Nader and Buchanan on the Palestinian Crisis
CBS' Face the Nation


So we turn to campaign 2000. Joining us from New York City, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader; here in DC, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. Joining in the questioning, Gloria Borger.

Gentlemen, it seems to me that what happened here is just sort of a metaphor of what the presidency is all about. Until late yesterday afternoon, Buchanan and Nader debating Campaign 2000 was the lead story on FACE THE NATION, and then something happens in the Middle East. Isn't that what the presidency is all about? Unexpected events that are totally out of the control of the president.

So I would ask you, Ralph Nader, what in your background would qualify you to handle a situation like what's going in the Middle East right now?

Mr. RALPH NADER (Green Party Presidential Candidate): Well, they're intangibles. They're the desire for peace and justice without which you can't have one or the other. And the use of proper leverage by the United States in that area, which ha – has a – has quite a bit of leverage – political, economic, military – and we have to use it. And we've got to be very, very equitable about it. The Israelis need and want security, and they have overwhelming military su – superiority, while the Palestinians need justice. And the two parties are as close together to a settlement as they've ever been in – in five decades.

GLORIA BORGER (CBS News): Mr. Buchanan, you heard Mr. Barak, you heard the Palestinian representative here today, who do you believe provoked this violence?

Mr. PAT BUCHANAN (Reform Party Presidential Candidate): Well, it's quite simple. All this dynamite was out there for a long time, for decades, but the individual who ignited the dynamite was Ariel Sharon when he walked up in that stupid and provocative act on the Temple Mount, or the Noble Sanctuary, with about – hundreds of Israeli security guards and triggered this event. What's followed from that is a popular uprising, or people's revolution, which is very much running out of control, but it's understandable, because, look, the Palestinian people have been occupied, persecuted and oppressed for decades and now they are responding to that. And certainly, Americans, quite frankly, who drove the British out of our country in a violent act for offenses far less than what are taking place here, ought to understand this.

Let me respond to your question now. I was with Richard Nixon in the Middle East within a week after the Six-Day War. I met with General Rabin, and Bengurian, and Moshe Dayan, and all of them, so I've been knowledgeable and been in the White House for eight years while these things were going on.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you, Mr. Nader, to come back to what Mr. Buchanan just said. He seems to lay the fault for all this at the – at the doorstep of the Israelis. He says that had Mr. Sharon not gone to the Temple Mount this probably wouldn't have happened. Would you agree with that analysis?

Mr. NADER: I think a lot of Israelis agree with that analysis, and a lot of commentary in the Israeli press agrees with that analysis. It was not a called-for situation. And the – the tinderbox that occurs there and the level of ...(unintelligible) outrage can be easily provoked by people who aren't really interested in establishing a two-party s – a two-state solution with peace and normal relationships.

BORGER: Mr. Buchanan, let – let me ask you this. There was a UN resolution that was passed, which condemned the excessive use of force by the Israelis against the Palestinians. The United States abstained on that. If you were president, how would we have voted?

Mr. BUCHANAN: I think the abstention was the right thing to do, quite frankly, and let the – let the resolution go through. Let me say this. I think General Rabin was a great man, and I think Barak is a good man. He made a very excellent explanation on your program of why he's doing what he's doing. And his offer has been extraordinarily forthcoming, more generous than any I've ever seen. The problem is partly the United States. For years and years and years, we have allowed the Israelis to build up these illegal settlements on the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, on the Golan Heights, in Gaza. This has put all that dynamite down there. We did it because, quite frankly, US foreign policy in the Middle East is held hostage to special interests in the United States, the Israeli lobby, quite frankly, and those who sustain and support it, which someone famously called the Amen Corner about 10 years ago.

BORGER: Well, what would you do then? What would you...

Mr. BUCHANAN: What would I do now? There is nothing much you can do right now while this goes on. I think Barak is right. He drew back from his ultimatum. The ultimatum was stupid in this sense: You don't give a 48-hour ultimatum and deal cards to Hamas and Hezbollah to take action on Tuesday and destroy the peace process. So he did the right thing in backing away from it. I don't think Arafat controls this entirely. He's obviously got some influence, but clearly, he does not control it.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just shift away from – from foreign policy and start with Ralph Nader. Did you hear anything in the debates this week, either with the presidential candidates or the vice presidential candidates, that changed your mind in any way?

Mr. NADER: No. I was very surprised how the mention of the poor escaped all these candidates on the debates. Forty-seven million workers are working poor in this country; they're not making a livable wage. And Vice President Lieberman and Cheney, the nominees for the presidency ignored that. They talk – Gore ignore – talks about the middle class all the time. And I think this is a major issue that's being ignored. A booming economy and the majority of the workers slipping behind in real purchasing dollars, inadequate health insurance for 46 million people...


Mr. NADER: ...20 percent child poverty.

SCHIEFFER: Let me stop you right there to give Mr. Buchanan a chance.

Mr. BUCHANAN: I thought Mr. Gore was his usual unctuous self through 90 minutes of intolerable discourse. Mr. Bush st – astonished me when he did not stand up at all for life. Rhetorically, Mr. Bush is pro-life. Objectively and in reality, he has ceased to be a pro-life candidate. He would not denounce RU-486. He would not even commit to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Three of his judges to the Texas Supreme Court turned out to be pro-abortion.

SCHIEFFER: We have to stop it there. Thanks to both of you for an abbreviated but very interesting debate today.

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