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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: PAT BUCHANAN, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND GERARD BAKER

TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 12-13, 2003


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Regime changed.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) We have seen the character of this new generation of American armed forces. Millions of Americans are proud of our military, and so am I. I am honored to be the commander in chief. (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER: There is still more fighting to be done and pockets of resistance to be mopped up, but the paramount military mission of Operation Iraqi Freedom has already been achieved. This was a war with multiple rationales, shifting ones. But its ongoing and original objective, although not always a stated one, falling on and off the radar, was to end the reign of Saddam Hussein. And now the regime has fallen. From Basra in the south, to Kirkuk in the north, to Baghdad in the center. And the Iraqis are more and more jubilant.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Should the elites who criticize Rumsfeld and Myers, carping at them, now feel shamed? Or did Myers and Rumsfeld just luck out?

Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, some of the general officers, like Barry McCaffrey, that criticized Rumsfeld are war heroes in their own right. Barry McCaffrey's had four tours of duty. But I do agree that this was an excellent war plan that Tommy Franks worked up and that Rumsfeld signed off on. He was three weeks to victory over a country the size of France, with 400,000 men or so under arms. And the core of it was the fact that we had air supremacy, that Saddam could not move his forces anywhere to intercept ours. I mean, we've got those Global Hawks, you've got U-2s, you've got satellites, Predators. Quite frankly, what you've got is a 21st century war machine up against about a 1960s war machine, and it was a complete military rout. And Rumsfeld, the president, and Tommy Franks and all those soldiers deserve enormous credit. But I'm not going to fault their critics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it was enormously lopsided.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it's -- I mean, it's an unbelievable one-sided victory, John. It's like the Six Day War, it's like Germany overrunning France. Except, I will say this: The Iraqi National Republican Guard is not like the French army; it's not as great an institution as the French army and -- but 100 casualties, 100 dead in a three-week war? It's astounding.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, the Republican Guard has melted away, but they may have melted away for a last stand in Saddam's hometown. So we maybe ought not to pronounce victory quite yet.

In terms of the criticism, it may have been misplaced at the time when it was voiced. But I think the overall argument that you need more troops as a margin of error still holds up, and it's especially true now, as you see the looting and the anarchy that's occurring. I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because there aren't enough?

MS. CLIFT: Right. We would be in a better position to police some of that if we weren't so worried about finishing up the war and protecting the troops and the supply lines.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At least with our inexperienced Marines.

By the way, you noticed that I have laryngitis, right?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I hadn't noticed. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I hope no one thinks -- would be sufficiently foolish to take advantage of me.

MR. BLANKLEY: I shan't. But look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because if my voice fails, I can always hit you with one of my pastilles. (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I can duck; I'm very fast. (Laughs, laughter.)

Look, not only were they not lucky, they were unlucky, and the plan worked so well. After all, at the last minute, they couldn't get the 4th armored out of Turkey; at the last minute, they had the worst sandstorm in a decade or a generation. Notwithstanding that, the plan worked.

The reason the plan worked, along with the heroism and competence of the men, is because of the speed which our army is now capable of functioning; the real-time reconnaissance, the ability to move large and small units into a battle that's already going on. And it allows -- we can get inside the calculating time of the enemy. And that's why, in fact, in the future, we're going to continue not to need as many boots on the ground, because the technology that can be used with the speed that no one else currently can match will permit us to send four or five divisions here or there around the world and be able to beat larger armies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's not neglect the airmen and their performance. They dropped an enormous amount of tonnage -- (cross talk) -- it was always great precision, for the most part, and admirable work, even though it does frighten one.

(To Mr. Baker.) I'm sure you weren't frightened, being a hardy Brit.

MR. BAKER: Well, actually, I was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, I wanted to ask you a domestic politics question. Does it make any difference in domestic policy whether weapons of mass destruction have -- are or are not found?

MR. BAKER: I don't think it does. You know, I think wars have a habit -- have a way of changing the subjects, and the subject before this war, yes, and the reason for going to war through the United Nations, through that debate and everything else --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. BAKER: -- was Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The truth is, when you see those people liberated, when you see what's happened and when you see the outcome of the war, it's that that matters.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about for Mr. Blair? He's talking about weapons of mass destruction this very week.

MR. BAKER: Yeah, he is, and I think -- look, let's be clear; they probably will still find weapons of mass destruction, but nobody believes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is he talking about it?

MR. BAKER: Because that was the original justification for going to war. Everybody believes that there were weapons of mass destruction there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was -- you know it was a phony justification from the start. It was a dodge. It was a dodge.

MR. BAKER: And there are -- no, it wasn't phony -- it wasn't phony. We know very well, from -- even from Hans Blix's reports, and I do think this is getting into the range of ancient history, though, already, but we do know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, get out of it fast! (Laughter.)

MR. BAKER: (Laughs.) We do know from that that there are lots and lots of --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: The Bush administration --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One small point. The technology involved in the production of chemical weapons is rudimentary for the most part, and many biological weapons; you can make them in a downtown flat in Baghdad in two or three weeks. So therefore, you're never going to get rid of them.

MR. BAKER: John, I don't think this is going to matter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Eleanor.

(Cross talk.)

MR. BAKER: I don't think in the end, this is going to matter. What's going to matter --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm sorry -- I'm sorry I got into this. Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, the Bush administration wanted regime change; they couldn't sell that to the U.N., so they tried to make the weapons of mass destruction argument. But frankly, I don't -- I think they're going to find chemical weapons; he's had them, he's used them. I don't think they're going to find them in the quantity that they've talked about.

But you know, the Nazis who fled Germany took uncut diamonds with them. And in the anarchy that we're witnessing now, I think the Iraqi equivalent of those uncut diamonds are a canister or two of chemical material or biological material. And the chance of these weapons falling into the wrong hands is greater now than it was before the war.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me -- let me make one quick point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to move it on. But go ahead. Go ahead.

MR. BLANKLEY: Just a quick point. We talk about -- correctly, Gerry, when you talk about the purposes of the war changing, World War II was started for the British over Poland. Poland was not free for another 50 years afterwards. But the defeat of Hitler, the ending of the Holocaust, was more than sufficient justification for the war, even though the original purpose wasn't met.

And to see the joy on the face of all these liberated Iraqis should inspire everybody to have justified the war, even though we're going to find weapons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you notice that the joy on the face --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, that's the British history. Half of Europe wound up under Stalin, 10 Christian countries, 50 million dead. (Laughing) Listen we can argue World War II, my friend!

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you noticed that the joy on the faces of the looters even exceeds the joy on the faces --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, this is -- John, this is the big problem, now in my judgment is, we've got to get military police. American Marines are combat troops; they're not in there to deal with looters and that. And I noticed Rumsfeld said we're going to try to get military police from every NATO country. We can get those folks in there. Because that can sour and destroy the victory. It's already doing. They're ripping up everything out of these hospitals and leaving the patients --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're tearing the cities apart. Tearing the cities apart.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let's not exaggerate.

MR. BAKER (?): Yeah, let's not exaggerate -- (cross talk) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Are you aware -- are you aware of when this idea originated of attacking Iraq? Have you read the book, "Bush At War"?

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, the idea of attacking Iraq was in the neo-con idea all the way through the 1990s. Bush did --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When did it arrive.

MR. BUCHANAN: 9/11 -- when Bush did 9/11, after he did -- after he did the Taliban, he said where do I go next? And Wolfowitz and these fellows said, here is your plan, sir, and --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- reference to in the book is 9/13, and the big exponent of it was Wolfowitz --

MR. BAKER: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- after the idea was raised by Rumsfeld. 9/13 -- two days afterwards. And Wolfowitz argued that it was doable, doable.

Now, what does that mean? Does that mean that they were looking for some way of responding to 9/11? Of course it does.

MR. BAKER: No. No. I think it's important to remember two things. First of all, before 9/11, this administration was being criticized by some of these neo-cons that Pat's talking about for being too soft on Iraq. As President Bush himself said, they were working on a new sanctions regime, they were working on smart sanctions; they had no absolute commitment to do it.

What changed with 9/11 -- and I think this is true at the president -- and certainly Vice President Cheney, and I think the president too, was a realization that you have in the Arab world fundamentally dysfunctional systems --

MR. BUCHANAN: But John is talking about --

MR. BAKER: -- and that the only way America can really be at peace and security is if you tackle those --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- we've got to get out.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John is talking about Bob Woodward in his book, he said Wolfowitz was the first guy to bring this up. Even -- he said, "Don't do Afghanistan. Iraq is doable." This is even before they were going to do Afghanistan.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why did he do that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because this has been their agenda. And they -- frankly, Wolfowitz believes it's right to take down all these rogue regimes. You go into Iraq. You've got the centerpiece of it all. Some of them will start to collapse.

MS. CLIFT: And --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's his view.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, they were looking for a way to close the chapter on 9/11. That's why they chose Iraq.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. You missed it by --

MS. CLIFT: No, because it doesn't close the chapter on 9/11 at all.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The veil and the shield of invulnerability was pierced by 9/11.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They had a way of returning to this matter in order to demonstrate to all comers, particularly in that part of the world, that we are not to be meddled with, which leads to the exit question:

Is it -- it is a cliche of Arab politics that a show of strength wins respect. Has Bush won respect in the Arab world by defeating Iraq? Yes or no. Quickly!

MR. BUCHANAN: We are awe -- we are a subject of awe and enormous fear and apprehension in the Arab world, but there is no love for the United States of America, I believe, in the Moslem or Arab world, except among those Iraqis whom we have liberated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The Arab world was stunned by the speed by which this was accomplished. But the extremists in the Arab world -- and they -- and there are a fair number of them -- will take this as a challenge to confront the U.S. And I think we're already seeing that within Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think the Arab world is a monolith. But yes, strength is an important factor, but there's also an element of humiliation. I don't know how the two are going to balance out.

MR. BAKER: There's fear and there's hatred for America in the Arab world. But I think, after the events of the last three weeks, there's a good deal more respect, too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the answer is yes, he's won respect. And I think it's also due to Saddam, who now appears to the Arabs as a fool for taking on American strength.

When we come back: The American who is waiting to fill the shoes of Saddam Hussein.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Saddam's American successor.

RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAY GARNER: (From videotape.) We're here to do the job of liberating them and providing them with a -- with a form of government that represents the freely elected will of the people.

ANNOUNCER: Retired Lieutenant General Jay M. Garner will be the de facto governor of 24 million Iraqis. He is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's hand-picked choice for the postwar interim period.

GEN. GARNER: (From videotape.) We'll do this as fast as we can. And once we've done it, we'll turn everything over to them.

ANNOUNCER: The Garner rundown: Born, Arcadia, Florida; 64 years of age; married; one daughter. Florida State, BA; Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Masters, Public Administration.

U.S. Army, military career 34 years; two tours of Vietnam; and also this Gulf War I highlight: resettlement of Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq in 1991, with Kurds carrying him hero-like on their shoulders to his helicopter the day he left Iraq.

Garner retired from the military in '97, and as a civilian, seminar visitor to Israel in '98, guest of JINSA, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a conservative lobbying group. Two years later, in 2000, Garner signed a JINSA statement praising Israel for showing, quote, "remarkable restraint," unquote, in dealing with the Palestinian uprising. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee says the Garner appointment will be, quote, "guaranteed to breed deep resentment and bitter opposition," unquote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Garner also has two legal actions affecting him. One has been settled, the other is in the wings. Both are anti-Garner press bait. You got that? Is Garner a good choice for the Iraq job, or are Rumsfeld and company politically tone deaf?

Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think his qualifications specifically as you mention in the set-up piece, his relationship with the Kurdish Iraqis, his working there, the heroic stature that they hold him, obviously he has a good relationship at least with part of the population. He apparently also has remarkable skills at a practical level of getting these kind of jobs done. So those are the pluses.

Now, can people smear him? I'm sure there's a long line of people who are going to line up to try to smear him, and we'll see whether they can succeed. My guess is that his sheer competence is going to trump the smear efforts that are being lined up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the fact that he's military?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think that's a tremendous asset right now. I think the Iraqis are more likely to have more confidence in a military man. They've just seen how effective American military is. When you combine that with his humanitarian work after the last war, I think it's the perfect marriage.

MS. CLIFT: First of all, he hasn't even gotten into Iraq yet. He's in Kuwait. He's not even going to go in until they restore some sort of security.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the plan.

MS. CLIFT: And I think, you know, get anybody in there fast because I think that's the real danger now. The anarchy and the images that are coming across the Arab world are our enemy.

MR. BLANKLEY: The people who planned the war so well are also planning the peace pretty well, I think.

MS. CLIFT: I think Mr. Garner is a capable individual, but I think given the suspicion about U.S. motives in that region and the ties that he has to corporations and oil and defense and so forth, plus the visitations on behalf of Israel, I think are going to create a problem among a population that is already very conspiratorially minded.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He congratulated the Israelis on their military handling of the intifada. Now, the Palestinians, and the Arabs generally, look upon us as conquerors and imperialists, and very much siding with Israel.

Does that disqualify Garner?

I ask you, Gerry.

MR. BAKER: No, it certainly doesn't disqualify him. I mean, obviously, as Tony said, he's got a lot of support and very well liked among the Kurds. And in the end, I think what's going to matter here is we shouldn't get hung up on this idea that it's like some sort of Roman emperor appointing a governor of a region who's going to govern it for 20 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's exactly the way he's going to be viewed, he's going to be viewed that way.

MR. BAKER: This is an interim -- this is an interim authority, which is going to hand over power as quickly as possible to the Iraqi people so they can -- you know, they can run their own affairs, they can actually do what they've been denied being able to do for the last 25 years, and for longer, actually than that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you brought us right up to "Kofi Break."

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN: (From videotape.) The U.N. can play a role. But above all, the U.N. involvement does bring legitimacy, which is necessary, necessary for the country, for the region and for the peoples around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why wasn't the U.N. put in charge from the very beginning of this entire Iraq aftermath, thus internationalizing the quagmire?

I ask you, Gerry.

MR. BAKER: A very slightly loaded question, if I may say so, there, John, about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think we have a quagmire?

MR. BAKER: I don't think we have a quagmire. I think -- and also, the answer is the U.N. doesn't want that. I mean, you know, there's a misunderstanding, actually, of what the U.N. can do and what it wants to do, and what the British government or any other government wants the U.N. to do. The U.N. isn't in any position whatsoever to go straight in and take over the running of Iraq.

MR. BUCHANAN: John?

MR. BAKER: It can't do that. All the record of the U.N. in Kosovo and in Bosnia demonstrates that what you need is to secure -- to get to some sort of position of stability to -- as you say, to remove the risks of a quagmire.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there would be --

MR. BAKER: And then, if you want, you have to figure out the right civilian administration. The U.N. is not capable of doing that.

MR. BUCHANAN: But look, John, there would be a firestorm in this country if the president of the United States, after what the U.N. did to us, turned it over to the U.N. after American troops and British troops shed blood for winning this battle.

Secondly, the president went in there for national security reasons, he told us -- to eliminate this threat, this menace, this danger, that is a military job. It is a political job first and foremost for the United States. That is why the U.N. is being kept out of this. They'll be brought in, I think, to help out --

MS. CLIFT: Well, there would not be a firestorm, except maybe among the Buchanan Brigade --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no, no! Not now! The U.N. is not liked by anybody now.

MS. CLIFT: The U.N. -- I disagree with that. And that will change as we watch what we've gotten ourselves into.

I think Senator Biden had it about right. He said we're acting like this is some big prize. This is a very difficult task, and we need all the help we can get in terms of bodies, expertise and money.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, and we're not -- let --

MS. CLIFT: And we need the international coloration and legitimizing of the U.N. -- (inaudible) -- around the world.

(Cross talk.) Hold on, Tony! (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Biden got it wrong again. Look, look, not only, as Gerry says, do they not have the competence; they don't have the moral authority, at this point. The U.N. needs to be reformed before --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, please.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's conceit of Kofi Annan to think that he has any moral authority to grant. This is an agency that has Libya in charge of human rights and the old Iraqi regime in charge of disarmament.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah --

MR. BUCHANAN: They don't --

MR. BLANKLEY: And to think that this group of dictators can give any moral authority to the U.S. Army's occupation, I think, is --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: They're going to be begging for the U.N. in a short time. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: They can't legitimize anybody. Tony is exactly right. They really -- that place needs to be reformed. And the hostility to the U.N. is far beyond the Buchanan brigades and the conservatives. It is across this country, Eleanor, because of what they did. And the president of the United States shares it.

MS. CLIFT: They're part of a world -- (laughs) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. Just a minute. Before we get into any more anti-U.N. hysteria here --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.) Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and before we let it degenerate into that high school debating chestnut -- (laughter) --

MR. BLANKLEY: College!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- "Is it a good idea to have the U.N. or not a good" --

MS. CLIFT: Right. I'm for the League of Nations, too!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have signed the U.N. -- if there were not a U.N., we would have to bring it into existence.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. BAKER: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, as to whether or not we should have the U.N., in our own selfish interests, the bills that we are going to run up are astronomical.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When you consider the policing action, there is no policing action.

Would you describe the anarchy that exists out there?

MS. CLIFT: Well, people are hauling away everything. Somebody was seen taking a bathtub out of a hotel. Some of this is comical, and some of it is to be applauded. I love it when they ransack the palaces.

But when they raid the maternity ward at the hospital for everything, and the hospitals can't function, it's no longer just letting off a little steam; it is a serious situation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is.

MS. CLIFT: And then when you have a imam that's come into the country, exiled --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two imams. Two imams.

MS. CLIFT: -- two of them -- well, the one had the imprimatur of the U.S. --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- and they are hacked to death, now is this just, you know, a rival Shi'ite group that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, you have unleashed --

MS. CLIFT: -- or is this because he had the U.S. endorsement? There's lots of score settling going on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What you have -- what has been unleashed in at least five of the cities is a mindless and a totally destructive anarchy.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (To Mr. Baker.) Now I have a particular point to bring to your attention, and that is the way you have turned on your own newspaper. (Laughter.) In their editorial for Wednesday, April the 9th, they say that Tony Blair and George Bush would seek a United Nations resolution that would, quote, "ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian aid and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration of Iraq" -- namely, by the United States.

This is the next sentence: "This is not as good as putting the U.N. right at the heart of rebuilding Iraq right from the start." (Soft laughter.)

Meaning that if you internationalize it and you put the stamp on this of an international organization, you move away all the problems with France, with Russia, with Blair --

MR. BAKER: Can I just -- can I just -- can I be clear about something?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and also the other problems accruing to our extremely bad reputation all over the world.

MR. BAKER: All right. But can I just be clear about something? We don't practice collective responsibility at the Financial Times, and so I therefore don't absolutely necessarily associate myself with every single word that comes from the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we'll see that the Pearson company gets a copy of this.

(Cross-talk and laughter.)

MR. BAKER: But there is a serious political point here which we haven't discussed, which is that Tony Blair -- who deserves enormous credit for the role that he's played in this, and I think he's just been an extraordinarily strong leader -- he does have a strong political interest in internationalizing whatever takes place after the next phase that we go through here, after the anarchy has been resolved and after we've got some kind of settlement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Besides that, besides that, from a --

MR. BAKER: So Blair does want some sort of internationalizing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- stability point of view, the U.N. is absolutely necessary, both for policing and for the military component and for the economic component.

MR. BAKER: Not for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course it is.

MR. BLANKLEY: They don't have any money.

MR. BAKER: Not for the military component. Other countries --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They have $8 million -- (inaudible).

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. We've got to get out. I want a fast answer. Will Iraq turn into a quagmire, yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: Brer Rabbit has hit the Tar-Baby. The United States is going to be in there for a long, long time. It is not quagmire Vietnam, but what it is, like the Israelis going into Lebanon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: Quagmire in the sense of a deepened and deepening commitment that the American people I don't think signed on for.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. They'll be on our health insurance programs even when the United States citizens are not.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not going to turn into a quagmire, but quagmire has turned into a cliche.

MR. BAKER: No, it won't be a quagmire. It will require commitment for a long time, but that's not the same as a quagmire. The United States was in Japan for a long time after the Second World War. U.S. troops are still there. They're still in Germany. Those countries didn't turn into quagmires. It's not necessarily the case that this has to end in anarchy and chaos and disaster. And I think with goodwill and commitment, it won't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm not saying that's necessarily the quagmire, but a quagmire is a quagmire, and you don't know it until you're in it. (Laughter.) And then you can't get out of it. And that's where we are. This is a bottomless quagmire.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The United States will not attack Syria, despite what we're saying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: They'll find chemical weapons in Iraq, though not in the quantities they anticipate. The bigger question is, will anybody believe the Bush administration. Americans will; the world won't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it will be all thanks to our wonderful CIA.

MS. CLIFT: Yep.

MR. BLANKLEY: Notwithstanding the cynicism both in Israel and the United -- in some quarters of the United States, Bush is going to make an extraordinary commitment to solve the Middle East peace at sometime in the next nine months.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent. Best thing he could do.

MR. BAKER: With the war over, the U.S. economy's going to recover, probably just in time to save President Bush's reelection prospects.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boy, that gives me hope. I predict this is the last year that Hootie Johnson's Augusta Club will be men's only.

Bye-bye.

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PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Pork Chop Hill.

(The Beatles' song "Piggies" is played. "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.")

THOMAS A. SCHATZ (President, Citizens Against Government Waste): (From videotape.) Eight weeks ago, Congress approved the biggest spending bill in history, the Omnibus Appropriations Act for 2003. Pork is up to $22.5 billion this year. That's a 12 percent increase over last year.

ANNOUNCER: The annual "Pig Book" was released this week outlining pork -- federal spending projects that enrich a senator's or congressmen's home state or district and are hidden in the legislation. With all this bacon, it's no wonder Americans are obese.

Here are some of the biggest oinkers:

Roswell UFO Museum: New Mexico, $340,000.

The study of DNA in bears: Montana, $1 million.

Peanut Festival Fairgrounds: Alabama, $202,000.

Catfish Health: Mississippi, $500,000.

First Tee -- that's T-E-E -- Program, exposing kids to golf, chaired by George Bush, Sr.: $500,000.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum: Texas, $90,000.

Midwest Poultry Consortium: Iowa, $700,000.

Preschool Anger Management Program: Iowa, $250,000.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will someone explain this to me? The government denies that UFOs exist, and now it's underwriting a museum to build a UFO museum -- to UFOs, right? What's the logic of that? Do you think it's guilt, because the feds know that UFOs do exist and that there are aliens buried in Area 51?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, given the size of the appropriation, it indicates that it's a remote possibility. But we got to look into that, John. I mean, it's right in Roswell. That's where they're supposed to have landed in the '50s.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, a wonderful --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The government takes UFOs seriously, right? They're building a museum.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I think -- yeah, I believe that Senator Domenici, who is one of the most effective senators, is the senator from New Mexico. So that may perhaps explain that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: I think it's about tourism. That's what the Roswell UFO Museum is about, and they're going to get lots of visitors.

I'm for some of those programs. The preschool anger management program, I wish they had that when you guys were young! (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Cowgirls Museum?

MR. BAKER: I think that's a terrific idea. I think you're all being very unfair. These are all valuable parts of American cultural life --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. BAKER: -- and I think they should be supported by the federal government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is classic Americana, is it not?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. BAKER: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

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