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Analysis: Iraqi Vice President Offers Unique Solution To U.S.-Iraq Standoff

All Things Considered: October 4, 2002

Bush - Hussein Duel Proposed

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Yesterday one of Iraq's two vice presidents made an odd proposal concerning the looming conflict between his country and the United States. He said, in effect, `Skip the war and instead have the leaders settle their differences with a duel.'

SOUNDBITE OF "DUELING BANJOS"

JACKI LYDEN, host:

Taha Yasin Ramadan's exact words were...

SIEGEL: ...`A president against a president and vice president against a vice president and a duel takes place. And in this way, we're saving the American and Iraqi people.' He said, `UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan should referee.'

LYDEN: White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has already pooh-poohed the whole idea as `irresponsible.'

SIEGEL: So President Bush will likely refuse the challenge. But Saddam Hussein would consider it, or so says Iraqi expert Laith Kubba.

Mr. LAITH KUBBA (Iraqi Expert): If it's thrown at Saddam, I am sure he would respond to it and he would ask for a fight in any form or in any way. As far as Saddam is concerned, he has been tested. At least he attempted one assassination, he's known to be a gangster, and he always refers to the fight with America in a very local word in Iraqi called kona(ph), and kona means when one gang fights another gang in streets.

SIEGEL: Iraqi expert Laith Kubba of the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC.

LYDEN: Well, at least in this country, duels are out of favor these days. But when there were duels, there were rules for governing them. A South Carolina governor even wrote them down in 1838. They stipulated that if either party is hit during the duel, it's over, and the duel doesn't have to be to the death. Injury will do just fine.

SIEGEL: Also, the rules stated that the arms used should be smooth bore pistols, not exceeding nine inches in length with flint and steel. Percussion pistols may be mutual used if agreed on, but to object on that account is lawful.

LYDEN: So if Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush want to spare their citizens the pain of vast carnage, those might be the parameters to follow. But could we trust Iraq to comply with the rules?

SIEGEL: Or would we have to send in inspectors?

SOUNDBITE OF "DUELING BANJOS"

LYDEN: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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