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Former Ambassador supports inspections

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On NOW Friday, Bill Moyers interviewed Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson who “from 1988 to 1991, was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. During ‘Desert Shield’ he was the acting Ambassador and was responsible for the freeing of several hundred American hostages. He was the last official American to meet with Saddam Hussein before ‘Desert Storm.’ He was the Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces, Europe, 1995-1997.”

Here is the transcript:

MOYERS: Here we are, what one could reading our papers, say is the eve of war. What do you think is going through Saddam Hussein’s mind this weekend?

WILSON: Well, I think Saddam Hussein is probably if the Gulf War is any example, I think has probably resigned themselves at some point that the war is going to happen. There may be one or two more games that they’ll try and play, give out a few more missiles, allow more U.N. inspectors, or offer to allow Peacekeepers and inspectors in.

But ultimately, I think they’ve probably resigned themselves to the fact that they’re going to be attacked. I suspect Saddam, being the survivalist he is, hopes that he will survive to fight another day. And I think that he probably believes that if he doesn’t survive he will want to go down in history as somebody who actually confronted the West.

Because you know, in the Arab world, it has been enough to confront the West. You haven’t had to defeat the West. You’ve just had to confront the West to achieve a certain status in the Arab world.

MOYERS: But if the United States attacks, he’ss a dead man.

WILSON: Well, I’m not sure about that. He’s been preparing his security apparatus for 30 years. He knows his country. He may well have an out.

As the senior American diplomat 12 years ago in Iraq, did you support the effort to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait by force?

WILSON: I supported the effort to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. And I understood fully that in order to get him out of Kuwait you had to have the credible threat of force. And in order for that force to be credible, you had to be prepared to use it.

MOYERS: Diplomacy had failed there as because he was so intransigent.

WILSON: That’s right. That’s right.

MOYERS: He’s still just as intransigent.

WILSON: And I fear diplomacy is going to fail again.

MOYERS: What is the trip wire in your opinion for the use of force? What is your trip wire?

WILSON: Well, I’ve always said it’s the first time he poses an obstacle to your conducting an inspection then you go in and you use force against that particular site. But you keep the use of force focused on disarmament. Let me give you an example.

When Colin Powell was up at the United Nations, he showed a couple of pictures of the site. He said, “This is a chemical weapons site and this is the trucks going out of that site just before the inspectors arrive at the front door. The trucks are going out the back door.” That becomes a legitimate target for additional action on the part of the United Nations and the US. For example, that truck convoy leaving the site, as far as I’m concerned, becomes a legitimate target as does the site itself.

MOYERS: You’re not against using force. So help me understand the distinction between the quantity of force you would use and the quantity of force that George W. Bush is proposing to you.

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