Posted by Sadie from ? (188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 7:32PM :
Transcript of CNN's Crossfire
21 January, 2003
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live, as we always do, from the George Washington University here in downtown Washington, D.C. We're still waiting for the Reverend Al Sharpton to show up. He's having a bad hair day. But he will be with us, we hope, shortly.
BEGALA: Thousands of antiwar protesters rallied around the country this past weekend. The antiwar movement also includes a number of high-profile celebrities who've had a much easier time attracting media attention and criticism than most of us when they speak out. The list includes: Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Kim Basinger, Mia Farrow, Martin Sheen, Olympia Dukakis, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Danny Glover, and our next guest.
Joining us from New York is Bianca Jagger. She has just returned from a visit to Iraq. With us here in Washington, syndicated columnist and "National Review Online" editor at large, Jonah Goldberg. Jonah, thank you. Bianca Jagger, thank you very much.
CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. Now, as you know, part of the rap, part of it, against celebrities who wade into incredibly complicated international situations such as Iraq is that they don't know what they're talking about. I want to give you exhibit A. It's something you wrote.
This is advice that you say you gave to the foreign minister of Iraq during your recent trip. I'm quoting now. "Establish a new military command that includes senior generals from the Kurdish opposition militia groups."
This is essentially like asking President Bush to put members of al Qaeda on the joint chiefs of staff. Put your worst enemies in control of the military. Isn't this...
BIANCA JAGGER, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: No, no, no. Not in control.
CARLSON: Or give them power in the military. This is never going to happen. Isn't this why people make fun of people like you, because it's naive?
JAGGER: Well, no, this is not that people make fun of me. If I had gone there and I have not made any suggestions and urged them not to do what I did, which was to open up the country to begin a process of democratization, which is the excuse that President Bush has given for launching a war, for regime change, and to bring -- in order to bring democracy. What I believe is that what we should do is to have dialogue and diplomacy just as the United States is having with North Korea.
And as many people as we should be going to Iraq to stress that point to the Iraqi government, I think that perhaps we could have some influence in the Iraqi government in order for them to begin to have the process of democratization from within so that they will not have to face up a war.
CARLSON: Wait. But you were there for six days, and during your time there, by your own account, you were taken and shown supposed atrocities committed by the United States and the effects, the terrible effects of the embargo on Iraq. You were essentially used as a propaganda tool, as a prop by the Iraqi government.
JAGGER: Please forgive me for interrupting you, but as you see in my report, I quote the Unicef, I quote Oxfam. I quoted a commission that was made from the U.N. Security Council, who issued a report about the effect of sanctions on the civilian population in Iraq. Therefore, what I'm saying is not in accordance to what I saw or what they tried to make me believe, but what I know in advance and what I went to see for myself, and I found to be true. Half a million children have died due to the United Nations Security Councils (ph).
BEGALA: Jonah, let me bring you into this. First, I can't wait to hear you attack a person for going over and calling for democracy in Iraq. But it seems to me that a lot of celebrities have weighed in on this, and let me read you a list of some more. Not just Bianca Jagger, Kim Basinger, or these others I mentioned.
Here's another list. General Anthony Zinni, General Brent Scowcroft, General Wesley Clark, General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Merrill McPeak. All celebrities all with the same first name, curiously. They seem to know what the hell they're talking about, and all of them have had problems with the timing, the tactics, the president's policy in Iraq. Are they illegitimate as well? Are you going to bang on them too?
JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": No. Look, it's perfectly legitimate that some people are going to disagree, and for all I know Ms. Jagger is a well informed conscientious person who's done all of her homework and she's entitled to her opinion.
I think it's wrong. I think those generals are probably wrong. And I could probably come up with a list a lot longer of generals who don't have problems with the war.
But, look, serious people on both sides of an issue can have disagreements. The question here is about celebrities. And the last time I was on this show I actually had to defend Elmo the Muppet testifying before Congress. Here's a piece of lint getting an enema and we're supposed to listen to him about budget processes.
Meryl Streep once testified famously before Congress, saying that she was there to represent the uninformed. Now, that sums it up pretty well when it comes to these celebrity issues. My problem...
JAGGER: I would like to say something.
BEGALA: Ms. Jagger, just a second. I would like to read something that General Zinni, for example, said. It seems to me that he's buttressing what many of these celebrities are saying. This is what I'm saying. My point is that when Hollywood celebrities are echoing what some of our finest generals -- Anthony Zinni was the commander in chief of the central command. The command that would be prosecuting a war that Iraq if we have one.
Here's what he said. "It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way, and all the others who have never fired a shot and are hot to go to war see it another way."
GOLDBERG: Yes, well that was actually a pretty cheap shot at this whole chicken hawk argument, which I'd be delighted to have with you at some point. But the point that we're on the topic tonight about is you said that these people are echoing, these celebrities are echoing what these generals have to say. And I think that sums it up pretty well. They're echoing it, they're miming it, they're coming up and...
BEGALA: Anthony Zinni can't get (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GOLDBERG: And look, Ms. Jagger is on here talking about how 500,000 kids died in Iraq. Well you know the reason those 500,000 kids died, if it was that many, is not because of sanctions. It's because Saddam Hussein refused to spend his oil for food money on children. In the areas in the Kurdish North and the Shiite south, kids are doing great and better than ever.
BEGALA: I agree with that.
CARLSON: Well Bianca Jagger, what about that? I mean, Saddam Hussein's children aren't going without medicine. That's a good point, isn't it?
JAGGER: All right. Let me answer that. To begin with, you know, they are faces by which the oil for food is supposed to be renewed every six months. Of the entire amount of money that was supposed to be put aside for food for oil, only 40 percent has been paid to the Iraqis.
It is not something that we are saying. It's something that has been documented by various NGOs, including Unicef, which is part of the U.N. Now, when you go there and you see, you see very well that they do not give them all the medicines that they need, that they -- because it's all to do with dual use. Medicine, medical equipment that is not received, and for reasons that we do not understand, that's why you have preventable disease.
Children who are dying of preventable disease or children who have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) very serious disease because they do not have all the drugs that they are supposed to be receiving. Now let me say something else, because I'm here defending celebrities. I'm a human rights advocate for the last 20 years. But I would like to say that it's not only General Zinni, but General Wesley Clark, Mr. Brent Scowcroft, and the list goes on and on.
CARLSON: Bianca Jagger, I'm sorry. We're just going to take -- I'm sorry to cut you off. We're going to have to -- we have a bit of news we're going to go to. We'll be back in just a second.
(INTERUPTED BY BREAKING NEWS)
CARLSON: We will be coming up -- we will take a commercial break now.
Coming up, more on foreign policies of the rich and famous.
Later, a weighty discussion about dropping a few pounds has Americans wondering, "Is exercise better or can you work out in five minutes a week?"
That's the question; we'll debate it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
We are debating celebrities and their role in the anti-war movement with a certified celebrity joining us in New York City, Bianca Jagger. She is also a human rights activist known around the world for her work.
Here in Washington, Jonah Goldberg is the editor-at-large of National Review online.
Mr. Goldberg, let me read a comment from one of these ill- informed air head celebrity and see if you have the courage to attack him.
"Personally I don't have all of the information President Bush has, but I believe Saddam has committed many crimes against humanity and in his own people," so sayeth Tom Cruise, who was secretary of state I think in the first Bush administration.
Are you going to stay consistent and say that ill-informed celebrities who happen to agree with your view, are also air heads?
GOLDBERG: No, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and for all I know -- from all I know Tom Cruise isn't going around launching activist groups, starting marches, flying to Baghdad, serving as a meat prop for Saddam Hussein's evil regime.
I mean, there are things that people can do or not do in order...
... to back up their rhetoric.
Seems to me Tom Cruise is very humble. He says, "I don't have all of the facts, but it seems to me Saddam Hussein is a bad guy."
And I'm sure he's getting a lot of grief for that in Hollywood for saying it.
CARLSON: Now Bianca Jagger, speaking of Hollywood, maybe you can give us insight into the famous person community here. I want to read you a quote from Cheryl Crow, who is a singer. This is what she said at the American Music Awards the other day.
"I think war is based on greed," said Cheryl Crow, "and there's huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving problems. The best way to solve problems is not to have enemies."
Can you tell us...
... what is karmic retribution?
And is this -- and I mean among celebrities, is this a widely recognized phenomena?
JAGGER: Tell me something, did you really call me here to answer what she said? Or is it really the issue here that celebrities are simply reflecting what many Americans feel today, that there...
CARLSON: Well, I don't think many Americans know what karmic retribution means...
JAGGER: ... that they are opposing, that they are opposing the war and that's why you are today talking about celebrities.
The truth is that the anti-war movement is growing, not only in America but throughout the world. And that is the real issue.
You had a president that was President Reagan. He was a celebrity. He was an actor...
CARLSON: Wait, wait a second, Bianca Jagger.
JAGGER: And was he an air head?
CARLSON: Bianca Jagger, let me ask you then, I mean I'm not saying -- let me get right to the bottom of what bothers me here.
There are a lot of wars going on around the world, right.
CARLSON: A couple of years ago Rwanda moved against Congo. Thousands were killed. I didn't hear you mention word one about that. There are many wars going...
JAGGER: Please forgive me for saying to you...
CARLSON: ... on in Africa right now, and I must say the anti-war movement seems like an anti-American movement to me.
JAGGER: Let me tell you for one thing...
... just to make -- to make the record straight. I have worked in Latin America, in the former Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, in India, and now I have gone to Iraq. I have and I've been to Africa. Where else you want me to go to be able to prove to you that I am a human rights advocate.
I belong to -- I'm a member of the Executive Directors Leadership Council of Amnesty International. In fact, I am not a celebrity. I'm here to answer for celebrities, but I'm the wrong person, really.
GOLDBERG: Ms. Jagger, that's fine. I don't want to read off of your resume all of the things you've done for human rights. I take you at your word and that you've done a lot of nice things for human rights. But what I find problematic is in the early '90s you called essentially the United States "morally cowardice, lacking moral leadership and so forth," for not standing to the tyrant Slobodan...
JAGGER: No, no, I don't use -- remember I don't use that kind of word.
GOLDBERG: You said it was...
JAGGER: I opposed the Contra war.
GOLDBERG: You said it was entirely absent when it came to moral leadership in terms of stopping Slobodan Milosevic.
JAGGER: I still say it.
GOLDBERG: OK, well, that's great. How come Slobodan Milosevic, who has killed so many fewer people, and has been so much less of a tyrant, for so less time, is worth you standing up for, and applying all of this righteous indignation, but Saddam Hussein isn't?
JAGGER: Let me say that if you read my statement, I say that that I do not condone the human rights record of President Saddam Hussein. My concern is for...
GOLDBERG: I'm sure he's quaking in his boot over that.
JAGGER: ... the civilian population in Iraq, not for Saddam Hussein or for his government. What I am speaking about is is it worthy to have a war that will leave as the United Nations report recently said, up to 500,000 casualties because we want to bring democracy or should be exhaust every avenue to be able to have diplomacy and dialogue just as we have with North Korea?
That is my question.
It is not up to...
BEGALA: Ms. Jagger, just a moment.
JAGGER: ... it is not up to...
BEGALA: Let me get a question from our audience. I want you to listen in New York, Ms. Jagger and also Jonah here.
Yes, sir. First tell us your name and then what's your question for our guest?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Mitch Epstein (ph) and I'm from Beechford, Ohio. And I my questions is when will celebrities tell us stuff that the U.S. government doesn't already know?
BEGALA: Ms. Jagger, do you tell us things that our government doesn't know? JAGGER: I'm sure that your government does it -- knows it. But unfortunately the government is hiding that from the American public. And I think that we need to be more informed. And we need to realize that Iraqis are not the culprit. The government is one thing and the people are another.
And if we really care about them, if we really care about children, women and the elderly, and those who have not committed no crime, we should have a different kind of policy towards them.
And we should think about the result and the consequence and the impact that a war will have on them.
CARLSON: Bianca, the government -- just to name one of many examples -- the government of Zimbabwe is right now as we speak, starving its people, using food as a political weapon. This has been reported in papers across the world. I haven't...
JAGGER: What is the United States doing about it?
CARLSON: ... no, but I wonder what your position on the leftist government of Zimbabwe doing that is. You don't seem quite as outraged about that as you do U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Are you?
JAGGER: Well, I am not an expert on every single country. Perhaps you should be involved in that one because there are other human right monitors from Amnesty International, from Human Rights Watch, who are speaking about that.
I can only do so much. And I do for those, and I try to speak about those issues that I know.
I am not an air head celebrity who speaks and goes to...
JAGGER: ... have photo opportunities in places where I don't know what I'm talking about.
BEGALA: Isn't it unfair on the one hand for people attack celebrities for getting on of their depth, and now attacking Ms. Jagger for staying in her field, the area that she knows best?
GOLDBERG: Look, I have not doubt that Ms. Jagger has done all of her homework on Iraq. But Tucker's point remains is that what she chooses to be the interesting subjects are subjects like Iraq, which does not lack for need of celebrity, you know, publicity from the likes of Ms. Jagger or anybody else.
BEGALA: Our president. He's not focused on Iran. He's not focused on North Korea. He's certainly not focused on Zimbabwe. He couldn't find it with a map and...
GOLDBERG: He's actually working on those things. Ms. Jagger wants to call attention it seems to me only the things that make America look bad...
JAGGER: Let me tell you...
GOLDBERG: ... rather than all of these other things, which are desperately in need of publicity.
JAGGER: ... let me please...
CARLSON: Unfortunately -- Bianca Jagger...
JAGGER: ... let me please...
CARLSON: ... I'm sorry, we're going to have to...
JAGGER: Can I please say something?
CARLSON: Yes, if you will just give us your last word because we're out of time.
JAGGER: Just quickly, what I want to say. General Zinni (ph), General Wesley Clark, Mr. Scowcroft, Mr. Kissinger, all of the people who are opposed the war, are they too air heads or is it only us, those who oppose the war because we are celebrities that are air heads?
CARLSON: OK, on that note, Bianca Jagger, we're going to have to say goodbye.
Thank you very much for joining us.
JAGGER: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Jonah Goldberg, thank you.
GOLDBERG: Good to see you.
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