State Dept FY 2004 Budget Briefing: Incl. OBL Tape
State Dept FY 2004 Budget Briefing
President s International Affairs Budget for 2004
Secretary Colin L. Powell Testimony before the Senate Budget Committee Washington, DC February 11, 2003
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you, also, Senator Conrad, for your opening remarks and I will get to all of those questions in the course of my opening remarks.
Mr. Chairman, I do have a statement for the record and would like to submit it at this time and then go to a shortened presentation. And at the end of this shortened presentation, I will talk to the questions raised by Senator Conrad.
CHAIRMAN NICKELS: Certainly.
SECRETARY POWELL: Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am pleased to appear before you to testify in support of the President's International Affairs Budget for Fiscal Year 2004. The funding requested for Fiscal Year 2004 for the Department of State, USAID and other foreign affairs agencies is $28.5 billion.
Let me say at this point, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, how deeply appreciative I and all of my colleagues in the Department of State and USAID are for the support that this Committee has provided to us during the last two years, the first two years of the Bush Administration, and it has been a source of real encouragement to the people of the Department to know that we are making the case to the Congress that we need this kind of support, we are deserving of this kind of support, but more importantly, we are receiving the support we need to take the case of the American people out to the world and to support our diplomats who are on the frontline of offense with respect to our foreign policy and to taking the American case to the people of the world. And in light of what Senator Conrad said, never has it been more important for us to be giving that kind of support to our diplomatic efforts out and across the world.
Mr. Chairman, the President's budget of $28.5 billion will allow the United States to first target security and economic assistance to sustain key countries supporting us in the war on terrorism and helping us to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It will help us launch the Millennium Challenge Account, a new partnership generating support for countries that rule justly, invest in their people and encourage economic freedom, strengthen the U.S. and global commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and alleviating humanitarian hardships; next, combat illegal drugs in the Andean Region of South America, as well as bolster democracy in one of that region's most important countries, Colombia. And finally, reinforce America's world-class diplomatic force, focusing on the people, places and tools needed to promote our foreign policies around the world.
I'm particularly proud of that last goal, Mr. Chairman, because for the past two years, I have concentrated on each of my jobs, first, as Primary Foreign Policy Advisor to the President, but also as Chief Executive Officer of the Department. And under my CEO hat, we are asking for about $8.5 billion within that $28.5 billion for running of the Department.
Let me give you some highlights of what these funds are for. First, we have been reinforcing our diplomatic force for two years and will continue in Fiscal Year 2004. We will hire 399 more professionals to help the President carry out the nation's foreign policy. This hiring will bring us to the 1100 plus new Foreign and Civil Service Officers we set out to hire over the first three years of the Bush Administration to bring the Department's personnel back in line with its diplomatic workload.
For a period during the 1990s, we were not hiring anyone, Foreign Service or Civil Service. We were not administering the Foreign Service Exam. It was a very unfortunate period for the Department. New blood wasn't being brought into the Department. If you want to have a career ambassador 15 years from now, you've got to hire one today. If you want to have the right kinds of people in your embassies years from now, you've got to hire them today.
It's the same concept that I followed when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If I want a great battalion commander 15 years from now, you've got to bring in a second lieutenant now. If you want squad leaders to lead young Americans in battle six, seven years from now, you've got to bring in a private now. We shortchanged the Department and it has been my number one priority to fix that problem by bringing in wonderful young people who want to serve their nation as diplomats or as civil servants within the Department of State.
And I am proud of what we have been able to do. Over the last two years, we have administered the Foreign Service written exam to some 80,000 Americans who stepped forward and said I want to be part of this operation. This is multiples of what we had been able to do in past recent years before this administration came in. The last Foreign Service exam that was administered, the written exam, some 38 percent of the passes, people who passed the exam, were minorities. So we are diversifying our workforce. We're making the Foreign Service increasingly look like America, and, frankly, look like the rest of the world. And that sends a powerful signal to the rest of the world.
But there's no point in me giving these exams and encouraging people and reaching out to the minority community to come and apply if I can't hire them at the end of the day. So I thank the Congress and especially the members of this committee for the support you have provided to that diplomatic readiness initiative.
Second, I promised to the employees of the Department that we would bring state-of-the-art communications and information capability and technology to the Department because people who can't communicate rapidly and effectively in today's globalizing world can't carry out our foreign policy. We are approaching our goal in that regard as well.
For example, when I spoke at the UN last week, within minutes after my speech was finished, we were transmitting it in all sorts of different languages to every point on the face of the earth. All of our embassies were getting in real-time information on the speech, the visuals that I used, backup material, so that our ambassadors could immediately go out and explain our position around the world. As I have discussed with my staff the morning after my speech, one of the most impressive things about the speech was the audience and the size of the audience listening to it, all in real-time. And there was one picture in one of the newspapers -- I forget whether it was The New York Times or The Washington Post -- of a group of Marine aviators sitting on an aircraft carrier in their ready seats looking at the screen, and there I was on the screen. That kind of, you know, snapped me back.
The point is, they're not waiting for somebody to write the story, they're not waiting for one of the learned talking heads to tell them what they should have heard or seen or analyzed. They were watching me in real-time instantaneously. So, increasingly, knowledge and information is being communicated directly to consumers instantaneously. We all know this phenomenon. Call it what you will -- 24-7, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, you name it, radio, instant wire service information. But that's the way we communicate to the world right now: instantaneously, directly to the consumer.
And we have to make sure that that information technology is also available to all of our diplomats, all of our embassies, every action officer, every desk officer, everywhere in the Department of State. And so I will not be satisfied until every employee of the Department of State at every one of our 200-odd installations around the world have instantaneous access to the Internet and to the world of modern communications. And with your support, we're going to make that happen.
And it goes to one of the points that Senator Conrad made earlier: getting the message out and dealing with anti-Americanism when we find it by getting out our product and our message as fast as possible.
The daily message line that is coming out of our new strategic communications operation run from the White House, that daily message sheet I'm now having distributed to every single embassy, every single facility around the world, as soon as we get it from the White House and as soon as we add our own product to it. So we're not sitting around punching up cables on teletype machines any more. Scan it and send it and let's get going. Let's get it out there and let's expect our people to know what we know here in Washington as fast as we know it.
And as I say to all of my ambassadors, I want you to use it coming back the same way. You're my experts. You're my battalion commanders. Tell me what's going on out in those countries. I'm counting on you, not just the expert within the Department on C Street. And this information technology knits us all together. We've got a first class, world class website now that gets more and more hits every single day, trying to make it more lively, more interesting to people. Ambassador Boucher, my Spokesman, is here. He is the face of the Department of State as you see him brief every day. But I told him I'm tired of seeing his face on the website. It's either my face or his face on the website. And usually, it's his face more than my face, which is also disturbing. (Laughter.)
I told him I didn't want to see either one of our faces on the website. I want to see our diplomats. I want to see the people who work for us. I want to see exciting different things that are happening around the world. I want people to go to that website and see the central font of knowledge about what's going on in the world presented to you by your Department of State.
So let's put the kids that we bring in to mentor on the website. Let's put what one of our ambassadors is doing to help people in need in a particular country. But let's mix it up. Let's make it lively. Let's use information technology to take America's story to the world, not as a lecturing way of taking our story to the world, but just showing who we are, what we stand for, how we care about the world, talking about HIV/AIDS, talking about poverty, talking about the need to feed people throughout the world these days, and taking that values system through the power of information technology. But I need the money to do it and I thank this committee, and I thank the Congress for supporting me in that effort.
Finally, with respect to my CEO role, I wanted to sweep the slate clean and completely revamp the way we construct our embassies and other overseas buildings, as well as improve the way we secure those buildings and, in turn then, secure the men and women who occupy them and take care of their family members in our embassies around the world. It's dangerous business out there. It's dangerous. I lost three of the members of our State Department family last year. And we put them in danger and we have an obligation to protect them to the best of our ability.
I think when I first took over as Secretary of State and during some of my transitions discussions with members of this committee, we had extensive discussions about how to build embassies, how to build them cheaper, how to build them better, how to make sure the system was efficient, make sure we're not wasting the taxpayers' dollars, but make sure we're doing it right. I'm very pleased at what we've been able to accomplish over the last two years. General Chuck Williams, who you've heard me brag about before this committee, who is in charge of our Overseas Building Operation, he and his team are doing a great job in getting the cost down and rationalizing our entire management structure for overseas building facilities, and I think we have a good record to present to the committee, and I know the committee has followed this very, very closely as well. I'm pleased that we've gotten on top of that situation.
Mr. Chairman, as principal foreign policy advisor, my other hat for the President and the principal hat, I have budget priorities in that portfolio as well. And let me highlight our key foreign policy priorities before I stop and take your questions. And while I am talking about foreign policy, I wanted to ask the members of this committee for their strong support -- and I hope you will all find your way clear to vote for the Moscow Treaty that is now out of committee and will be on the floor in the very near future. I would sure like to see a 100-0 vote for that treaty. It's a good treaty. It serves the interests of the American people as well as the people of the Russian Federation, and I believe the world.
Mr. Chairman, the 2004 Budget proposes several initiatives to advance U.S. national security interests and preserve American leadership. The 2004 Foreign Operations Budget that funds programs for the Department of State, USAID and other foreign affairs agencies is $18.8 billion of the 28.5 total.
Today, our number one priority is to fight and win the global war on terrorism. If the budget furthers this goal by providing economic, military and democracy assistance to key foreign partners and allies, including $4.7 billion to countries that have joined us in the war on terrorism, of this amount, the President's budget provides $657 million for Afghanistan, $460 million for Jordan, $395 million for Pakistan, $255 million for Turkey, $136 million for Indonesia and $87 million for the Philippines.
In Afghanistan, the funding will be used to fulfill our commitment to rebuild Afghanistan's road network. In addition, it will establish security through a national military and national police force, establish broad-based and accountable governance through democratic institutions and an active civil society, ensure a peace dividend for the Afghan people through economic reconstruction, and provide humanitarian assistance to sustain returning refugees and displaced persons. The United States' assistance will continue to be coordinated with the Afghan Government, the United Nations and other international donors.
Now, that's bureaucratic language. The reality is, we have done one heck of a job in Afghanistan. Some problems are not all behind us. That is, there's still a fragile situation, but we can be very proud of the fact that over the last 16 or 18 months, we have now seen a government take over, getting ready for the election next year. We have seen a national army start to form.
And this morning I was reading through my briefing materials how these battalions that were trained are now starting to go to other parts of the country outside of Kabul and starting to make their presence known; starting to put the imprint of the central government on the rest of Afghanistan. A national police force is being brought up. A judicial system is slowly being created. Institutions are being formed. The road is under construction.
And it's not just a road. It is more than a road. It is a line of communication that allows the exertion of central control over other parts of the country because there's a road. Commerce will flow. People can get around. Displaced people, refugees coming back into the country can now move. So all sorts of good things will happen with this road.
There are still dangers in Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom will continue to go after al-Qaida and Taliban remnants, but we have accomplished a great deal and we should be proud of the work that we have done working alongside coalition members, working alongside ISAF, working alongside United Nations' organizations, a great deal has been accomplished. You can see it in the eyes of the children who are now being educated, and you can see it in the eyes of women who are now playing a role in the life and in the future of Afghanistan.
Mr. Chairman, I also want to emphasize our efforts to decrease the threats posed by terrorist groups, rogue states, and other non-state actors with regard to weapons of mass destruction and related technology. To achieve this goal, we must strengthen partnerships with countries that share our views in dealing with the threat of terrorism and resolving regional conflicts.
The 2004 budget requests $35 million for the nonproliferation and disarmament fund -- more than double the 2003 request. It increases funding for overseas export controls and border security to $40 million and supports additional funding for science centers and bio-chem redirection programs.
The funding increases requested for these programs will help us prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorist groups or states by preventing their movement across borders and by destroying or safeguarding known quantities of weapons or source material, especially in the Russian Federation, the former Soviet Union.
The science centers and bio-chem redirection programs support the same goals by engaging former Soviet weapons scientists and engineers in peaceful scientific activities, providing them an alternative to marketing their skills to states or groups of concerns. Give them a healthy, positive alternative and keep them from thinking in any way about going to those states or those non-state actors who might be working on weapons of mass destruction.
The budget also promotes international peace and prosperity by launching the most innovative approach to U.S. foreign assistance in more than 40 years. The new Millennium Challenge Account, an independent government corporation funded at $1.3 billion will redefine what development aid is all about.
As President Bush told African leaders meeting in Mauritius, recently, "This aid will go to nations that encourage economic freedom, that root out corruption and that respect the rights of their people." Moreover, this budget offers hope and a helping hand to countries facing health catastrophes, poverty and despair -- those countries who are suffering from the effects of humanitarian disasters.
The budget includes, in addition to the other things I've talked about, more than $1 billion to meet the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons. The budget also provides more than $1.3 billion to combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. The President's total budget for HIV/AIDS is $2 billion, which include the first year's funding for the new emergency plan for HIV/AIDS relief announced by the President in his State of the Union address. These funds will target 14 of the hardest hit countries in Africa and the Caribbean.
This budget also includes almost $.5 billion for Colombia. This funding will support Colombian President Uribe's unified campaign against terrorists and the drug trade that fuels terrorist activity. The aim is to secure democracy, extend security, and restore economic prosperity to Colombia, and prevent the narco-terrorists from spreading instability to the broader Andean Region.
To accomplish this goal, excuse me, requires more than simply funding for Colombia. Therefore, our total Andean Counter-drug Initiative is $731 million. Critical components of this effort include resumption of the Air Bridge Denial Program to stop internal and cross-border aerial trafficking in illicit drugs, stepped up eradication and alternative development program efforts, and technical assistance to strengthen Colombia's police and judicial institutions.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, to advance America's interest around the world, we need the dollars in the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2004. We need the dollars under both of my hats, CEO and principal foreign policy advisor. The times we live are in trouble, to be sure, as was noted earlier. I believe there is every bit as much opportunity as there is danger in the days ahead. American leadership is essential with both the danger and the opportunity. With regard to the Department of State, the President's FY 2004 Budget is crucial in order for us to exercise the leadership that will deal with the dangers and the opportunities.
Before closing, Mr. Chairman, I would like to pause and comment to some extent on the issues raised by Senator Conrad. First, with respect to Iraq. Why doesn't containment work? Containment is a strategy that we have followed for many, many years. I have been an advocate of containment. I worked very hard the first year and a half of this administration to put in place smart sanctions, another form of containment. Yet we found that even with all of these containment efforts of the past 12 years, they have not served to stop Saddam Hussein in his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction or to encourage him to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction that we know he has.
Notwithstanding all our efforts at containment, we see evidence that he continues to try to break out of the box. Containment was able to control some of the money that's going to the regime through the Oil-for-Food program, but he is still able to get additional money through smuggling activities and illicit activities across the borders of neighboring states.
And what really brought this all home to roost that we couldn't just rely on containment was after 9/11 we see these non-state actors, terrorist organizations -- Al-Qaida, bin Laden, others -- terrorists that are trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, seek weapons of mass destruction.
This morning, it was brought home to me once again when I read the transcript of what bin Laden, or who we believe to be bin Laden, will be saying on Al-Jazeera during the course of the day -- and you'll be seeing this as the day unfolds -- where once again he speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored. As the President has said, 9/11 changed things.
And so we have a regime led by Saddam Hussein who has not accounted for all the weapons of mass destruction they've had in the past, who continues to pursue them, and we have non-state terrorist actors such as al-Qaida, led by Usama bin Laden, that would do anything to get their hands on this kind of material.
And as I tried to demonstrate before the United Nations last week, there are linkages. They are not as firm as some would like to see in order to conclude that it is actually happening, but they are firm enough to give us every indication and sufficient evidence that if allowed to continue, if this regime was allowed to continue to develop weapons of mass destruction, it is just a matter of time before coincident interests between the Iraqi regime and organizations such as al-Qaida will raise the likelihood that these kinds of weapons could fall into their hand. And it is that nexus, especially in the post-9/11 environment, that persuades us even more that this is the time to deal with this regime once and for all.
This is not just the isolated view of the United States of America. We brought this case to the Security Council last September 12th when the President, in response to people all over the world saying, "If you have a case, bring it to the Security Council, bring it to the United Nations." And the President did just that. He didn't act unilaterally. He came to the Security Council and made the pitch that Saddam Hussein, notwithstanding containment, after 12 years, was still in clear violation of his obligations.
And then the President charged me to work with the Security Council to come up with a strong resolution that would be a different resolution, not like all of the previous 16, a resolution that had teeth. We worked for seven and a half weeks on that problem and we came up with a resolution, 1441, that was unanimously agreed to by every member of the Security Council that was sitting there on the morning of the 8th of November.
And that resolution clearly says: one, Iraq is guilty, you've been doing this, you're in material breach, we all agree. All of us agreed on that morning that Iraq continued to be in material breach of his obligations, meaning it was guilty of having weapons of mass destruction, of not having accounted for the anthrax, for the botulinum toxin, for the missiles, for all the other programs, for the nuclear program -- all the other things they've been doing. We all agreed.
The second thing the resolution said was we're giving you one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance, one last chance. Not one of ten more chances. One last chance. Put forward a declaration in 30 days that tells us everything you've been doing. Make sure it is complete, full and accurate. All 15 members voted for Iraq to put forward such a declaration.
And then it said we are going to provide a rigid inspection regime, not to play detective running all over Iraq looking for these things, but to work with you in disarming the obligation, and the burden is on Iraq, not on the inspectors.
And finally, we said if you fail to put forward a full, complete and accurate declaration, and if you do not cooperate with the inspectors in helping you to disarm, then this will constitute further evidence of your unwillingness to comply, your ignoring of the will of the international community. New material breaches to pile on top of old material breaches.
And at that point, the Security Council has a responsibility to meet again to consider what serious consequences might be appropriate. We are reaching that moment. We are reaching the moment when the Security Council can no longer look away. The inspectors have reported to the Council on the 27th of January past that Iraq was only providing passive cooperation. Dr. Blix said on the 27th of January that Iraq still does not yet understand, as of that day, that its obligation was to disarm. Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei have now returned from Iraq on their weekend trip and they'll be reporting to the Council this Friday. We all anxiously await their report.
There are some on the Security Council, there are some in the international community, who are saying, well, we just need more monitors. Dr. Blix dealt with that yesterday when asked about it. Dr. Blix said -- not Colin Powell, not President Bush -- Dr. Blix said we don't need more monitors and inspectors, we need Iraq compliance and cooperation. That's the issue, not more inspectors, not more technical means. All the technical means and all the inspectors in the world aren't the answer. The answer is Iraqi compliance, Iraqi full, active, complete cooperation.
And if we had that, we could probably do with fewer inspectors because we would not be running around looking for needles in haystacks. The haystacks would be brought before the inspectors and peeled apart to show you where the needle is or where the needle was and what happened to the needle that used to be there. That's not what we're getting from Iraq. And so while this debate continues, and it is a very vigorous debate, a debate with some of our best friends and allies, reasonable people can argue and debate over this issue, but it is clear that a moment of truth is coming with respect to Iraq and with respect to the Security Council as to whether it will meet its responsibilities.
This is not just an academic exercise or the United States being in a fit of pique. We're talking about real weapons. We're talking about anthrax. We're talking about botulinum toxin. We're talking about nuclear weapons programs. We're talking about chemically filled bombs that are missing and unaccounted for, that Iraq has not accounted for. We're talking about evidence that came from Iraq they acknowledged and admitted under duress and after pressure was applied to them and after the truth was put in front of their face. They acknowledged that these systems existed, and they have not accounted for them.
The United States will not look away from this challenge. And guess what? Nor will many of our friends and allies who, perhaps, are not being heard quite as vigorously as other friends and allies. A group of eight European nations stepped forward not too long ago and expressed their support for President Bush's approach.
Last Wednesday after I spoke before the United Nations, the Vilnius 10, some of the newer free nations in the United States -- in Europe that have a clear understanding of what the future holds and why these dangers have to be dealt with also stepped forward and expressed their support.
Much is being said this morning about disagreement in NATO as to whether or not our Turkish friends and our Turkish ally, our Turkish NATO colleague should be given support in this time of danger. And three of the European nations in NATO are saying, "Well, let's not do it at this time." But 16 nations are saying we should do it at this time. And so while we're hearing a lot about the three, let's remember 16 nations, to include, of course, Turkey and the United States, have stood up for Turkey.
Turkey has now said under Article 4 to the alliance, "We want to consult with the alliance as to what our needs might be." I think that this is time for the alliance to say to a fellow alliance member, "We agree with you. And if you are concerned, we are concerned." That's what alliances are all about and I hope NATO will be doing the right thing with respect to Turkey within the next 24 hours.
With respect to North Korea, Senator, we are following this situation very, very closely. It is not in a second to your position. But it is not a 12-year problem as we had with Iraq, with Iraq invading its neighbors, with Iraq using chemicals against its own people and its neighbors. This is a problem that emerged in recent months. We have been working it for just about three months now.
For a period of years, the international community had been led to believe that North Korea was acting in a way consistent with its obligations under a variety of agreements, a North-South Agreement of the early 90s between North and South Korea where both sides agreed in writing that they would not pursue nuclear weapons. But North Korea was pursuing them. And then the Agreed Framework of 1994 where North Korea agreed to cap its activities with respect to reprocessing material into useable plutonium for nuclear weapons at the site known as Yongbyon. And that was an agreement. And then between 1994 through the fall of 2000, other statements and agreements were entered into between the United States and North Korea. In the fall of 2000, President Clinton issued a statement that essentially said that the United States had no intention, hostile intention toward North Korea and assumed North Korea was following its obligations with respect to nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty dealt with this. The IAEA was dealing with this. And then we came into office in early 2001, we took a long time to examine our policy with respect to North Korea because we were concerned about their proliferation activity. We were concerned about their sale of missile technology and what they were doing. And then after a long review, President Bush authorized me to begin engagement with North Korea. But it was about that same time that intelligence information became available to us, we could put it all together now and see that while everybody was looking at Yongbyon as having been sealed up, North Korea was pursuing nuclear weapons through another technology, enriched uranium.
And so everything they had been assuring us about turned out to be not a good enough assurance. They were working somewhere else. And so we could have ignored it, we could have looked another way, let's not have a problem, let's not have a crisis, let's not call them on it. We didn't.
I met with the North Korea Foreign Minister. This business about we won't talk to them -- I talked to them in Brunei the end of July last year. I asked if he'd like to have a cup of coffee, he agreed. We sat, we talked, I said, "Look. We want to do things for your country. Your people are hurting. But we need to deal with some issues having to do with proliferation and nuclear weapons and the size of the army that you have hanging over the 38th parallel. These are issues we will bring to the table, and we want to have a bold approach as to how we might be able to help you."
He said, "Fine. Let's talk." We then sent Assistant Secretary Kelly in after a few weeks. It took a while because there was a small problem in the region and we had to let that calm down. Assistant Secretary Kelly went in, but he had to say to them right up front that we know about this enriched uranium facility and program that you've got going. They were stunned that we knew it and we would faced them with it. And they thought about it overnight and came back the next day and said, "Yeah. We have it. We do it. We do it. We are trying to develop the capability." They acknowledged it. We had to take that into account.
And they essentially said, "What are you going to do about it?" And what we said is, "This is not acceptable. It puts the whole Agreed Framework and all of the other agreements that you entered into at risk. And it's not going to get you anywhere. We will not be cowed into giving you a new document or a new statement simply because you have agreed, you have admitted this. So let's find a way to discuss this and let's find a way to move forward, but you must be held to account for these actions."
And so over the last several months we have been engaged with the international community, we have called upon the IAEA to meet its responsibilities and they did. The Board of Governors called North Korea to account for its actions. North Korea responded by unsealing Yongbyon. And the Board of Governors of the IAEA will meet again in Vienna tomorrow to see what further action might be required.
We have said to the North Koreans we have no intention of invading or attacking North Korea. We have no interest in that. But we will defend our interests, and we have all of our options available to us. The option we're pushing is a diplomatic one. And we want to do it within a multilateral framework. Why not a multilateral framework? We're forever being accused of being unilateralist. And now when I want to be multilateralist, people are saying, "No, be unilateralist."
But it is a regional problem and affects more than the United States. It affects China. It affects Russia. It affects Japan. It affects South Korea. It affects other nations in the region. And we believe those nations should be part of this solution. We cannot, once again, have a solution that involves some direct engagement between the United States but does not include the rest of the region. The rest of the region can play a role in giving North Korea the kinds of security guarantees it is seeking, but at the same time making sure that this time we remove nuclear weapons as a threat in the Korean Peninsula and do everything we can to help the people of North Korea overcome the economic problems they have -- the problems of starvation and deprivation that is affecting their people in such a negative way and see if we can help them, help this society to deal with their problems and see if we can help them with the transformation that's going to be necessary for them to deal with their problems.
There is a tide of anti-Americanism, and there still is a threat from al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden. But our attention has not been diverted. Every morning the President starts out thinking about and talking to his senior advisors about al-Qaida, what they are doing, and the threats that we are facing. We can handle more than one issue at a time and I think we are doing it rather well.
There is anti-Americanism out there, but there is also a groundswell of support for America. We are having difficulties right now with respect to some of our policies. There are concerns about our policies in the Middle East. The President intends to engage in the Middle East more aggressively than we have been able to in the past now that the Israeli election is over and now that one way or the other we're going to deal with weapons of mass destruction with respect to Iraq.
I think that the current problems we're having with respect to anti-Americanism can be dealt with and can be reversed and changed as we move through to the conclusion of this issue with Iraq, and as we engage more fully on the Middle East peace process. So I think there is still that, that groundswell of support for America even though we are running through some difficult times right now with respect to some of our policies.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, forgive me for taking so long with this opening statement, but Senator Conrad, I won't say "asked for it," but invited it. (Laughter.) [End]
Released on February 11, 2003