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Ari & I: October 15, 2002

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Russell Mokhiber: You have said the President wants regime change in Iraq, by which I take it to mean the President wants to overthrow the government in Iraq. Why don't you just say the President wants to overthrow the government in Iraq?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, I think you need to address your question to the hundreds of members of Congress who in 1998 voted for regime change as America's policy under President Clinton, who signed it into law.

Mokhiber: If I could follow up, Ari.

Fleischer: Go ahead.

Mokhiber: You use the term regime change. Why don't you just say, we want to overthrow the government of Iraq?

Fleischer: Because I describe the law as the law was described when it passed and as it's been commonly referred to.

Mokhiber: Okay, the second question, Ari.

Fleischer: Third.

Mokhiber: Second. That was a follow-up. If India adopted the Bush administration's policy on preemptive attack, vis a vis let's say Pakistan, or if China adopted the Bush administration policy on preemptive attack, vis a vis Taiwan, would you consider that a lawful policy under international law?

Fleischer: Well, I think what's different is the unique history of Iraq and the irrationality of Iraq. Different policies work in different regions of the world, and different doctrines work at different times and in different regions because of the local circumstances. Policies of containment work more with a rational figure than with an irrational one. That's why the policy of containment worked vis a vis the Soviet Union.

Iraq, on the other hand, given its military history, given the amount of weaponry that Iraq has acquired that they have actually used to invade their neighbors, to attack their neighbors, to launch missiles against their neighbors, has not been deterred by such policies in the past. Given the fact that an irrational leader who has a history of military force and military use and military aggression and domination may acquire a nuclear weapon, the question is, should it be the policy of the United States to do nothing, and allow such a leader to acquire a weapon that he could then use to blackmail the world and blackmail the region, and even use it to harm us.

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