This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, September 27, 2002. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:  Tonight: He's no stranger to international diplomacy or to war.  Just a little while ago I spoke with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and I asked him if he thought hitting Iraq pre-emptively was a good idea.


HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  The right of self-defense has always been recognized, and so the idea that we'd strike preemptively has sort of an ominous tone to it, but the right of self-defense has always been inherent.  What is new is that in the age of high-tech weapons of mass destruction, in the age of terrorism, an attack can take place so suddenly that one cannot recover from it afterwards, as we could at Pearl harbor.

VAN SUSTEREN:  So when you talk about...

KISSINGER:  And so as a basic principle, there are situations in which preemption has to be used.  I would prefer it if it were not thrown around as a universal doctrine in which any country can apply it in any situation.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Are you saying, then, if the United States does attack Iraq, that the more appropriate description is it's doing it in self-defense?

KISSINGER:  Yes, I think if we -- first of all, I don't like the word "attack Iraq."  I think the correct word is that we're enforcing the resolutions and the agreements with which Iraq ended the war, the Gulf war in '91, and which it has systematically violated for 11 years.  But if we go to war with Iraq, I would put it on the basis of self-defense.

VAN SUSTEREN:  But in terms of enforcing the resolution, that supposes, does it not, that we're going with the U.N.'s blessings, or at the behest of a U.N. resolution that they're still -- they're still talking about there.

KISSINGER:  I think most people will think that we would have the right inherent in existing resolutions and that the new resolution doesn't create a new right, but reinforces the existing right.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Now, you don't like the term necessarily "preemption," and you prefer the self-defense description.  But is it because we're in a new era with new types of weapons that one person can cause so much harm that this is sort of the template for the future?

KISSINGER:  I would deal with Iraq as a special case.  But I think that the nature of terrorism creates a situation in which what used to be called preemption becomes, in some cases, the only way one can defend oneself because once the terrorist has struck, they disappear.  And you cannot use deterrence against them because they have nothing to defend.  They are moving around, and they don't have fixed bases.

In the case of Iraq, you have weapons of mass destruction which can do inconceivable damage.  And you know that if we don't do it now, that two, three years from now, they have bigger stockpiles and a perhaps more complicated international environment.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do you expect that United States will have a coalition of governments to go after Iraq?  I mean, Germany has already said that it doesn't intend to help out.  Russia seems to be out of the list, at least in the short run.  But I mean, who's going to be going with us?

KISSINGER:  I think Britain will go with us.  I think we need Turkey to go with us.  Italy and Spain have already said that they would go with us.  So think we will have more countries than one would believe because the countries that are saying they're not with us are not necessarily opposing us and are going to be willing to cooperate in the reconstruction effort.

VAN SUSTEREN:  What about Germany, though?  I mean, that was -- the chancellor ran on the platform that he was not going to go to war against Iraq with the United States.  So is Germany now sort of boxed into its position?

KISSINGER:  I think it may.  First of all, nobody had asked Germany to go to war against Iraq, and nobody's going to -- I don't think anyone is going to ask Germany to contribute troops to any war with Iraq.  There were two aspects to the German situation.  Disagreeing with our specific Iraq policy others have done.  But there was an appeal to nationalism and anti-Americanism which was extremely disturbing, and which I hope will be rectified in the weeks to come because Germany is an important ally.  But both Germany and we have to look at what happened there.  But that is really beyond the issue of Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why is it that Germany has become anti-American, or at least some Germans have become anti-American?

KISSINGER:  Well, you get -- first of all, you have the situation in East Germany, which, unlike the other communist -- ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe, eastern Germany was incorporated into West Germany, and most of its recovery was accomplished by West German leaders and not by East German leaders.  So there's a sense of impotence there.

Secondly, the East Germans did not have the experience that West Germans had of the Marshall plan, of being -- of having recovery encouraged by the United States, of being protected by the United States against the Soviet Union.  And their experience was quite different, and so this is a general sense of frustration and impotence.

And I also feel that this having happened, an effort will -- should now be made to -- to restore the relationship, but one has to face what really occurred.

VAN SUSTEREN:  What about France?  What do you think France's level of participation, if any, will be?

KISSINGER:  France, I -- France I think will try to find a way to participate in some fashion.  And it has been cautious in the handling of the U.N. resolution up to now.  But at the end of the day, the Atlantic relationship has been the keystone of American foreign policy in the post-war period.  We have to keep that in mind, but the European allies also have to remember what the overall interests are.  And I think that at the end of the day, we will get some support from France.  I think we will, at the end of the day, get some non-military support from Germany.

VAN SUSTEREN:  When you say some support from France, what do you envision from France?

KISSINGER:  I think one has to look at it in two stages, maybe in three stages.  The first stage is the diplomatic phase through which we are now going.  I think France will be reasonably supportive.  Then there may or may not be a military phase.  If there is a military phase, I do not believe it will last very long, and I do not believe it requires a large coalition force.

Then there will be a third phase of reconstruction and reconstituting a political framework, and in that I believe that many who are hesitant to join the military operations will be quite willing to cooperate, including Germany.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Dr. Kissinger, if you could stand by for one second.  We'll take a short break.  We'll be right back.



VAN SUSTEREN:  We're back with more of my interview with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  I asked him what our war with Iraq might mean for our allies in Israel.


KISSINGER:  There are some people who think we ought to settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem first, but that really says we should leave the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq over a two, three, four-year period which may be needed to deal with all the aspects of the Palestinian problem.  So if Iraq uses weapons against -- unconventional weapons against Israel, or even conventional weapons against Israel, there is a very good possibility of an Israeli retaliation.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Now, you said that lots of people think that we should settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem first.  What do you recommend?

KISSINGER:  I think that those who say we should settle the war on terrorism first and the war on Israel -- on the Palestinian problem first are really saying we shouldn't do anything for three, four years.  And I'm saying we cannot wait three, four years for these stockpiles to multiply.  I think we have to conduct the war on terrorism simultaneously with what we're doing -- what we may be doing in Iraq, and we will have to turn to a significant diplomacy on the Palestinian issue as soon as we have the Iraq issue settled.

VAN SUSTEREN:  In 1991, Israel took 39 Scud missiles and didn't respond.  Ariel Sharon has said that he intends to respond if they do get struck with a conventional or, I assume, certainly, the unconventional weapons.  If Italy -- I mean, if Israel, rather, is brought into this, what happens with the other countries in the surrounding area?

KISSINGER:  Well, I think it would be -- it would be a complicating factor if Israel retaliates while military operations are going on between us and Iraq.  But this -- it's a problem which I'm sure the administration has considered.  And I believe, again, depending on the length of that conflict, the surrounding countries will be unhappy, but they will chart their course on the basis of how the conflict ends.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, we know what the best-case scenario is, but let's look at the worst-case scenario, in the event that Iraq does send some missiles into Israel.  What's the worst-case scenario that we need to be looking out for?

KISSINGER:  Well, the worst-case scenario would be if they use unconventional weapons and the Israelis respond with unconventional weapons.  But I would call attention to the fact that if we are deterred by that now, the problem will be worse with every passing month.  So we are not avoiding the problem by making it decisive in our calculations.

VAN SUSTEREN:  In terms of -- some people have said that we should first complete the war against al Qaeda and then take on Iraq.  Are these two wars, the war against al Qaeda and terrorism and the war against Iraq -- are they separable?

KISSINGER:  They are not separable because the war against al Qaeda, first of all, will take many years, because the way to defeat al Qaeda is to dry up its sources of support.  And it is not one that requires large military operations, but it requires very consistent and determined application.

But that war also will not have a clear-cut ending.  It will probably just peter out over a period of years.  And the people who are saying that are really saying we will let the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction continue to grow in Iraq until we have reached that mythical date of ending the al Qaeda operation.  I believe we have to do both simultaneously.

There is a second aspect to this.  Al Qaeda is supported by countries that are more afraid of what the terrorists can do to them than by what the United States response would be, and by some countries who are sympathetic to al Qaeda.  A determined American defense of vital international security interests in the Middle East will discourage both of these activities.  And so I believe that the conflict with -- the issue with Iraq is a part of the war on terrorism, and not separable from it and not -- and cannot be conducted in sequence.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, thank you, Dr. Kissinger.  Always nice to see you, sir.

Click here to order the entire transcript of the September 27 edition of On the Record.

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