CNN Paula Zahn Now
College Park, MD, September 8, 2003
BYLINE: Christiane Amanpour, Paula Zahn, Jeffrey Toobin
George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, reflects on the fall of Saddam Hussein and the pressure and criticism that George W. Bush, his son, must face. Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix speaks candidly about the pressures he says he faced from the United States and looks back at the decision to go to war in Iraq. Andy Roddick comes of age by winning his first grand-slam title at this year's U.S. Open. Democratic presidential could Howard Dean discuses the situation in Iraq.
ZAHN: And we'll have more of my exclusive interview with former President Bush in our next half-hour.
Now a leading critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has called President Bush's address to the nation last night—quote—“nothing short of outrageous.”
Howard Dean joins us tonight from College Park, Maryland.
Thank you for joining us.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me on, Paula.
ZAHN: Our pleasure.
Governor Dean, I wanted to start off with something that you discussed this morning on the morning television shows, where you essentially said, as president, you would like to bring home at least half of the American troops in Iraq right now. That would be some 70,000, to be replaced by some 70,000 foreign soldiers. Is that realistic?
DEAN: Well, actually, they would actually have to be replaced by more than 70,000 soldiers.
General Shinseki advised that we needed 200,000 troops when we went into Iraq. The administration refused to do that. I always think it's a bad idea for civilians to not take advice from military people. And I don't think our troops are being well-served because of that decision.
We need to internationalize the occupation of Iraq and make it a reconstruction by the United Nations and NATO forces, not simply by our soldiers, who are over there serving as sitting ducks. The president told everybody that al Qaeda was in Iraq and they were in cahoots. That was not true. But it turns out that there probably are al Qaeda there now, and our troops are their targets. And we need to replace our troops with foreign troops to reconstruct Iraq, which is going to take some considerable amount of years.
ZAHN: So you're saying you're comfortable telling families and loved ones of some of those 70-odd-thousand or so that you say you would be confident to bring as president, that that is what would happen under your presidency?
DEAN: If I become president, I will restore our relationships with our allies that this president has so badly damaged.
And I will go to Europe before I'm inaugurated, begin the process of restoration, so that we can get the help we need, not only from our European allies, but from other allies such as Egypt and Morocco. We ought to have a significant contingent of Arabic-speaking troops in Iraq helping us to keep order. We need to train Iraqis. The president has said that he's going to do these things. But even the secretary of state says the best we can do is 20,000 troops. That's not good enough. That's not good enough to stop the back-to-back six- month tours, not good enough to bring home the Guard and reserve troops that deserve to be home.
ZAHN: Help us understand your numbers tonight. Our sources at the United Nations say, at best, you could pull some 2,000 troops out of Europe, our sources at the State Department say, at best, some 15,000 to 20,000 troops out of Asia. How would you make up the rest?
DEAN: We are going to have to get a bigger commitment.
I think this president won't be able to do it, because he's so poisoned our relationships with allies with his occasional fits of pique. We need a new president in order to get out of the situation that we're in, in Iraq. We are in a quagmire in Iraq. Our soldiers, whose pay the president tried to cut a couple of weeks ago, are sitting targets. We need to do better than this, but we need an international relationship with other countries based on cooperation and not confrontation.
ZAHN: There are people out there tonight who believe that you are being irresponsible in using the set of numbers you are talking about. Help us understand how you arrive at the math here this evening, that you believe, as president, somehow that you would be able to bring 70,000-plus foreign troops into this equation. What are you basing that on?
DEAN: I—if you—let's look at what the first President Bush did, who was your previous guest.
He brought in large numbers of thousands of troops. I believe we had nearly six figures worth of troops from Arabic countries in the first Gulf War. President Bush's father succeeded very well. And I was a supporter of the first Gulf War. I was a supporter of this President Bush in the Afghan war, although I deplore the way he's handling the occupation. Imagine relying on warlords to police four- fifths of the country.
So it is possible to do. It has been done before. It was done by the former President Bush. And it can be done again. But the former President Bush, I thought, did an excellent job building an international coalition. This president has not been able to do that because he's offended so many people in the United Nations and our allies around the globe.
ZAHN: Are you essentially making a campaign pledge tonight that, if elected, you will bring 70,000-plus American troops home?
DEAN: I can only do that if I can restore our relations with Europe and with other countries around the world from whom we can get those troops.
I believe I can do that, because my style is to work with people, not to humiliate them publicly and not to dismiss them publicly, as this president has done.
ZAHN: Finally, Governor, you were quoted in a recent AP story, saying—quote—“I can get snippy, no doubt about it.”
Is that an ongoing challenge for you with the strains of the campaign trail?
DEAN: Only when pressed very hard by difficult reporters.
ZAHN: You didn't lose it tonight yet.
DEAN: Not yet.
ZAHN: Governor Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
DEAN: Thanks very much, Paula. Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate your time.
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