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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Interview on CNN Turk

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Washington, DC
August 29, 2002

(As Aired)

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Second, Americans want to have security inside of the United States so people are asking for more security at airports, people are asking for more security in our homeland, as President Bush recognized right away. He talked about the need for a Homeland Security Department, something we've never had before, and I hope that our Congress will pass that legislation soon.

The other thing is I believe it reminded Americans of how connected we are to the rest of the world. We've now had millions of dollars, $135 million taken out of the international financial system by all kinds of countries against terrorism. Our allies like Turkey, NATO, other allies stood with the United States. So I believe it's very much reminded Americans of our place in the world and how important that connection to the rest of the world is.

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One thing that hasn't changed, though, and I think it's important for and I hope your listeners to believe, is that the United States is still interested in the bigger issues in this world, in aid, in democracy, in the rule of law, and we're still talking about those things and we still very much believe in those things. And so we, for example, noticed the important changes that Turkey made earlier in August in terms of democracy and we think that as we work to improve our democracy, we hope other countries will as well. We won't succeed in this war against terrorism unless the end includes respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law, free markets and free people.

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So this idea somehow that it is our objective to do things alone, I don't think is supported by the facts. Look again at Afghanistan. All nineteen of NATO’s members have participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in some way. The International Security Force in Afghanistan is all non-American. We have worked with the Filipinos in the Philippines, we work with the Yemenis in Yemen. So this idea that we're out to do this ourselves isn't sustained by the facts.

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But if you say to me is Afghanistan different than it was on the 7th of October last year, I say the difference is immense: Al-Qaida is smashed. The Taliban is decapitated. Women and girls are back in school. There's a general democratic government in Afghanistan, and the international community is paying attention. Is everything perfect there? No. But have we made progress there since the 7th of October? I think we've made immense progress there, and that's something that we and Turks and others should be proud of.

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But our President has also said he's not made a decision about how to go forward, he wants to consult with friends and allies. And I would say that one of the ways he's showed that that was true was in calling the Turkish President over the last couple of days, and I think they had a very good conversation. We want to talk to the rest of the world about this, again I think showing that our objective is not to be unilateral.

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Turks have suffered, as we have suffered, over the years from terrorism, and so not only did we get sympathy and solidarity from Turkey after the 11th of September, we got real support. And Americans won't forget that, and I think that the whole profile of Turkey and the importance of Turkey has improved. Things that the Turkish Government and Turkish people have accomplished in this last year also contribute to that.

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You're very welcome.
Marc, always great. Thank you very much. It's good to talk to you.
No, my views on that is that Turkey is a democracy, Turks will choose what kind of government they want, Turks will choose who they want to lead them, and I'm sure Turkish people will make the right choice.
Now, I'm sure you are following the elections and all the ongoing battles in Ankara leading to elections. Do you have any preference, any party, or do you want to see anybody who can take the power? Do you have any views on that?
If you ask someone like me, I would say that I've always known that Turkey was an important country and a key ally. I would say to you that after the 11th of September more people in Washington and more people in the United States recognized that fact than before. And that's a very good thing.
Lastly, Marc, how has the 11th of September changed Turkey's place in Washington's view? How are things different?
Well, again, as you and I have had this conversation over the years, we've not asked or demanded anything of Turkey. Turkey has to make its own decisions. But I think of all the people in this world, Turks know and Turks understand what the problem is in Iraq and what the problem is in Baghdad: it's the possibility of a refugee crisis, it's the possibility of weapons of mass destruction, it's the continued repression of that population. And so we're in this conversation with our Congress and in the administration with the rest of the world, and as I say, President Bush had a very good conversation with your president and we'll see how these things go.
One more question on Iraq. How imminent and what do you expect Turkey to do?
Well, again, I know that we're supposed to be talking here about September the 11th, but I think our President has been absolutely clear about Iraq, which is to say that here is a state that supports terror, here's a state that for 11 years has been pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and the last three or four of those years no inspectors are there; here's a state, as Turks know better than anybody, which represses their own people. And so the President has said and we say that Iraq would be better off if Saddam Hussein wasn't the leader of Iraq.
Marc, we were talking about the war against terrorism, now we're talking about Iraq, a military operation against Iraq. Do you think that it's a part of the fight against terrorism?
Absolutely. Every single report we have on the Turkish contingent, not only the Turkish contingent but the lead of the International Security Force, is that they are professional, they are great leaders, and they are just where the international community needs there. I think this is a great thing for Turkey and a great thing for NATO and a great thing for US-Turkish relations. We are very proud of that group and I hope Turkish people are as well.
How is the Turkish contingent playing in Kabul? Do you have reports on that?
If you say to me is the war in Afghanistan over, I say the answer to that question is no. There are clearly still pockets of al-Qaida. There are clearly still supporters of the Taliban. The government in Afghanistan still needs support, just as Turkey is supporting Kabul today.
Yeah, but is it a success? The war in Afghanistan, did you win? I mean, the guy is still running around.
No, definitely not. And I would say if you look at everything that we have done since the 11th of September, we haven't done any single thing without another country. What was the first organization that we went to? The United Nations, a multilateral organization. It was NATO that invoked Article 5, a multilateral organization. Secretary Powell on the 11th of September was sitting in Lima, Peru with the Organization of American States. They supported us -- a multilateral organization.
There has been quite a lot of criticism from Europe thatthat United States has become such a big power, so strong, that you don't care any more about other nations. I mean, you were much more cooperative before but now you just pick a target and you hit it. Is that a new American approach after 11th of September?
Overstretching? No. The United States of America has the purpose and the will and the capacity to take on this global war on terrorism; but very importantly, it's not something we wish to take on alone, it's something that we wish to be part of an international effort against terrorism. For example, who is the leader of the International Security and Assistance Force right now in Afghanistan? Turkey. A hundred and sixty countries around the world have arrested 2,400 people suspected of terrorism around the world. So we're not in this alone. We don't feel we're in this alone. And because we have close allies and close friends like Turkey, we don't feel overstretched.
No, overstretching.
Overstepping? I don't think so.
Overstretching.
Are you asking me if we're overstepping or overstretching?
Marc, the fight against terrorism is a global one, but some people argue that United States is overstretching herself. Do you believe that?
It changed in one important way, which is that the issue of terrorism, as you and I have talked about before, have gone to the top of our agenda. They were always on our agenda, but now they are at the top of our agenda because the United States, and as I say the world, is under attack from these groups -- al-Qaida and sympathizers and people like them. So we've focused on that.
Now let's look at the other side of the coin, US policy. How did 9/11 change US policies because they are not the same.
People in the United States have come to recognize a number of things. First of all, that this globalization that we all take as an advantage still is a very important thing to Turkey and to the United States, but these terrorists used the seams of globalization to attack us. So there is some work to do in that area.
But when you say public opinion, tell me a little bit about what is on Americans’ minds, tell me a little bit about the man on the street, the kids at school, how has the American attitude changed?
I think it's galvanized American public opinion. I mean, one of the things that ties Turkey and the United States together is that we have always, always, the two of us, been opposed to terrorism. But in many ways, internally to the United States, that's been a theoretical proposition. We've had terrible things happen to us abroad, but internally, with the exception of some internal terrorism like Oklahoma City, nothing like this had happened to us before. So this has galvanized American public opinion and people want an end to terrorism and they want people to join us in ending terrorism.
Now let's talk about the impact. What kind of an impact did 9/11 have on US public opinion?
When I think back on that day, I think of the first plane hitting, and maybe that could be an accident. Who knew? But when the second plane hit and then -- you've been in my office, you know that from my windows I can look out on the Pentagon, and we saw that plane go into the Pentagon after 9:00. Everybody knew at that time that not just the United States but the world was under attack because it wasn't just Americans who were killed; there were Turks and 89 other countries had people killed that day.
So he saw right away that it was a terrorist act? I mean, because we thought that at the beginning it was kind of an accident.
I was here at the State Department, and it's a set of moments I'll never forget. I was in the Deputy Secretary's office and someone passed him a note that one plane had hit the World Trade Center, and a few minutes later the second. And I'll never forget Deputy Secretary Armitage; he turned right to me and he said, "This is terrorism. It's not an accident. This is terrorism." And we spent the rest of the day here obviously looking after our people, looking after our building, and trying to support the President and the Vice President.
Marc, today is the 11th of September, and the first thing I want to ask you, where were you at that time?
It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much.
Marc, good morning. Good to have you there.


Released on October 4, 2002

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