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Interview with Robert Novak and Al Hunt of CNN

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release

March 2, 2002

Interview Of Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell With Robert Novak And Al Hunt Of CNN

March 1, 2002 Washington, D.C.

(Aired 5:30 p.m. EST)

MR. NOVAK: I'm Robert Novak. Al Hunt and I are in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room in the Harry S Truman State Department Building to question America's number one diplomat.

MR. HUNT: He is Secretary of State Colin Powell.

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, thank you for having us here.


MR. HUNT: In Afghanistan, the Taliban has been toppled, bin Laden is on the run, but recent events suggest that country may be headed back to violent chaos. To head off any kind of debilitating anarchy, do you think right now we should increase the size and scope of the peacekeeping force in Kabul?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, that's under discussion now with our colleagues in Europe, with the British and with the Turks. I don't see an immediate need to increase the size of the ISAF. It's about 4,500 and it has succeeded in restoring calm to Kabul. We're looking at some of the towns outside of Kabul to see whether there is a need for that kind of presence.

Yes, there is still some continuing violence in Afghanistan, but it isn't quite as bad as some reports suggest. We have seen some terrible incidents such as the incident at the airfield, where the Minister of Transportation was killed, and a riot at a soccer stadium, and there's been some warlord disturbances. But we're watching it very carefully. We still have American presence in various parts of the country, and we're examining what the needs of the ISAF are for its future missions.

As you know, the Bonn agreement provided for ISAF to work outside of Kabul, as well as in Kabul, and we're examining whether or not that part of the mission should be executed and whether forces should leave Kabul and go to outer cities in Afghanistan.

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, the Powell Doctrine, in essence, says you go hard and heavy early. We did that in Bosnia, sent 60,000 peacekeepers in right away; it worked. We're now down to about 15,000. That's one-twelfth the size of Afghanistan. Why do we think we have any chance of a peacekeeping succeeding there with only one-twelfth as many people as we had in Bosnia?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it isn't Bosnia, and it's a different situation, and right now it is not clear that you would need 60,000 peacekeepers to do the mission in Afghanistan. I think the ISAF is off to a good start. It's only been in existence for less than two months. And we'll be evaluating, as we get to the end of the British participation, the British command of ISAF, what is really needed.

But right now I don't think we can declare it anything but a success, because it has restored calm in Kabul, its first mission, and now we're reviewing whether it needs to do more outside of Kabul and whether it needs to increase its size.

MR. HUNT: One more Afghanistan question. The Karzai regime seems a bit shaky right now. The Northern Alliance has dominated. Thirty-eight generals have been tapped. None have been Pashtuns, although 40 percent of the country is Pashtun. Is it time to give the Northern Alliance an ultimatum to share power or else?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think Mr. Karzai is off to a good start, and, yes, the Northern Alliance does have quite a bit of participation in the government. But I think that will adjust over time. We are interested in seeing a multiethnic government really come into existence in Kabul, and I think Mr. Karzai has that same goal.

So we'll be watching carefully, working with all of the groups in Afghanistan, to make sure we get the right kind of government, not only in the Interim Authority, but when we move to the permanent government, after the next Loya Jirga. I don't think it's necessary to start issuing ultimatums to anyone at this time. It's a new situation, it's just developing, and we'll watch it carefully and give Mr. Karzai all the help that he needs.

I'm impressed at the great start he has had, both with respect to international acceptance of his role and position, as well as the very difficult challenge he is facing in getting up and running. And we're going to give him all the help that we can, and I think he is off to a pretty good start. And he is sensitive to the need to have multiethnicity within the Interim Authority. He's got to work on that, and we'll help him.

MR. NOVAK: Mr. Secretary, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the president pro tem of the Senate, often speaks his mind. He did this week, and we'll put it up on the screen. He said, "If we expect to kill every terrorist in the world, that's going to keep us going beyond doomsday. How long can we afford this?"

Does he have a point, when the United States is talking about sending forces to Georgia, to Yemen, to the Philippines? Is that part of the war on terrorism that we go after every terrorist in the world?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, "every terrorist in the world" is a bit much. I don't think that's a mission that we have ever placed upon ourselves. What the President said is we're going to go after those terrorist organizations that have a global reach and that threaten us and our friends and allies.

And so far, I think we've done, one, a terrific job in Afghanistan. We're going to help the Government of Yemen. We're helping the Government of the Philippines. And we're going to look at other places where we might be of some assistance; Georgia, for example. We have sent an assessment team in to work with the Georgians to see how they can improve their capability to fight terrorists.

And so it's not a question of us sending military units and strength all over the world. For the most part, these are rather manageable, small missions that are within the capability of the armed forces to handle, and don't tie us down around the world for a lifetime of terrorist-chasing activity.

MR. NOVAK: The Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was asked if he agreed with Senator Byrd, and he said absolutely, and then he said the things that we had at the beginning of this program. Do you believe, quite frankly, that this kind of criticism from the loyal opposition undermines the forces that are fighting this war, as it undermined the forces in Vietnam, where you were a young officer?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I wouldn't say that with respect to either Senator Daschle or Senator Byrd. They are raising questions, and I think that's what a loyal opposition does. That's what we would expect them to do. And I think these are questions that we can answer. And I think the American people have a pretty good idea of what we're trying to do, and that's evidenced in the strong support they have given to President Bush and his policies.

MR. NOVAK: On the other hand, sir, do you think that the President's call for attack on the "axis of evil" -- or his concentration on the "axis of evil," I should say -- which has caused a lot of criticism in the European community and our allies, has made it more difficult for you to hold together the global coalition against terrorism?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. There were some reactions to it, but I think now that we have had a few weeks under our belt, and people realize that we're not ready to declare a war on anyone, and that we are following policies that have been in place for a long time -- people knew what we thought about North Korea, Iraq and Iran all along. By putting them along this "axis of evil," I think the President reinforced his strong feelings about these three countries and sort of cleared everybody's sinuses, if they thought we were going to sort of walk away from the challenges that these three countries face.

So after a lot of discussion with my European colleagues, and the President's trip to Asia, I think people understand that this President is one who acts with patience, with prudence and decisiveness. And he is not a "hip-shooter," as some people claim. Quite the contrary. He has strong views, he has principled views, but he is very prudent and decisive and patient in taking action. He takes into account all factors, he listens to our allies, he listens to our friends, and he puts that into his calculation.

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, you have praised Pakistani President Musharraf for his cooperation since 9/11, most recently during the ordeal and then brutal murder of our colleague, Danny Pearl.

Are you convinced that there were not elements of the Pakistani intelligence, the ISI, involved in this dastardly crime?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have no evidence to suggest that ISI was involved. I can't totally rule out anything, but I have nothing to suggest that ISI was involved. I spoke to President Musharraf a number of times during the course of this crisis, and I'm deeply saddened by the loss of Danny Pearl, and my heart goes out to his wife and his still unborn child, but I know that President Musharraf did everything he could to try to find out who was holding Danny Pearl. And so I have seen nothing to suggest that the Pakistanis were in any way complicit with this.

MR. NOVAK: Mr. Secretary, as you know, there has been tremendous speculation that the next step in the war against terrorism is Iraq. The Iraqis are indicating that perhaps they would be open to returning UN weapons inspectors. People at the Pentagon said the inspectors won't find anything now; they've hidden them.

Do you think, at this stage, UN weapons inspectors will do any good in finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think they would play a very useful role because, you know, you can have a covert program and you can have an overt program. And with inspectors in, you certainly can't have an overt program, so they would have to keep everything underground.

And if the inspectors are good and if they are given the kind of access we would insist on before they can go back in, they may have some success at finding the covert program as well. But I have no illusions about the ability of inspectors to find everything, but I think they can play a useful role.

In my previous experience with respect to inspections and arms control regimes, the INF Treaty with the Russians comes to mind -- inspectors are part of the system that you use to get at a problem like this. So I certainly share the President's view that the inspectors should go in and be allowed to do their work without any interference on the part of the Iraqis.

MR. NOVAK: We're going to have to take a break, and when we come back, we'll ask the Secretary of State about chances for peace in the Middle East.

(Commercial Break.)

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, as you know, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah floated a proposal to New York Times' Tom Friedman that said if Israel returns to pre-1967 borders, the Arab states may well recognize Israel. Critics say there's nothing new in this; it's the same old Saudi proposal going back to King Faud in 1981.

Do you think it's something new and significant?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I think it is significant. We've seen similar proposals so it's not entirely new, but what I think makes it significant is that it's coming from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia at this time. I think Crown Prince Abdullah should be congratulated and thanked for putting this on the table as a way of breaking through some of the barriers that we now have toward finding a way into the Mitchell peace plan. And so I think it's new in that sense.

What is also good is he talked about the normalization of relations between all of the Arab countries and Israel. And so I think it is something that is still just a vision, just an idea, and will require more fleshing out. But coming a month before the Arab summit, and therefore teeing this idea up for consideration at the Arab summit, I think was an important step, and we have thanked the Crown Prince for this. I spoke to him, President Bush spoke to him earlier this week, and Assistant Secretary Burns just came back from the region after discussing this matter with the Crown Prince.

MR. HUNT: Just a few days ago, as you know, the Israelis attacked Palestinian camps, resulting in lots of bloodshed. Do you condemn those attacks?

SECRETARY POWELL: I just want to see all the attacks stop. I want to see the violence ended. I want to see terrorist attacks stop. I want to see the response that the Israelis feel they have to make when these attacks occur stop. It is absolutely essential that the violence ends, and only with the ending of violence can we get into the Tenet work plan and then the Mitchell plan, which leads to what everybody wants: negotiations on the basis of 242 and 338, Land-for-Peace, in order to get this thing settled.

But both sides now have to do everything to apply restraint, to stop the terror, to stop the daily exchange of fires going back and forth. And I don't want to condemn anyone right now; I want both sides to exercise maximum effort, do everything they can to get the violence ended, or else we're going to get nowhere. People can come out with new ideas, new peace plans, new initiatives, have conferences, send emissaries to the region; it will all do no good unless the violence is brought to an end.

And I have particularly spoken to Mr. Arafat, in the most direct terms I can, with respect to doing everything he can to bring those organizations under his control, of those people under his influence, to the understanding that violence achieves no objective; in fact, it's destroying the dreams of the Palestinian people.

MR. NOVAK: Mr. Secretary, America's allies in South Korea would like to see the United States get back to useful negotiations with North Korea, which is part of the "axis of evil". Do you think there's any chance of that happening?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. We have said since last summer that we are anxious to begin discussions with the North Koreans any time, any place. And we have ways of getting in touch with them. And the President, in South Korea last week, reinforced that point, embraced the sunshine policy, the engagement policy of the South Koreans, and invited the North Koreans to come out.

But he didn't step back from his characterization of that regime because it's an accurate characterization. They are despotic. They have destroyed their country. They can't feed their people. They are developing weapons of mass destruction.

MR. NOVAK: But you can still negotiate with them?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have negotiated with very bad people in the past and gotten a lot of progress. So we are not looking for a war with North Korea. Nobody wants a war in the Korean Peninsula. But let's begin a dialogue to get them out of the dire straits that they are in and reduce the tension in that part of the world.

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, the Gallup Poll just completed a massive survey of nine Islamic countries, and the results were stunning. We'll put them up on the screen for our viewers. But over half of these Muslims don't believe Arabs played any role in the September 11 attack; a majority view the United States and President Bush negatively; and only 9 percent say US military action in Afghanistan is justified.

Doesn't that suggest that American public diplomacy in the Arab world since 9/11 has been an abject failure?

SECRETARY POWELL: It suggests that we have got a lot of work to do. It's not just since 9/11. I think that we have not had the right kind of public diplomacy efforts in that part of the world for a long time, and one of the major challenges that I have as Secretary of State is to energize our public diplomacy --

MR. HUNT: Is there any one thing we're going to do to try to turn this around?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're going to do a lot of things. We're going to do more broadcasting. We're going to send more people out on to Arab radio and television. We're going to place more op-ed pieces. I want more Americans to go overseas and speak to Arab audiences. I went on MTV and spoke to 346 million households around the world, young people ages 17 to 25, where I was asked some of the toughest questions imaginable, and I had the chance to speak directly to these young people. So we're going to do a much better job in the future of reaching out to these populations.

To some extent, this attitude that exists in the region is affected by the crisis between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and we bear some of the burden of that crisis because people think that we can just order the Israelis to do what they want the Israelis to do. And it is not quite that simple.

MR. NOVAK: Mr. Secretary, just briefly before we take another break, do you believe that there is any chance of democratization and improvement of human rights in Cuba so long as Fidel Castro remains in power?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think he has demonstrated over these many, many years of his rule that he is not interested in human rights and democratization of the society or opening up the economic system. So as long as he's there, I doubt that we will see the kinds of improvements that the Cuban people deserve and which would allow Cuba to become a democratized nation in this hemisphere.

Thirty-four of the 35 nations are signatories of our Charter of Democracy and the Responsibilities of a Democracy in this hemisphere. Only Cuba is left out, and I'm afraid that's going to remain the case as long as Mr. Castro is there.

MR. NOVAK: We have to take another break, and when we come back we'll have a big question for Colin Powell.


MR. NOVAK: Now a big question for Secretary of State Colin Powell. Mr. Secretary, many people who do admire you otherwise were a little shocked when, on your MTV interview, you suggested that conservative -- small "c" -- values should not be taught. You seemed to reiterate that on Meet the Press. I wonder if you would like to clarify whether you think that American parents should not teach conservative values to their children.

SECRETARY POWELL: Sure they should. I think that American parents should teach their youngsters to refrain from sexual activities until they're old enough to understand what they are getting into, preferably within the bond of marriage. Alma and I, my wife and I, are very deeply involved in abstinence programs and have supported a number of them.

But, at the same time, young people have hormonal drives that will cause them to say, "Well, thank you for all of that lecturing, but I'm going to participate in sexual activities." And I think it is our responsibility to let them know what precautions they should take and how they should protect themselves from the kinds of diseases that are out there waiting.

So I, at the same time, have said the use of condoms is a wise thing. And, in fact, the United States Government has that as our policy. We buy hundreds of millions of condoms and ship them overseas to help stop the plague that is affecting the whole world, that plague called HIV/AIDS.

And I think small "c" conservative in the context of my interview had to do with taboos and shibboleths, and let's not talk about this; not political "c" but conservative "c" in the sense that we're not going to educate our kids. That, I think, is the wrong approach. Educate your kids for the full range of experiences they may be getting ready to participate in.

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, we only have about 20 seconds left, but you have a genuine commitment to doing something about the worldwide AIDS plague. Kofi Annan says we need $10 billion in the UN fund, and yet the Bush budget only proposes $200 million.

When are our resources going to match our rhetoric?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, in the last year, it's really $500 million, $200 million last year and Congress added $100 million, another $200 million next year. That's $500 million. But we have hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars, in research and development and other activities directed toward HIV/AIDS. There's $500 million for the trust fund, and I hope it will be more, but I think we're off to a good start with that trust fund.

MR. HUNT: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Robert Novak and I will be back with a comment or two in just a moment.

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