Pat Buchanan Discusses the Bush Trip

This partial transcript from The Edge with Paula Zahn, June 12, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.


"Leading THE EDGE" tonight, can President Bush turn on the
charm offensive during his first trip to his Europe and shake his
reputation as an isolationist?  Today the president began making his pitch
on a five-day trip that will include a visit to NATO headquarters and a
meeting with the president of Russia.  But he faces criticism on several
fronts: from global warming to a missile defense system.  Here with
reaction is conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, founder of the American

Welcome back to THE EDGE.


ZAHN:  So Pat, what do you think the president will accomplish on this
trip?   So far, the press has been pretty brutal. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think what the president ought to do is, if I had
to advise him, I would just say, "Mr. President, speak for America and
apologize to no one."  We have no one and nothing to apologize for.  We're
being attacked, for example, for having the death penalty.  With all due
respect, that is none of Europe's business.  How the United States deals
with Mr. McVeigh or how Spain deals with Basque terrorists is a decision
for each of these countries to make, and I would tell the Europeans, "Look,
we appreciate your advice but don't interfere in the internal affairs of
the United States."

ZAHN:  As you've watched the president on his run-up to this trip,
what are your observations?  There's been an awful lot of analysis that he
has changed his approach to very specific issues like global warming and
the issue of North Korea. 

BUCHANAN:  I think the president's been too accommodating, and I think
he's been too apologetic, Paula.  Let's take the issue of global warming. 
The Kyoto treaty, if we sign it, would cause a depression the United
States.  It would be a loss of American sovereignty, secondarily, and
there's no way the United States could sign that without a real disaster in
this country.  So the president did the right thing.  There's no need to
apologize for it.  He should tell the Europeans, "Look, this is our
sovereign decision.  If you want to abide by it, that is your business. 
But when Mr. Gore brought it home by 95 to zero, the American Senate voted
no on it, and we're not going to abide by that treaty and surrender our
sovereignty.  We're not going to shut down our factories when the Chinese
have to do nothing.  That is our sovereign decision.  You can disagree with
it, but we're going to make that decision."  I don't know why the
president, if he's acted in the national interest, should be so apologetic.

ZAHN:  But Pat, the president recently conceded that he believes
pollution is making the earth become warmer.  What can he offer the
Europeans during these meetings that you think will satisfy them at all,
short of saying, "Yeah, I'll support the Kyoto treaty," which he won't do? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, Paula, I think the president has made a mistake here. 
I don't know that there's any hard evidence of warming of the earth's
surface to the point where there's a danger to the ozone.  I don't know
that what's exactly responsible for it.  I don't know if it happens whether
it's that big a problem at all.  We ought not, on the basis of this
uncertain evidence, shut down the American economy.  And that's what Mr.
Bush ought to say.  Say, "We have a fundamental disagreement.  I don't
accept your ideas.  We have scientists who disagree.  And until we get some
solid agreement, I'm not going to make any move to shut down the American
economy or cut back fossil fuel consumption by 20 percent, because I don't
think it's in the interest of the United States.  Now, you have our views. 
If you believe in Kyoto and you want to follow it, that is your business,
but this is where we're going."

ZAHN:  All right, on to the issue of the missile defense shield. 
Later on in the week, the president is going to meet with Russian president
Putin where I'm sure the ABM treaty is going to come up for discussion. 
What do you think the president should do in that regard? 

Well, this is the most important meeting.  I think the Europeans,
frankly, are in a big sense, Europeans are free loaders on the United
States.  Not a single one of them is meeting their targets for defense to
help out the United States in NATO.  Putin is the big meeting.  My view on
this is that the president's been a little too tough on the Russians, quite
frankly, early on, that the United States has a vital interest in
establishing good relations with the Soviet Union, good relations with
Putin even though we agree with him. 

However, when it comes to a missile defense for the United States,
we've got to tell Mr. Putin, "Look, this is in our strategic national
interest.  It's aimed at rogue states, and we've got to go ahead with that. 
Now, you've got concerns about NATO expansion.  We will make a deal.  I
agree with you, the United States ought not to be moving military weaponry
in an alliance right up to your border.  We will not extend NATO if you
will agree with us to move ahead on revising this treaty.  And we are going
to move ahead regardless with our missile defense."

ZAHN:  But Pat, what are the chances of that happening from the
Russian point of view?  About nil, no? 

BUCHANAN:  The Russians really can't do much about it.  If the United
States decides to go ahead with a missile defense, the Russians can like it
or lump it, quite frankly.  So what you do is be as polite as you can while
you're telling them that, but leave the message that we're going to do it
regardless, Paula.  I mean, this is something again when it comes to the
strategic defense of the United States, you can talk to anyone you want to,
but the ultimate decision for that rests with the president.  And his first
duty is to the defense of his own country.  I think Mr. Bush realizes that. 
And I hope he says it. 

ZAHN:  All right, I've got a very broad closing question for you. 
When you look at how the administration has changed its stance over the
last month or so on the issue of North Korea, on how the U.S. should get
involved with the Mid East peace talks, there have been a bunch of people
out there that say that Mr. Bush's foreign policy isn't all that different
from his predecessors, Mr. Clinton's.  Do you think George W. Bush is
morphing into Bill Clinton? 

BUCHANAN:  He's not morphing into Bill Clinton, but his policies,
there's no doubt about it, Paula, what you say is accurate.  The Bush
administration started off trying to differentiate itself from Mr.
Clinton's policies, and now they're moving very much to very close to those
policies in the Middle East on North Korea.  In some cases, that's not
necessarily wrong if the policies are right.  Not all of Mr. Clinton's
policies were wrong, but I do believe the one good thing -- and I would
commend the president on this -- is if he believes America is right, take
the stand alone if necessary as he did on Kyoto.  And I hope he does with
regard to Russia.

ZAHN:  We will see how it all plays out this week.  Pat Buchanan, good
of you to drop by on THE EDGE.  Thanks.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you.

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