Ari & I: May 21, 2002
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
Russell Mokhiber: Ari, does Israel have nuclear weapons?
Ari Fleischer: That's a question you'll have to ask to Israel.
Mokhiber: Do you know, does the administration know, whether they have...
Fleischer: I don't personally know.
Mokhiber: Second question.
Jocshka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, is a member of the Green Party in Germany. The Green Party is going to be demonstrating against the President when he goes to Berlin. In today's Times of London, there is a report that says that "President Bush risks sparking a new row with Europe this week when he calls for Europe's support for expanding his war on terror to include the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein." They cite a poll from Der Spiegel which says that "65 percent of Germans believe that the United States is pursuing its own national interests by taking part in or planning wars around the world."
So, the question is, do you agree that the President risks sparking this row with Europe by calling for the overthrow of Hussein?
Fleischer: The President goes in the spirit of Europe being a democracy and Germany being a democracy, and people taking to the streets in peaceful protest -- they are doing exactly that which unites us, even if it is a point of contention. That's fundamentally why democracies get along so well, because we have a way for people to express themselves, even if it is in opposition to the views of the President of the United States. Very often, you hear an overstatement of about how serious those issues are. I remember very similar critics saying that when the President early in his term -- that he would move beyond the ABM treaty -- the same critics said that this would lead to a renewal of the Cold War and spark an arms race. And in fact, just the opposite has happened, as we will see when the President signs a reduction in offensive weapons in Moscow next week. So, I think the reality is far different from some of the heated rhetorical statements.