Dole And Clinton On U.N.

And On Who Takes The Lead Now

Following is a transcript of the debate between former President Bill Clinton and former Majority Leader Bob Dole on 60 Minutes, April 13, 2003.

Senator Dole: Mr. President, can you explain what this liberal love affair with the United Nations is all about? Liberating most of Iraq in less time than it takes to pass a U.N. resolution is a remarkable triumph.

But now, faster than you can say Jacques Chirac, the same old critics are claiming America should back off and let the U.N. take over. Coalition troops didn't fight and die to hand off Iraq to U.N. bureaucrats. America wants a free Iraq run by Iraqis--the very same people the U.N. didn't think were worth fighting for. Humanitarian aid, okay.

But letting the U.N. dictate Iraq's new government? No way. That would be a costly and lengthy disaster. President Bush warned the U.N. would risk irrelevance. The U.N. should now understand what Saddam learned the hard way -- that this president means what he says.

President Clinton: Senator, aren't you a little over the top? We were grateful when the U.N. stood with us after 9/11, when French and German soldiers joined us in Afghanistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden. You remember him. He's the one who killed our people. By the way, those French and German soldiers are still there.

Prime Minister Blair and President Bush say the U.N. should play a vital role in post-war Iraq. The U.N. knows how to keep the peace, provide food, water and medicine, and help develop free governments. This will take time and cost tens of billions. Of course America and Great Britain should take the lead in the short run.

In the long run, the Iraqis should stand on their own. But in between, the U.N. should play the big role. It will prove to the skeptics we're not there to control the oil or get big contracts for U.S. companies. It will give credibility to the hunt for chemical and biological weapons. As usual, I agree with Tony Blair and, I hope, with President Bush.

Senator Dole: Look, I welcome the help of other countries, so long as they share our goals. Kofi Annan and his crowd; remember them? They did everything they could to stop the liberation of Iraq. And nobody has forgotten bin Laden, except maybe those in your administration who were supposed to keep an eye on him.

President Clinton: There's the old Bob Dole! You know, I worked for years to get bin Laden and almost did, when most of your party could have cared less. And, he's still at large. As for Saddam, you're the one who paid him a courtesy call and tried to weaken sanctions on him just before he invaded Kuwait, and after he had used chemical weapons on his own people. Saddam Hussein is gone and good riddance. Now we have to build a democratic Iraq. The U.N. can help us, and we should let them.