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Marc Grossman Interview by Dutch TV

Interview by Dutch TV

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Washington, DC March 3, 2003

(11:15 a.m. EDT)

QUESTION: First of all, thank you very much for having us.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: My pleasure. Thank you.

QUESTION: What will be, in your view, the chance of having a second UN resolution adopted?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think the chance of having a second resolution adopted is very good. We'd like to -- we're working hard to see if that resolution can be adopted. The President, Secretary Powell, lots of others of us are trying to make the case around the world that a second resolution would be a good thing, and we think it's time for the United Nations to make a declaration about where things stand on UN Security Council Resolution 1441. As you know, we've put forward a resolution that's simple, it's clear, it simply states the fact, which is that Saddam Hussein has missed his last opportunity to disarm.

QUESTION: Which countries do you expect to be in favor of the resolution? I mean, of course the Brits and a few others, but I mean, a few countries -- I mean, doubtful about whether to support or not.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We're in a stage now where people are thinking about their positions, and we're making our case. We'll see what happens when the vote comes and people have to put their hands up. I wouldn't speculate in advance of that.

QUESTION: Do you have to dole lots more money to get them?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: (Laughter.) Well, we're not in the business of buying votes. But we're trying to make the very best case we can. Our Assistant Secretary for African Affairs was in Africa last week visiting with people. Secretary Powell's been on the telephone. This is not a matter of money. This is a matter of countries that are on the Security Council, both the permanent members and the elected members, realizing they have a global responsibility. So this isn't just about this country or that country. It's about the threat to the world.

QUESTION: James Baker, former Secretary of State, said about his, I mean, trying to get people over to the U.S. position in 1990, and he said it was a, I mean, a terrible thing to do, I mean, going around and actually doling out money and trade favors and everything.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We do the very best we can. Politics are politics. And every country is trying to do the best for its own country, its own people. That's what international relations are all about. And it seems to me odd that countries, for example in the Netherlands or in the United States or in any democratic country where people are working to bring a coalition together, find this strange. They're working on votes in parliament, they're working on votes in our Congress, people are doing politics. And the fact that we would do so in the United Nations Security Council, it seems to me shouldn't surprise anybody.

QUESTION: Optimistic man.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I'm always an optimistic person. We're working hard on this, and my example to you is, would you have believed on the 12th of September of last year that we would have passed UN Security Council Resolution 1441 15 to nothing? Nobody would have believed it, but through the extraordinary efforts of our President and Secretary Powell and others, that's what happened.

QUESTION: What do you make of the situation in Turkey with, I mean, we know the vote in parliament over there. But 90 percent of the Turks are very much against, against this war. What do you make of it?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, Turkey's a democracy. The Turkish parliament acted over the weekend in a way that they thought was best for Turkey. We had made a proposition to Turkey that the Turkish Government had accepted, but it didn't make it through parliament. So now the Turkish Government has some decisions to make, we have some decisions to make, and we'll go from there. We're disappointed, but we're not in a panic here over this. Turkey has a right to make its own decisions. Our argument to Turks and an argument that I would make again if I had the chance, is that if there was a disarmed Iraq, who's most likely to benefit from that? Well, it'd seem to me the people who are closest to Iraq. And if there was an Iraq someday that was multiethnic and democratic, no weapons of mass destruction, at peace with its neighbors, who's the beneficiary of that? I think Turks would be the beneficiary of that. But as I say, Turkey's a democracy and they can make their own decisions.

QUESTION: Do you expect a favorable vote eventually?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know the answer to that, sir. That really belongs -- that's a question that belongs to the Turkish government and the Turkish parliament. I don't even know if I'd expect them to go back and try again. But as I say, that's up to them, not up to me.

QUESTION: Let's talk about Europe for a second. If you look at the number of governments in favor, more or less, of the U.S. point of view, you'll find some 16 European governments saying, we're basically on the U.S. side, two against. If you look at public opinion, 78, 80, 75, 90 percent sometimes, against this war. Why are so many Europeans not convinced?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know how to answer the question for Europeans. People in Europe really are focused, I think, on the great adventure that they are embarked on in terms of the European Union. I believe, perhaps, people haven't made the case --

QUESTION: That's not on their minds, the European Union.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Oh, I don't know, I mean, when you have people who are thinking about, as Valery Giscard d'Estaing is, about a new structure for Europe, where people have given up their currency, where you talk about ESDI, ESDP, which I know is something that the Netherlands is very much in favor of, those are very profound questions for Europeans. So it doesn't surprise me that Europeans are very much focused on their internal politics and what the future of their experiment is, and I respect that.

QUESTION: They're scared to death about a war. That's -- if you look at demonstrations in Europe -- I saw a sign, "Bush is Hitler." I saw U.S. flags with swastikas in it. Of course, that's not the general opinion in Europe, but it's there. That's on their mind. And I didn't see a sign, "Let's unify Europe first."

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: It's a shame if that is the opinion in Europe. I don't think -- I would agree with you it's not the prevailing opinion in Europe. But what we are asking people to do is to consider the fact that although September 11th happened in New York and in Washington, DC and in Pennsylvania, an attack from terrorists and worse, an attack from terrorists who are linked up with weapons of mass destruction - biological weapons, chemical weapons - could happen anywhere in Europe. It could happen in the Netherlands. It could happen in France. It could happen anywhere in the world. And so, the time has come now to make a stand against this kind of connection between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we think Iraq is a place to make that stand first.

Second, there are so many unanswered questions. And I think Europeans ought to consider them. And they're not unanswered questions just for the United States. Where is all the botulinum toxin? Where is all the VX? I see over the weekend now, the Iraqis have started to destroy missiles, and everyone's hailing this as a great success. They shouldn't have had these missiles in the first place. And where have they been for 11 years, and what else is out there? And so these, I think, are things that Europeans ought to consider. I hope they will. When you say --

QUESTION: But they say, where is the imminent threat? Where is the real danger right now? Of course we have to get rid of this brutal dictator in Iraq, I mean, everybody agrees eventually. The split is about strategy. Why now, why now a war. I mean, why should my mom and sisters and brother back home be scared and say, yes, we're in favor of a war, because yes, there's the real, imminent danger?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Ah, well let's be clear here. No one is in favor of a war. The United States is not in favor of war. President Bush is not in favor of war. The Secretary of State is not in favor of war. What we have been arguing since the introduction of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, and indeed, since President Bush made his statement on the 12th of September is what? A credible international unified opinion will make Saddam Hussein disarm peacefully. And that's the whole point of 1441. Why did we spend seven weeks negotiating 1441?

And I ask you this, and I would ask your viewers this in the Netherlands: why are there inspectors in Iraq today? The reason there are inspectors in Iraq today is because the UN voted 15 to nothing for 1441. I ask you, what's the next bit of logic? For our perspective, the next logic is that if you had a military coalition which was prepared to enforce 1441, Saddam Hussein would disarm, and would disarm peacefully, and there would be no war.

So I say with all due respect, that it is to those countries and to those people who are today arguing that there should never ever be force used, that they are making war much more likely. Our logic was, 15 to nothing brought you inspectors. A military coalition brings you peaceful disarmament. So --

QUESTION: But again --

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I want to be clear. We are not in favor of war. We are in favor of the peaceful disarmament of Saddam Hussein. We believe the only way that will take, that will occur, is if Saddam Hussein is surrounded by military force. And I would say, if you look at the statistics today, what have we got? 20 countries have offered us basing and overflight rights. 16 countries have offered us other kinds of access and facilities. 17 countries have offered us help with actual military combat forces on the ground. The Netherlands, for example, has decided to move Patriot batteries to Turkey. That's not all for war. It's for focusing Saddam Hussein's mind on his job, which is to meet the obligation in 1441.

QUESTION: Last question.


QUESTION: This is a country of bumper stickers. My absolute favorite is the one that says, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Does that sum up the U.S. position right now?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: For the United States or for everyone else?

QUESTION: The U.S. and for President Bush.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I don't think so at all. What we are, what we have been saying since the 12th of September is, let's do this multilaterally, let's do this peacefully, let's do this in a way that supports the United Nations and gets Saddam Hussein to disarm. I mean --

QUESTION: But he's not.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: -- no, but if you say to me, what's the great threat today? I answer you, the great threat today is the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. But I'll tell you what I think the other great threat today is. The other great threat today is to the United Nations and to the United Nations Security Council. And I know that people in the Netherlands believe deeply in the United Nations and believe deeply in the international rule of law. Well, Saddam Hussein was told in Resolution 687 in 1991 to disarm. And if you believe in the rule of law, then it's been what, 4,230 days since that law was imposed upon him, and where are we? We're nowhere. And so I think if you believe in the rule of law, if you believe in the United Nations, if you believe in disarmament, and if you believe in doing it peacefully, then the answer to that question right now is a strong military coalition to focus his attention on his responsibility.

QUESTION: And sometimes we not can be in a position of lead, follow, or get out of the way?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, that's your headline. You gave that to me, I gave you my answer.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you very much. Appreciate your time. Thanks a lot.


Released on March 5, 2003

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