CNN International Correspondents, February 21, 2003: Interview with Paul Krugman


AMANPOUR: Welcome back. Some are calling it a diplomatic war, the likes of which we've never seen. U.S. and European relations are practically poisonous. People are beginning to blame in part the brash, aggressive posture of the U.S. Secy. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As one U.S. columnist has said, every time he opens his mouth, America loses another ally. Joining me now to put all of this in some perspective, from New York, Paul Krugman, columnist for the "New York Times," and from Paris, Charles Lambroschini, the deputy editor of "Le Figaro" newspaper. Gentlemen, welcome and thanks for joining us. Paul, I want to ask you first, because in your article this week you basically said we have different views because we're getting different news. What is so different about the way America is seeing the global perspective in this potential war and the way the rest of the world is?

PAUL KRUGMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think the main thing is that this is a war which -- it's a little unnatural, put it this way. Even if you're in favor of it, you have to say why it is not so obvious -- why Iraq? Iraq wasn't the people who attacked us on September 11. But the U.S. media have, for many months now, been providing a portrait -- you know, every network has some logo, like "Target Iraq," "Showdown Iraq," "Countdown Iraq." The U.S. media have made it seem natural because it's become essentially wartime preparation. The rest of the world doesn't get that. So in the United States, we say well, everyone is talking about war with Iraq. It must be justified, we're the good guys. The rest of the world says why Iraq? How did that happen? And that creates an enormous gulf, even if people start with the same point of view about the world. It's just that we see different stories.

AMANPOUR: Charles Lambroschini, I started by saying, you know, a lot of what people are saying these days -- it's not as much anti-war, although that figures into it, it's not necessarily anti-American. It's specifically, many people are saying, anti-the-current-Bush-administration, and specifically, they're saying, for instance, the personification of this is Donald Rumsfeld, with his very macho, theatrical, bombasting rhetoric, which has succeeded in turning a lot of people off. I mean, is it because America is the lone superpower?

CHARLES LAMBROSCHINI, "LE FIGARO": Definitely. Of course. For a country like France, that feels it still has a universal message to the world, going back to our French revolution, when we had our Human Rights Declaration. We didn't call it the Human Rights Declaration of the French Revolution, or as we called it the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We can't forget that we were a superpower, that we were a colonial power. We still feel that because the French language is universal because we have, we are a permanent member of the Security Council and we have nuclear force, that indeed we are a power to be reckoned with and that therefore it's not only the United States that should talk loud, but that the Americans should listen to other voices, because even a superpower will find that at some point it has limits to its power. So we'll see what happens with this war. Will it be a happy war, or will it end up in a big mess like could very well happen not only in Iraq, but the collateral damage all over the Middle East.


KRUGMAN: Yes, I just want to say, I don't think there's broad-gauged anti-Americanism. I mean, obviously, I'm not sitting in Paris, but from what I can see and when I travel, three years ago, there was nothing like this. Bill Clinton was a very popular figure worldwide. This is specifically a reaction to what's happening with the policies of the Bush administration. If you feel those policies are justified and all the rest of the world is wrong, then that's one way. Or you can feel that something has gone awry in the United States. But this is not that everyone resents the lone superpower. If the United States -- when the United States behaved in a way that it gave the appearance of taking other countries views into account, as it did in the Clinton years, often, in the end, saying well, the final decision is up to us, the world was actually fairly happy to live with it. This is something that is specifically the result of the diplomacy and actions of this group of people.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Charles -- there are some people who would say that the tone of reporting from Europe mostly basically gives Saddam Hussein a much easier ride than President Bush and also Tony Blair, obviously. The Western press is basically letting Saddam off the hook, by a lot of their reportage. That's a criticism that's being thrown at you.

LAMBROSCHINI: Well, again, because what is the issue. Is it that the Americans want to go to war because Saddam is a nasty guy? Everybody agrees on that. Or is it because the Americans do indeed want Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction? The feeling here is that the true aim of the administration is regime change, and that they don't really give that much of an interest to the weapons of mass destruction because basically they think that Saddam is not a threat anymore, especially not a nuclear threat.

AMANPOUR: On that note, gentlemen, thank you very much indeed for joining us -- Charles Lambroschini, in Paris, and Paul Krugman, in New York. And still ahead on INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS, how do you feel about the media's Iraq coverage? We try to address your comments when we come back.

Originally broadcast, 2.21.03