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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > May

Interview with French Television 1 (TF-1)

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Intercontinental Hotel
Paris, France
May 22, 2003

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with this agreement between the great powers?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am very satisfied with it. A 14-0 vote brought us all back together again. Syria chose not to participate in the vote. But it shows the international community can come back together, is back together for a single purpose now, and that is to help the Iraqi people. We will lift the sanctions that have been imposed on them now for all these many years. And we will rebuild their infrastructure, rebuild their schools, a free economy, but most importantly, we now have the ability to create a democratic government, responsive to its people, representing all its people, liberated people of Iraq. Now we must help them build a new nation for themselves.

QUESTION: How long will it take for them to govern themselves in a normal way?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will be withdrawing as soon as the job is done. President Bush has made it clear that we donít want to stay there a day longer than we have to. But right now, since weíve conducted a military operation with a coalition of the willing, we have an obligation to run the government until such time as the Iraqi people have created a government of their own. And when that government is up and functioning and prepared to assume all of the responsibilities of government, we want to leave. The United States does not need any colonies, we donít need any more states to add to our 50 states, all we want to do is help the people of Iraq to a better life and then, come back to our shores.

QUESTION: Is it a question of weeks, months?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no, it is a question of longer than that. I canít say whether itís a year, two years, I donít know. Anybody who says they know, they donít know. A lot depends on how quickly security is established and how quickly we are able to create a provisional government that will lead to a full government. It takes time to create a democracy and a functional legislature, a functional judiciary, put in place a constitution, all this takes time. And it seems to me that everybody should be interested in doing it right, not doing it fast, and I think the United Nations, when they passed this resolution, recognized that it will take time. We noticed the resolution asks for a review of the situation in a year, within a year. So certainly, the United Nations in this Security Council resolution recognizes that it is going to take some time. It doesnít mean that we need a new resolution at the end of the year, but letís see where we are in a year. Hopefully, we will be well on our way and I hope, I would love to see an Iraqi government in place next week or next month, but it will be in place when it is the right government and it is prepared to govern the country in a way that the country will not be a threat to its neighbors and not develop weapons of mass destruction and not practice terrorism against its own people, against others, and it will be responsible nation, a changed nation. At that time, we will declare success, and we will leave.

QUESTION: And if Iraq should find itself with an Islamic fundamentalist regime, as in Iran, would the United States consider this a failure?

SECRETARY POWELL: I hope we will be successful, and I am confident we will be successful in persuading the people of Iraq that it is in their interest to have a representative form of government, that takes into account the interests of the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiite, and other groupings within the country in a democratic system. It doesnít mean that it is non-religious. It is going to be a country that has Islamic faith. Turkey has Islamic faith, but it also has a representative form of government. So, democracy and Islam can co-exist. What we do not want to see is a new dictatorship of a kind that we see in, letís say Iran, where you have a theocratic, religious dictatorship, where all the power is in the hands of a few clerics. That, I think we would find to be unacceptable and would not be a successful outcome. I am confident that the people of Iraq do not want to see a government that looks like the government of Iran.

QUESTION: Since you did not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, do you think that at least on that point France was right?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, France agreed that there were weapons of mass destruction when they voted for Resolution 1441. France, along with all the other nations that voted for 1441, acknowledged that Iraq was in material breach of its obligations to come forward with all the information that it had concerning weapons of mass destruction. France along with the others believed that there was still a program there. Now, if France and the United States differ as how to find out about that program, we believe that the inspectors were being deceived and would never get to the answer. So, we believed that after a reasonable period of time with inspectors, without the kind of cooperation that was required by 1441, it was appropriate to use military force. So far, we have found the biological weapons vans that I spoke about when I presented the case to the United Nations on the 5th of February, and there is no doubt in our minds now that those vans where designed for only one purpose, and that was to make biological weapons. Iím also confident that as our experts continue looking through the documentation and interview people they will find out more information.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we disagreed with Franceís attitude, we were disappointed that we were unable to persuade France that they should be a part of this effort to disarm Iraq and get rid of this regime that would not disarm itself. And so, we would have much preferred, as we went into this effort to liberate Iraq, that France would have been with us rather than opposed to, or critical of us. But, you know, that was something that happened several months ago. Now, we are working with France on a new Security Council resolution, helping the people of Iraq. But was there disappointment? Yes. Did we have a major disagreement? Yes. But because we are friends and we have been allies for all these years, a major disagreement isnít going to break the alliance, or the friendship. Will it put pressure on us? Yes. Should we try to work our way through this and see if there are still some rough edges that have to be dealt with? Yes. Letís not pretend there was no disagreement. There was. But you know, you can have disagreements within families just as you can have between enemies. In this case, it was a disagreement between members of a family, in a great alliance, not two nations that are enemies with each other.

QUESTION: And do you still want to punish Paris?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am not punishing France or Paris. I am here. I have just met with my colleague Dominique de Villepin, participated in a G-8 meeting. President Bush will be here, very shortly, to participate in the G-8 meeting in Evian. Will we look at the programs that we have with FranceÖ

QUESTION: Will he speak with President Chirac?

SECRETARY POWELL: I donít know if it will be one-to-one, but I am sure they will see each other. President Chirac is the host of the G-8 meeting. And, President Bush, no doubt, will have a conversation with President Chirac. More likely than not, it will be in the context of the G-8 meeting. I donít think there is enough time for bilateral meetings. But, I am sure they will have the chance to speak to one another. They are all going to be together for the G-8, and the President is looking forward to it. But, France is an ally of the United States. Letís be candid about how it is. We had a disagreement, and we have to review all of he policies that exist between our two nations to see if any modification is required because of that disagreement. But I am confident, that once we have gotten through this difficult period, now that we are back together again on this new resolution, we will have new areas in which we can cooperate in the near-term.

QUESTION: You now have a large dossier in yours hands, one that has existed for fifty years Ė the Middle East Peace Process. Does the Bush Administration, which has the reputation of being close to Ariel Sharon, can it help the Israelis and the Palestinians find a rapprochement?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are working very hard to accomplish just that. We are working closely with the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Abbas. President Bush spoke to him and to Prime Minister Sharon the other day, and we have had representatives from both sides in Washington in the past couple of days to discuss with them how we can bridge the differences. And I, of course, was traveling in the region last week. President Bush is deeply committed to moving forward on the peace process, he is committed to the road map that has been provided to both parties. We believe that the road map is the way that the parties (inaudible) will talk, the only way they will be able to move toward the vision of two states, living side by side in peace. And so we estimateÖ yes, it has been 50 years we have been working on this problem, but we have to keep working on it and never lose faith because both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are in difficulty right now. The economy is in difficulty. We see terror and violence in the territories. It has to be brought to an end. It all has to be brought to an end. We have to find a way for two peoples to live side by side in their respective states. Living in peace.

QUESTION: There have been recent attacks in Morocco and in Saudi Arabia. Does this constitute a setback on your struggle against Al-Qaida.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, what it says is that Al-Qaida is still there. We have dealt Al-Qaida a very serious blow. In Afghanistan, and through the cooperation we enjoyed with France and Germany and so many other countries around the world, go after their networks and rip up the cells, the Al-Qaida cells that are there. We have hurt them a great deal. But we have not eliminated them. I donít know if all the attacks we have seen are Al-Qaida. That is still being determined by law enforcement and intelligence experts. But what it tells me is that they are still there, no matter how much weíve hurt them, they are going to try and hurt us and therefore, we have to redouble our efforts. We must work closely together with intelligence exchanges and law enforcement cooperation, chasing down their finances, and when we find the cells going in and getting them and making sure that no country is allowed to just sit back and be a haven for terrorist networks. And if you are harboring any terrorists then we have to look at you as well as a potential source of terrorism. It doesnít mean go to war, but it means holding countries to account when they are pursuing policies that help terrorists. Thatís no longer acceptable.

QUESTION: Speaking frankly, Mr. Secretary, during this affair of Iraq, did you sometimes feel like a dove amongst the hawks in the White House?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am called many things -- hawk, dove, take your pick. I donít believe in labels, and I donít have to establish my credentials with anybody. Iíve been in war, Iíve fought wars, Iíve sent men into battle. I know what war is all about. I was a soldier for thirty-five years. My job now is to try and find peaceful solutions to problems. Thatís what my President values, my peaceful solutions to problems. And we work very hard, as we did in Iraq, to take it to the United Nations to find a peaceful solution. But I also know as a soldier, that when you canít find a peaceful solution, a diplomatic solution, you must be prepared to use force. Because without force, why would anybody listen to diplomacy without the threat of force. And when diplomacy doesnít work and we threaten to use force, then we have to use that force from time to time. And so, I can be a dove, when it seems appropriate and when the dove is not able to achieve the purpose, I can assure you, I can be a hawk.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much.


Released on May 23, 2003

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