John Howard, Australian Prime Minister

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This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, March 6, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meet a guy who's staying, just like he's been staying with the United States from the very start, sometimes despite great political pressure and opposition at home. I'm not talking about British Prime Minister Tony Blair. No, in a Fox exclusive I'm talking Australian Prime Minister John Howard. He joins us from Canberra, Australia.

Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Very good to be on your program.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you something, Mr. Prime Minister, the U.S. has gotten a lot of opposition on its stance on Iraq. What do you think of the way the world has been responding to Iraq?

HOWARD: Well, I think the response of many countries has been misguided. I can understand why countries doesn't want military conflict.  I don't. No Australian wants unnecessary military conflict. But my government has a very strong view that Iraq must be disarmed. We don't think countries like Iraq being allowed to keep chemical and biological weapons, encouraging others to think they can do the same. And ultimately those weapons getting into the hands of terrorists, we don't think that is a world we ought to be living in. And we have to take a stand. And quite honestly, if the 15-member countries of the Security Council were even at this late hour to come together and express a unanimous view, that might provide the faintest of hopes that war could be avoided, because maybe that combined international pressure might encourage Iraq to take a different attitude.

CAVUTO: Mr. Prime Minister, do you think Saddam Hussein is laughing at the U.N. in this global division?

HOWARD: I have no doubt that he is greatly comforted by the apparent division within the Western world. I have no doubt about that. He has survived on world indecision and difference for 12 years.

CAVUTO: Do you.

HOWARD: And for 12 years the world in effect has prevaricated. And it continues to do so. And I do think he is drawing great comfort from that. That's why I say if the world stopped prevaricating and was less divided, he might, because in the end he could well be pragmatic. He might in the end realize the game was up and disarm or disappear. Now that doesn't seem likely. But it is less likely while the world is divided than it would be if the world were united.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you something, sir, our president is going to speak to our country in a little less than four hours from now. And one of the bets is that he's going to say this country is prepared to go it essentially with the support it has got from your fine country, from Great Britain, Spain, a host of others, but clearly, without the Germans or the French or Chinese or the Russians. What does he risk doing that?

HOWARD: Well, I think the president has been very strong on this issue. We have got to understand that the weapons inspectors would not be back in Iraq had it not been for the American military buildup. Hans Blix has admitted that and Kofi Annan has admitted that. Our position is that we, like the British, have fully deployed troops beside the Americans.  We'll make a final decision about a military commitment when we know the outcome of the United Nations process. I hope that another resolution can be obtained, not because it is legally necessary, there's enough legal authority in existing resolutions, but because it would provide far greater international political momentum and support for action to be taken against Iraq. Now, it may not look good at present, but the Security Council has a peculiar habit of suddenly experiencing a bit of a mood swing towards the end. So whilst I acknowledge that the resolution of the British and the Americans and the Spanish appears to be a little becalmed at the moment, I wouldn't see that as the end of the whole story.

CAVUTO: Mr. Prime Minister, your country, of course, experienced terror firsthand with the Bali bombings some months back. You had reminded people even ahead of those terrorist attacks that Australia, like any country, is vulnerable to things like this. People didn't believe you then. But given those developments, do they believe you now?

HOWARD: I think Australians are lot more aware now that every Western country is a terrorist target. There's no doubt about that. And I think we're also increasingly aware that you can't buy yourself immunity from terrorist attacks by taking different political stances on difficult international issues. If you look over the last few years, Australians and Americans and Brits and Germans and French and Kenyans and Pakistanis and people of all different - Indonesians, Koreans, Japanese, people of all different backgrounds and countries have been victims of terrorism. And the terrorist attacks are not calibrated according to various international political stances. They are based on a blind hatred of Western values and Western civilization. And they strike irrationally irrespective of the components of Western civilization.

CAVUTO: You know, Mr. Prime Minister, you put a lot on the line when you were so strong against terrorism and against it - and for taking a position with the United States. Some might argue, you know, countries like Australia and Great Britain, clearly, the United States, make themselves more of a target by taking such a hard stance. What do you think of that?

HOWARD: I don't accept that view. I look at the German tourists who died when that synagogue was blown up in Algeria. I think of the French people who died in terrorist attacks - at what several hundred Kenyans who died when your embassy was blown up in Mombasa in 1998. I see terrorism in its current form as a essentially a manifestation of hatred of Western civilization and values. And as I said a moment ago, I think it strikes at countries that represent those values, irrespective of the individual stances they take. In the case of my country, the one issue that bin Laden associated with Australia was the liberation of East Timor, something that 85 to 90 percent of the Australian people very strongly supported.

CAVUTO: Finally, Mr. Prime Minister, if we were to catch Usama bin Laden, would you kill him?

HOWARD: Well, I think he would be dealt with in accordance with United States law and that does provide for capital punishment.

CAVUTO: Would you welcome that?

HOWARD: Oh, I think everybody would.

CAVUTO: Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you very much.

HOWARD: If he were caught and punished and dealt with in.

CAVUTO: I see. Thank you, sir. John Howard, Australia's prime minister, joining us from Australia.

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