Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 12, 2002, 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: President Bush goes before the United Nations to make his case for action against Iraq. Did the president sell it? Let's ask Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders.
Congressman, good to have you.
REP. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT: Good to be with you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Did the president convince you?
SANDERS: The president convinced me that Saddam Hussein is an evil tyrant, somebody who we can't trust and somebody who is very, very dangerous. The president did not convince me that the United States alone should invade Iraq, lose the focus and the coalition that we have built to fight terrorism and do something that this country has never done before; and that is, taken a preemptive strike which sets, I think, a terrible international precedent which says that any country in the world that wants to go for war for any reason has the right to do that. So the president made the case against Saddam Hussein. But I am concerned that we could make a dangerous situation even more dangerous, a bad situation even worse by unilaterally attacking that country.
CAVUTO: Would you have made, Congressman, a preemptive strike against Usama bin Laden if you knew what he was up to?
SANDERS: I mean, if you were going to tell me that the evidence was overwhelming, and here it is right in front of you, that within two weeks he is going to have the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon, you know what? I think every country in the world and every country in that region would say, hey, we have got to do something about it. But that is not what the president has said. And it's important, I think, Neil, to listen to people in that region who hate Saddam Hussein's guts: the Jordanians, the Saudi Arabians, the Egyptians. They are not friends of his and they are saying, wait a minute, be cautious.
CAVUTO: But aren't they scared as much about the alternative and how it could effect them?
SANDERS: Yes. But that's something that we should be scared of as well. Just stop for a moment. I think the guy in this world who most wants a United States invasion of Iraq, you know who that is? I think it's Usama bin Laden. He wants the United States to appear to be at war with the entire Muslim world. And I don't think we should give him that.
CAVUTO: What would it take, Congressman, to say, let's say the president had proof that Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, that there was a connection, would that be good enough for to you say, all right, now with my blessings go after the guy?
SANDERS: Well, that would be a very important part of the discussion. But that case has not been made. There's speculation, there's gossip about it. In fact, there's evidence that Usama bin Laden, who is a fundamentalist, does not like Saddam Hussein as a secularist. And what we don't want to do is just mix up all of these Arabs together, Arafat and Saddam Hussein, Usama, they are all the same. They're not all the same. They have different points of view and they're coming from different angles. Bottom line is the world is in chaos right now in that region. You have the Mideast crisis, the Israelis and the Arabs. You have the Usama bin Laden people coming back into Afghanistan. Neil, we have a tough fight on our hands fighting Al Qaeda. I think we will lose the coalition we have put together to do that if the United States unilaterally invades Iraq.
CAVUTO: Would we hurt our attack on Al Qaeda by going after Saddam Hussein, when in fact, you could paint by a broad brush the association of interests that has problems with the United States, want to inflict harm on the United States, so go after those that want to inflict harm in the United States?
SANDERS: Oh Neil, I think you're really walking into a wasps' nest if you do that. You could destabilize that entire region. Pakistan, as you know, has helped us fight the war on terror. Egypt has helped us fight the war on terror. And yet, they have very large fundamentalist Muslim populations who would like nothing better than overthrowing those regimes. What do you think we will end up with if you have friends of Usama bin Laden in power in major countries throughout that region? It could be a terrible thing, not only for the United States but for the entire world.
CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, thank you very much. Good seeing you again.
SANDERS: Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Congressman Bernie Sanders joining us out of Washington.
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