Monitor Breakfast: Caspar W. Weinberger

Selected quotations from the Monitor breakfast with former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

On Iraq and Saddam Hussein:

"I think Iraq is helping in Afghanistan. And part of our elimination of terrorism and terrorist networks will have to include activity in Iraq to reduce or eliminate the terrorism that is spawned, supported, and harbored there. There are some people you can't trust. Saddam Hussein is clearly in that category in my mind. I don't think you are ever going to get any permanent peace in the Middle East while he is there. I think he has now seized upon the Afghanistan/Taliban/Osama Bin Laden network and is working with them because he sees that as a good way of getting back at us. So he ultimately will have to be put in the same category."

On invading Iraq:

"I think we have to go into Iraq one way or the other and do what I wish we had done before which is have an army of occupation – not a US army, a Muslim army primarily – until they choose a government their neighbors can live with. I never agreed with the idea we would lose members of the coalition – in the Gulf War or now – by going after Saddam Hussein. I think that underestimates the hatred most Muslim Arab nations feel for Saddam Hussein. They fear him. They wish he were gone."

On getting back to normal:

"I wouldn't accept the idea that we can't go back to something like the quality of life we had prior to Sept. 11. We are going to have to win this war and I envision a time when you will be able to park within 200 feet of an airport and things of that kind. I think a lot of what we are doing now are temporary measures recognizing we had to have a lot more security than we had. ... And don't think it is necessarily a permanent condition.

"I think the most important question of the moment is how long will we have the patience to put up with what I view as temporary and unpleasant restraints on the way we have lived before and would like to live again. I think historically the American people have never been reluctant to accept restraints caused by war...I think a lot depends on how the matter is presented to the American people."

On Russian President Putin:

"I don't think the president is going to be fooled by Mr. Putin. I don't think he is going to believe he has changed his spots. We need help and we need a coalition and to the extent that Russia is willing to join and help us carry out some objectives in a very difficult war I don't (object). What we have to bear in mind is that Mr. Putin ultimately has a quite different agenda than we do, and not one that I think would be automatically agreed to by President Bush or anybody later on. Right now we need the help we can get."

On ground war in Afghanistan:

"I don't think you can win a ground war with ground forces in Afghanistan. You are ultimately going to have to follow the tactic General MacArthur followed. When you come to those caves, you probably have to go around them and seal them off and go on to the next objective and not think you have a front line where you are going to advance objective by objective. The country doesn't lend itself to that. We don't have any intention of repeating those mistakes. ...

"I'd rather operate on the moon than in some of that territory which is unbelievably bare. But there are ways of overcoming that and applying our strength."

On state sponsorship of terrorism:

"I assume the whole thing is state sponsored and that Osama bin Laden operates in as many countries as he is able to. At the moment he seems to have control of the Taliban government of Afghanistan. I didn't think there was any doubt about it. I think (Iraq is) working with the Afghans, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban as closely as they can. Saddam Hussein – we are never gong to have any peace as long as he is there."

On the US economy:

"The fundamentals of the economy are pretty strong. What we are seeing is the increasing lack of confidence, the increasing unwillingness to make long-term investments that are job-producing investments. I think a lot of it started with the very sharp reduction of totally unreasonable prices of some stocks in the stock market. The stock market is a very poor index of economic strength."

"What is needed is something that would restore the confidence of people in long-term investments, that will in turn produce jobs. ... We are clearly heading into a period of reduced economic growth and strength. The strength of the economy underneath of that is enough to ride that out. ... To an enormous extent, the strength of the economy depends on how strong people think it is. You can talk yourself into a recession very quickly.

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