Accessibility links

Wilson Interview - 2003-03-24


MR. BORGIDA:
Joining us now, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. diplomat in Iraq, and now with J.C. Wilson International Ventures Corp., and also associated with the Middle East Institute here in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador thanks so much for appearing again. We appreciate your insight. Let's just jump on this issue, though. We did talk about it yesterday. We talked about the fear of a war within a war. Now there is a U.S. military commander up there. What do you make of this, more interest, more concern about the possibilities of conflict there?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
Oh, absolutely. I think there is a great concern that there will be a rush to Kirkuk on one side by the Kurds and on the other side by the Turks, and the U.S. wants to put a presence down there to make sure that you don't have that unintended conflict between the two parties.

MR. BORGIDA:
I talked with you also yesterday about Russia and the relationship between Russia and the United States. But now we are being told by our White House correspondent that the White House has credible evidence, in the White House's words, that Russia has sold sensitive military equipment to Iraq, violating the U.N. embargo. What is your comment on that?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
Well, if you undermine the sanctions regime, then you make the necessity of using other measures to enforce the U.N.'s will more imperative. So, when you have Russia, and then the Chinese before with the fiber optic program, both members of the U.N. Security Council, the allegation that French firms were also supplying Iraq with forbidden items, when sovereign governments do that in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, then it makes the likelihood that you have to use other measures such as war more likely in order to achieve the objective, in this case disarmament.

MR. BORGIDA:
This would seem to be a serious issue in terms of the U.S.-Russian bilateral relationship. As a former diplomat, how do these things get repaired?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
Well, I think it's serious not just in terms of the bilateral relationship, but also in terms of the enforceability of U.N. Security Council resolutions. They get repaired by solving the problem, basically. One, you have to deal with the issue at hand, and then, two, you have to mend the political fabric. And after the Battle for Baghdad is over, I suspect that there will be a lot of interest on all parties' parts to be part of the reconstruction of Iraq, and that focused agenda and that focused objective I think will help repair the damage that has been done in recent weeks on this issue.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk for a moment or two also about Saddam Hussein. He has been appearing on Iraqi state television now a couple of times. There is a continuing effort to discover by U.S. intelligence officials whether this is indeed his voice. His appearance has appeared at least to some to be a little bit different. What do you make of that? Is this part of a disinformation campaign or his shrewdness in being able to manipulate public opinion, or what is your take?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
Well, my personal opinion is he is probably still alive and that what you're hearing is his voice and what you're seeing is him. But, notwithstanding that, even if he is dead, it's important to remember that the cabal that's around him are all really tough, hardened veterans of Iraq's political wars. So, it is not likely that even if Saddam were to disappear from the scene that the Iraqi leadership would necessarily all just turn over a new leaf and become nice guys.

MR. BORGIDA:
Well, this is a refrain that we've heard continually from Tommy Franks in Qatar and other U.S. officials, that it is not just about Saddam Hussein. Could you tell us a little more about that? If in fact Saddam is dealt with in some way in the weeks ahead, does it make it easier for a reconstruction effort in Iraq to take place without him, or is it just as difficult with all those around him to make a new Iraq possible?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
Well, I think when we talk about getting rid of Saddam, we really talk about getting rid of the entire regime and de-Baath-ifying the political process.

MR. BORGIDA:
When you say de-Baath, you mean the Baath Party?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
Getting rid of the Baath Party, the senior party officials who are in positions of responsibility and authority and, throughout the years, have abused that responsibility. So, it is more than just him. You've got Ramadan, the Vice President, who is as tough as they come. Izzat Ibrahim, who is now in charge of the defense of one part of the country. Saddam's own son, Qusay, who is in charge of a fair amount of the security apparatus, not to mention Uday, who has a lot of press activities.

All that core, maybe the top 50, all have to be gotten rid of before you really see the collapse of the regime. So, I would say that even if Saddam was gone, there are still another dozen people at least who would step in to fill the shoes and keep the party apparatus together for the Battle of Baghdad.

MR. BORGIDA:
And briefly, an out question, in 30 seconds or so, do you expect this campaign to be an ongoing campaign, a week, two weeks, months, protracted? Any sense of it at this point?

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
I don't think there is much sense of it. I think really the bigger question is whether or not it will be terribly bloody. The Battle of Baghdad will be bloody. I suspect that this will be wrapped up in about three weeks, unless the decision is made not to drive into Baghdad but to lay siege to it. Then it might take a bit longer.

MR. BORGIDA:
Ambassador Joseph Wilson, thanks so much for your insight. I appreciate it.

AMBASSADOR WILSON:
It's good to be with you.

XS
SM
MD
LG