March 7, 2003 | CBS

CBS Early Show

JULIE CHEN, co-host:

And now here’s Harry.

HARRY SMITH, co-host:

Thanks, Julie.

Even though President Bush says it is time to decide, the public debate on war with Iraq is definitely not over. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute of Policy Studies is against going to war. And Clifford May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies supports President Bush’s call for action.

Good morning to you both.

Ms. CLIFFORD MAY (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies): Good morning, Harry.

Ms. PHYLLIS BENNIS (Institute for Policy Studies): Good morning.

SMITH: As of yesterday, 59 percent of Americans were saying, wait for the United Nations if there is to be war with Iraq. Mr. May, should the president wait?

Mr. MAY: The president knows that we have 17 United Nations resolutions, including the most recent 1441, unanimously agreed to, which says that Saddam Hussein either has to disarm or we will take serious action to disarm him. Now what the president said last night is that Hans Blix needs to answer this question yes or no: Has Saddam Hussein disarmed? The answer is no. And the Security Council needs to ask themselves the question: Are they going to support the previous 17 resolutions or make believe they don’t exist?

SMITH: All right.

Mr. MAY: Harry, just–can I tell you just one other thing? I had the privilege of going to the White House yesterday. I escorted a group of women from Iraq who said it’s not about a war against Iraq. It’s about the war that Saddam Hussein is waging right now every day against the Iraqi people, using rape, and torture, beheadings, the slicing out of tongues. These people want to be liberated. This is about whether or not we’re going to liberate these people and safeguard the United States or whether we’re going to perpetuate the continuing oppression of the people of Iraq.

SMITH: All right, Ms. Bennis, a majority of Americans are ready to support a war with Iraq, with the backing of the United Nations. If the world has been convinced that this war is a worthy endeavor, should the United States support that war? Or sh–would you be su…

Ms. BENNIS: No, Harry…

SMITH: I’m sorry. Would you be supportive of that war?

Ms. BENNIS: We’re not in that situation, and I don’t think we will be. The world is saying no to war. That goes at the level of government, and it goes at the level of people. If we look at the efforts of the United States to pressure Turkey, for instance, they were trying to bribe them with billions and billions of dollars of new aid and control of half of northern Iraq, selling out the Kurds despite claims that the US is concerned about the Kurds. We’ve sold them out before. It looks like we’re about to do it again. It’s not working. The world is not convinced.

Mr. MAY: Phyllis, you want…

Ms. BENNIS: Countries on the Security Council are not going to vote that way.

Mr. MAY: Phyllis, Saddam Hussein is not about attacking the Turks, at least right now. He’s about killing Americans. He’s about killing his own people. And you’re in favor…

Ms. BENNIS: Excuse me.

Mr. MAY: …of selling out–you’re in favor…

Ms. BENNIS: Excuse me.

Mr. MAY: Excuse me. I’ll finish.

SMITH: Mr. May–Mr. May…

Mr. MAY: You’re…

SMITH: Mr. May, hang on one second. Let–let–let Ms. Bennis speak–speak.

Ms. BENNIS: You know, the point is the US is fundamentally isolated in the world. If Tony Blair doesn’t get a second resolution, he may lose his position as prime minister because he’s so isolated even with–without–within his own party. He is not able to s–to keep going in that direction. The United States is in a position where we need the Brits. We can’t say that we’re leading a coalition when our key ally is Bulgaria. You know, it just doesn’t work that way.

SMITH: All right.

Ms. BENNIS: The world is saying no to this war. The pope is saying no to this war. The American people are saying we’re not ready to go to war because President Bush has not made the case.

SMITH: All right. Ms. Bennis, hang on just a second.

Mr. May, let me ask you this: Hans Blix was indicating to the media, at least yesterday, that Iraq is disarming. There have been–several dozens of Al Samoud missiles have been destroyed. Is that or is that not disarmament?

Mr. MAY: No, it’s not disarmament. What about the anthrax? What about the VX gas? What about the sarin nerve–nerve agent? What about the nuclear program? He is destroying a few missiles that have a longer range. According to Colin Powell–you can believe him or not–but according to Colin Powell, our intelligence says he’s building others as well. It–the idea of–he has four months since 1441 to do what he has been told to do, what he agreed to do in 1991, which is disarm. That’s the–that agreement was the basis for leaving him in power in 1991.

SMITH: All right.

Mr. MAY: He has not disarmed, and he is going to use those weapons and he will give them to terrorists to use against us unless people like President Bush and Tony Blair…

SMITH: All right.

Mr. MAY: …stand up and refuse to appease Saddam Hussein.

SMITH: Ms. Bennis, do you think Saddam Hussein is serious about disarming?

Ms. BENNIS: I think that he has no choice at this point. He is disarming. Wea–that’s what the weapons inspectors are telling us. That’s what they’re saying on the ground. President Bush again, and General Powell last week, have given again a series of allegations without any evidence about rebuilding new missiles, etc. It flies in the face of what Hans Blix is saying. It flies in the face of what Kofi Annan has said. These are the people on the ground, in charge of the inspections, in charge of verifying…

SMITH: All right.

Ms. BENNIS: …that the disarmament is going forward. It is going forward.

Mr. MAY: Harry…

SMITH: That–that–that’s all the time we have for this morning. Mr. May; Ms. Bennis, thank you both very much.

Ms. BENNIS: Thank you.

Mr. MAY: Thank you.