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Hot Stories for the Week of Feb. 17-21

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, Feb. 22, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, the hot story, lining up. The countries are going to have to pick sides and are already picking sides as we go down the wire to a decision on, on war with Iraq. And, but, but it's not just choosing between the U.S. and Iraq, it's choosing between the U.S. and France.

Let me give you some numbers, starting with number 35. That's the number of members of the coalition of the willing, countries that rhetorically, diplomatically, or militarily are supporting the U.S. That's an important number, because it's been growing.

And then, of course, there's an important number, 16 to three, that's by 16 with the NATO members who supported sending defensive arms to Turkey, three were against it. Those arms are on the way.

There's no number, exactly, in the European Union when they passed just a few days ago that strong resolution demanding that Iraq disarm, a resolution...

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Immediately.

BARNES: Yes, immediately, a resolution that the French didn't like much.

And finally, we get down to the number nine at the U.N. Security Council. Assuming there's no veto, the U.S., for the -- a, a further resolution that would lead us to war with Iraq has to have nine countries back it in the Security Council. We have four, the U.S., Britain, Spain, and Bulgaria.

But you can see these five other countries, two in Latin America and three in Africa, that the U.S. needs to reach that nine figure, and the French have actively lobbied the three African countries.

So winning a second resolution is not in the bag.

KONDRACKE: Well, and you forgot the, you forgot the, the number 32, the $32 billion that Turkey wants in order to...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... to, to give us...

BARNES: Yes, but we don't know...

KONDRACKE: ... basing rights, and we don't know...

BARNES: Well, I still put them in the coalition of the, of the willing, they're on our side.

KONDRACKE: That's right.

BARNES: But they're...

KONDRACKE: Right.

BARNES: ... operating...

KONDRACKE: Now, the danger...

BARNES: ... an extortion racket.

KONDRACKE: Right, the danger at the U.N. would be that we would fail to get the nine, the -- a majority, on our side, or that France, Russia, or China, or all three, would veto. The -- after -- if we lost a majority or, or got vetoed, it would be represented that we were acting "unilaterally," quote-unquote, even though, as you say...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... we have a lot of people on our side.

And the, the problem is that it puts pressure on countries like, like Italy, where there's, where there's a lot of wavering going on.

What we need, what we need is not only a coalition of the willing but a coalition of the capable, that is, people able to send military forces in...

BARNES: Yes...

KONDRACKE: ... into Iraq.

BARNES: ... much help, but...

KONDRACKE: ...and if we lose...

BARNES: ... be OK.

KONDRACKE: ... if we, if we lose the vote, you know, at the U.N., it would also encourage doubters in the United States who are complaining that this is...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... that this is unilateral.

Now, the other hot story is, is the, the war with, with France. I mean, it's not a shooting war, of course, it's, it's, it's a diplomatic war. But increasingly the French do act as though they are our strategic adversary. As you say, they are conniving to, to try to undercut the, the United States in order to make themselves the, quote-unquote, "counterweight" to the, to the, to the United States in Europe and, and all over the world.

But the good news is that Jacques Chirac, otherwise known as the Worm...in, in one British publication...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... had, had a bad week, because at the United -- at the - - sorry, at the...European Union meeting this week, not only did the E.U. vote strongly on our side, but also members of the Eastern European bloc were strongly on, on America's side, and, and, and Chirac threw a fit about it, had a tantrum, saying it is not really responsible behavior on their part, it is not well-brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet. And he also accused them of being infantile.

Here was the snide retort of the Rumanian prime minister, Adrian Nastase.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIAN NASTASE, ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER: Every time that I have a dispute with my wife, well, I shout to my sons. So the problem of Monsieur Chirac apparently is with the Americans, not with Rumania and Bulgaria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KONDRACKE: You know, people accuse George Bush of being a bully? That's exactly what Jacques Chirac is...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... toward these Eastern European countries...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... because he was threatening that they won't get into the U -- E.U. if they keep acting the way they are.

BARNES: And did you notice that guy's shirt? ...borrowed it from you.

But it's not just a bully that the French are. Who is acting like an adult, and accepting responsibility for dealing with the bad guys in the world, the U.S. Who is the adolescent who won't accept responsibility? The French. Who is it who has -- is surrounded by people who don't -- countries who don't agree with him? That's France. Who is it -- France is a lot more alone than the U.S. is.

You know, it's always charged the U.S. is going to operate unilaterally? Far from it.

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