Friday, March 17, 2006
Q Does the President know that he's in violation of international law when he advocates preemptive war? The U.N. Charter, Geneva, Nuremberg. We violate international law when we advocate attacking a country that did not attack us.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I would just disagree with your assessment. First of all, preemption is a longstanding principle of American foreign --
Q It's not a long-standing principle with us. It's your principle.
MR. McCLELLAN: Have you asked your question?
Q It's a violation of international law.
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, let me back up, preemption is a longstanding principle of American foreign policy. It is also part --
Q It's never been.
MR. McCLELLAN: It is also part of an inherent right to self-defense. But what we seek to do is to address issues diplomatically by working with our friends and allies, and working with regional partners. That's what we're doing when it comes to the threat posed by Iran pursuing nuclear weapons. That's what we're doing when it comes to resolving the nuclear issue with North Korea. So we seek diplomatic solutions to confront threats.
And it's important what September 11th taught us --
Q The heavy emphasis of your paper today is war and preemptive war.
MR. McCLELLAN: Can I finish responding to your question, because I think it's important to answer your question. It's a good question and it's a fair question. But first of all, are we supposed to wait until a threat fully materializes and then respond? September 11th --
Q Under international law you have to be attacked first.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, you're not letting me respond to your question. You have the opportunity to ask your question, and I would like to be able to provide a response so that the American people can hear what our view is. This is not new in terms of our foreign policy. This has been a longstanding principle, the question that you bring up. But again, I'll put the question back to you. Are we supposed to wait until a threat fully materializes before we respond --
Q You had no threat from Iraq.
MR. McCLELLAN: September 11th taught us --
Q That was not a threat from Iraq.