Showdown: Iraq -- War Clouds
Aired January 19, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN PRESENTS. The showdown with Iraq, if diplomacy fails, what would war look like?
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MAJ. KEN ROBINSON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What they're talking conceptually is Desert Swarm just like angry wasps would be moving after a target.
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ANNOUNCER: In some ways, the war is already underway.
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DAN KUEHL, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY: There are other things that might be called the black side of the house that no one knows about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Memories like these bunkers that I built...
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ANNOUNCER: And for some veterans of the last Gulf War, the battle never ended.
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NICK ROBERTS, GULF WAR VETERAN: I hate going to bed at night because every morning when I wake up I feel worse than before I went to bed.
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ANNOUNCER: What caused the so-called Gulf War Syndrome? And will today's soldiers face the same problem?
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STEVE ROBINSON, NATIONAL GULF WAR RESOURCE CENTER: The Army says we're not prepared. Congress says we're not prepared. The reports that are out there say we're not prepared.
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ANNOUNCER: In Europe, anti-war sentiment is on the rise and so is anti-American rhetoric.
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EKKEHART KRIPPENDORFF, RETIRED PROFESSOR, FREE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN: What more arrogance do you want when to say, you know; you have to be for us otherwise you are our enemy?
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ANNOUNCER: And finally, what about the other hot spot? Is Kim Jong-Il more dangerous than Saddam Hussein?
All ahead on this special report, SHOWDOWN: IRAQ, WAR CLOUDS. Now, here is Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: A war with Iraq looms or does it? President Bush says time is running out for Saddam Hussein. But time is exactly what the U.N. and other allies want more of, more time for inspections, for diplomacy. Complicating matters even further, suspicions of a nuclear North Korea. Despite such uncertainties, however, the fact remains America continues to ready itself for war, a war that's likely to be very different from the first Gulf conflict. Here's CNN's Jaime McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beating war drums these days...
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States will lead a coalition of the willing...
MCINTYRE: ... sound a lot like those of 1991.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb potential.
G. W. BUSH: ... to disarm the Iraqi regime of weapons of mass destruction.
G. H.W. BUSH: ... destroy his chemical weapons facilities.
G. W. BUSH: ... and free the Iraqi people.
MCINTYRE: But despite the similarities, this time will be different. In 1991, there were two phases to the battle. First, a six-week air war to weaken Iraqi troops, then, a four-day ground war to finish the job.
(on camera): This time, imagine air and ground attacks nearly simultaneously. The Pentagon believes that a quick punishing strike will shock the Iraqi forces into submission, perhaps even spur them to insurrection. So don't think Desert Storm this time, think Desert Swarm.
ROBINSON: Desert Swarm meaning just like angry wasps would be moving after a target and being able to move in, hit it quick and move out. Move in, hit quick, move out.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): Pentagon sources and former Gulf War leaders say that if there is war, there are likely to be three priority missions designed to paralyze Iraq's regime.
Iraq says all its long-range SCUD missiles have been destroyed. But the U.S. believes at least a dozen have been hidden away. During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq used SCUDs against U.S. forces and to attack Israel.
COL. JOHN WARDEN (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: The SCUDs in the Gulf War were a real problem and we really didn't have a good way to go after them. So we're trying to improvise. And it was -- it was tough.
MCINTYRE: Colonel John Warden was one of the key architects of the air war 12 years ago. This time, he says, the unmanned predator could help. It carries surveillance cameras and missiles.
WARDEN: With a predator, you simply park the thing up at a pretty high altitude and it sits up there and it can stay up there for 24 hours. And if a SCUD would happen to pop up, boom, you get a pretty darn good chance of shooting it.
MCINTYRE: U.S. led forces would also want to capture or destroy suspected chemical and biological sites to protect themselves and to sway public opinion.
ROBINSON: The coalition is going to be faced with the responsibility of justifying their actions, for going after regime change. And they need to show it independently to be able to convince the world of the legitimacy of the action.
MCINTYRE: It's likely U.S. forces would siege Iraq's oil fields. That would prevent Saddam from doing what he did in Kuwait, retreat but burn the oil well needed to rebuild the country.
WARDEN: The main way that you strategize around the possibility that Saddam may do something to the oil fields is speed.
MCINTYRE: But the main prize is Baghdad, the center of gravity for Iraq's regime. Wafeeq Al-Samarri, the former head of Iraq's Military Intelligence, who later defected, says Saddam will fight to keep it.
GEN. WAFEEQ AL-SAMARRAI, FORMER CHIEF, MILITARY INTELLIGENCE (through translator): I think about 100,000 soldiers will defend Baghdad. They'll set up their defenses around the city, about 50 or 60 kilometers outside the city. Then, they can fight as they gradually pull back to Baghdad.
MCINTYRE: Key to Saddam's defense of Baghdad, his elite troops.
(on camera): This time, Saddam Hussein has surrounded himself with his best-trained, most loyal troops. Your gut feeling, will the Iraqi Republican Guard fold or fight? GEN. RON GRIFFITH (RET.), FORMER ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF: They're going to fold.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): General Ron Griffith fought the Republican Guard in 1991 as commander of the 1st Armored Division.
GRIFFITH: The forces that we encountered in the desert did fight, but after having said that, they didn't demonstrate a lot of tactical skill, a lot of ability to maneuver and to synchronize the other elements of combat power, specifically artillery was not well used.
MCINTYRE: But the battle for Baghdad would be on city streets not open battlefields. That means a higher risk of civilian casualties. Remember the Baghdad shelter mistakenly bombed in 1991?
Urban combat also means that in the tight confines of a city, the Iraqis could neutralize some of the U.S.'s technological advantage.
GRIFFITH: It would seem to me that if they pull back and holed up in the cities, you simply isolate them, cut off their supplies, cut off the electrical power, cut off the water supply and wait them out.
MCINTYRE: But U.S. war planners are hoping to avoid a waiting game. They hope a blitzkrieg will persuade Saddam's forces not to hang on to a losing cause.
BLITZER: When we come back...
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cyber space needs to be treated as a battle space.
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BLITZER: The invisible war against Iraq that has already begun.
BLITZER: Whether you know it or not, the U.S. is already waging a war against Saddam Hussein, an invisible war where information is the prize and the weapon of choice. The military's new war of words from CNN's Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the familiar ornaments of war, planes and tanks, bombs and bullets. But today, there's another kind of weapon in the U.S. arsenal, information.
KUEHL: The military uses information warfare both as an enabler and as a partner along with other forms of warfare -- air, sea, land -- but also as a unique form of warfare on its own right.
STARR: Information warfare means everything from dropping leaflets on enemy troops to infiltrating the enemy's computers.
KUEHL: It enables the intruder to log every single keystroke that you make. That might include things like passwords, account numbers.
STARR: The information war is often invisible and it starts long before any troops hit the battlefield.
(on camera): Earlier this year, CNN learned that the United States was secretly spamming Iraqi leaders, sending them thousands of e-mails instructing them on how to contact the U.N. to defect. It's just one of the latest ways the U.S. is fighting the enemy with bits and bytes instead of bombs and bullets.
(voice-over): While the Pentagon acknowledges using computers for propaganda, there is another side to its information war that operates in the shadows.
KUEHL: Information warfare or IW...
STARR: Dan Kuehl teaches information operations at National Defense University where about 80 officers each year are educated to become information warriors.
KUEHL: When it comes to information warfare or information operations, there are certain pieces of that that we could describe -- they use the terminology, white operations -- that are out there visible for everyone to see, everyone's aware of them. There are other things that we might call the black side of the house that no one knows about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cyber space needs to be treated as a battle space where you need to understand what is happening there.
STARR: Colonel James McCarl (ph) commands the Information Dominant Center, the Army's hub for black operations. The military carefully guards what black tools it may have, but any country with computers is vulnerable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't comment on our capabilities, but any time that you're denying your opponent particularly if he's an information-based society, any time that you're denying him the ability to process information and to make decisions from it, then you're gaining some advantage over him.
STARR: Cyber soldiers can do everything from tap the enemy's bank accounts to attack its power grids.
KUEHL: Forty years ago if we -- if we wanted to negate a country's electric system, we flew hundreds of airplanes, dropped hundreds of bombs and blew lots of things up. And it was a brute force way of doing it. But maybe what we're seeing now is an even more sophisticated capability, to go inside of that electric network, get inside the controls that operates it and without blowing things up, without cratering half of the neighborhood, make that electric system stop working for an hour or a day or maybe a longer period of time.
STARR: Military hackers can also create havoc by sabotaging the computer networks the enemy relies on to support its troops.
KUEHL: Maybe if we change the data that's inside of that network. When you shift ammunition to the theater of operations, you're not describing it as one pallet of 500-pound bombs. You have a long string of one's and zero's. And you better make sure that that string of one's and zero's that you're using really means 500-pound bombs and doesn't mean refrigerators.
STARR: Access to a hostile network can be just keystrokes away.
KUEHL: The program we're looking at here is called a Port Scan. And this computer is going out into a set of interconnected computers right now looking at what doors are open in those computers. And there's what it just showed. And what this all means is that in this computer, this port is accessible and can be gotten into. In this computer, a different port, a different door is open as a means of getting inside of that network and doing things to it.
STARR (on camera): A roadmap for a hacker?
KUEHL: A roadmap for a hacker or any kind of intruder. It might be a military. It might be an information warrior.
STARR (voice-over): Tori Clarke is another kind of information warrior. As Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld spokesperson, a growing part of her job is fighting the battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab populations around the world.
VICTORIA CLARKE, PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN: We have the best assets, the best planes, the best tanks, the best precision-guided weapons. We are incredibly sophisticated in the fact of -- in those regards. The Saddam Hussein's of the world, the al Qaeda and Taliban, they may not have had those same tools and weapons in their arsenal, if you will, but they have these other things that they use very effectively, such as lies and deception and disinformation. They can and use tools like the Internet to just put out reams of information there with no filters, no people at the end of news organizations saying, "Is that truthful or not?"
STARR: To fight back, U.S. planes drop leaflets. They instruct Iraqis how to tune into radio broadcasts transmitted from aircraft flying near Iraq, broadcast which tell Iraqi citizens like the amount of the money Saddam spent on himself in one day would be more than enough to feed a family for a year.
CLARKE: Commander Solo is sending radio broadcasts out to areas. Not everybody reads "The Washington Post," not even everybody watches CNN as much as we go around the world and hear that. And so, radio broadcasts in areas where that's the only way you get information, people sending those same sorts of messages -- don't think about threatening coalition aircraft. Don't think about using WMD. Again, it's proven an effective tool.
STARR: Whether it's white operations like dropping leaflets or black operations in cyber space, information warfare has changed the nature of the battlefield.
KUEHL: Information warfare is not going to make air, land, sea warfare go away, but it's going to transform how we do those things. It's transforming it right now. In some ways, this capability further refines warfare, maybe makes it less destructive. That's not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.
BLITZER: Coming up, the victims of Gulf War Syndrome, what caused it and should the military have done more to solve the mystery?
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SHIRLEY RICH, WIFE OF GULF WAR VETERAN: These guys are our warriors. They went over there and put their lives in harm's way and they've gotten no repayment from the government for the problems that they brought back with them.
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BLITZER: Following the first Gulf War, thousands of American troops returned home complaining of health problems -- confusion, memory loss, fatigue and pain, just to name a few. The Defense Department says 20,000 veterans are afflicted, others say many more. For years, Gulf War veterans were told they were suffering from stress. Today, however, there's evidence that American troops were exposed to a number of things in 1991 that might have made them sick -- chemical agents, the controversial anthrax vaccine and anti-nerve gas bill topped the list. CNN's Brian Cabell has more.
BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a long, frustrating 12 years for Bobby Rich and Nick Roberts, 12 years of looking healthy but feeling sick. Doctors haven't much helped them for the last decade and some have questioned whether the men's illnesses were just in their heads.
Bobby and Nick say they know better. They traced their mysterious, undiagnosed ailments to their service together as Navy CBs in the Gulf War. That's the two of them enjoying a day at the beach in Saudi Arabia. That's Bobby golfing. They suffered no wounds in the Gulf, nothing visible anyway. But when they came home, they found themselves forgetting things, losing their balance and always feeling tired.
ROBERTS: I hate going to bed at night because in the morning when I wake up, I feel worse than before I went to bed.
BOBBY RICH, GULF WAR VETERAN: What wakes me up in the morning is stomach aches, stomach hurting.
CABELL (on camera): As you know, some doctors, some researchers, some of the military will say it might be stress.
B. RICH: It's stress. Yes, that's what they say.
CABELL: You don't believe that?
B. RICH: Oh, heck no, I don't believe that.
CABELL (voice-over): The Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf Veteran's Illnesses believed it. This eminent group of researchers declared in 1996 that "Stress is likely to be an important contributing factor to the broad range of illnesses currently being reported by Gulf War veterans." Other possible physiological causes were discounted.
Congressman Christopher Shays has been conducting hearings on Gulf War illnesses for nearly a decade.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: We heard for a number of years that this was stress. But what we also realized was that from the DOD standpoint, you know, stiff upper lip, act like a soldier and stop being so weak.
CABELL: Dr. Robert Haley of the Southwest Medical Center in Dallas says the stress theory is wrong, dead wrong.
DR. ROBERT HALEY, SOUTHWESTERN MEDICAL CENTER: What's of interest here is the basil ganglia. See this little light spot in there.
CABELL: He suspects the veterans are suffering from a brain disorder, a theory the Pentagon has resisted for several years. Some critics, in fact, call his work voodoo science. Haley was able to come to this conclusion because of one man, Ross Perot.
HALEY: And he said he'd been seeing something he'd never seen before, Special Forces troops who were tough as nails before the war and now looked pitiful in their inability to function.
CABELL: So Perot, a long-time veterans advocate, funded Haley's studies to the tune of $2.5 million to see whether the causes were physical or mental. Now 12 years after the war, Haley's findings are turning the stress theory upside down.
HALEY: The symptoms that we see are characteristic of well-known diseases of these areas of the brain. For example, in the basil ganglia, the diseases are Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease.
CABELL: Conventional MRI scans showed nothing unusual but through a technique known as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, he found damage deep in the brains of the sick veterans, including Bobby Rich and Nick Roberts. Healthy vets showed no such damage. In other words, the ailments were physical. HALEY: This now has been replicated by the top -- the top brain imaging groups in the country at the San Francisco V.A. Hospital. And other people are now starting to do the same sort of tests.
CABELL: Haley takes it a step further. He believes that deep brain damage was most likely caused by exposure to the nerve agent, sarin. But at such low levels, the problems may not show up for months. He admits he hasn't scientifically proved the sarin connection, but the Department of Defense and the V.A. agree Haley's work deserves further study. In fact, the government now funds his research.
ANTHONY PRINCIPI, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: The turn came about in my mind when I visited with Ross Perot and Dr. Haley with my undersecretary of health in Dallas, Texas shortly after I was confirmed as secretary. And we sat down for hours and discussed the possibility of a neurological issue as opposed to a stress issue.
CABELL: V.A. Secretary Principi ever since has been leading the charge for Haley. Dr. Michael Kilpatrick of the Department of Defense insists that stress is still a possible factor in some of the veteran's illnesses, but concedes Haley may be on to something extremely important.
DR. MICHAEL KILPATRICK, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HEALTH AFFAIRS: Where we sometimes have had a disagreement with Dr. Haley, it is on his interpretation of cause because his studies again do not give that definitive causal relationship. We still don't have a test that says yes, this exposure causes this brain damage.
CABELL: But Defense officials do admit more than 100,000 troops exposed to low-levels of sarin when an Iraqi chemical depot in Comosea (ph) was destroyed shortly after the war. But it took the government six years to make that concession.
Why the delay? Apparently, they asked the wrong troops about the contents of Comosea (ph).
KILPATRICK: The unit that came in and first captured that site was there for 30 minutes and left for a second site. The second unit that came in was the unit that did the demolition of the weapons that were stored there. When DOD asked, did you see any chemical weapons; unfortunately they asked the first unit in. They didn't ask the second unit. And so when they were told no, the belief in DOD was there were no chemical weapons there.
CABELL: Gulf War veteran Steve Robinson worked with Dr. Kilpatrick at the DOD. Now, he has a veteran's advocacy group.
ROBINSON: There were 100 facilities like Comosea (ph) that were ammunition storage facilities that were blown up during the Gulf War. A couple of them were the largest, conventional demolition operations ever in the history of modern warfare. Whatever was in those facilities certainly went into the atmosphere.
CABELL: How much of the chemicals actually escaped? That's a question the Pentagon is still grappling with. Critics like Steve Robinson are not satisfied. They call the government's response to the Gulf War illness problem slow and ineffective and that scientists in some cases, close-minded.
V.A. Secretary Principi is trying to shake things up.
PRINCIPI: I don't want to disparage the traditional signs that serve America and the world very well. But sometimes you have to think out of the box and look at different approaches to it.
CABELL: That's what a maverick doctor from Texas did. He may be on the way to solving the mystery. What good that will do Nick Roberts and Bobby Rich is hard to say. They fear they've suffered mild brain damage. They can live with it, but their minds and bodies may never be quite right again.
S. RICH: These guys are our warriors. They went over there and put their lives in harm's way. And they've gotten no repayment from the government for the problems that they've brought back with them.
CABELL: And what about the U.S. troops training now for another possible showdown with Saddam? Will they face Gulf War illnesses as well?
ROBINSON: The Army says we're not prepared. Congress says we're not prepared. The reports that are out there say we're not prepared.
CABELL (voice-over): During the Gulf War 12 years ago, American soldiers prepared for an outright chemical attack that apparently never came. But the Pentagon now admits some troops were subjected to low-level exposures of chemical agents. Those exposures may well be the cause of what is now called Gulf War Illness.
Will the troops be better protected if there's another Gulf War? A U.S. Army Audit published just a year ago and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Deseret (ph) News in Salt Lake City seems to say no.
(on camera): Ninety percent of the monitors not operating properly, 62 percent of the masks not operating properly. This is a year ago. That's alarming, isn't it?
KILPATRICK: I think this is getting down to the individual preparedness, the individual member. The Army leadership can't make sure that a gas mask fits an individual's face, that the filter is changed appropriately.
CABELL (voice-over): In other words, detail work, maintenance, individual responsibility. Here's more from the Army audit -- "Efforts to oversee the readiness and repair needs of fielded items were fragmented and generally ineffective." And this -- "Army leaders didn't know the conditions of many items of non-medical, chemical and biological defensive equipment critical to survivability and success on the battlefield." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of U.S. military preparation.
For the last decade, here at the National Training Center in California, American troops have been preparing for another possible war. But critics claim the troops are again hampered by equipment, vital equipment that simply doesn't work right, like the M-8 Chemical Alarm System intended to alert troops of eminent chemical attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The M-8A1 Alarm System will not only be one of the most reliable and effective warning devices in the field, its warning can well be what saves your life.
ROBINSON: The product that was sent to the Gulf War in 1991, the M-8 alarm is the same product that's being sent to this next Gulf War. And if it demonstrated 14,000 plus false alarms, according to DOD not according to me, according to DOD, why would we send that same piece of equipment to go protect soldiers again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remove the air filter plug...
CABELL: You will get no argument from the Pentagon over the M-8s just an explanation.
(on camera): Have they actually been changed in any sense? Are they still the same instruments?
KILPATRICK: Still the same instruments. Still the same scientific put together and it's just a matter of again attention to detail.
CABELL (voice-over): American troops have other protective equipment at their disposal, the Fox Vehicle for one, which can sniff out chemical exposures, has proven effective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are for biological senses?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
CABELL: The Egada (ph), an upgraded chemical alarm, is out there with some of the troops. And the most basic protection, the chemical and biological outfits has been redesigned to make it lighter and more comfortable.
ROBINSON: If you get the new one, consider yourself fortunate and yes, they have made improvements in the chemical suits. But most soldiers won't be receiving that chemical suit.
CABELL: The Pentagon insists it has enough new suits to outfit the deployed troops but the problem, as it was during the first Gulf War, is not that simple.
SHAYS: The question is -- is this equipment in the right place. Will it be there when it's needed? Will our troops properly train with that? And that is still a question mark.
CABELL: Training for the next Gulf War continues at the National Training Center to this day. But already, thousands of troops have arrived at the doorstep of Iraq. Will Saddam Hussein use chemical weapons if he's attacked? Tens of thousands of American troops need to be ready for that awful possibility again.
(on camera): So bottom line is you're saying we didn't do it right the first time. We weren't really ready a year ago. But you're confident that within the last year, the United States has gotten its act together?
KILPATRICK: In talking to surgeons in the theater, they're responding that we are ready and we have things that work.
CABELL (voice-over): Veterans of the Gulf War who came home sick, like Bobby Rich, are skeptical.
B. RICH: If I was one of these guys in the reserve and they called me up to go back, I'd tell them where they could stuff it. I wouldn't do it. I'd say, "Put me in jail if you want to." But I wouldn't go back over there.
BLITZER: Coming up, is the U.S. losing the battle for the hearts and minds of its allies?
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KRIPPENDORFF: What more arrogance do you want when to say, you know; you have to be for us otherwise you are our enemy?
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BLITZER: To say that most U.S. allies are reluctant when it comes to military force in Iraq is a bit of an understatement. In fact, the number of countries, especially in Europe, are strongly opposed to a war with Iraq. Their resistance is a reflection of public opinion at a time when surveys show anti-American sentiment is up around the world. Germany is a prime example at the moment of the international discontent over American policy. Here's CNN's Sheila MacVicar.
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Grave doubts weigh heavily on the minds of long-time U.S. allies. "War is not a tool of politics. Every war is the failure of politics," says the minister in the Berlin Cathedral.
That sentiment is not confined to the pulpit. Across Europe, opinion polls show many Europeans do not support war with Iraq especially if that war is not sanctioned by the United Nations. Europeans ask, why this war? Why now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't really see an aggressor. We can't really tell that he has weapons. It's very difficult for me to say this is the right time to move in Iraq again.
MACVICAR: Hans Gunter Schneider (ph) lives in farms next door to the U.S. air base at Schbangdal (ph), Germany. American fighter pilots train here. More planes prowling the sky means more trouble abroad. While Mr. Schneider opposes a planned expansion of the base that would the planes closer to his home and the village school, he is not against Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, I do have a lot of American friends because around this base, you grow up with your American neighbors.
MACVICAR: But he is against American policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wants war? We don't want the war.
MACVICAR: Throughout Germany, people still remember they have many reasons to like Americans. Many Germans embrace American culture even in small, out of the way towns like Eisenknak (ph). Eisenknak (ph) was in the former East Germany, the most visible reminder of those decades of communist rule, the Soviet style apartment blocks near a former East German car plant. Now, that car plant is American owned, providing much of the local employment.
The entire town turned out to cheer when the last U.S. president came to visit the car factory and the city.
(on camera): Just five years later and there's a definite chill in that once warm relationship. And it's not just between governments. Fewer Germans now say they feel affection or admiration for the United States. And when it comes to Iraq, more than two- thirds say they won't support any war.
(voice-over): In Eisenknak's (ph) charming old town, The Skyline is the kind of restaurant where the club sandwiches come with flags of friendship. Proudly hanging on the wall, a photograph of Eisenknak's (ph) famous visitor.
"When President Clinton walked past, I was shouting, 'Hello Billy.' And he was waving at me. It was so exciting."
After the collapse of communism, Sigrid Ritzio (ph) opened this American themed restaurant.
"I was fascinated by the U.S. I just wanted to go there and it was wonderful."
Her enthusiasm for America remains undimmed, but listen to her talk about the current American president.
"He is different, President Bush. One has to carefully consider this. I don't know what Americans are saying about this. I'm against war." That is a question that troubles many Germans. Wolfgang Rafiki (ph) grew up under the communist regime and secretly admired the freedoms symbolized by the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Americans helped my country become one again. That deeply moved me.
MACVICAR (on camera): Do you believe President Bush when he talks about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I know that totalitarian regimes are a threat to democracy. But recent history, our history, here in Germany, has also shown that it's possible to solve conflicts without force.
MACVICAR (voice-over): Here when you talk about the possibility of war, Germans remember the past, their own not so distant past, the past of their parents and grandparents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They showed us pictures of these people. They showed us pictures of their houses, what they looked like after '45 and that makes us afraid. From appearance, those properties like the 11 September, the '45 and wars over. The towns are destroyed. The fields are destroyed. And they didn't know what's going to happen tomorrow.
MACVICAR (on camera): And this is something that all Germans live with?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's upsetting Europeans is that the United States is doing something that they're not capable of doing.
MACVICAR: Christopher Caldwell (ph) is a conservative commentator in the U.S. He says the Germans are trying to have it both ways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say we can't go to war in Iraq because we have this uniquely violent past. But they also say we are allowed to appease a dictator in a way that you aren't because we have the privilege that comes to us because of this uniquely violent past.
MACVICAR: But the anti-war feeling here is so strong it became an election issue.
CHANCELLOR GERHART SCHROEDER, GERMANY (through translator): The Middle East, including Iraq, needs more peace and not more war.
MACVICAR: In speech after speech, German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder laid out his position -- Germany would not support war. In a tight campaign, that made the difference.
(on camera): Could he have been elected without that?
KRIPPENDORFF: That made the margin. He would not have been elected if he hadn't said that.
MACVICAR (voice-over): The U.S. administration took offense.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The way it was conducted was notably unhelpful and as the White House indicated, has had the effect of poisoning the relationship.
MACVICAR: With a new seat on the U.N. Security Council, the German government is now softening its anti-war stance. But relations with the U.S. remain bruised and many Germans are convinced their opposition to war has been interpreted as anti-American.
KRIPPENDORFF: What more arrogance do you want, when to say, you know, you have to be for us otherwise you are our enemy?
MACVICAR: Not enemies, Germans insist, but friends who have a different point-of-view and who fear they are not being heard.
BLITZER: Next on CNN PRESENTS, U.S. guns are trained on Iraq, but what about North Korea?
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LEON SIGAL, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY WITH NORTH KOREA": It is a much more dangerous and much more serious situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: With many around the world asking, why Iraq, why war, why now, there are those that believe the question should be why not North Korea. Here is Mike Chinoy.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Training for combat against a member of the axis of evil, rifle and machine gun fire pounding a rugged hillside. The imaginary target, soldiers of a hostile regime suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction, a grave challenge to American security. But it's not Iraq, it's North Korea. And this joint U.S., South Korea live fire drill is taking place along the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a long-time flashpoint that has just gotten a lot more dangerous.
(on camera): While attention in much of the rest of the world is focused on Iraq, a crisis is brewing here in Korea where yet again the United States and North Korea are on a collision course over nuclear weapons.
SIGAL: They clearly are closer to developing a lot of nuclear weapons than Iraq is, by years. So it is a much more dangerous and much more serious situation. CHINOY: It's a crisis with familiar echoes. In 1994, war was so close, there were civil defense drills in Seoul as the Clinton administration considered preemptive air raids to knock out the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reactor suspected of secretly producing plutonium for nuclear bombs.
The crisis was defused only when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter made a controversial visit to North Korea and set the stage for the agreed framework, a deal under which the north shut down (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in return for U.S. promises of fuel oil, new safer reactors and an easing of tensions.
WENDY SHEEMAN, CLINTON NORTH KOREAN NEGOTIATOR: Part of the agreed framework was that relations would be normalized. And what is fundamental to North Korea is the survival of the regime, regime survival. And they believe the biggest threat to their survival is the United States of America.
CHINOY: But almost from the beginning, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il, complained that Washington wasn't living up to its commitments under the agreed framework. Then, two years ago, American intelligence began picking up signs of a secret, new North Korean nuclear program, which apparently intensified after President Bush lumped North Korea with Iraq in the axis of evil.
Last October, James Kelly, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, set out for Pyongyang to confront the North Koreans with the evidence, which they at first denied.
JAMES KELLY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: But then in the final meeting with the First Rights Minister of Foreign Affairs, he made absolutely clear that they were in fact pursuing this effort.
CHINOY: The bombshell admission set off a chance reaction. The Bush Administration suspended fuel shipments to North Korea and ruled out negotiations until the uranium program was halted. The North Koreans again accused Washington of violating the agreed framework and restarted the plutonium program at (UNINTELLIGIBLE), expelling inspectors and withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
JOHN WOLFSTHAL, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: Contained in them is about 30 kilograms of plutonium, which is enough for maybe four or five nuclear weapons.
CHINOY: John Wolfsthal served recently as an inspector at (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
WOLFSTHAL: The concern is that North Korea could turn into kind of nuclear K-Mart where they could sell nuclear material to Iran, to whom they've also sold ballistic missiles, to other countries such as Syria or Libya, which has also been a purchaser of North Korean equipment, or even God forbid, to small sub-national groups, al Qaeda, other terrorist organizations.
CHINOY: As tensions have risen though, North Korea, despite bellicose propaganda warning of a third world war, has continuously called for a negotiated solution.
SIGAL: The difference between Iraq and North Korea is fundamental in one respect. North Korea has said repeatedly it's prepared to negotiate an end to its nuclear programs, its missile programs, even its biological and chemical weapons programs. Saddam Hussein has never said any such thing.
CHINOY: For the Bush Administration, preparing for war in Iraq, the North Korea crisis has raised awkward questions and the president's advisers have been sharply divided between advocates of negotiation and confrontation.
JOHN BOLTON, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR ARMS CONTROL: There's nothing more to negotiate here. The time for words has passed.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: There are ways for them to talk to us. We know how to get in touch with them.
CHINOY: The divisions, though, stretch well beyond Washington. In South Korea, a long-time American ally that hosts 37,000 U.S. troops, has been a ground swell of anti-American sentiment fueled by resentment as the Bush Administration's confrontational approach, perhaps a key reason why a critic of U.S. policy, Roh Moo-hyun, won last month's presidential election.
ROH MOO-HYUN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): To say that the U.S. won't engage in a dialogue with North Korea or to call North Korea an axis of evil is to take a position that would invite a significant danger to the Koran Peninsula.
CHINOY: Adding to the sense of danger, North Korea's million strong army, its artillery within easy range of Seoul.
LEE CHONG MIN, YONSOOK UNIVERSITY, SEOUL: In the first few hours of conflict, assuming there is a major North Korean invasion along the DMZ, several hundred thousand people will die. There will be a very high level of civilian as well as military casualties.
CHINOY: And now, Pyongyang is also threatening to resume testing ballistic missiles, which could carry a nuclear warhead as far as Japan and possibly even the continental United States.
Preoccupied with Saddam Hussein, the Bush Administration now says it is willing to talk with Kim Jong-Il's regime, but not to negotiate, determined to keep up the pressure on Pyongyang to disarm.
WOLFSTHAL: If U.S. policy of pressuring North Korea isn't successful, then they're faced with a very unpleasant choice, which is either a fully nuclear capable North Korea with not only enough plutonium for itself but potentially for sale to others or as a consequence of taking military action to eliminate that threat, fighting a second Korean War.
CHINOY: Back along the Demilitarized Zone, almost half a century after the end of the Korean War, U.S. troops continue to train. In the shadow of the nuclear standoff, the prospect of permanent peace in Korea seems more distant than ever.
BLITZER: Despite fears over North Korea's nuclear capabilities, despite the angry rhetoric and threats from Pyongyang, the Bush Administration is hopeful a diplomatic solution will emerge on the Korean Peninsula, a solution that will take North Korea out of the headlines and return the focus to Iraq where negotiation is overshadowed by the buildup for a war.
That's it for this special edition of CNN PRESENTS. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks for joining us.
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