Circling in on Saddam?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, July, 29 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: U.S. troops nabbed a senior Saddam (search) bodyguard and two others in an early morning raid today. And this afternoon, a new audiotape surfaced of a man purported to be Saddam Hussein, mourning the deaths of his sons.

Will these developments lead us to the capture of Saddam Hussein?

Joining us, the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger.

Dr. Kissinger, good to have you with us, sir.


COLMES: Do you see this moving toward the capture of Saddam Hussein?

KISSINGER: Yes, I do. Because with every one of his former retainers they capture, his freedom of movement is more limited and the possibility of somebody turning him in will increase.

COLMES: One of the debates has been whether or not it should have…every effort should have been made to capture people alive so they could tell us what they know. I know that may not have been possible, given the nature of the firefight.

Is alive better than dead?

KISSINGER: I can't say that. It's certainly…alive in principle, it's better than dead. But you have to leave this to the commanders on the ground. They should not endanger the lives of their soldiers.

COLMES: Should an attempt be made to get Saddam alive, rather than dead?

KISSINGER: I think it's the nature of the way America does business that they don't kill people needlessly. If he is alive, he'll present many problems. If he's dead, he presents many problems. So I think it will be left to the local situation.

COLMES: If he's alive, should he be tried in an international court?

KISSINGER: Probably.

COLMES: You would favor that?

KISSINGER: I…I would favor his being tried in…probably in an international court. But if that government, though, that provisional group that has been created, would insist on it, I would listen carefully to what they are saying.

COLMES: Much has been made of the Bush administration, heavily criticized not for the way they conducted the war but the way they are prosecuting the peace.

And do you think any of those criticisms are justified in terms of the chaos and the continued fatalities?

KISSINGER: They defeated an army of 400,000 in 21 days. They took over a country that has three major ethnic groups, that has never had any democracy and in which civil order totally broke down, something that was not expected and has never happened that way before.

So, I think we shouldn't get too impatient. One can't expect after four weeks or six weeks that a civil structure would emerge in such a situation.

COLMES: Except that before the war we were told, you know, it's going to be a little easier than this, there's going to be democracy sooner, they're going to turn it over sooner to Iraqi...

KISSINGER: I think they probably made a misjudgment in believing that the Iraqi population would view them as liberators. And what is happening is that many Iraqis…most Iraqis are glad that Saddam is gone, but not all Iraqis want to be occupied by a western nation under a Christian religion.

COLMES: Do we now get involved in Liberia (search)?

KISSINGER: I'm very uneasy about getting militarily involved in Liberia.


KISSINGER: Because I don't see…the problems that will us draw in. The problem that will draw us in is that the African nations (search) are not capable of handling this all…in terms of numbers…handling it by themselves. So I don't see how we can go in and leave. And I don't see that we should occupy every country in which there is turmoil, if there are local forces available.

COLMES: But can we trust the local forces to handle it, that Taylor's going to leave voluntarily, that our lack of involvement is going to enable Liberia to be the kind of peaceful nation we want it to be? How do we not get involved?

KISSINGER: I have great sympathy for people who want to get involved or are urging them to get involved.

I'm uneasy about going in there with 5,000 troops and not quite seeing how they're going to get again, because all these factions…this civil war has been going on for awhile. All these factions are going to continue shooting at each other.

I'd hate to see that many American officers around. If there's absolutely no other way of doing it, and I would respect the president if he did it, if he asked my opinion, which he hasn't...

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: But we're asking your opinion, we are.

KISSINGER: I would go very slowly.

HANNITY: Dr. Kissinger, thanks you, as always, for being with us. It's always a pleasure to have you.

Alan mentioned that maybe we were sold this bill of goods, that it was going to be easier, the occupation, and you said maybe we underestimated this.

I do not recall the president underselling this. I remember him every single step of the way, telling us how difficult this was going to be. I never heard him once say that this was going to be easy.

KISSINGER: That's absolutely correct. He never said it was easy.

I think people expected to have…that, having been oppressed for so long, the Iraqi people would spontaneously come together and that our task would be more military occupation of an existing structure than a government. But I do not think that the administration has misled the American public, on the contrary.

HANNITY: One of the things…even in the killing …we had Charlie Rangel on last week. And here we have the death of Uday (search) and Qusay (search), two of these brutal, raping, murdering thugs, and he said we assassinated them and it's illegal.

KISSINGER: We didn't assassinate them. We tried to capture them. They shot at our people.

We've already had many casualties there, from the point of view of the people who are running the operation. And they did not want any additional risks, and so they stormed the place. It cannot be considered an assassination. And it's truly not illegal.

HANNITY: Yes, but one of the things I think we're seeing here is this day after day, night after night, criticism of President Bush.

If you listen to the Democrats, he's done nothing right here, even in getting Saddam's sons, even in the quick military victory that none of these guys predicted. He can't even land on an aircraft carrier. He can't even leave the White House without being criticized.

KISSINGER: President Bush pulled the country together after September 11.

HANNITY: Yes, he did.

KISSINGER: He defeated the Taliban, he defeated Saddam Hussein. He is the dominant figure in the Middle East (search) peace negotiations. And he has done, in my view, an outstanding job.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

I want to ask you about politics in the Democratic Party. You know, I don't see…I listen to these Democrats, the ones that want to be president, and you watched these guys a lot over the years, so you have a great perspective.

And I listen to them and they don't sound like Harry Truman. They don't sound like JFK.

Joe Lieberman said something I thought was very insightful. He said, "Some in my party are sending out a message that they don't know a just war when they see it and more broadly are not prepared to use our military strength to protect our security and the cause of freedom."

I think Joe Lieberman is right about the Democrats.

KISSINGER: I think the problem is that they don't concede the role, at least at this stage, it's leading public opinion. They follow every blip in the polls and they try to be on the right side in each blip. And actually that tends to destroy their image as leaders.

HANNITY: It' definition, that is not leadership.

KISSINGER: So I think, of course, in a war of this magnitude, in a country of this complexity, things would not always go exactly as one expected. But it has always been thought that we would have to be there several years.


KISSINGER: And you cannot create a progressive, democratic government out of a dictatorship in a country that has never had democracy in a short time. It took seven years in Germany. It took an equal number of time in Japan. And there we were not opposed by snipers.

HANNITY: Do you think politically the Democrats are having any effect in somehow hurting the president's approval rating? Do you think this tactic of attacking him daily will work and help them in '04?

KISSINGER: People never ask me for my judgment on these things.

HANNITY: I just did.

KISSINGER: I'm very flattered that you would. Well, it hasn't had any effect on my approval rating of the president.

HANNITY: Yours is the best.

COLMES: We've got to go. Thank you very much for being here tonight. Good to see you, sir. Thank you very much.

KISSINGER: Thank you, too.

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