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Transcript: Richard Holbrooke on FNS

Following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday, Sept. 1, 2002.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: I'm Brit Hume in for Tony Snow, and this is Fox News Sunday.

The debate over what to do about Saddam Hussein intensifies with Vice President Cheney making a strong case against Saddam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His regime is busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents, and they continue to pursue an aggressive nuclear weapons program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: American allies want the road to Baghdad to begin at the United Nations. Does the U.S. need the U.N.'s OK before going after Saddam? We'll ask former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke and former Secretary of State Alexander Haig.

A last-minute deal between players and owners averts a baseball strike. Does the new contract, though, solve all of baseball's financial problems? We'll ask writer and lawyer Daniel Glazer.

And our power panel: Fred Barnes, Ceci Connolly, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

This is the September 1st edition of Fox News Sunday.

Good morning from Washington.

Twice this week, Vice President Cheney took the lead in making the case for a military campaign against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He argued, among other things, that the return of weapons inspectors should not be the key objective.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U.N. resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow back in his box.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Meanwhile, allies were urging the U.S. to work through the United Nations. French President Jacques Chirac said, quote, "If Baghdad continues to refuse the unconditional return of U.N. arms inspectors, it must be up to the Security Council to decide what measures to take."

With that in mind, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a BBC interview released this morning that getting the inspectors into Iraq was a priority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president has been clear that he believes weapons inspectors should return. Iraq has been in violation of these many U.N. resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. And so, as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find. Send them back in. Why are they being kept out?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: So does the United States need U.N. Security Council approval before going after Iraq? Our first guest says yes. He is Richard Holbrooke, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, and he joins us from Southampton, New York.

Good morning to you, sir.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Hi, Brit.

HUME: What do you make about this difference in -- well, certainly a difference in emphasis in what Vice President Cheney was saying this week -- not once, but twice -- and what you just heard from Colin Powell?

HOLBROOKE: Well, I think it's more of a summer of public disarray by the administration. Instead of making the case unambiguously with a single group of people singing from the same song sheet, they're singing at least, at a minimum, different lyrics to the same music, and they're undermining their case.

I thought Vice President Cheney made a compelling case for the reasons why Saddam is too dangerous to be left untouched, and I think the administration is right to seek a regime change. But they're undermining their own case, first by the disarray you've just shown and, secondly, by their failure to recognize that they must seek international approval through the U.N. Security Council.

Now, I want to be clear. I'm not saying you can't do it without the Security Council, what I'm saying is the road to Baghdad goes through the Security Council. And if the Security Council says we're not going to support you, then the way is clear to move not unilaterally, but multilaterally.

This is what President Clinton did three years ago in Kosovo. We went to the Security Council. We didn't get approval because the Russians said they'd veto. Then we moved with the Europeans through NATO. And that's the correct route. And this disarray that you've just seen in the Cheney-Powell soundbites really undermines our national leadership.

HUME: Well, wouldn't you agree that Kosovo was a bit different? That was well within sort of NATO's sphere of influence, accepted influence. That was a multilateral operation there. I doubt very seriously, and I don't think you're really arguing, that NATO would be involved here. And there's no sign basically from the major allies within NATO, except possibly for Britain, that they would be interested in that. Am I wrong about that?

HOLBROOKE: Point taken on the difference in Kosovo and Iraq, Brit, but I'm talking about the procedure. Because after I wrote the article for The Washington Post you referred to about going through the Security Council to Baghdad, people asked me, what happens if the Security Council says no?

HUME: Good question.

HOLBROOKE: My answer -- and I've talked to a lot of Europeans about this -- is, you've got to try. And then if it's clear you can't get what you want, you've laid the predicate for action, which will help our closest and staunchest allies -- particularly Tony Blair in London and the Turks in Ankara -- to be able to support us, because at least we made the effort.

And where I disagree with Vice President Cheney is his seeming back-of-the-hand attitude, both to the Security Council and, by the way, also to Congress, whose support, I think, is essential.

HUME: Now, let me ask you this about the previous authorizations that have been relied upon -- U.N. authorizations that have been relied upon for other military actions.

HUME: There is language in, I guess it was, U.N. Resolution 678, which dates back to 1990. It says, quote, it "authorizes member states cooperating with the government of Kuwait to use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660" -- that was another 1990 resolution, you'll recall -- "and subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area."

That's a pretty broad grant of authority, it would seem to me. And it pertains not only to the resolutions that had to do with the eviction of Iraq's army from Kuwait, but also to all these future resolutions including the U.N. weapons inspectors.

Would that not itself authorize the U.S. to take action against Saddam now?

HOLBROOKE: Brit, a good lawyer could argue very persuasively that those resolutions you cited, which were fashioned by Secretary of State James Baker and his ambassador in the U.N., Tom Pickering, would give you the legal authority. But they're 12 years old. They refer to liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi invasion.

HUME: And much else, though, you'd agree?

HOLBROOKE: And to try to justify -- not much else. And, in fact, the Bush administration, Bush senior himself, justified not going after Baghdad at that time on the base of the limits of the resolution.

So, it's a hell of a stretch. You know, it's sort of like going back to our youth, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. You shouldn't try to apply something 12 years old.

Besides which, and I want to underscore this, I believe that, working through the Security Council, we will get the kind of resolution we need. And again, I stress, if we don't get it, we will then have laid the basis for multilateral international action led by the United Sates without Security Council resolution.

HUME: When you say "the kind of resolution we need," are you talking about a resolution that authorizes military action now or in the near future...

HOLBROOKE: Yes.

HUME: ... or are you talking about a process in which we would first have return of weapons inspectors insisted upon and then a resolution that would allow us to enforce that? Which would be -- would weapons inspectors be first in the scenario you're outlining here?

HOLBROOKE: Well, I'm glad you've raised that point because it may sound like a very technical detail to some viewers but it's critical. The resolution should be, number one, air-tight, no-notice, anywhere, any-time inspections.

And number two, it should contain at its last clause, the phrase which you've already referred to in regard to the earlier resolution, that if the resolution is violated, any means necessary to enforce it. That is international diplomatic speak for the use of force.

There's got to be one resolution and one only. And if the Russians or the French or somebody try to water it down, then we pull out of the Security Council and go to our allies and say, look, we've got to do this for the national and international interests.

HUME: All right. So you acknowledge the possibility it might fail, but let's assume that the resolution passed and Saddam said, OK, bring in the weapons inspectors. And the weapons inspectors and a team went in and they did some work. And then after a while, they wanted to go in a mosque because they had intelligence that said, for example, there was -- a mosque was being used for weapons activity. What then?

HOLBROOKE: First of all, I think...

HUME: He said no. He would say no.

HOLBROOKE: Well, first of all, this is the bugaboo which is raised by people who, for some bizarre reason, want to weapon our national interests by sending us in in an isolated form. But still, it's a legitimate question.

A, I think it's highly unlikely Saddam will agree if, and I stress this, if it's an air-tight, no-notice, any-time, anywhere inspection regime. But B, he will sooner or later violate it if the inspectors go in, and then we'll have the cause for war if we need to proceed. And finally, the inspections themselves, if they actually took place -- and I think it's very unlikely -- would begin to create the kind of information we need to stop him.

I accept Vice President Cheney's argument that for three years, absent inspectors, Saddam has been doing whatever he can to build up his weaponry. And that's why Cheney is right that we shouldn't wait indefinitely while he gets stronger. But I don't think the scenario you've outlined is going to happen.

HUME: All right. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke, good to have you, sir, and thanks for joining us.

HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Brit.

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