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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 > 2004 > December

Interview With Regis Le Sommier of Paris Match

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
December 13, 2004

Note: To be published in the December 22nd issue

(2:00 p.m. EST)

MR. LE SOMMIER: So how was the trip? Were you happy about your role, the trip to Europe and Morocco?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, I was very pleased with all parts of the trip, especially the Morocco part even though there was a lot of commentary about the Palestinian issue. There always is.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yes.

SECRETARY POWELL: The fact of the matter is, everybody talked about reform as well. And we started two entrepreneurship activities in Morocco and Bahrain, a lot of talk about literacy. But always the Palestinian issue is there.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Comes back.

SECRETARY POWELL: As I've said many times, if a child can't read, it doesn't make any difference whether there's a Palestinian state or not. We've got to do something about it.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yes, that's right.

SECRETARY POWELL: And I think that's now taking hold in that part of the world. And these reforms are being launched by the Arabs themselves. It is Morocco that put in place a family law. It is Saudi Arabia that held -- is holding municipal elections.

MR. LE SOMMIER: And we've seen the efforts you're doing for literacy with the young kids.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah.

MR. LE SOMMIER: And you're helping them to learn English and --

SECRETARY POWELL: Indeed, yeah.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I will go back to the trip in Morocco a little later. I wanted to start with, your country is at war. The troops will be in Iraq for quite some time. How do you explain to them that you're leaving at such a critical moment?

SECRETARY POWELL: How do I explain to the troops?

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yes.

SECRETARY POWELL: It's quite normal for this kind of transition to take place, and as much as I love the troops and support the troops, I'm not the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff anymore. And I think it's pretty much understandable that when a first term ends and a second term begins, the President starts to move people around and those of us who have been at it for a while think it's probably good for him to do so.

So I don't -- I haven't gotten any comments. I haven't -- I'm not quitting. I'm just moving on.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yeah. But I'm speaking in terms of the ex-Chairman of Joint Chiefs -- Chief of Staff.

SECRETARY POWELL: That's what I am, though. I've been the ex-Chairman for ten years. (Laughter.)

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay. The U.S. image in the world, especially in the Muslim world, have reached an all-historical low. However, people love you everywhere. Explain this.

SECRETARY POWELL: You explain it. You're the reporter.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I've seen a couple things, but you see them from inside, so tell me. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: No, how could I possibly -- you say everybody loves me. I could dispute that. There's evidence -- (laughter.)

MR. LE SOMMIER: You mean there are people that don't like you?

SECRETARY POWELL: Sure. Sure. I could name you some countries, which I won't, where if I were to visit tomorrow, there might be demonstrations. But I've tried very hard to do my job in a way that is respectful of the views of others, that causes me to listen quietly to what they have to say and to hear what they say and to try to put that into our system as we decide what our policy is going to be.

And to that extent, maybe that is one of the reasons why I have pretty good relations with all of my European, Arab, South American, African and Asian friends, because I've -- that's the way I do my job and the way I've done my job for many years.

I've been in government at senior levels for many years, and I think I have a pretty good concept of what it takes to work with others and to bring people together.

We are at lows in Arab public opinion. With respect, principally, though, to some of our policies, I don't think those public opinion numbers reflect the true view that people have of America. I think that the Iraq war has caused a decline in favorable feelings toward the United States, and certainly the fact that the Palestinian conflict has not been resolved also contributes to it. But in some of the places where we have historic lows, just a few years ago, we had pretty good numbers, places like Egypt.

And so it really is a policy that is causing this, not necessarily permanent anti-American attitude, and if people can find favor in me, as you say, then clearly it is policy and not necessarily anti-Americanism, because they're all still lining up to get visas to come to the United States to work, to go to school, to do other things. And the complaints I get from everybody, it's too hard to get a visa. Well, that doesn't necessarily reflect anti-American attitude. It's anti-American -- some anti-American policy feelings against some of our policies; they don't like some of our policies, and the approach that we've gone about executing some of these policies.

But if those policies produce success, or if they're modified as we go forward, then I think attitudes are going to change.

MR. LE SOMMIER: In a few weeks, you will be out of the State Department. Isn't it frustrating to go all the way to the top as the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and resign, and go again all the way to the top as the Secretary of State and resign again?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, this is life. There -- it's not as if I'm on my way to the cemetery. (Laughter.) I went to the top as National Security Advisor. I went to the top as commander of all Army forces in the United States. I commanded a million troops at one time, Army, National Guard, Reserves, and active duty troops in the United States. So I've commanded a million troops, I've commanded the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I've been National Security Advisor to the President, now I've been the Secretary of State, and another door will open when I leave here.

MR. LE SOMMIER: So what do you -- what higher accomplishment can you expect from life?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't need to go higher. I just need to have work that is satisfying and that is contributing. I did not lobby to become National Security Advisor, I did not lobby to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I did not ask to become Secretary of State.

MR. LE SOMMIER: So you mean --

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't need --

MR. LE SOMMIER: People can lobby to ask you to come back, like the American people, for instance, in 2008?

SECRETARY POWELL: As long as it's not political life.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay. (Laughter.) It's going to be over? No more politics?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no. No more politics in the sense of no elected office.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay.

SECRETARY POWELL: I have no desire to run for elective office. That's not who I am.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay.

SECRETARY POWELL: But I don't know what the future will hold. I'm now -- as I go through these different positions that we've just discussed, I get older each time by about five years, and so I don't know how many more five-year opportunities I have to do something different.

But I'm looking forward to returning to private life and see what private life holds for me, just like I did when I left the Army.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yes.

SECRETARY POWELL: I never thought I'd be coming back into government when I left the Army, but I did. And now I leave this office and I don't know what the future will hold.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay.

SECRETARY POWELL: That's what's exciting about the future.

MR. LE SOMMIER: We're going to go to the past a little bit. Only one American had a career similar to yours, and it's General Marshall.

SECRETARY POWELL: He didn't run for political office, either.

MR. LE SOMMIER: No, he didn't really influence Truman's policy in his time. Do you think you had an influence on President Bush, and did he listen to you?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, most of the time. When we went to the United Nations on Iraq, it was my strong recommendation that we do that. When we went into Afghanistan immediately after 9/11, that was my strong recommendation. There were others who thought we should maybe do Iraq at that point, but it was my strong recommendation that we have to focus on that which is first, and it's Afghanistan, it's the Taliban supporting al-Qaida and al-Qaida is -- are the ones who attacked America -- so go there first; he did that.

He's taken my advice on many issues, whether it's North Korea, how to handle it by getting a six-party framework moving; or Iran, we work with our European partners, but don't join our European partners but work with them and support them and keep international pressure.

If you look at where we are operating multilaterally around the world, you will see we're doing it in Iran, in Korea, in Libya -- we disarmed Libya -- our Millennium Challenge Account, which I know you're familiar with, what we are doing on HIV/AIDS, what we are doing in terms of our free trade agreements around the world, what we are doing with respect to democracy-building activities in our hemisphere, what we're doing in the Sudan, what we're doing in Liberia, what we did in Liberia last year, what we did in Haiti.

All of these things are efforts that I worked with the President on and made recommendations to, our relationship with China, our relationship with the EU, with NATO. I leave here quite satisfied that I gave the President a great deal of good advice and he took a great deal of it.

MR. LE SOMMIER: However, when you asked him, according to Bob Woodward, about Iraq, "you break it, you own it."

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. That's my job.

MR. LE SOMMIER: He didn't -- you wish he would have followed your advice?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no, no. He did follow my advice. When I briefed him in August of 2002 as to the difficulty we would encounter, I wanted to make sure he understood that it would be a very difficult mission if we had to use military force, and he said to me, well, how should we approach it? And what I said to him is, let's take it to the UN. Let's see if we can get a UN solution. If we can't get a UN solution, then you may have to use force. But get the benefit of a UN resolution first, and see if we cannot solve this peacefully, and that's what he did.

I also knew at that time that if the UN was not moving in a way that would solve this, then it would take a war. We would probably have to do it with a coalition of the willing, and I knew at the time that that was the way it might turn out and I was prepared to go all the way with the policy that I recommended: try the UN. If it doesn't work, then we may have to use force.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Another question on your follower, Ms. Condoleezza Rice. Is Condi as tough as the world thinks she is?

SECRETARY POWELL: She's a very determined person. She is very, very smart. She has enormous experience in foreign policy. And yeah, she is tough. And I've known her for many years and she's a very gifted person.

MR. LE SOMMIER: You used to call the U.S. Army "my home, my life, my profession." Where is your heart today?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's at the State Department. This is now my home. For the last four years, I've worked hard here, and I've come to admire so much the people who work in American diplomacy around the world, who put their lives on the line every day, who sometimes lose their lives, and I've lost several people in Iraq recently. And I watch how they go about their business and with their families at all of our embassies around the world. We had our consulate in Jeddah attacked the other day, and we didn't lose anybody, but a number of people who guard our embassy were lost from other countries, including Saudi.

And so I've come to admire this Department and love this Department as much as I love the Army.

MR. LE SOMMIER: When you left Rabat the other day, there were tears in your eyes, and it was very moving. It was -- what are you going to miss the most?

SECRETARY POWELL: The same thing I missed the most when I left the military, and that is the people. My satisfaction, to a large extent, comes from working with dedicated people. But I've also given up command many times. In my profession, which is still a soldier, it is part of life, that you take a unit, you train it to the best of your ability, you work hard, you make it perform, and then you leave.

So leaving is just as natural a thing to me as coming in, and there's another unit out there somewhere waiting. I don't know what it's called, whether it has a private name or a public name, or maybe I'll just sit around for a while playing with my grandchildren.

But leaving is a part of any assignment, and if you just hang around forever, you really are not contributing to the organization that much. So I've been here for four years. It's been an historic four years in a number of ways. Two tyrants gone, doubling the amount of money we're spending on the undeveloped world, the spread of democracy in a number of places. And so I leave a little saddened that I'll be leaving the people that I've come to respect so much, but pleased that I had the chance to serve again.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I have a question on wars. You've been a soldier. You have been waging wars. You have tried to avoid wars many times. How do you react when you see people in the Administration who have never been in the military rush for deployment overseas?

SECRETARY POWELL: It has always been my view that war should be a last resort. And my job as Secretary of State and the job of diplomacy is to solve problems peacefully. Now, diplomacy doesn't work unless the threat of force is there. And in the couple of places we've used force -- four places I'll mention. Afghanistan, this was easy. We were attacked and we knew who attacked us and they killed 3,000 Americans. In my mind, diplomacy is over. We've got to go get 'em. And we did.

In Iraq, we tried diplomacy and even though there may be people who have seen war or haven't seen war who wanted to go to war faster, the President tried diplomacy because I recommended that he try diplomacy.

Haiti was another case where we were faced with a situation where we had to get a change because there was about to be rioting and murder in the streets of Port-au-Prince and other cities of Haiti, and so we sent our troops in February, in early March of this year, in order to stabilize the situation.

And the fourth one I mentioned is in Liberia last year, where we helped the ECOWAS and African Union troops with just a little bit of military presence on the ground.

All of those things I've just described went through the process of diplomacy and then force. Even Afghanistan, which was the easiest case -- he gave the Taliban a chance, remember? We said to them, and when the President spoke to the Congress right after 9/11, he said we're giving an ultimatum to the Taliban: Turn over al-Qaida. So they had a chance. That was their diplomatic way to get out of this. And they didn't.

Well, what should we do then? That wasn't preemption. That was going after an enemy that had attacked us. We did not preempt them. In fact, that's what the 9/11 Commission was all about: Why didn't we preempt them?

MR. LE SOMMIER: So during those years -- these four years, especially -- you've put your prestige, your reputation, on the line for the President. Do you regret anything? Do you -- like especially that February --

SECRETARY POWELL: Je ne regrette rien.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Where did you learn that?

SECRETARY POWELL: (Singing.) Je ne regrette… I love Edith Piaf. (Laughter.) I can listen to her all day.

No, but seriously, I don't -- prestige and putting yourself on the line -- I've been putting myself on the line for most of my life, and you don't -- you don't acquire standing or popularity or approval just to keep it in a drawer somewhere. And so I'm here to serve the President, not to protect my popularity. I'm not a fool, I don't waste my popularity, but when the President said to me a couple of years ago, "You really have to go out to the Middle East. I don't think we're going to make much progress right now and you're probably going to get beat up a little bit, but I need you to do this," right, I'll do it.

And when he said, "I need you to go to the UN and present the case," yes, it's my job. I'm the Secretary of State. Who should I turn to? Who should I ask --

MR. LE SOMMIER: So no fear of the judgment of history?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I can't -- there's nothing I can do about the judgment of history. And what I did going to the UN was to take the case that we all believed. And so if I knew the case was wrong, if I went to the UN falsely, presenting something I knew not to be true, then I would worry about the judgment of history. The judgment of history now will be he presented a case that was not totally accurate. There were no weapons stockpiles. I thought there were. So did everybody else. So did the Congress. So did the President. So did Mr. Blair.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Had you known that they weren't, would you have pressed the case?

SECRETARY POWELL: If I had known there were no stockpiles, I never would have said there were stockpiles.

MR. LE SOMMIER: But would you have pressed the case for the war?

SECRETARY POWELL: That is one of those hypotheticals that I can't answer. I don't know whether their intention and capability to have such weapons, and the questions they had not answered with respect to the germs that they had, the botulinum and the anthrax, those unanswered questions, that would have been -- you know, would that have satisfied the test that we were making as to whether or not we should go to war?

And I've been asked about this before and there are people who are shocked when I say I'd have to rethink it. Of course I'd have to rethink. We all would have had to rethink it. What the answer would have been, I don't know.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I heard you say to the Bulgarian students the other day that a key to success was to learn from your failures.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

MR. LE SOMMIER: What was your failure?

SECRETARY POWELL: I never talk about my failures. I learn from them --

MR. LE SOMMIER: But, still, how can people learn from the thing you learn?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, read my book. (Laughter.)

MR. LE SOMMIER: I read your book.

SECRETARY POWELL: You must have read the French version. (Laughter.)

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yes.

SECRETARY POWELL: L'enfant du bronx.

MR. LE SOMMIER: L'enfant du bronx.

SECRETARY POWELL: I tell a wonderful story about that.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Go ahead.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, let me, before I lose a train of thought.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yes.

SECRETARY POWELL: What I said to the students is -- and I say this to students all over -- everybody has failures every single day, and what you do about it is that you learn from them. Others may have contributed, but that's not the issue. The issue is: What did you do wrong? And once you have figured out what you did wrong, fix others if you have to, but take responsibility yourself. And then once you've analyzed it and you've internalized it, I think I also said you roll it up in a little ball and you throw it over your shoulder, which means I've thrown it over my shoulder; I don't remember my failures to talk to you about it. (Laughter.) I really don't. I don't linger on it because what can you do. You don't get another chance. You can't play the music again and change the notes. It's done.

And so maybe late at night I might think about some of these things, but I never publicly think about them and I never discuss them at any length with anybody or at all because what purpose is served?

Now, the book. This is a funny story. The book is called My American Journey and so we started to sell it overseas. And the British said, oh, no, no, no, we can't possibly call it My American Journey in the United Kingdom; nobody is going to buy a book that says My American Journey. So they said we're going to call it A Soldier's Way. Okay. And then my French publisher -- I'll think of her name in a minute, a wonderful woman who I'm sure you know --

MR. LE SOMMIER: (Inaudible). No, that's not --

SECRETARY POWELL: Name a French publisher, a famous female.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Odile -- no? -- Something?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't think of it.

MR. BOUCHER: We'll find out.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Yeah.

SECRETARY POWELL: It's in the book somewhere.

But anyway, so the French publisher had the same reaction, said we can't possibly call it My American Journey, it wouldn't sell in France -- My American Journey. And so they looked and looked and looked, and thought and thought and thought, and they brilliantly came up with that title, L'enfant du bronx, because they realized even before I realized it and before my American publisher realized it, that the real story is the first few chapters, not the back. So it's not A Soldier's Way, it's not even My American Journey, it's A Kid from the Bronx. And that's what they found interesting in France.

MR. LE SOMMIER: What is left in you today of the kid from the Bronx?

SECRETARY POWELL: Some people would say too much. (Laughter.) I'm still the kid from the Bronx. I don't -- I've gotten a lot older. I've certainly changed a lot. But I'm still in touch with the kids who grew up with me in the Bronx. We're all still close to one another. And I don't think I'm terribly different as an old man than the person I was as a child.

And I have proof of this because when I was writing my book I wrote to the New York City Public School System, my public school system, and I said, "Do you have any of my records?" And they said yes and they handed me all of my school grades, which were exactly what I thought they were -- not very good. But my college found an essay that I had written when I was 17 1/2 years old and had just started college, and we all were required to write a little essay about who we were and what we wanted to do in life. I didn't know what I wanted to do in life; it was before I learned about the Army.

But reading -- when they gave that to me a few years ago, I didn't remember it at all, and it was, you know, like this. And I read it and I could recognize myself now as I was when I was 17, pretty much. What I'd say about myself and how I approach life at 17, this document that I hadn't read in almost 50 years, I can see myself as an old man in that young boy’s document.

A PARTICIPANT: Charming. (Laughter.) I want to see it.

SECRETARY POWELL: No. (Laughter.) I'll show it to you.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I want to go back to Iraq a little bit. You lost the Vietnam War. Is there, on a military point of view, still a chance to win Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, sure. It's a very serious insurgency. The insurgents are not -- are taking losses. They're being hurt. They can also regenerate. The question is: Can they regenerate faster than we can defeat it -- the insurgency -- and can we build up the Iraqi forces fast enough to take over responsibility from us? That's the key. If we can build up the Iraqi forces fast enough to take over from us, and if we can support them with logistics as well as maybe some continued presence, then there's no reason this isn't defeatable.

Vietnam was a case where we didn't have a clear enough strategy. We essentially, toward the end --

MR. LE SOMMIER: You think Iraq has a clear strategy?

SECRETARY POWELL: Elections, constitution, new elections, build up the Iraqi forces, start to --

MR. LE SOMMIER: But when the war started, there was a clear strategy?

SECRETARY POWELL: When the war started, the strategy was to find a way for the Iraqi people to elect an interim government, then a constitution, then a final government. It's been the strategy all along. And when it first started out with Jay Garner, what he did was start meeting with Iraqi officials and Iraqi influential leaders to start to pull together a political system and a political dialogue because there was no political dialogue under Saddam Hussein, which is the point I was making to the President. When you take over this, when we win this war, which we will win, the whole system that's holding this country together is going to go away and we're going to have to replace it and it's going to take time.

And that's what we've got now. We walked away from the Vietnamese in 1973, 4 and 5 and said you're on your own. We didn't do that this time.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay. About the January elections, let's imagine that the Iraqi choose an Islamic theocracy like in Iran. In that case, was it worth it, losing 1,279 -- this morning -- troops for this result?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think that will be the results. I don't want to hypothesize the consequences of such a result. We've seen the Sunnis now coming up with lists, the Kurds coming up with lists, the Shias coming up a list. The Transition Administrative Law that is the governing body of law for the Iraqis right now permits -- or I should put it this way, ensures -- that all parties participate in the government, Sunnis and Kurds as well as Shias. It's going to be a Shia majority, but I sense, the way the Shias are organizing themselves and how they have participated in the writing of the Transitional Administrative Law and the way they've participated in the government, they understand that if it's a Shia-dominated government, which it will be, they have to be respectful for the rights of others. And I don't see anything that suggests it's going to be some radical fundamentalist Islamic regime.

MR. LE SOMMIER: But in case?

SECRETARY POWELL: I see nothing that's indicative of that right now. Will it be Shia majority? Yes. But will it be radical? I've seen no indication of that. I see indications of political debate and dialogue taking place and people trying to figure out how to win an election.

MR. BOUCHER: Time for one or two more.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay. Darfur is a case you've followed very personally. Do you intend to play a peace role over there, a bit like Bill Clinton did in Northern Ireland after his resignation? Do you want to still make it something that you'll be involved in in the future?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, I haven't thought about my future at all yet. I wouldn't say yes, I couldn't say no. I don't know how I'm going to be spending my time, but I hope to be able to deal with issues that might come my way, as I did when I left the Army. I went to Haiti, I talked the generals out of power in 1994; I went to Nigeria to help supervise an election; I supervised an election with President Carter in Jamaica. And so I've done a lot of things like that, but I couldn't tell you that Darfur is going to be one of those things. I don't know what I'm going to be doing. Part of whatever I do will involve that kind of public service.

MR. LE SOMMIER: If I have one remaining question, between France and America, on both side of the Atlantic, everybody said that things are getting better. Quite frankly, tell us the truth: Things are not getting better.

SECRETARY POWELL: You're putting words in my mouth.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I'm asking you.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, you're telling me what the truth is.

MR. LE SOMMIER: I've seen you --

SECRETARY POWELL: That's very good. (Laughter.) You can tell me what the truth is and then ask me to tell you that that's --

MR. LE SOMMIER: I mean, I looked at you at the NATO summit, and I've seen that there's been attempts on both sides to -- but still, things remain basically what they were on the Iraq war, on the issue of involving more NATO in Afghanistan. It seems that there's something that's --

SECRETARY POWELL: Afghanistan -- a French general was commanding ISAF.

MR. LE SOMMIER: That's right.

SECRETARY POWELL: Very good. The French general, I think, is still commanding in Bosnia. We worked with the French in Haiti. I called my French colleague, Dominique, the night this was -- a few days before Aristide left and we closely coordinated on how the situation was developing and we were like this on that issue. And then I went down and visited our troops a few weeks later and there was a French lieutenant colonel reporting to the American Marine commander. On Cote D'Ivoire, when we had the big problem about a month or so ago when the French soldiers were unfortunately killed, that very night Michel and I discussed the situation, we coordinated our statements and we worked our way through that. We've worked together on the expansion of NATO. We've worked together on the expansion of the EU. We work together in the Balkans. We've worked together in many places. Iraq was a big, big problem. And that still has not yet healed.

MR. LE SOMMIER: A big, big problem?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Still today?

SECRETARY POWELL: It was last year, a big, big problem. I mean, the French did everything to prevent us from moving forward and there was a major disagreement. There's no secret here. Also with Germany and a few others, although the majority of the nations in Europe essentially not only stood by us but contributed troops, although public opinion was against what we were doing and I recognize that.

But I'm confident that over time these breaches can be healed, for the simple reason that it is in no one's interest, not in France's interest, it's not in the United States' interest, for Iraq to be a failure. And so that's why the French agreed with the NATO position of putting trainers in. Now, they have some reluctance about putting French troops in with those trainers.

MR. LE SOMMIER: But you're saying that they're putting NATO principles in jeopardy doing that.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, no, you're saying that.

MR. LE SOMMIER: No, one of your statement was --

SECRETARY POWELL: No, one of my statements -- my statement was, hey, fellas, when we agree to something, then we ought to support it. But it's quite common in NATO for 16, or now 26 nations, to agree to something but not all 26 participate in the execution of that something.

Where I was really pressing the point the other day, which has caused some distress in various places, was that we have an international staff and they train together and they work together and they live together and they do all of their planning together. When it's time for that international staff to leave Norfolk, for example, where they are, and go do something in NATO for NATO, this is not the time to say, "Oh, he can't go because we won't let him go." That's not the way you can run effectively an international staff, and that's the point I was making at my press briefing and elsewhere last week.

MR. LE SOMMIER: About the crisis itself --

SECRETARY POWELL: Which particular one?

MR. LE SOMMIER: The one with France.

SECRETARY POWELL: Last year's or --

MR. LE SOMMIER: The 2003 one. Yes, last year. And you had -- there were some hard feelings at one point with Dominique de Villepin, who was your friend, and but --

SECRETARY POWELL: Still is.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Have you seen each other since that --?

SECRETARY POWELL: He was one of the first -- he was one of the first individuals to call me when I announced that I'd be leaving, within a day.

MR. LE SOMMIER: And what did he say?

SECRETARY POWELL: And he sent me a very nice letter. He said, you know, we've worked together very well, we had disagreements, we were -- we had strong disagreements about this issue; we fought it out in front of the UN, we fought it out privately. But you can disagree without being disagreeable. You can have an adversary who is not an enemy.

And as I have been saying for many years, France and the United States find ways to disagree with each other very often, but most of the time we will find a way forward to solve the problem. In Iraq, and joining us in Iraq, we did not find a way forward. But joining us politically in Iraq now so that we don't fail, so that the Iraqi people succeed, is in France's interest, and that's why France voted for 1546 and why it voted for the NATO mission. France has voted for every one of the resolutions except the second resolution, which it said it would veto, a resolution I didn't need in the first place but some of my friends needed -- the British.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Okay.

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay.

MR. LE SOMMIER: Thank you very much.
2004/1396


Released on December 22, 2004

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