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Armitage Interview on FOX & Friends

Interview on FOX & Friends

Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage Interview by FOX & Friends' E.D. Hill New York City September 13, 2002

MS. HILL: Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage joins us from the State Department in D.C. Good to have you here with us.

The President went to the UN. He laid out a number of things, including Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at these UN resolutions. Do you think he made any headway?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, the overnight cable traffic looked pretty good in this regard and I noted that a lot of the editorial opinion in Europe was quite favorable.

MS. HILL: But at the same time, we had Jean Chretien coming out in Canada and saying, you know -- the day after meeting with the President nonetheless -- saying that the United States is so arrogant. Really, you know, they may have had some, you know, reason to believe that people would want to attack from what they did on 9/11.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: That's an outrageous statement. It's not a matter of arrogance when you take your case to the United Nations and it's certainly not a matter of arrogance if you want the United Nations to be the body that fathers envisioned, rather than going the way of the League of Nations.

MS. HILL: When the President tries to convince allies to join us in this effort, he has to give them proof, proof that they have violated nuclear, biological and chemical weapons development. What kind of concrete proof is the President able to offer?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that it's a matter for our intelligence agencies to discuss among themselves and with their foreign counterparts. And there's a good bit of evidence. In fact, I don't think there's much dispute in the international community about the direction of the weapons programs, the missile programs or the nuclear program in Iraq.

MS. HILL: Then why the hesitation?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think some people don't like to face up to the facts and face up to the truth and to realize that for ten years they have been lied to, deceived, and as you suggested, had Saddam Hussein thumb their nose at the organization. The truth hurts.

MS. HILL: So how do you get so many leaders of such a great quantity of large countries sit there while someone does this right under their nose and not say boo?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, my own view is that many in the international community were fooling themselves and letting words take the place of actions. We've had over 30 presidential statements from the UN -- I'm talking about the president of the body -- speaking about Iraq, and so we were fooling ourselves. Words were taking the place of action.

MS. HILL: We know that right before the weapons inspectors were removed from Iraq, Senator Tom Daschle had co-sponsored a resolution to give then-President Clinton authority to use whatever means necessary, including military action, to deal with the situation. He now is very skeptical that there's enough evidence that there's a problem there that we need to deal with. Why do you think there's a flip-flop, and have you seen any change?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I heard Mr. Daschle on the radio this morning as I came in and he had some more positive things to say that he suggests about the President's speech yesterday. I think he thought it was a good beginning, and we're on the right track, and he said it would help build support in the Congress. And Mr. Daschle is going to have to face the situation sooner or later and we'll see how he votes.

MS. HILL: What surprises me, and why I'm wondering if there's something that we just don't know, is because Mr. Daschle needs convincing now, yet while the weapons inspectors were still in there he fully believed that they were being misled, that they weren't finding the things they need to and that Iraq was on the wrong path.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I'm sure Mr. Daschle can explain himself to you. I'm not going to try to read his mind. I'm just sure that he is going to have an opportunity to vote with the rest of his colleagues and I trust he'll be on the right side of the issue.

MS. HILL: Do we have enough forces in the region right now to take any action if we needed to, if we found that there was a direct threat imminent?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: My own belief is we do have enough forces if we found a direct threat, an imminent direct threat. That is not to suggest that we wouldn't want more.

MS. HILL: What other type of help do we need from the international community? What would be most beneficial for us in waging war against Iraq forcing them to comply with the resolutions?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: First of all, you're making a leap into war before the President made that leap, but I'll try to answer what one shouldn't do, and that is to answer a hypothetical question. We would like others, if it's necessary to fight, to join us in that fight. We'd also like others to help us in the aftermath of Iraq. There will be a day after and there will be work for all of us in the international community.

MS. HILL: Is there a concern that there could be anarchy if Saddam is removed? A lot of people say that the Kurds won't be satisfied if they're left out of this, that they might actually come down and want to have a bigger piece of the decision-making power.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, although I'll grant you anything's possible, we've spent a lot of time working with the Kurds and others and with the Iraqi opposition, all members of the Iraqi opposition, to try to guard against just such a possibility.

MS. HILL: Also, you know, there's this talk the President has asked for a resolution giving him the authority to make the decisions he feels are necessary before Congress heads back to their home districts, which they target right now about October 5th or 4th. How important is it to get that from Congress before they leave?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that, first of all, the President always has the right to call Congress back in session and I'm not sure what the domestic people in the White House are thinking in terms of congressional resolution. It would clearly strengthen the President's hand if the Congress sees fit to move forward with a positive vote sooner rather than later, however.

MS. HILL: You've watched all of us in the media and I'm sure, you know, the folks who live around you talk about what's going on. What do you think the biggest misperception is about Iraq and what it's capable or incapable of doing?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I thought the biggest misconception was during the whole month of August when there seemed to be a bit of hyperventilation going on, particularly on the networks.

And a second misperception was that there is a huge tug of war in the administration. The fact of the matter is that this President encourages and likes debate, he likes to have a full range of opinions. He knows what he's paid for, and that's to make the final decision, and he's more than ready and willing to do it.

MS. HILL: All right. We sure appreciate you spending time with us this morning.


MS. HILL: Richard Armitage. Thank you very much.


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