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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT AND MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN

TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 15-16, 2003


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Quartet Road Map.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) We have reached a hopeful moment for progress toward the vision of Middle Eastern peace.

After its recent elections, the nation of Israel has a new government, and the Palestinian Authority has created the new position of prime minister.

To be a credible and responsible partner, the new Palestinian prime minister must hold a position of real authority.

Immediately upon confirmation, the road map for peace will be given to the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The United States has developed this plan over the last several months in close cooperation with Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

America is committed and I am personally committed to implementing our road map toward peace.

Question: Is this a breakthrough, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, I don't think it's a great breakthrough. But it is hopeful in this sense: the president haws committed himself, after the war with Iraq, to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli problem the way his father did after the war with Kuwait.

But the proof is in the pudding. The president of the United States -- the only time he leaned on Sharon, Sharon backed him off, and the president backed down. I honestly don't believe the president's going to have the political clout to really pressure Sharon in an election year or moving up to an election year, and I just don't think he's going to do it. So I don't think we're going to get real progress until after 2004.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: It's an attempt to change the subject from the diplomatic fiasco over Iraq, and it's an attempt to give Tony Blair a bone. Tony Blair is in real trouble, and he needs to be able to go to his public and his Cabinet and say there is something positive in all of this seeming wreckage having to do with Iraq.

But this road map -- I mean, what is this grand plan he's going to turn over? First of all, he didn't make progress on the settlements. Settlement activity has been illegal, as U.S. policy, since 1967. He conditioned it on the cessation of hostilities, which means never.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor's right that it's a bone, but a bone is of value, which is why people want to receive it. I think that this is something that can be chewed on, to continue the metaphor a little bit. I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's a breakthrough?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a potential. It puts -- it follows up on his speech from a few Wednesdays ago at the American Enterprise Institute, where he laid out these principles. Now he's beginning to give a time line for action, and we'll have to see how eventually -- you never want to be hopeful when you're dealing with the Middle East, but yes, this is a step that could be -- lead to something. We'll have to see.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, is it a breakthrough?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think it's a breakthrough, but it is, I think, directly connected to Tony Blair's problems. You notice that Tony Blair immediately after this had a press conference, in which he is trying to basically appeal to the left wing of the Labor Party, in order to shore up his support.

The reason why it's not a breakthrough is that what you didn't show in that set-up was that he said it's "a vision towards my June 24th speech." The draft of the Quartet that the -- the draft of the road map that the Quartet had was based on what they call the responsibility lies with -- the whole problem is Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The president's June 24th speech -- the problem, basically, is the Palestinians and their invocation and use of terror.

Now, the reason why he's referring to a prime minister is that there is no prime minister, even though he is nominally appointed. This guy -- Abu Mazin, okay -- has no power; Arafat retains the power over security, foreign policy, military and all aspects of the peace negotiations. And what they're trying to do is to make it clear to Arafat that that will not do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So there's no prime minister that will have the authority that they want.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me take some issue with that. If Abu Mazin becomes the prime minister, then he will have absolute power on security and finance and administration. The problem is Arafat has not confirmed this, and that's what that code word "confirmation" the president used means. Arafat must confirm it. The reason why he came with this now -- the president -- is because it's right after the choice -- the name choice of Abu Mazin by Arafat. Now, Mazin himself has not accepted, because Mazin won't accept unless he gets that absolute power.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the question is: Will he get it?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's the leverage that can be brought? One is Bush and the other is Sharon. And secondly, the Arab League will probably lean on them. And the betting is that Arafat will be forced to capitulate and give him the power. So, let's move on to this and we can pick up from where we left off.

MS. CLIFT: But -- (laughter).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. What Palestine must do.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) A Palestinian state must be a reformed, and peaceful and democratic state that abandons forever the use of terror.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that tell you, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Probably that it's hopeless. The precondition to Israel having to pull back on -- freeze the settlements, et cetera, is that they've got to restrain for some sustained period of time Palestinian terrorism. The problem has been that when they've tried to get 10 days in a row, on the ninth day, there's always a bomb thrown. So the question is, can sufficient pressure be brought to bear by Saudis, Egyptians, others on the Palestinians to create the responsibility for Israel to respond?

MS. CLIFT: Isn't it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. This is what Israel must do. Hold on, Eleanor. This is what Israel must do.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) The government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves, must take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable and credible Palestinian state and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You could almost exegete every word of that. For example, he says that -- the president said, "work towards a final status agreement." What the Palestinians want is the next step to be the final status, not to continue the process. Do you think that's an insuperable hurdle?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: At this point it is an insuperable hurdle because none of the terrorism has stopped; there's no democratic process in place or there's no prospect of it being in place; and despite what you said before about Abu Mazin, the Palestinian constitution -- the new one that they just issued -- says that the power that you think will be with Abu Mazin rests with the prime -- with the president. That's called Arafat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Arafat is appointing, selecting this guy. This guy has no troops on the ground to enforce what he wants.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do these conditions go over with the conservatives in Israel?

MS. CLIFT: Everybody --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, conservatives want to work with Abu Mazin. They want him to have the power. Sharon wants -- he's already met with him. Okay?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the problem?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The problem is Arafat. Arafat is not yielding the power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we have to put that aside to see whether or not the leverage on him will actually make him capitulate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If that happens, if Arafat is truly removed from any position of power, we'll make startling progress in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You will notice too how this is conditioned: that he says the government of Israel, as the terror threat is removed and security improves, must take concrete steps.

MS. CLIFT: That gives Sharon maneuvering room to not do anything. John, if you've gotten fooled by all those pretty words which signify nothing -- this is really just an attempt to put some pretty gloss on a policy that has gone awry in this part of the world.

MR. BUCHANAN: You have been drawn in here, John. The president made this up there to appease the Arabs briefly and to appease Europeans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And to change the news?

MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And to change the news?

MR. BUCHANAN: And look, Blair said he's going to evenhanded. Do you seriously think the president of the United States is going to be evenhanded in this? Ariel Sharon, quite frankly, and his hard right- wingers in his cabinet are not going to stop settlement building. They're not going to give up the West Bank.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because they believe that much of the West Bank belongs to them permanently, and they're not going to surrender it. And George Bush --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you mean --

MR. BUCHANAN: George Bush is not going to make them give it up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, let's get this straight, now. Do you mean that Sharon does not want a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sharon didn't believe in Oslo, he doesn't believe in Camp David, he doesn't believe in that one down there in -- and he doesn't believe in the Saudi plan, and he doesn't believe --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on. I want to hear from Mort.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, put it out.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He does believe in a Palestinian state. He has fought his own party on it.

MR. BUCHANAN; Yeah, Banistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MR. BUCHANAN: A Banistan.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's made everyone --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not like that at all. Okay? There is a provisional state, which the president called for, as a precursor to going to a final-status negotiation. It will not necessarily be what was at Camp David, but it will be what the president called for -- namely, a viable, contiguous state -- when it gets there. But the terrorism has to end, and some kind of government that is a viable government --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You've given Hamas veto power. You've given Hamas veto power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move on. I want to know what --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You can call it giving veto power, but the Israelis have to live with the terrorism and they're not going to accept it. The Hamas has veto power only because the Fatah will not confront them. And the Fatah is Arafat. He will never and has not confronted the terrorists.

MR. BUCHANAN: But you know in the end, even if there's a settlement, there will be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe Abu Mazin will.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But he doesn't control the forces on the ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, I can tell you that there was a meeting in Cairo, and Abu Mazin, either directly or through his emissary, leaned on --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he will do it.

All right, let me finish.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If he has the power; I agree with you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's a ray of hope; okay?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't disagree with that. I think it is a ray of hope.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It sounds like you do.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I wanted to ask you what you think of this, because Blair went beyond Bush at that press conference. He says withdrawal from Palestinian areas occupied from September 2000.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush didn't say anything about that. Is that going to go down okay with Israel?

MS. CLIFT: It's meaningless.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It will definitely go down okay within England. Okay?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Within the Labor Party, it's terrific.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can Sharon swallow that, other conditions being met?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If the conditions are met, he will withdraw.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's another one, too. He says --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The conditions, however, involve the end of terrorism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Blair also says freeze on all settlement activity. The president says, as progress is made towards peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. He wants freeze now, Blair does, There's a slight condition, "as progress is made towards peace." So they're loosey-goosey in there.

MS. CLIFT: Blair is --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Now, the Israelis have agreed that there should be no new settlements, there have been no new settlements. What they will also agree to is a freeze on settlements.

MS. CLIFT: No, they just build on the old ones. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, that's exactly right. It's called natural growth. (Laughter.) They can't stop it, but they have agreed --

MS. CLIFT: Just like this conversation. Natural growth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Mort, I got a question. All right. Can we please -- please, may I have the floor here? I've got a question.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: By all means. It's your show. Take a chance! (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: While we're on the subject of Israel, what is Israel's policy on the Iraq war?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Israel's policy -- this is entirely an American decision. They are not involved in it at all. They are not participating in it in any way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they stay out of it, except for the fact that they are trying to coordinate their defense in the event that they are attacked, particularly with chemical or biological agents.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does the popular opinion in --

MR. BUCHANAN: You know what their position is, John? Get the Iraq war over and get on Teheran quick. Go after Iran. That is Sharon's position.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Laughing.) That's not his position!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about -- what is their position on -- you know, this has been very distracting. I lost my train of thought here.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Laughing.) Clearly.

MS. CLIFT: Global warming? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are we -- on what?

MS. CLIFT: Global warming? I don't know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No. What is the popular opinion, if there is no governmental opinion?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, no, I think, in general, across the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the popular opinion?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Israelis would be just as happy to have Saddam Hussein out of there, for sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's 80 percent in favor of going in -- unilaterally, even?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They don't take -- they just want Saddam Hussein out, as -- by the way, so too with the Jordanians, the Saudis and the Egyptians.

MS. CLIFT: But they --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They all want Hussein out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is one position that Israel has made public, and that is, "we're not going to be in the same position, passive position, we were the last time."

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "We are going to respond, and we're going to respond forcefully."

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It all depends on what happens to them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let's suppose -- all right --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If there is an attack that involves chemical weapons, given the history of the Jews in World War II, the Israelis will respond.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. What would happen then? With what?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I don't know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it be a small nuclear bomb, a taking out --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not. There will be no -- absolutely not. There will be no nuclear weapons used by Israel. They don't need to do it, and they will not do it. That is not the issue, any more than the United States would use --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Are the two main thrusts of Bush's foreign policy today at loggerheads, meaning will the Israeli- Palestinian peace road map be at loggerheads with the war with Iraq? At loggerheads or not at loggerheads, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: They are not in conflict at all. As a matter of fact, they go together. But I don't -- I think the second one is not doable at this time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, they go together, but the road map is fantasy at this point, and the road map should have come before the Iraq activity.

MR. BLANKLEY: Henry Kissinger last fall said the road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad. I think there's a theory -- and we'll find out in the next few months whether the theory is valid -- that having resolved the matter successfully in Iraq, it makes it easier to resolve the matter in the Middle East. It's a hope, and we'll see if it's an expectation.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The first Bush administration, after the first Gulf War, went to Madrid, and they made progress in the Middle East. The second Bush administration is going to try and do the exact same thing. It's not going to be easy, but they'll make progress in the Middle East.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's at loggerheads. I think that war in Iraq will inflame the region and make peace more difficult between Israel and Palestine.

When we come back, George Bush is about to take the biggest gamble of his presidency. Will he call it right, or will he call it wrong?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Bush's biggest gamble.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN (foreign minister of France): (From videotape and through interpreter.) France will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes the automatic use of force.

IGOR IVANOV (foreign minister of the Russian Federation): (From videotape and through interpreter.) Now we need not new Security Council resolutions. We have enough of those.

TANG JIAXUAN (foreign minister of China): (From videotape and through interpreter.) We are not in favor of a new resolution, particularly one authorizing the use of force.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very few of the world's big players are siding with President Bush's plans for war with Iraq. But the commander in chief presses on to see who will join the U.S. in what will surely be the biggest gamble of Bush's presidency, launching a war without direct provocation.

Such a war, say most, is without precedent in American history. But those who support and those who oppose the war agree on one thing: its consequences will reach far beyond the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

If Bush is right, here's how the cards will look. War will: one, stabilize the Middle East, notably the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; two, prompt better behavior from the other "axis of evil" members, Tehran and Pyongyang; and three, mark the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda because governments everywhere will no longer support or condone terrorism for fear of the USA.

But if Bush is wrong, he loses his bet. War will: one, create a prairie fire across the Middle East, toppling our friendly regimes in Riyadh, Cairo, and Amman, and replacing them with Islamic extremist rule; two, encourage more terrorism, notably here, against the United States; three, prompt a global nuclear arms race as countries seek to protect themselves with the bomb from the American hyperpower; and four, gut America's traditional alliances, leaving us isolated in an angry and more dangerous world.

To recap, if Bush wins the gamble, war will stabilize the Middle East, prompt better behavior from the "axis of evil," wipe out the al Qaeda. If Bush loses the gamble, war will create chaos in the Middle East, encourage more terrorism, and prompt a nuclear arms race and gut America's traditional alliances.

Question: How will the world see us if Bush loses the gamble?

Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look, you've made it an either/or. Usually in life things aren't as good or as bad as they seem, and there's an intermediate zone, which is probably where the results are going to be. It's not going to be a perfect lay down hand for immediate democracy, but there's a pretty good chance we're not going to have revolution in Saudi Arabia in Jordan and the Gulf states.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he does lose, though, don't you think that America will like an aggressive, hubris-ridden, and colonialist, and imperialist power? Don't you think so?

MR. BUCHANAN: If he loses his gamble, the age of -- this is an imperial war we're going on. We're going into a country to change its government and change its foreign policy. If he -- I agree, incidentally, with Tony; I think it's going to be a mixture.

But if he lost his gamble totally, what's going to happen, quite frankly, is the withdrawal of American empire from the Middle East and the world. And that would --

MS. CLIFT: It is colossally arrogant to think that Bush and his war Cabinet are right and the rest of the world is wrong. And he has miscalculated every step in the diplomatic game since last November, and he thinks that he can run rough shod over the world the way he does over the political opposition in this country and that he can tame public opinion and the press elsewhere, and it doesn't work on the world stage. And the miscalculation that he's made here at home and abroad really gives me pause as to how this war is going to unfold.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, there's plenty of arrogance to go around --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There's one thing that is going to happen. If we go to war, we're going to win the military side of the war. The greater danger for America is what happens afterwards, because there are so many different ethnic, and tribal, and sort of religious clans and differences within Iraq that you have the danger of all kinds of internal conflict there, in which we are going to be a military presence, and that's going to be a very uncomfortable position. But having said that, the resolute action of the United States, in my judgment, is worth the risks that are involved in it because it protects us ultimately from one of the worst regimes in the world.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me, Jack -- Jack, let me make one quick point, because I think you set up a false alternative in your set-up. You said if --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've said that about three times already. (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: -- if Bush -- you said if Bush doesn't do this, we'll have an arms race. Well, North Korea's already going nuclear; Iran's already going nuclear; Pakistan and India have already gone nuclear --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, if he wins the gamble -- if we wins the gamble, he's going to quiet down Kim Jong Il.

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, he will!

MR. BLANKLEY: So there's -- in that sense, there's no gamble; he was going to act in any event.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, if the arms race, the nuclear arms race, is already underway, he's being openly challenged by Iran and defied by North Korea, frankly --

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- but he probably has propelled it a little bit with this "axis of evil" talk.

MS. CLIFT: And he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we wins, then dozens of intelligence agencies around the world and dozens of nations will get into the al Qaeda containment act.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree --

MS. CLIFT: They're in the act already!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No question about it!

MR. BUCHANAN: They're with us already on that. They're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also if we wins, then he's a shoo-in for reelection. But if he loses, it's a one-term presidency.

MS. CLIFT: There's no way --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think you're absolutely right about that.

MS. CLIFT: There's no way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, he thinks that my dichotomy, which I think is a friendly one, he thinks it's too stark and it's too unfriendly. Do you believe that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right, right. Well, I do think it is stark, John. I have to tell you that. (Chuckles.) Let me just say you could win some of those objectives. You said, for example, that al Qaeda will be eliminated if we win. That is not the case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The fight against al Qaeda and the terrorist networks are going to go on for a long time.

MS. CLIFT: There's no way he --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But this is going to help us -- it is going to help us, without question.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. There's no way he wins the aftermath. If there's a quagmire, that's when it comes. He has steadfastly refused to put a price tag on what it's going to cost, and you're not going to get money from the rest of the world.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: And people who know say it's at least $20 billion a year to keep troops over there --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush -- John --

MR. BLANKLEY: We've never had a war --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- was going to pay for it with oil.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. BLANKLEY: We've never had a war without -- no war has been started where you knew what the cost was afterwards. These are all guesses.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MS. CLIFT: No president has sent up a budget demanding huge -- excuse me!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We don't know what the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: -- and demanded huge -- excuse me, let me finish!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nobody knows what the costs of a war is until we know how the war ends!

MS. CLIFT: Asking for -- no president has asked for huge tax cuts without putting any dollar figure on the cost of a war he's made up his mind to fight. It is totally disingenuous!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There was never a dollar cost on World War II!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. It's cabal time. Mr. Secretary, can you end any speculation that our policy has been developed and pushed by supporters of Israel or any other group, ethnic or otherwise?

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: (From videotape.) The strategy with respect to Iraq has derived from our interest in the region and our support of U.N. resolutions over time. It is not driven by any small cabal that is buried away somewhere, that is telling President Bush or me or Vice President Cheney or Condi Rice or other members of our administration what our policies should be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What prompted this question and this response, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, you'd have to ask the secretary of State that. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you divine?

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, oh! (Laughs.) Because I don't want to guess what he might be thinking. Look, there's been --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly! We've only got 30 seconds for this important subject.

MR. BLANKLEY: There's been a controversy about whether to look into the motives of some of the advisers, staffers and others, and theoreticians to the president. Pat's made that argument. I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He made it this week in his magazine.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: The American Conservative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. And I did a column in which I regretted the fact that he was raising the question of the motives. I think it's always bad to raise the question of motives in politics. And I think, regarding particularly fact that these were Jewish staffers -- I think, given the history of that, it's unfortunate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but you did that in your own column a couple of weeks ago, or very recently -- "Franc-tireur."

MR. BLANKLEY: "Franc-tireur," yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. You did it. You raised all kinds of questions.

MR. BLANKLEY: My --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we have to move on. (Laughter.) And my question to you is, did you read Buchanan?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I did.

MR. BUCHANAN: The whole thing?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The whole thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Buchanan is okay in criticizing Israel, without necessarily lapsing into anti-Semitism?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think you can criticize Israeli without lapsing into anti-Semitism, without question. I'm not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he clear that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm sure whether -- look, let me just say this. We have had three administrations -- Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 -- who have basically advocated the same policy. Pat made the same concern -- expressed the same concerns for Bush 41. I didn't agree with him then. I don't agree with him now.

There is no doubt but that we've had 17 resolutions in the U.N. You have Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, all of these people supporting this policy. I guarantee you it does not come from a small cabal anywhere.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, personal privilege --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. All right. Now I want --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And the implication of a small cabal does suggest --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want an answer to my question.

MR. BUCHANAN: Point of personal privilege.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Quickly!

MS. CLIFT: Let him speak.

MR. BUCHANAN: Point of personal privilege. Look, there is a neoconservative group in this town of editors, writers, some of them -- Richard Perle -- who are in government now, who have wanted to go to war on Iraq for years and years, who have worked with the Israeli government, urged them to abandon Oslo, urged them to focus on Iraq, and they are now in government. Some of them have urged us to attack a number of Arab states before 9/11, and it's legitimate to point that out and ask if they're not trying to impose their agenda on our government. And that's --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. If --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you also listed in your -- you had in your list of these individuals goys. Right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Who?

MS. CLIFT: Unfortunately, it's --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: "Goys," he said. "Goys."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Goys.

MR. BUCHANAN: Who are they?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Bill Bennett --

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, listen, it's got 30 people in there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. It's bigger than a small cabal. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question to you is, you know that you are now eligible for this kind of striping.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, listen, John, I've been bitten so many times by that, I'm inoculated now, and occasionally I need a little more venom just to keep me going. (Laughter.) I would get it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you --

MS. CLIFT: The voters in Palm Beach are not going to voting for him in the next --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would agree --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What? What?

MS. CLIFT: Voters in Palm Beach are not going to be voting for him in the next election. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, but the problem that I worry about is that -- I mean, I think some of that is venom, Pat. I have to honest with you. I do not think, actually, when you single out a particular group, whether they're -- and question their patriotism, whether they're doing it in America's interest -- we've had three governments who have done it because they believed it's in America's national security interest. The fact that --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think they confuse Israel's interests with America's interests.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You think they do, and you can make your point. Okay?

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think that any particular ethnic group or others who have a concern with --

MR. BUCHANAN: Cuban-Americans are responsible for the embargo on Cuba. It's a simple fact.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Also, there are intellectual weaknesses in Pat's position. He's cites the neocons who wanted to go after Syria, Libya and Iran for sponsoring terrorism as though the terrorist proxies of these countries, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas, had never targeted Americans. This is disingenuous at best. Past American targets of these and other radical Palestinian groups include Pan Am 103, TWA 47, the 1983 Marine barracks bombing, CIA Station Chief Buckley's kidnapping, hostage-taking in Beirut, the Achilles Lauro, and the Beirut embassy annex bombing.

What about that?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's all before the first Gulf War, and Syria was an ally in the first Gulf War. Frankly, we should have gone after Libya for Pan Am 103; that would have been a legitimate target for the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back. ####

END