with its weapons clients, Iraq and Iran, and seizes its opportunity to seize its renegade province Taiwan.
Eleven: Commander-in-chief Bush has a two-front war on his hands. Twelve: Israel is poised to use its nuclear weapons again if the multi-state, multi-front Arab offensive threatens to overwhelm it, while Arab states prevail upon Pakistan's military to make available its nuclear arsenal for a counter-nuclear strike against Israel.
Question: The deadly progression starts with an Israeli invasion of Lebanon. What will it take to trigger a Sharon invasion of Lebanon?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Israelis are committed exactly not to invade Lebanon. I can't imagine any scenario that would be involved unless the Hezbollah, which has 8,000 Katyusha rockets -- if they fire enough rockets in and a lot of Israelis are killed, what the Israelis will do will be not to invade Lebanon, but to bomb Lebanon, as they have done occasionally in the past. They will not invade Lebanon. There's no objective whatever to invade Lebanon.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that Ariel Sharon would be inclined to invade Lebanon, as he did in 1982? Said he would stay for three days and stayed for two years.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The reason why --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty years.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The reason why he invaded was that the PLO, under Yasser Arafat, had turned Lebanon into another PLO terrorist state. That's why he did it, but not because Arafat --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, as I recall, Jordan released its Palestinian felons, and they went into southern Lebanon, and they became the particular --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's 1970 --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Jordan. Wait a minute. Jordan released them. They was a big fight between the PLO.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's 1970 they -- Black September. That's Black September.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They moved out of there. The Jordanian army fought the PLO, because they were turning Jordan into a terrorist state. So they moved over into Lebanon --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct. Correct. But that precipitated a war. (Cross talk.) I want to know whether you think that Chinese intervention in this would -- is far-fetched.
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think almost all of what you put up there is far-fetched, the reason being is the Israelis should kick the daylights out of the Syrians, the Hezbollah, Jordan, and Egypt, none of which want to get in the war.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Israelis could beat them as decisively. They wouldn't even need American intervention, John. So -- and that's why the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember that Japan got into World War II for reasons totally concerned with Asia?
MR. BUCHANAN: They got into World War II by bombing Pearl Harbor because of oil.
MS. CLIFT: That was way too phantasmagorical, John, and you're not going to have China or Russia get involved. But Saddam Hussein is a wild card, except right now, why should he launch any --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because he wants to get out of the Bush-imposed box.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he said he came out of it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he also wants to re-ally himself demonstrably and provably with the Arab states.
MS. CLIFT: Right. He's out of it right now.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: He's sitting prettier now than he has been in some time.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's exactly right.
MS. CLIFT: This administration can't go into Iraq, and if the American troops are mobilized at his border, maybe then he would -- (inaudible due to cross talk).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Do you think that's improbable to expect that a full-fledged airliner would be flown into the World Trade Center? Is that improbable? I want to ask you --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look --
MS. CLIFT: A nuclear --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do think you ought to warn your audience that this is fiction -- (laughter) -- as we did with H.G. Wells' story "The War of the Worlds" in 1938, before they run into the streets.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the likelihood of the Middle East war escalating into a war in which nuclear weaponry is used?
MS. CLIFT: And that's --
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's relatively unlikely. By the way --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean? You mean --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it means relatively unlikely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean like 10 to 1? Five to 2?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't want to quantify. And keep in mind, by the way, that Israel has an air defense that is so good, it may be better than the American air defense right now. So it may very well be that a few Scuds that got shot in will get shot down before they get in and preempt the scenario described.
However, I do think that we run the risk and are increasingly running the risk of something like the radicalization of the Islam and moving towards the clash of civilizations that Professor --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you see Egypt getting in? Can you see Saudi Arabia getting in? Can you see --
MR. BUCHANAN: The issue is, John -- look, the problem with them -- Egypt's got a good army, but they're too far away. They've got to come across Sinai. They're not going to do it.
Iraq will not drop these kinds of weapons on Israel, because that is risking national suicide and a nuclear attack on them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's been --
MR. BUCHANAN: Saddam's playing a very cozy game, giving money to suicide bombers and cutting off oil for a month. It's a very moderate little conservative game.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Saddam Hussein sees the inevitability of what George Bush has in mind, and he's been hearing it since the year 2000.
MR. BUCHANAN: The best thing he's got --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants to get out of that box. That's the argument. That's the argument. That's the argument. (Cross talk.) I don't say I believe it, but that's the argument. (Cross talk.)
All right. On a probability scale of zero to 10, zero meaning zero probability, 10 meaning metaphysical certitude, what's the probability that the Doomsday scenario will become a reality in whole or in considerable part, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: Zero, outside a Tom Clancy novel. (Laughter.) I mean, on the Chinese --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) No part? No part? Not even invasion of Syria?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, they might go to war against the Syrian army in Lebanon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If they go to Syria, then you've got the Syrian troops --
MR. BUCHANAN: They'll kick the daylights out of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, zero, the way you outlined it. But I think there the potential for a nuclear exchange. If Saddam does hit Israel with any kind of biochemical weapons, Israel is a nuclear power, and they would react. But it is not in Saddam's interest to do that, unless he's got American troops at his borders and the B-52s are in the air.
MR. BLANKLEY: About .5. But if you're talking about a generalized Middle East war, maybe resulting after revolutions in countries that get destabilized, then I'd give it about a 3.5.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's -- that's one out of three. That's a pretty high percentage of probability. What I'm saying --
MS. CLIFT: Relatively likely. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is if you reach the point of an all-out Arab-Israeli war, then you have unleashed, or you're getting close to unleashing some kind of a doomsday.
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can't contain that. It's like the quantum theory.
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The quantum theory says that up to a point there are predictable releases of energy, and then you reach a point where there is a catapult in the energy over which you have not predicted.
MS. CLIFT: And that's what you've just done! (Laughter.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, I don't know how to tell you this. I had trouble understanding your intro. Understanding your quantum theory really drove me -- (laughter) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't like my physics either?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My foreign policy --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Whatever you said, let just say this. There is one thing that these authoritarian Arab regimes have learned to do, which is to survive. Any one of them that got into a war with Israel would not survive. That's the last thing they're going to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you are saying that no matter how long -- and you're saying three weeks, she's saying a couple of months -- if he stays there for two months, you think that everything is going to stay the same in these other Arab capitals? Do you think that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I didn't say they're going to stay the same. All I said is they're not going to get into a war with Israel, and they will not. And I'll be happy to come back --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sharon is playing with fire, a fire over which he has lost -- he may well lose control. He may have lost control already.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I agree with you on that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me put it this way, I'd be willing to bet the incredible fees that you pay me to be on this show that you're wrong.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to my question is about a one. (Laughter.)
When we come back, why is Congress funding tattoo removal in California?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: High on the hog.
(Music: "Piggies" by the Beatles) "Have you seen the bigger piggies in their starched white shirts? You will find the bigger piggies stirring up the dirt. Always have clean shirts to play around in."
TOM SCHATZ (President, Citizens Against Government Waste): (From videotape.) We're presenting our 12th annual Congressional Pig Book. It's bigger and fatter than ever. The number of pork projects nearly quadrupled. Instead of protecting the nation, they protected their incumbency, as they porked out at record levels.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The annual "Pig Book" was released this week outlining pork -- federal spending projects that enrich a senator's or congressman's home state or district and are hidden in the legislation. While some are defensible, other pork makes you want to "oink":
- Tattoo removal; California; $50,000.
- Trout, the fish, that is -- mapping the genome of trout; West Virginia; $250,000.
- Chimneys in homes, restoring them; Georgia; $450,000.
- Goth behavior -- G-O-T-H -- i.e. young people who wear all black clothing and black makeup around their eyes, on their lips and under their fingernails -- countering this; Missouri; $273,000
- Seaweed on beaches, cleaning it up; Maui; $250,000.
- Chum salmon, a study of its parasites; Alaska; $500,000.
- Outside home fuel tanks, why they leak; Alaska; $3 million.
- Statue of Greek god Vulcan, renovation of it; Alabama -- get this -- $2 million, on top of $1.5 million already spent on renovation.
The watchdog group that came out with the report cited 8,341 projects, totaling over $20 billion in federal appropriations -- that's a 9 percent increase from last year.
Question: Why is Congress funding tattoo removal?
MS. CLIFT: Well, actually, that's a worthy program. It removes the tattoos --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're working against me, Eleanor!
MS. CLIFT: It removes the tattoos from gang members who are going straight and want to return to society. And it's hard to get a regular job when you're covered with tattoos.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: So that is a -- that's probably a program that's going to pay for itself in terms of the social good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also, the tattoos are unifying symbols of gang membership and --
MR. BLANKLEY: Individually, these programs often are foolish. Their function is that they're the grease that lubricates the legislative system. And -- it's the back-door deal to get the votes for more important legislation, and we're never going to get completely rid of it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, what it tells you is that there is no conservative party left in Washington, D.C., there is no constitutionalist party left in Washington, D.C. The Vulcan statue in Birmingham might be a good idea, but it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three-and-a-half million dollars for a restoration?
MR. BUCHANAN: The City of Birmingham should do it because it's a landmark of theirs, and it is not a national issue. And this is just dreadful. It shows you we've got one big-government, big-spending party in Washington.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Tony is right, it does grease the wheels of Congress. What is dismaying is how much grease it takes and how much fat it takes. It gets worse and worse. And there's something wrong with our system if you can't get intelligent legislation through without this kind of what is fundamentally local corruption. And I just find it disgusting, as I think most of the country does.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with the old American custom of bringing home the bacon? What's wrong with it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, I have a little trouble with bacon, in the first place, but having said that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Name Capitol Hill's undisputed king of pork. One candidate only, please. Quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Bob Byrd of West Virginia.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I think Trent Lott of Mississippi is pretty good, too.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, obviously Bob Byrd of West Virginia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obviously Bob Byrd.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's a tie between Bob Byrd and Trent Lott. They are racing for first, and Trent Lott's got a little bit of an advantage on him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's clearly Bob Byrd, the first senator in United States history to serve for eight terms. He's never let a greased pig slip through his clutches. Bob.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Boston Cardinal Law should resign, and he will this time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: He will also face felony charges for his complicity in moving around priests who committed crimes of pedophilia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: By the end of the year, the draft will be a serious topic of discussion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I was going to predict that Cardinal Law would either resign or be reassigned within 60 days. The heat is growing to the point where he's going to have to be moved out one way or another.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Between now and the end of the year, the Federal Reserve Board, except for perhaps a minor technical adjustment, will not raise interest rates.
Next week, some history-making sound bites from the McLaughlin Group 20-year videotape treasury.
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
®FL¯ PBS SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Court in contention.
The United Nations this week voted into being the ICC, the International Criminal Court, a permanent tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Every member of NATO voted yes except Turkey and the United States. The Bush administration could not have been more definitive in its rejection. Quote: "Our intention is to be divorced from the process and play no role in it. The ICC is not the end-all and be-all of accountability for atrocities."
The Bush administration not only wants to stay out completely, but it may also expunge Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour treaty signature so as to, quote-unquote, "unsign" any appearance of a U.S. endorsement. Both houses of the U.S. Congress also overwhelmingly reject the ICC, and the two nascent superpowers, China and Russia, are staying out of the ICC.
Question: Do you think we were justified, Mort, in staying out?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. I think the ICC is terrible for the United States. We are the -- if anybody is the world's policeman today, it is us. It is our troops who will be at risk. And frankly, it will also be another reason for the military not to want to engage in a number of places where we may want them to go because they're going to put their troops in harm's way in a totally different way. If a pilot goes down in the Middle of Yugoslavia, let me tell you, that pilot can be tired in a criminal court, and that's an outrage for American forces and for the United States. I'm glad we --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Sharon has to worry?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I do not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, sure. They'll go right --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he does?
MR. BUCHANAN: They'll go right after the Israelis first on this thing.
But look, this is a threat to American sovereignty. It's an institution of world government. Mr. Bush should not only unsign that, we shouldn't fund it, we shouldn't let them meet on American soil, and we should tell them if they pick up an American soldier or pilot, we're coming to get him.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Why is this a threat?
MR. BUCHANAN: It is a world court which is above nations, John. It's an instrument of global governance.
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a violation of -- it's a violation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you believe in world cohesion? Are you against -- are you anti-unity?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I'm pro-independence.
MS. CLIFT: How about hearing from somebody on the other side here? I happen to think it's a good idea.
MR. BLANKLEY: Of course!
MS. CLIFT: The Nuremberg trials worked well. This would make a permanent court to handle those kinds of things.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: And we're just about the only democracy that doesn't want to be a party. And if the president removes the U.S. signature, it's another smack at the rest of the world --
MR. BLANKLEY: No. Look --
MS. CLIFT: -- which already sees us --
MR. BLANKLEY: Good.
MS. CLIFT: Good? Do you want to be seen as a pariah nation on everything?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't care. I want to be seen --
MS. CLIFT: There are plenty of safeguards here --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear Tony!
MS. CLIFT: There are plenty of safeguards here --
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a violation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me! Excuse me!
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a violation --
MS. CLIFT: -- they're not going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor! Excuse me!
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a violation of Article 3 of the Constitution, which makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter of our law, because it expressly allows this international body to review and reject the findings of American trial court.
Second. Already, the Spanish judge who is trying -- who went after Pinochet, this week, in part of his effort to get a Nobel Peace Prize, has said he wants to go after Sharon. Which would mean that any time Sharon traveled outside of Israel or into Spain, he could try to grab him.
This is going to be, I think, utterly rejected by the United States. Certainly it will never pass on a bipartisan basis.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, but he has no standing. He's an insatiable publicity hound, is he not?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he accomplished a lot.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, but that's what the court lets people do.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That court is really a travesty. We are the ones who are the ones really it's aimed at, frankly, because we are the ones who are going to --
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush should unsign this thing. He should undo what Clinton did.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't care about that. We should not participate in it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't your intellectual --
MS. CLIFT: Even if he unsigns it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment! I'm asking Mort a question. (Laughter.)
Don't your intellectual cognoscenti friends endorse this idea?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Both of them do not, actually. (Laughter.)