The name of CNN White House reporter Frank Sesno was misspelled in some editions yesterday. (Published 11/17/90)

Excerpts from President Bush's remarks during an interview yesterday by Cable News Network reporters Frank Cesno and Charles Bierbauer: Debate Over U.S. Policy

We're bound to have some confrontation and some debate, but, believe me, the world is still united against this brutal aggression. They want the hostages freed, they want to have stability in the gulf, and security there. They don't like the thought of a mad dictator possibly controlling the economic well-being of every country in the world.

So, please understand -- the world is still united against this man's aggression . . . .

What I want to do is have a peaceful resolution to this question, and I have said from the very beginning that no options are ruled out, nor have I made any determination to use military force, and I repeated that to the members of Congress. But I am absolutely convinced that having the forces in place, should a military option be required, is prudent policy. . . . . I think there's a certain frustration. I don't live by polls. I'm certainly not going to shape the policies of the United States government by polls. . . . I think the American people will support their president, and I think they know I'm prudent. . . .

Economic Security

I think people are concerned about this. . . .But there is an enormous economic equation here. Look what's happening in our own country right now. There's a slowdown, an economic slowdown. And it's a disproportionate increase in the price of oil that stems from what Saddam Hussein has done. It's the fear, because of what he's done. And it does mean jobs.. . . .

You know who's hurt the worst by this oil question? And job question? It's the Third World countries. It's the have-nots that are being driven to their knees by these prices because of what Saddam Hussein has done.

Stopping Aggression

So you have all kinds of ingredients. And jobs, I'd say, comes under the heading of the economic security of the world. And it's a very important part of this. And so is aggression. And so is staking our prisoners in contravention of all international law against possible targets. I mean, it's not one piece of the puzzle. It's all the puzzle together. . . .

If I haven't done as clear a job as I might on explaining this, then I've got to do better in that regard, because I know in my heart of hearts that what we are doing is right, I know that what the United Nations has done is correct, I know that we have got to stand up against aggression, an aggression that goes rewarded today means instability and horror tomorrow, and I've got to tell you -- I have on my mind every night I go to -- go to sleep, these hostages.

Barbara and I -- you know -- our family, we still -- still say our prayers at night, and we say them for these hostages and the people in our embassy, as well as for our kids that are halfway around the world. And I guess I'd have to accept some of the responsibility, if it's not as clear to others in this country as it is to me, but I'm going to do my level best to see that it is clear, because we're dealing with naked aggression, we're dealing with brutality, unprecedented in recent times, and we're dealing with a threat to the national security of this country and other countries. . . .

Consulting Congress

The leadership decided that they did not want to have a special session. But I think they also know something else, that we have had more meaningful consultations on this question than -- than any other such period in history have -- these consultations have taken place. And I will continue to consult. I want Congress on board. But I'd leave it right there because who knows what's going to happen? We are not in a situation of what I would call hostility at this point, and therefore, I don't think we need a declaration of war in advance of a hypothetical situation. . . .

I've consulted more than any other president in history. . . . And you can't have 435 commanders in chief, and you can't have a hundred commanders in chief. I've read the Constitution. They have the right to declare war and I have the right, as commander in chief, to fulfill my responsibilities, and I'm -- I'm going to safeguard those executive powers and they have every right in the world to safeguard the powers of the Congress. And I will be very respectful of that. . . .

Why New Deployments

{Saddam's} advance had been stopped in the shift in terms of our ability to defend Saudi Arabia. He has moved a substantial amount of force into Kuwait since the original decision was made, and I am going to preserve all options, and if an option is out there it'd better be credible, and one way to have a credible option is to have enough force there to fulfill one's responsibilities if one has to exercise that option. . . . .

And then there's another reason. I am sending a signal, a clear, clarion signal to Saddam Hussein: we are deadly serious about seeing you get out of Kuwait and about those hostages, Americans and others being freed, and about the sanctity of our embassy being respected, and about the stability of the world economic system. Make no mistake about it. . . .

Waiting Out Saddam

I think holding public opinion forever in any country is very difficult to do. . . In any country, I think there is a ticking of the clock, but the alliance is strong, the alliance is unwavering, and I don't think this matter is going to go on forever. As far as I'm concerned, it's not. . . . If you said to me how effective are the sanctions, I'd say, Frank, I don't know the answer to that question. . . . I know they've had some bite, we get different reports from countries near to Iraq, but I can't give you and the American people a total assessment. . . .

When you rape, pillage and plunder a neighbor, should you then ask the world, hey, give me a little face, give me a little face-saving so I can do what I should have done months ago? Should we be saying to him we're going to reward your aggression by peeling off some part of somebody else's country?

Should we say the brutality to these hostages and the way you've treated these embassies should be rewarded in some way, so you, sir, can have some face, so you can brutalize somebody else tomorrow, so we set a precedent that would be unacceptable for the rest of the world?

The answer is no, there isn't going to be a compromise with this kind of naked aggression. . . .

A Post-Crisis Iraq

I think what you have to have after the crisis and after the withdrawal that is unconditional and after the restoration of the legitimate rulers to their proper place in Kuwait, there would have to be some international guarantees, because what's happened -- the world is now focused on the fact much more clearly -- I know I have -- that the man has used chemical weapons against his own people, that he has a nuclear capability that he's trying frantically to build. And having demonstrated this recklessness, I don't think the rest of the world would say this is good enough, just what they call the status quo ante, going back to where things were before the invasion. . . .

The Vietnam Parallel

I don't see a parallel. Let me tell you why. In Vietnam the Soviets and the Chinese were on opposite sides; you had a state of almost enmity between the superpowers. And today, thank God, we have a much more bright and hopeful future. China and the Soviet Union have joined in the United Nations in the total condemnation. In Vietnam you had a very different supply situation; in Vietnam you had a very different topography situation -- the land was very different in terms of the cover and the hiding. . . the weapons. So there is no parallel. What people, when they say we worry about a Vietnam, is they don't want to put this nation through a long drawn-out inconclusive experience that had military action that just ended up with kind of a totally unsatisfactory answer. And that's right. . . .

I will not, as commander in chief, ever put somebody into a military situation that we do not win -- ever. And there's not going to be any long drawn-out agony of Vietnam. So I reject the parallel. But I can understand why people say that. . . . .

Reading Saddam's Mind

I'm not one of these psychoanalysts. But I understand unacceptable behavior. I understand international outlawism when I see it. And so does the rest of the world, and they've condemned it. But I don't understand him well enough to know what he's going to do. I've read all these stories about him, but the unpredictability, the brutality, the closeness in which he holds things and doesn't hear any advice from anybody else. But I've seen him do a 180-degree turn. I saw him do that in his war with Iran and let's hope he does the same thing here. Because it would be in his interest to hurry up and get out of Kuwait. . . .