Mokhiber: Ari, two questions.
A group of Republican businessmen took out a full page ad in today's Wall Street Journal. They charge that President Bush had betrayed them by first promising a more humble nation in our dealings with the world, and then turning around and preparing for pre-emptive wars. They say in the ad to President Bush: "You cannot keep proclaiming peace while preparing for war. You are waltzing blindfolded into what may well be a catastrophe. Show the humility and compassion that led us to elect you."
In what sense does this doctrine of pre-emptive war reflect a more humble nation?
Ari Fleischer: In precisely the same way that President Kennedy meant it -- when President Kennedy made preparations for a possible American response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Pre-emption is actually a time-honored part of America's pool of diplomatic and foreign policy devices that are useful to defuse crises to prevent war from ever taking place. The President approaches it in the same manner. September 11 certainly has brought home to the American people -- if we had known that an attack was going to take place against the United States on September 11, and we could have taken military action to pre-empt, and President Bush had that type of actionable information, I think it is fair to say the American people would have said -- pre-empt this attack. So, I think it is part of America's time-honored tradition for keeping the peace.
Mokhiber: Both the federal government and almost all of the state governments are projecting deficits as far as the eye can see. Given the immediate needs of the American people, why is the President supporting a one-time reported $15 billion appropriation -- that's $5 billion in military aid and $10 billion in loan guarantees for Israel -- that's on top of the regular $3 billion in annual aid to Israel -- at a time when Ariel Sharon is enmeshed in a corruption scandal and is killing innocent Palestinians?
Ari Fleischer: The President has always viewed our aid package for many of the nation's in the Middle East as part of America's diplomacy. There has been a long-standing bipartisan consensus regarding aid for the nation's of the Middle East, especially and including Israel. This is part of America's foreign policy that continues, and the President has vowed to continue it.