This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, Feb. 11, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: Washington is a one-industry town and that industry is politics and two principle organs of this city's trade press so to speak of the conservative Weekly Standard, owned by the parent company of this network, and the liberal New Republic . With this country on the verge of war, and the worldwide political left strongly opposed to it, you might expect these two publications to be at war themselves.They are, in a sense, but on the same side.
And Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and Lawrence Kaplan, senior editor of the New Republic, have made their case in a new book called The War Over Iraq. And they join me now.
Lawrence Kaplan, what is it about this war or this potential war against this particular adversary that has brought you and Bill Kristol together?
LAWRENCE KAPLAN, SENIOR EDITOR, NEW REPUBLIC: Well, I think first and foremost, the way Bush addresses it, he does not speak of containing Iraq. He speaks of liberating Iraq and bringing democracy to a land that, for decades, has only known dictatorship. Essentially, this is in a very real sense this is a liberal war. It's about bringing democracy to a tyranny and it really upholds the best in American values.
HUME: Why, in your view, has it not attracted -- has that phase of the administration's rational for this, not attracted more support from the left worldwide?
KAPLAN: Well, I think for better or worse, part of it, I think, is the administration's fault. The war has been framed entirely in terms of weapons of mass destruction, but in fact, the problem isn't merely Saddam's toys, it is Saddam himself and the tyranny he represents. And partly I think the left, if you have to choose between something that strengthens American power, however marginally, or you have to side with dictatorship and tyranny and mass murder, I think unfortunately many on the left have such a reflexive suspicion of American power that de facto, they side with tyrannies.
HUME: Bill, talk to me about -- there is also kind of, a world view in this book about the role that the United States should now take in the world. I think we have a excerpt from the book that expresses that. Here it is, yes.
"Realists may not like it," you write, "but the United States remains the hinge of the international system. And when it sits idly by in the face of threats to that system, international order erodes."
You continue to say, "and over rodes (ph) quickly," you say and "in recent history, it has been excessive American reticence, not bellicosity, which has led to more problems and greater dangers."
Now to observers who are looking back at American military undertakings see principally Vietnam that is a kind of a heresy. Which is your sense of that? This is the -- seems to be what the people in Europe fear most, more American domination or dominance.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It is. But the story since the end of the Cold War has been that America has stood by while really bad things and dangerous developments were allowed to progress.
HUME: Such as?
KRISTOL: Well, at the end of the Bush administration, after the...
HUME: First one.
KRISTOL: First one, after the admirable job of kicking Saddam out of Kuwait, we let Milosevic begin his rampage through the Balkans. We didn't finish the job in Saddam. We then had Rwanda in 1994, Bosnia, Kosovo in '99, Saddam development of weapons of mass destruction in the '90s, North Korea, even Iran. We've been very timid, both...
HUME: In Kosovo, we got involved and turned the tide though, right?
KRISTOL: We did, but only after more people died than had to. So, I think the kind of, established realism of the first Bush administration, which said let's not go overboard, let's not try to impose American values on the world. Let's be careful where we use force.
And then even more I think guilty, is the wishful liberalism of the Clinton administration, which hoped that international agreements would do the job. We wouldn't have to use force against Saddam. Kim Jong Il would keep his word in Korea. The combination of those over the last 10 years have created a very dangerous world, which we now need to address and which the president, to his great credit, is serious about addressing. So, the book really defends the Bush doctrine and elaborates on its implications beyond Iraq.
HUME: Does it suggest -- does all this suggest to you, Lawrence Kaplan, that the NATO alliance -- we know what the U.N. Security Council is under some stress. What about the NATO alliance, will it survive these strains that we're seeing now and the struggle over Turkey and the broader issue of Iraq in your view?
KAPLAN: Oh, I think absolutely. What people don't realize is the NATO alliance amounts to more than just Germany and France. We have almost two dozen nations are members of NATO and right now it's really Germany and France that are isolated.
The story a week ago was that America was isolated and Germany and France were going to block effective American action. But now dozens of European countries have actually come out in favor of the American position and I actually think Germany and France are going to pay a heavy price for their conduct during this episode.
HUME: Bill, you were just in Munich over the weekend for that conference, which was NATO countries. Secretary Rumsfeld was there. What did you see? I mean, what do you take away from that?
KRISTOL: Well, I think Germany is bewildered and France is trying to shove America out of Europe and France would be happy I think, to destroy NATO.
I guess I'm struck -- may be I think Lawrence is right. Certainly the Bush administration has done a very good job of working with the rest of Europe and isolating Germany and France. But 9/11 was a very big deal. A couple of weeks after 9/11, Bob Kagan and I in an editorial were saying, lots of things are now going to happen that we won't anticipate and this will have reverberations and implications all around the world.
I think we're seeing one of them now. I think Europe is going to end up looking fundamentally different from the way we expected it to look two or three years ago.
HUME: You mean in terms of its political alignment or more broadly?
KRISTOL: Well, certainly in terms of its political alignment. We could end up with a neutralist France and Germany revisiting America. And America working closely with Britain, and Spain and Italy and eastern and central Europe to try to advance liberal democratic values around the world.
So, it's 9/11 was a very big deal. The president deserves credit for realizing that. I think once we remove Iraq and liberate -- remove Saddam, liberate Iraq, there will be big consequences in The Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
HUME: The book is "The War Over Iraq," Lawrence Kaplan and Bill Kristol. We have to take a break for headlines. Stay tuned though to find out why Germany's coalition government may be on the...
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