Hot Stories for the Week of March 3-7

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, March 8, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: The hot story is, put up or shut up. The president is demanding that members of the U.N. Security Council decide, are you on Saddam's side or are you on our side with this vote next week?

Now, which side do you think the French are going to be on? Here is France's oily foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, no democrat he...


KONDRACKE: ... a devotee of Napoleon Bonaparte...


KONDRACKE: ... and followed by, by the good guy, Colin Powell. Watch.


DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): As a permanent member of the Security Council, I will say it again -- France will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes the automatic use of force.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Now is the time for the council to tell Saddam that the clock has not been stopped by his stratagems and his machinations. The clock continues to tick, and the consequences of Saddam Hussein's continued refusal to disarm will be very, very real.


KONDRACKE: Actually, the French could weasel again and abstain, because this resolution of ours does not contain an ultimatum saying if they don't meet the, meet the deadline of, of March 17, we will go to war. It doesn't say that, it...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... it just sets the deadline....on the other hand, it sounds to me as though the French are going to side with Saddam Hussein, is what it...


KONDRACKE: ... amounts to, and veto. And it doesn't look as though we've got nine votes in any event.

Now, this is -- this would not be the first time that the United Nations has failed to live up to its responsibilities. They didn't do it in Bosnia, they didn't do it in Kosovo, they didn't do it in Rwanda.

You know, people call the, the, the U.N. the parliament of, the parliament of mankind.


KONDRACKE: If it were, God help mankind.

BARNES: Boy, I like that, oily, weasel. Have you got something against the French?


BARNES: Just the...

KONDRACKE: I, I enjoy French jokes, I do.

BARNES: OK, good. Look, Bush is, I think, a little -- about slightly worse off than he was a week ago in this upcoming U.N. vote. You'll see when our scorecard goes up that we have moved Chile into the needs column rather into the leaning in favor of the U.S.

And, and, and -- but the countries that, that -- whose votes the U.S. would need in order to win this resolution and set this deadline of March 17 are not pro-French. Otherwise, your hero, de Villepin, would not be, as we speak, hopscotching from Guinea to Cameroon to Angola over this weekend trying to lock up their votes, but...

KONDRACKE: At the U.N., no, he's not, he's not hopping around Africa, is he?

BARNES: ...yes, I think he is...

KONDRACKE: Oh, he is...

BARNES: ... I think he's going to the -- I think that's where he is now.


BARNES: You know, they have airplanes that do this, and they take you.


BARNES: The -- but the other thing is that they do like a deadline, these countries, and, and most of them want a deadline. They think September -- rather, March 17 is a little soon, but they want a deadline. So there is some possible compromise there.

One other thing before I go to the other hot story. Hans Blix, the inspector, in his testimony on Friday, left out a couple of striking things. One is the existence of 21,000 liters of biological and chemical stuff, including the anthrax that the inspectors think is still in Iraq and being denied by the Iraqis. And then the existence of these illegal drones that could spread chemical and biological weapons. He didn't mention either one of those. I think he's hand-in-glove with de Villepin. OK.

Hot story number two, shock and awe. That's what the American military thinks will be the reaction of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi military to the American invasion when it comes, because it's going to be such an overpowering force.

I happened to go to a breakfast with General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who, by the way, Mort, is a lot more impressive and forceful when he's not playing second fiddle to Don Rumsfeld at those Pentagon briefings.

KONDRACKE: His boss.

BARNES: The -- his boss.

KONDRACKE: He doesn't want to -- he doesn't...

BARNES: But he's very good, he's very good on his own. And he kept saying over and over again, This will not be like the Gulf War. It's going to be very, very different from the Gulf War.

For instance, if you remember the Gulf War, 39 days of bombing followed by four days of a land war. This time, all at once, boom, it's going to happen all at once, overwhelming. That's why there are 200,000- plus troops in the Gulf, more use of precision weapons that -- about 70 percent will be these precision-guided weapons rather than 10 percent in the Gulf War.

And Myers said one thing...have to cancel your plans, Mort, reporters should not go to Baghdad. It's going to be a dangerous place.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, what we've got to worry about is that these chemical and biological weapons that Hans Blix didn't refer to...


KONDRACKE: ... could get used either on our troops or, or on the Israelis. Saddam Hussein is not above torching or even dirty-bombing his own oil fields to stir up the, the world economy...


KONDRACKE: ... and then there's the possibility that several thousand Republican Guards or other Saddam loyalists would barricade themselves in, in Baghdad and fight to the last man and produce bloody urban warfare.


KONDRACKE: Those are, those are all things that we've got to worry about.

BARNES: Yes, I doubt the urban warfare thing. But anyway, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: I hope not.

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