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Powell Interview with European Editors At Davos

Interview with European Editors

Secretary Colin L. Powell Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you all for coming. Unfortunately, I can't give an interview while I'm eating, so perhaps you gentlemen can ask questions while you're eating, though.

QUESTION: Who wins the Super Bowl?

SECRETARY POWELL: Who wins the Super Bowl? No comment. (Laughter.) That would get me in trouble at home immediately.

I think we're going to miss it, won't we?

QUESTION: Maybe the last quarter.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, we'll be flying home. So my whole staff is mad at me because -- (laughter).

MR. BOUCHER: We're hoping for halftime.

SECRETARY POWELL: We're hoping for halftime. I don't know if the plane can get it as we're --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we've checked on that.

SECRETARY POWELL: You checked it. All right. (Laughter.)

Well, thank you for coming and I would like this to be an informal conversation and to let it go in whatever direction you would like to take it. Feel free to jump in.

QUESTION: Thanks very much.

QUESTION: May I start?


QUESTION: I'm a Turkish journalist. My name is Hasan Cemal. I'm from Istanbul. Are you satisfied with the military cooperation of Turkey? And in the meantime, to what extent Turkey is helping U.S. opening the northern front?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are satisfied with the cooperation we are receiving from Turkey. Turkey is a great friend and, of course, a great ally of the United States and we have tried to be very helpful to Turkey in recent years as they have worked their way through economic difficulties.

I had good meetings yesterday with the Prime Minister and with Mr. Erdogan. And among the things we discussed were the military preparations we are trying to make to support diplomacy to make sure that Saddam Hussein does not mistake our determination, and also to position ourselves should it be necessary to use military force.

Turkey is aware of what we would like to be able to do in Turkey and they are responding to us in a measured way. We have already gotten some answers back. But we also understand that it is a complex political environment for Turkey with a changing government, a parliament that must be consulted, and we are being patient as our Turkish colleagues examine the requests that we have made of them, and as they consult with each other -- with the Turkish General Staff, with the President of the Republic, and with both the Prime Minister and Mr. Erdogan -- but we're satisfied with the level of cooperation. I can't, obviously -- hello, how are you?

QUESTION: Nice to see you. I'm (inaudible).

SECRETARY POWELL: I obviously can't go into the details of the specific requests or specific responses to specific requests, but I'm satisfied with the cooperation. They know what we would like to have and they have all of our requests under consideration and they have to work it through their own system, political system, to include the parliament. And we are just waiting for them to take the necessary action.

QUESTION: From the, in the same respect, I mean, do you think that Turkey could play some small -- what kind of concrete role for a peaceful solution to this (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think Turkey is trying, as all nations are trying, to find a peaceful solution. You know they held a meeting in Istanbul the other day of leaders from the region and came out with a declaration asking Saddam Hussein to take seriously his obligations. That's a helpful role. And I think Turkey has a significant interest in seeing if a peaceful solution can be found. So we appreciate Turkish efforts and encourage those efforts.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, let me start by saying that was a powerful address.


QUESTION: And especially moving, I thought, your final statement.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: You referred to the fact, yourself, there is a gap in understanding and it came to light here at this meeting very much. And I think in the end it will turn on the point mentioned by the Dutch banker, at the point of evidence. I think you could still convince the majority of Europeans, including of Germans -- maybe not our administration but the people -- if you put the -- could put any evidence on the table.

And when I say "put it on the table" I'm thinking of the 26 photographs Adlai Stevenson showed at the Security Council back in '62.


QUESTION: Is there any such thing? Can we expect anything like that? Or is it just conclusions and inferences?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think some of them are hard conclusions. I touched on a few of them. But they really don't satisfy the public yet because we say there's a gap, but you can't see the gap, and it doesn't have the same power as if I was able to suddenly produce a building and inside the building are the missing chemicals. So I very much understand what you mean by a "Stevenson moment." We talk about it a lot.

We do have a number of intelligence products that convince us that what we are saying is correct, convince us that they are doing these things, and we hope in the next week or so to make as much of this available in public as possible. Whether there will be a "Stevenson" photo or "Stevenson" presentation that would be as persuasive as Adlai Stevenson was in 1962, that I can't answer.

Stevenson had a much easier task, I think. I mean, all he had to prove was that there were Russian missiles in Cuba, and viola, there were Russian missiles in Cuba. And we all remember the famous exchange when the Russian Ambassador responded, "I am not in an American court, Mr. Stevenson." But the fact of the matter is he was in something worse than an American court; he was in the court of public opinion and everybody could see it.

I would love to have that kind of material to present, and we are seeing what we can do, what we might find in the next couple of weeks.

QUESTION: But in a sense, you were saying that, in your speech that that kind of material is, in a sense, irrelevant because what you seemed to be saying was that we know that there were weapons there, and everybody agrees on that, and it is now up to Iraq actively to demonstrate what it has done with those weapons which undeniably were there. So you're saying that, really, he has got to produce the evidence to justify himself, which seemed a very reasonable statement when you expressed it.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's very reasonable, yeah.

QUESTION: But do you think that is the kind of position that --


QUESTION: -- the European (inaudible) will find -- will ultimately find acceptable?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, that's my question to ask you guys. (Laughter.)

Well, I don't know. But I think it is a reasonable proposition to say that it is his obligation to come forward with everything he has done over the years. It seems to me to be powerful to see inspectors coming out of the home of a scientist carrying documents that have to do with nuclear weapons development. What are they doing in his house? How many other houses have documents that have been squirreled away?

One thing we do know for a fact is that they have an active program of hiding material. Why are they hiding? If they have no weapons, why are they hiding this stuff? Why don't they come clean if they have no weapons? And if they have no weapons and they also say they want to comply with the will of the international community, then why don't they act like they want to comply with the will of the international community? Why is it necessary to have ten people follow every inspector? Why are they trying to get inside the inspection team's work so that they know where they're going?

There's an old expression in the Army, and it says, "Glad you asked." You know, when something bad is going on, I want to tell you the truth, so, "Glad you asked." Iraq should be saying: "Glad you asked. We don't want a war. We don't have any weapons of mass destruction. I have no intent to use weapons of mass destruction. Ask any question you want and it will be answered. Ask for access to anybody you want to talk to, we'll make them available. And we'll tell them to tell you what they did in the past and you can ask them anything you want about what they're doing now. And they don't need any minders and they don't need to take tape recorders with them, and their families are in no danger and they know that."

That's not what we're seeing. We're seeing people who are not speaking because they know of the risks that they're putting their family in. And so it's that attitude that seems to me to be -- is evidence of continued lack of cooperation, and they're hiding things, second piece of evidence of the kinds of things that I said today, that Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz laid out in great detail on Thursday, and Deputy Secretary Armitage also laid out in great detail last Tuesday.

Now, what I would also love to see, love to have, but do not at the moment have, are some concrete things. You know, I'd like to have Exhibit A on the ground. Shall we say, a CNN moment? But perhaps that will --

QUESTION: -- ask a supplementary. But let's settle, now that you've made this perhaps much clearer than before that what you need is active cooperation in the sense that, it wasn't clear enough even to us, so maybe it wasn't clear enough to him. If he turned round and said, "Glad you asked," and started offering some of this cooperation, how would you then be able to -- wouldn't you then be back in the gray area of is this enough cooperation? How do you react then? How long do you give the cooperation?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would love to have to answer that question, if he would start to move in that direction. I think that's -- he's had since the first week of November to act that way. And instead of acting that way we got this stream of -- this stream of invective and all these diatribes coming out of Baghdad accusing the United States of, you know, being responsible for all these terrible things. He spent the first 30 days that he had coming up with a 12,000-page piece of junk.

I wondered, when we heard it was 12,000 pages, if it's 12,000 pages, it's junk. Because how could he have come up with an honest 12,000 pages in 30 days? All he's going to do is send us stuff that's already there. In fact, he took old UN reports, took out the most damning parts with respect to his behavior, and submitted it as part of the declaration.

And there was a reason that declaration was in there. It was put in there at the insistence of the United States, and we debated it strongly. We had a hot debate within the administration as to whether it should be in there. We all agreed, you know, on balance, it ought to be in there. Why? To give an early test of whether or not he is going to be serious about his obligations and whether or not he's going to cooperate. And that's why I called it, on behalf of the United States Government, a material breach the day it came out.

QUESTION: You emphasized today that time is running out, time is running out --


QUESTION: How soon is it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I can't answer your question. And if I knew the answer, I still wouldn't answer your question because I don't know the answer. It is a judgment that will have to be made by President Bush and by other leaders. Every nation represented here is a sovereign nation with its own democratic constituency and leadership. But it's not something that can go on indefinitely, so I think we are in the final phases of this.

QUESTION: You talked about a delay for the inspectors. Does this mean that you expect from this delay a better comprehension between you and European governments?

SECRETARY POWELL: Which delay are you talking about?

QUESTION: I've heard that this --

QUESTION: He's reading the news.

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, no. You said me. No, there --

QUESTION: And if there's a small delay given to the inspectors, I don't know if this is going to happen. If this happens, would that mean that we could expect more -- more support from, let's say, France and Germany than you get --

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you're taking me down a path that I, with all due respect, choose not to go down yet. There is an issue in the press about delay, meaning give more time to Iraq and give more time to the inspectors. We understand that some nations think this is a good idea. We also know that the inspectors may propose such an idea when they report tomorrow.

And our plan is pretty straightforward and it's a matter of record. We will listen to the inspectors tomorrow. We will have an initial reaction to what they say, both on the part of our Ambassador in the Security Council and I may make a statement once I see what they say.

And then on Tuesday, the President will reflect on all of this, and I am sure he will talk to it in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night. But the State of the Union Address is not going to be a declaration of war. It will be mostly on domestic policy and this situation.

And then there will be a debate in the Council on Wednesday. The President will be spending part of next week talking to heads of state and government. "Well, what was your impression? What do you think? What do you think the next step should be?" Prime Minister Bair is coming next Friday. There may be other leaders who will be visiting Washington over the next week or so.

And then I think we'll be making a determination as to what the next step should be. And so I'm choosing my words rather precisely: "what the next step should be." And I can't tell you yet what that next step will be or when we will decide to take it.

QUESTION: We have your personal judgment on the presentation of the Resolution 1441, but how do you understand it?

SECRETARY POWELL: The presentation?

QUESTION: I mean the content of the Resolution 1441.

SECRETARY POWELL: It had several important elements to it. The first important element is that we all agreed that Hussein is in violation of his obligations. He was in material breach. He still is in material breach of his obligations under previous resolutions.

This was an important point during the debate for 1441. There were some who said let's not talk about the past, let's just talk about the future. And some of us insisted, no, you can't just say that we wipe the board clean. He was in breach, he remains in breach, and we're giving him one last chance to get out of breach. That's the second element. This is a final chance for Saddam Hussein to remove the basis of his material breach, and we laid out what it is we're expecting from him: a full, accurate, complete declaration. We gave some specific criteria that will allow the inspectors to do their job if they got back in and if Saddam was cooperating.

And then finally, and this also was a major point of debate for seven weeks. What happens if there are new breaches and he doesn't cooperate? There were some who wanted to say, well, let's just see what happens if that happens. And there were others who said, no, for this resolution to have any force, any effect, any utility, and not to be just like all other resolutions, there have to be consequences associated with this resolution. There must be consequences for continued misbehavior.

And at the end, this was the most contentious part of the negotiation, and that's why the last part of the resolution, OP paragraphs, I think it's 12 and 13, or 11 and 12 -- I forget -- that's why it specifically says if he does not cooperate, if there are further material breaches, it will be referred to the Council and the Council will decide what to do, and made specific references to serious consequences. Serious consequences means that he'll have to be disarmed forcibly. Nobody had any confusion as to what that meant.

And we also recognized that there would be many members who would want to come back for a second resolution and we understood that. But we would not commit ourselves to be solely, to be bound solely by the need for a second resolution, so we preserved our right, in light of his previous material breaches and continuing material breach, to take unilateral action with other likeminded nations, if that turned out to be the case.

And so this is the judgment that will be made in the near future.

QUESTION: Is there now -- do you now have a different idea about a second resolution? Time has progressed. Even the coalition (inaudible) there, also.

SECRETARY POWELL: Obviously, if a judgment is made that we really do have to take military action, it would be much better if military action were taken by the whole international community, consistent with the intent of 1441. And if a resolution could come out of the Council that would repeat the elements of 1441 and give further authority for all available means, that would make it a lot easier for some nations to join such an effort. You would have a broader coalition. I'm also sure --

QUESTION: You would welcome it?

SECRETARY POWELL: We'd welcome it. But we would not find it a precondition if we felt it was necessary to go. And if we go in the absence of additional UN action, I've been in touch with enough countries, and we have had enough consultations with nations in Europe as well as nations elsewhere, that it would not just be the United States going alone, even in the absence of a UN resolution.

QUESTION: Could you count on the Dutch to be there?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would not list any specific country because I believe each country should make its own announcement at the time.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a different question on this, if it's possible? You didn't think that France, Germany of the old Europe while Italy, Spain and some countries of the Eastern Europe will join the European Union, now the new Europe, as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said (inaudible).

(Inaudible) But then, in fact, a (inaudible) the second question. "Because a more effective role do you expect from Europe, and in particular from Italy, that is in a strategic position (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: Europe has many nations within that grand continent. Each is a sovereign nation. Each is a democracy, thank heavens. And each has to be responsive to -- each government has to be responsive to its people. And each nation will make its own independent judgment.

Often, they can make that judgment through the EU, and therefore it becomes a collective judgment. I've been in touch with the presidency of the EU in the person of Mr. George Papandreou, and I've been in touch with Javier Solana, and they'll be meeting tomorrow and Tuesday. And I hope that whatever statement comes out of the EU will include the strongest condemnation of what Saddam Hussein has been doing and will recognize the burden is on him to avoid war and him to come into compliance.

In the case of Germany, they made a decision, a political decision, even before 1441 as to what their position would be. I mean, it was part of the campaign, the political campaign that went on during the summer and I guess into the fall.

France feels strongly that more time should be given. They haven't ruled out what they might do at the end of the day, I don't think. And I understand that position.

I have had straightforward, honest, candid conversations with my colleague Dominique de Villepin and my colleague Joschka Fischer and my colleague in just about every other European country. And I think I have a good understanding of European attitudes. And I think they have a good understanding of our attitude.

I, you know, much is made of friction between the United States and Europe. And then you have to break it down. Is it between the United States and UK? Well, no. The United States and Germany? Sometimes. The United States and France? The United States and Italy? The United States and Spain?

You see, you have a continent with -- how many nations on it?

QUESTION: Who's counting? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: We have a continent with three nations. Much easier. It's much easier.

QUESTION: Between 25 and 40.

SECRETARY POWELL: Between 25 and 40? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: If we enlarge the EU, it would be about 27, 28.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, yes. And even then, you don't have everybody. (Laughter).

SECRETARY POWELL: And so to get to the second part of your question, what would we expect? If it comes to conflict, obviously I would hope that each European nation would recognize the need for military action and would support us in any way that they could. But that will be a judgment made by each country based on its own sovereign responsibilities, its obligation to its own parliament and legislature, or legislature, and to its own people. And it would be presumptuous of me to say to any country what they should or should not do.

QUESTION: Coming from Sweden, I have to ask you about my countryman, Mr. Blix. Do you think he would become a problem to you or do you trust him?

SECRETARY POWELL: I trust Hans Blix. I've spent many hours with him. He is an honest man doing a difficult job and he will be fair in his presentation, I'm sure. He will not be fooled by Saddam Hussein and he will not be pressured by anyone else to say something that he does not believe to be the truth.

And Dr. Rice has spent time with him. President Bush has met with Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, and we have confidence in them.

QUESTION: What is the post-Saddam --

QUESTION: Yes, do you -- from new Europe, you are seen as the one who sees -- understands our differences, the differences between. How far do you understand those differences between Europe and the United States? And do you understand that a misunderstanding is growing between European public opinions and your government? Maybe it is also because American doctrine has changed. We were used -- we were used and -- as containment, and containment was the basis of a strong coalition between Europe and the United States.

And now your doctrine is the doctrine of preemptive action, and isn't it the cause of the, how do you say, in a way the (inaudible) divergence and the States are growing apart?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, there's no question that there has been some divergence. I think it is bridgeable. I mean, the United States has been very active in the work that we did together to expand NATO. We have tried to be supportive and helpful in what Europe did to expand the EU. We're working actively with Europe in finding a -- hoping to find a solution for the problem in Cyprus.

One little joke I use with my staff, you know, if America is in this, you know, this awkward position of everybody, you know, sort of resenting us, so then why was I the one they called to solve this problem between Morocco and Spain on this little island? You know? I didn't want to do this, but we were called upon.

Because I think we are still a nation that is trusted and looked to for the role that we can play in the world. Europe and the United States cannot be separated. We can have our differences. We can have our debates. We can have our disagreements. I have been in public life at a senior level for 20 years, and I can go year by year and tell you what they were, every single year. Would you like to go back to Crookham and Greenham Commons, sir? (Laughter.)

Would you like to go back to what it took to get the missiles and the Pershing IIs into various parts of Europe? Would you like to go to some of the basing problems we had in -- with Italy? It was France who, in -- let me see if my memory serves me correctly -- kicked NATO out of Paris.


SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. So, I mean, it is not as if these differences have not come along and nations at one time or another have acted, how shall we say, unilaterally, as France did in 1966. These things come and go. They are part of a thriving, vibrant alliance.

But to suggest that somehow it's breaking up, I have been listening to this for 20 years. It is not breaking up. Because that which pulls us together on any one day is far stronger than the issue that may be causing some division.

Now, you say we have come up with a new strategy. If you look at the National Security Strategy that we published, you will find one paragraph or two on preemption. It is not a strategy of preemption. Preemption is a tool within a strategy. We've always had a strat -- a tool of preemption. There is no nation that does not have the right to preempt a threat that is coming at it is that so real and pressing. It's like a police officer seeing somebody running down a street with a gun getting ready to shoot somebody. Do you preempt it or don't you preempt? You preempt.

So what we did in our National Security Strategy was elevate that concept, that tool of preemption, to a higher level. And I'll come back to why we did that. But if you read the whole document, you will see that the document talks about economic development, it talks about partnerships, it talks about a Europe whole and free, it talks about health issues, it talks about how America has to work with its friends and allies. Two elements got highlighted. Preemption, which became a strategy, which is it is not. And our strategy remains one of working with our friends and partners. Containment is always better than war if you really can contain something.

And the other thing that got a lot of attention is America says that it wants to be stronger than anybody else. Well, this is not necessarily a bad thing because America uses its military strength wisely. And, excuse me, during the entire period of the Cold War, we all spent a lot of money to make sure that we were stronger than Russia. And when you're stronger than evil forces around the world, you tend to contain and deter them. And so having powerful military forces is, at least in our concept, and especially in the hands of the United States, is stabilizing and not destabilizing.

The reason containment doesn't have the same relevance and the reason we had to lift preemption a little higher -- how do you contain Usama bin Laden? How do you contain al-Qaida? You can contain a state --

QUESTION: There's no question on terrorism and al-Qaida. The problem in Europe and the States is for European opinions the fight against terrorism is the number one danger and nobody understand why Iraq has become the number one in your preoccupations.

SECRETARY POWELL: Terrorism is still number one in our preoccupation; the President spends more time on terrorism. If he was here, he would talk to you about -- every morning he goes through his list of threats that have been presented by the intelligence and law enforcement community. So he is -- terrorism is his number one priority.

But he also sees that Iraq is a serious danger to the region and to the world. It is a state that has sponsored terrorism over the years. It is a state in which we find these horrible weapons still being developed. There are other states that are doing it, but none has had the sort of unremitting dedication to the creation of these weapons and has been willing to remain isolated for all these years and to be under sanctions for all these years in order to keep trying to develop these evil weapons for the purpose of getting power.

And because of the connection that exists between Iraq and certain terrorist organizations, we have to be concerned that these weapons can ultimately fall into the hands of terrorists.


QUESTION: You referred in your speech to the links between al-Qaida and Iraq. Now, even some of our secret service chiefs say publicly there is no evidence of that.

SECRETARY POWELL: We do have evidence of it. We are not suggesting that there is a 9/11 link, but we are suggesting -- we do have evidence -- of connections over the years between Iraq and al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: But isn't there more evidence of -- because I think this is another thing that has really perplexed public opinion, as Mr. Colombani says, everybody is behind the U.S. on terrorism, I think, in every country. But what has perplexed public opinion is that Iraq did seem to be a change of subject, now partly because there's no evident link, but there may be some link; but secondly also, because there are other nations in the region which seem to be much more closely linked with the terrorist threat, either through financing, whatever, or Saudi, or, as in the case of Pakistan, through the fact that, you know, everybody believes that bin Laden is actually in Pakistan, most likely. So why the focus on Iraq in those circumstances?

SECRETARY POWELL: There is a focus on Iraq. There is also a focus on Pakistan. I spend a good bit of my time dealing with the problems in Pakistan with respect to, you know, the Pakistan-India situation and cross-border terrorism, hostile acts across the line of control after President Musharraf has said that they would stop it, and I have to remain in close touch with Pakistan to ensure that they take every effort to stop that kind of activity. We are also working with Pakistan to round up terrorists in Pakistan and we're working with them to track down al-Qaida remnants in the remote sections of western Pakistan along the Afghan border. We're doing that.

We're also keeping our eyes on Afghanistan, as I mentioned this morning. And we are also examining our policies constantly with respect to Iran. And we also have not lost sight of other nations in the region and other places in the world. And so it is not impossible for us to do all of these things without neglecting any one of them.

QUESTION: How are you going to make use of bases in Turkey and the ports in Turkey against (inaudible) strike?

SECRETARY POWELL: I really don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on what our military options and plans might be. I think that's something that would be better just to continue to discuss privately. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: In Foreign Affairs recently appeared a long article of Richard Betts. He is the Director of the Institute for War and Peace in Columbia University.

SECRETARY POWELL: Who's that? Who?

QUESTION: Richard Betts. He's a former member of the National Commission on Terrorism and now is the Columbia University of this Institute for War and Peace. And the title of the essay is, "Suicide From Fear of Death." And it say that the only risk that chemical or biological weapons can be deployed into a type of this mess is if Saddam realizes that he is dead, he's going to die, and that moment there will be the suicide-- his suicide for fear of death, so he will give the gas to the terrorists only in that moment, when he is sure to be in death's door.

Are you considering this possibility?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, of course we have to consider all possibilities. But let's also remember, he used chemicals when he wasn't in fear of death. He used chemicals to strike out at his enemies.

QUESTION: You mean used against the Western world?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. I mean, he's used them before and he's used them against his own people. He's used them against Iran. When I was Commander -- or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Gulf War, one of our major concerns was would he use chemical weapons, would he --

QUESTION: But sir, with due respect --

SECRETARY POWELL: Excuse me. Would he use chemical weapons? And, in fact, we communicated strongly to him in a way that he could not mistake that he would be wise not to use such weapons, and he did not. But did he have them? Yes. Did we locate some of those weapons afterwards? Yes. I mean, it is not -- it is not speculation. He had them. We saw them. We destroyed them. How many more did he have that we didn't see, that we didn't get to destroy? You've all seen the pictures of these weapons. This wasn't a figment of our imagination. He had them. And the inspectors found them. But we didn't get all of them. There are gaps.

I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Well, I simply wanted to say that in 1988 when he used these weapons, we didn't hear much protests on the part of the Americans because he used them against your enemies as well.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think if you will research that period of time and the statements we were making, there were condemnatory statements made by the United States.

QUESTION: There were?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, we've researched this.

QUESTION: Could I ask you about the --

QUESTION: What do you think the --

QUESTION: Sorry. It's confusing. How about the criticism that's levied at you from the Arab and Islam world that you have your priorities wrong, that you really should be looking at the Israel-Palestine conflict? And even if that argument doesn't have any merit, don't you think this is, if you like, poisoning the relationship between the West and the Arab world?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are doing everything we can to see if we can get movement and traction in the Middle East. That's why I spent a lot of time with the Quartet. We've come up with a new roadmap. The two sides each have sets of objections to the roadmap, but I think it is a good way forward.

And we are waiting for the Israeli election to be concluded, which is now taking place, and as soon as that's behind us and the situation politically stabilizes within the region, the President is determined to move forward with the roadmap.

This has been one of the most challenging problems we've faced and the most frustrating, frankly, to get your hands around. It's not because we haven't tried. But we need reform within the Palestinian community. We need the end of terror, the end of violence, the end of bombings. In the absence of that, it is very difficult to get movement on the Israeli side when the Israelis are faced with violence and they have an obligation to protect their people.

QUESTION: But have you accepted that gives a veto to the terrorists?

QUESTION: There are reports now that --

SECRETARY POWELL: I beg your pardon?

QUESTION: All right, just on that. Just following up that precise point. If you say you've got to wait for the end of violence and bombings, doesn't that mean that you've given a power of veto to the people who are prepared to carry on bombings?

SECRETARY POWELL: You make it difficult to find a way forward. The Israelis have worked with us in a number of instances trying to find ways forward. We've talked with them about humanitarian relief for the Palestinians. We've talked to the Israelis about how we could go about energizing the peace process. But it is very difficult to get traction on these issues if bombs are going off all the time.

And remember that quite a proposal was on the table at the end of the Clinton and Barak administrations, and they were unable to consummate the deal at that point. And Prime Minister Sharon was elected on a platform of providing security to the Israeli people. And until some level of security can be established it is very difficult to find a way forward, particularly in the presence of continued violence which is not being dealt with on the Palestinian side in an effective way.

QUESTION: What is your post-Saddam vision of Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: A country that lives in peace with its neighbors; a country that cooperates in getting rid of weapons of mass destruction; a country that will be one country and not break up into parts; a country that will, with the help of the international community, use the resources that this nation has. What makes Iraq different from a number of other countries, which might be in this kind of circumstance, is that it has -- it will have money. It has the wealth of its oil. And so it has the potential to deal with the needs of its people and not waste the money on weapons. And a country that with the help of the international community can hopefully form a representative form of government that will represent all the people of Iraq in an honest, balanced, fair way.

QUESTION: What will happen in Iraq the day after, the day after military action? What will happen? What will happen to the Iraqi oil?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the second question, if conflict comes -- and we still hope it can be avoided -- the oil of Iraq belongs to the people of Iraq. And the United States, if we are the leader of this coalition, would respect international law as to how a nation that is temporarily in charge of another nation, how it would protect and preserve the resources of that nation for its people.

And any suggestion that the United States is doing this for oil or to take control of the oil of Iraq or to sell the oil of Iraq for our own purposes or to dole it out to friends is nonsense. We will do it in accordance with international law and it'll be done for the benefit of the Iraqi people. It's their oil. It's not our oil. We would act responsibly. And suggestions that the United States would not act responsibly goes against the history of the United States in similar situations over the course of the last 50 years.

QUESTION: Are you in favor of invasion forces?

SECRETARY POWELL: Now, did I get -- with respect to what the day after will look like, so much depends on what happens the day before and the day of, and so I would just be fantasizing with you.

But don't -- war is a complex, difficult thing. One never knows how it will unfold. There are always unintended consequences. But the people of Iraq may welcome a new regime that is cooperating with the world, rather than fighting the world.

QUESTION: Are you in favor of invasion forces -- invasion in Iraq? Also, --

SECRETARY POWELL: We're in favor of one Iraq.


SECRETARY POWELL: Now, what it looks like, I think this is something for the people of Iraq, all the people of Iraq -- Kurds, Shias, Sunnis --

QUESTION: Exactly. You want one Iraq, but the Iraqi opposition is working very hard for a federation, including the Iraqi Kurds.

SECRETARY POWELL: I understand that there are many different points of view, but our position is that we do not want to see Iraq splinter in any way.


MR. BOUCHER: Maybe one or two more.

QUESTION: I raised the following question that -- the answer was what happens to the oil after, not what happens to oil during the military operation, but what happens to the oil fields, what happens to the oil transports, what happens to that part of the world oil consumption which still comes from Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: While the military operation is going on, or after?

QUESTION: Yeah. During.

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't answer that question because I don't know how the military operation will unfold, so I can't answer that question. There are fields in the north, there are fields in the south, and I hope the military operation would proceed at a rate, a fast enough rate so that we could bring those fields under protection, and recognizing that it will have an impact on the overall oil market. But I'm not about to get into speculation as to, you know, what the situation will be. It would be much too hypothetical for me to jump in and guess about.

QUESTION: You keep repeating, "if conflict can be avoided," and you've made very clear in your speech that that is your preference for --

SECRETARY POWELL: It is the President's preference.

QUESTION: And the President makes it clear in his speeches, too. And I'd like to ask two questions related to that. Given that fact, why do you think it is that the view seems to be extremely widespread that, in fact, a war is inevitable and that actually that America's preference is actually for war? I mean, I'd to reflect, if you like, on the way this has come across to public opinion, whether it's the media's role, whether you, perhaps, have not expressed yourselves as clearly or as precisely as you should have done, or whatever.

And the second related thing is, now you say, "if conflict can be avoided." Could you lay out for us a sort of step-by-step guide as to how conflict, you know, might be avoided? What would have to happen over the next few weeks to make the avoidance of conflict a real possibility?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President often says to people who visit him in the Oval Office that he's the one who has to go look in the faces of the mothers and fathers of young men and women who might be lost in conflict, so he has no desire to see a war. But he also recognizes that we will not get a solution from Iraq if you do not demonstrate that you're willing to fight to achieve our purpose of disarmament.

And so I think some people often overlook the first point that he makes and go right to the second point, the Americans want a war. Why do we want a war? You know, look at our tradition and history. It's not our tradition. It's not our history. It's not our proclivity. In fact, I can argue, if you want to look at the whole history of the American Republic over the last 220 years, we've always been kind of slow to anger, and then sometimes to our regret. But when war comes, and if there's no other choice, we're going to do it and we're going to do it well.

But the President has been trying to find a peaceful solution. But he knows no peaceful solution will come if it doesn't also appear that we are prepared to back our words and our desire for a peaceful solution with the threat of force. All of this business about, well, the inspectors are in and they're doing fine and everything's terrific, why are they in? Are they in because Saddam Hussein woke up one morning and said, "You know what? I'll let them in. I'll show everybody what I got."

And this will go to the other question. Why, suddenly, on the Monday after the President's speech did they come in with, oh, we're going to let the inspectors in? Oh, gosh, we didn't know until President Bush spoke that they wanted the inspectors to come in. No, because President Bush made it clear that this time there had to be consequences. And that's what he said in his speech. Suddenly, the Iraqis let them in.

And then they started to back out, and then they started to change what the inspectors could do, and then they started to play the usual games. They did everything they could to try to keep 1441 from ever coming into being. This wasn't an open, cooperative effort on the part of Iraq. It was an effort to frustrate, to deny, to deceive, to keep out the international community -- not to comply rather than to comply.

But guess what? They got 1441 anyway. And they had one more chance with 1441 to demonstrate that they were going to comply, and they haven't done it, which gets to the second question: What do they have to do? What they have to do --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm still answering the question. What they have to do is all of these gaps that we're talking about, fill the gaps, answer the questions. And if there are still some elements in their programs that we don't know about -- this is not brain surgery.

If they want to comply, they would turn over every document, they would make available every scientist, they would take us to every site where this kind of activity has been going on or went on in the past, and say, "Look." They would not be having haystacks everywhere with us to go find the needle. They would be saying, "We are changing our policy and the nature of our regime. Here were the haystacks, here are the haystacks. Here's where they were. There is the needle. Go verify it's there. Destroy it. That's where a needle used to be. It's gone. You can look at it. We'll tell you what happened to it."

Now, that may be too much to ask for, but that's the right question to ask and that's the right thing to ask for. And this isn't brain surgery. That would avoid a war.

QUESTION: Would it be sensible to set them an ultimatum by which time they have to do something or other?

SECRETARY POWELL: He's back into the timing question.


SECRETARY POWELL: Nice try, Anatole.


MR. BOUCHER: Last question.


QUESTION: Do you consider what's happened in Afghanistan a good example of what will happen in Iraq after the war? You said you are proud of what happened in --

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm proud of what we did in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: -- in Afghanistan, but there is a large part of the country that is not under the control of the Alliance, and --

SECRETARY POWELL: Wait a minute. You know, everybody loves to say Afghanistan is still, you know, it's a mess and there are warlords running all everywhere, and why don't we have armies everywhere. It's just not the case. There is a degree of stability in Afghanistan that it has not seen in decades. It has a central government that is slowly getting itself organized, slowly extending its reach.

With the help of the international community, with the ISAF force and with America's Operation Enduring Freedom, we are now spreading out our young men and women to many locations throughout Afghanistan to work with the Afghans. They're getting control of their finances. A new ring road is going in that will enhance commerce and connect the country.

One million refugees returned.

QUESTION: One million?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, one million refugees returned. And I think it's more than one million now. But, I mean, these are people who voted with their feet to come back to this country. And we're slowly working with the Afghans to incorporate these people back into the country.

Now, there are still some problems in the southeast corner --

QUESTION: Did you know Italy is in the process of deploying a thousand people and --

SECRETARY POWELL: Of course I know. A thousand Alpini.

QUESTION: Yes. Well, America has several casualties in this area, there has been.

SECRETARY POWELL: That's -- yes. We're not saying the place is completely quiet or there is no danger. There is danger in Northeast, Washington, D.C., and for that matter, I would suspect in certain -- I wouldn't go that far. (Laughter.)

But when you look --

QUESTION: You won't repeat it. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: When you look at what our casualties have been for the past year, for an operation of this size and with the continuing danger from al-Qaida remnants, mostly down in the southeast section along the Pakistan border, which has always been a problem area for many, many years, there are still problems in the country. But a lot has been accomplished.

And so I think we should be proud of what we have been able to do. Children are going to school. Women are being integrated into the society. They have had a Loya Jirga. They have formed in an Afghan style, not an American style, an Afghan way, formed a government. They will have elections in the not too distant future.

We should be very proud of what we've done in Afghanistan and we will stay there, not go racing off to Iraq because we can't do both. We will stay in Afghanistan with whatever else we might have to do elsewhere in the world.

QUESTION: How long will you stay with Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, that really was the last question.


QUESTION: How long will you stay in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: As long as necessary. We have -- you know, we have demonstrated our willingness to put our treasure to the task for the time that it takes. We've done it repeatedly. We did it in Japan. We did it in Europe. Memories are short. And we have had a history of going to places that were in need and satisfying that need and using the treasure of the American people -- their financial treasure, their political treasure, and their most precious treasure, their men and women -- to stay the course when we run into difficult situations and we help nations that are in need. And we're going to do it in Afghanistan and we have demonstrated that.

And if we take on this awesome responsibility to lead a coalition of the willing or to lead the international community into Iraq, if that cannot be avoided, we understand the obligations that we pick up and what our responsibilities will be to keeping one country intact, taking care of the humanitarian needs, as the lady from Amnesty International questioned me, and leaving the country in a better situation than we found it.

Thank you.


Released on January 28, 2003

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