October 13, 2003 | Broadcast

Crossfire

Welcome.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Gentlemen, thank you.

Cliff, first, let me pick up right where Tucker and I we’re debating. As you heard, our president today went on a PR offensive, telling us that everything is great, that things are really, really going well in Iraq and we’re building new schools and we’re building new hospitals, all at our expense. So if things are going so well, how many troops can we bring home, and how much of that $87 billion can we reduce it by?

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: It’s a very good question and it’s a very important point. And it’s what the president needs to address.

What we have to understand are two things. One is that what we’ve done in Iraq is to liberate 25 million people from a terrible, terrible regime.

(APPLAUSE)

MAY: Rape, torture, murder, you don’t approve of any of that stuff, I know. This was a good thing. Now, we’re trying to do something of historical importance and really tough. We are trying to help the Iraqis build the institutions of representative democracy. We’ve done this only a few times in the past successfully. And many times we’ve failed.

But here’s the one thing I’ll criticize the Bush administration on. This will surprise you. And that is this: we’ve got to make it clear — the president needs to make it clear that, at least in the Sunni triangle of Iraq, it is not a peacekeeping operation, it’s a war. This is what war looks like in the 21st century. This is what a war against terrorism looks like.

Brave Americans will die, but they’ll die fighting the former ruling class and the jihadists who support them from abroad. You and I know the Americans can’t cut and run. We have to stay there and win this fight.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Now, Congressman Andrews, right after 9/11 you heard a lot of liberals say — and I agreed with them — that a military response to terrorism was not enough. That we needed to raise up democracies in the Middle East. With that in mind, that used to be the core of liberal internationalism. You remember it. It’s dead now, unfortunately.

But with that in mind, take a look at this graphic. Since April in Iraq, 13,000 reconstruction projects have been undertaken, 40,000 new police officers on duty, 22 newspapers opened — amen — or universities, and 170 newspapers.

You would think liberals should be pleased about that. Instead they all sound like a more cynical version of Henry Kissinger. “We’ve got to leave. None of this is going to work.” What’s going on?

TOM ANDREWS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, COALITION TO WIN WITHOUT WAR: Tucker, this is right out of the public relations machinery that we’re getting from the White House.

CARLSON: Wait, no, no. No, wait. Hold on. There’s some hard facts there. Please address them.

ANDREWS: Thirteen thousand reconstruction projects? What do you mean by that? What kind of projects? Are they successful? Are they not?

CARLSON: Let’s start with 22 universities.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: Here’s the problem.

CARLSON: Is that good?

ANDREWS: We have now a person in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq who has spent her career attacking nation building. Said the United States should not be involved in it, should not be participating whatsoever in nation building, and has attacked it in every corner.

We have a military, a Pentagon, Defense Department, responsible not only for war, but for reconstructing the power grid, for restoring water, and for putting together a democracy and a constitution. We have it absolutely backwards, Tucker. This is an operation that demands an international community coming in, working cooperatively together with the tools that they know work.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDREWS: Not a military occupation led by a person who is against nation building or a Pentagon that knows about war fighting but not about constitution building. An international community that knows what it’s doing, that’s what we need to have in place in Iraq.

MAY: Wait a minute. Tom, where would you say the U.N. has successfully gone about the task of nation building? The problem with the United Nations is this, it’s an organization made up of democracies and dictatorships. And the U.N. as an organization does not prefer one to the other.

If we leave Iraq, and it is still a despotic oppressive regime there, we won’t have succeeded. What we need to do — you won, you’re right. Now Condoleezza Rice, now Republicans are in favor of nation building, which a lot of them weren’t before. You should say, bravo, now you’re with us and we support you in this.

ANDREWS: Now do it. Now…

MAY: We are.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Cliff, why is it — you say it’s historic, and I think it is. But I think it’s an historic failure as opposed to historic successes that we had in Germany and Japan. Why is it that no Americans, none, were killed by hostile fire in the occupation and reconstruction of Germany and Japan, or Kosovo, and yet we’re being slaughtered every day in Iraq? Why?

MAY: Let me give you a couple of good answers. First of all, the werewolves in Germany did kill Americans.

BEGALA: No. That’s incorrect. That’s historically false.

MAY: But the Germans were afraid. But a lot of the Germans were afraid if the Americans got out, the Soviets would come in. And they didn’t want that. There were also Japanese who fought for 20 years after the Americans got in there.

But you’re right. When Truman dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it sure sent a message. But we’re going to have to fight there and…

BEGALA: How about Kosovo?

MAY: And Kosovo — well, look, we’ve been in Kosovo a long time. We’ve been in Iraq now…

BEGALA: How many of our troops have been killed?

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: We’ve been in Iraq less…

BEGALA: Zero, Cliff. Zero, because we had the world with us there, right?

MAY: No. And you know what, you’re right, we don’t have the world with us. For example, the Syrians want us to fail. The Saudis want us to fail. The Iranians want us to fail. And they are all — and al Qaeda wants us to fail, and Hamas and Hezbollah.

And they are all sending in troops, sending in terrorists to join with the Ba’athists who were the former ruling class of that country to see if they can take it back from us. We can’t let them take it back from us or the Iraqis.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDREWS: Not to mention the fact that the problem with going it alone and attacking our allies and dismissing the United Nations as we have, you know it cost us $9 billion in the Iraq war. Why? Because we had 90 percent of that Iraq war in 1991, the Gulf War, being supported by the international community.

Now we’re talking about $160 billion being borne not by the United Nations, not by our allies, but by the American taxpayer. And we have virtually 100 percent of the casualties being borne by Americans. That is not right. That’s not fair, and it doesn’t work.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Wait a second — and our brave friends, the Poles. But let me just get right to something that just happened very recently. This is probably one of the most appalling political lapses and mistakes I’ve seen in a long time.

John Kerry, asked yesterday on ABC by George Stephanopoulos, “Will you vote for the $87 billion money for Iraq, $67 billion which goes to the troops?: Here’s what he said. “It depends on whether we” — stammer, stammer — “I want to see what happens with all of them. I’m inclined not to.”

Here you have a guy who voted to send the troops over there. And now he’s inclined not to vote for the money to keep them afloat? It’s obviously a response to Howard Dean, but isn’t it suicide?

ANDREWS: Tucker, I used to serve in Congress.

CARLSON: Yes, I know.

ANDREWS: The only leverage that Congress has on this president is the power of the purse.

CARLSON: Right.

ANDREWS: The Congress from the very beginning of this has just abdicated its responsibility, handed over a blank check, told the president he could do whatever he wanted to.

CARLSON: But isn’t that a moral issue to do the right thing?

ANDREWS: No, but listen. It is a moral issue for the Congress to stand up and insist upon a system of checks and balances and demand that this administration be held accountable, which it has not. And if I were in Congress, I would vote no as well on the $87 billion until they came back with a plan to justify the $87 billion.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Tom, hang on just a second. Both of you keep your seats. We’re going to come right back in just a minute. We’ll bring these guests back for “RapidFire,” where the questions come even faster than the bad news has come from Iraq.

And then, Father Guido Sarducci’s letter writing campaign. You won’t believe what this guy wrote to Dick Cheney. Stay with us and find out.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It’s time now for the quickest Q&A session in politics. We call it “RapidFire.”

Our guests are two of the quickest in American politics. Cliff May from the Foundation for the Defense of democracies, and former Democratic congressman, Tom Andrews, national director of the Win Without War Coalition.

CARLSON: Congressman Andrews, you said a second ago if you were still in Congress you wouldn’t vote for the $87 billion. Your former colleague, Norm Dix, Democrat from Washington State, just returned from Iraq. Here’s what he told “The Wall Street Journal.” “If we give those generals the resources necessary, I think we can do this.”

Is he lying or just crazy? What do you think?

ANDREWS: Well, it’s deja vu all over again, Tucker. It’s just like Vietnam. All we needed was more troops, more money, everything was going to be fine.

We had all kinds of happy talk about how great things were going. Things were a disaster. We’re back at the same point.

And Congress has got to draw the line and insist upon a workable plan that includes giving the United Nations and the international community genuine authority so that we can share the burden with them, share the casualties, and share the costs with them. Until they do that, we shouldn’t give them $87 billion.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Cliff, who will be the first senior administration or cabinet official fired over this debacle as President Bush tries to cover it up — or recover from it, I should say, for his reelection?

MAY: Let me make this proposal. We have a Senate permanent select committee on intelligence. Let them look at the whole thing.

Let them look on why Joe Wilson was selected to go to Niger. Let them look at what kind of report he came back with. Let them look at the whole thing. You’re trying to make Iraq…

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I just mean you have a disastrous policy. Shouldn’t the president fire Rice, Rummy and Wolfowitz just for starters, and then keep going on?

(APPLAUSE)

MAY: On what basis? Look, we don’t know who did anything. Who are you accusing of doing what, Paul, and on what basis?

BEGALA: I’m accusing the secretary of defense and his deputy and the national security adviser of leading us into a debacle in the desert.

MAY: A debacle in the desert? We liberated 25 million people. You agree to that? We are now trying to build a representative government. Do you agree we should stay and do that?

CARLSON: I’m going to have to get to Mr. Andrews in here. Despite or maybe because of the endless increasingly crazy hatred of Bush that’s dominating your party, the president’s approval ratings have gone up about six points in our new poll to 56 percent. Don’t you think that the hate Bush strategy is really not going to work in the end?

ANDREWS: Well, all we’ve got to do — you know it’s not a matter of hating or liking George Bush.

CARLSON: Really?

ANDREWS: It’s a matter of hating his policies, hating the deception.

CARLSON: But loving the man?

ANDREWS: Hating the manipulation of this country to get us into a quagmire in Iraq that he has no idea of how we’re going to get out of. His policies are the things that are going to sink him.

CARLSON: OK. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Congressman Tom Andrews of Maine, Cliff May, thank you both very much. We appreciate it.