Bush's 'rottweiler' turns on the charm
Wednesday 05 March 2003
The rottweiler of the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld, turned up on British television last night de-fanged, de-clawed and at times if David Dimbleby had not asked some rather aggressive questions almost purring.
Mr Rumsfeld's half-hour interview on BBC2 appeared to be part of a charm offensive by an America taken aback by two signal policy failures: its inability to convince public opinion of the urgent need for a war on Iraq and the increasingly perilous political position of its ally-in-chief, Tony Blair.
"Rummy" was at his most urbane: softly spoken and almost reasonable. He sat back, looking quizzical and not allowing himself to be riled. Which was a good thing, because among the questions asked by a well-briefed Dimbleby were some that American politicians are all too rarely asked at home. Mr Rumsfeld had to account, not all too well, for his 1983 handshake with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, when, as a "private" businessman, he went on a mission authorised by President Ronald Reagan. He was asked about the perception of double standards: why did the US support Israel, despite its non-observance of UN Security Council resolutions and its weapons capability, although it was going hell for leather after President Saddam.
Pressing the case for action against Iraq in the absence of positive evidence about weapons of mass destruction, Mr Rumsfeld said President Saddam had "learnt to live in an inspections environment. He does things underground. He's very skilful at denial and deception."
He also seized the chance to "correct" some recent howlers. As for "old" and "new" Europe, he had not meant to write off "old" Europe (ie France), he had simply been saying that, with enlargement, the centre of gravity of Europe was shifting. And, by the way, he had actually meant "Nato" and not the EU.
The Defense Secretary said the US was prepared to give the UN more time but he warned that time was running out. Iraq was a threat to the world, as well as to US interests. "The issue that's before the world, it seems to me, is the pervasiveness of weapons of mass destruction and the spread of these," he said. "The situation with Iraq is that we're at the end of the string. We've tried diplomacy for 12 years."
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A full-service agency based in ...
£12500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A subscriptions and marketing a...
£15000 - £22200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious candidate is requi...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A sub-editor is required to joi...