Tags: Powell | Sees | 'Greater | Appreciation | for | Defense' | Europe

Powell Sees 'Greater Appreciation for Defense' in Europe

Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM

Q. Do you think Europe, with going conservative in these recent elections, will be more amenable to that view?

A. It will be interesting to see. ... I'm not sure how much new flexibility you get when the political defining point moves from left of center to right of center. But my inclination would be that there would a greater appreciation for the need for defense spending and enhancing the capability of European forces to go do the kinds of missions that are more likely for them to be out there for them to do.

Q. And in more general terms, do you think you will be less criticized? Will it be easier to work with a conservative Europe, say like the Kyoto and the ICC [International Criminal Court] and a few other items?

A. I don't know. I don't want to prejudge. I think we will wait for the several new governments that are forming now. I think I've had good meetings with my new French colleague at the moment, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the Netherlands. And so I don't think I want to prejudge.

Q. Would you say that transatlantic relations are today in a difficult state? There have been some disputes [inaudible] on the Middle East -

A. I understand that there is a preoccupation in Europe with the difficulty in the trans-Atlantic relationship. ... And I read all of this, and I try to understand the reasons for it. And I know about Kyoto, and I know about the International Criminal Court, and I know the disappointment that exists among our European friends that America does not always share the same view that Europe does with respect to Kyoto or with respect to International Criminal Court, with respect to capital punishment and with respect to some other issues.

But the suggestion that somehow the United States just goes its own merry way without listening to, talking to, or consulting with Europe, I think is a canard. I spend an enormous amount of my time listening to my European colleagues. I can document it with meetings I've attended. I can document with my phone logs. I can document it with the relationships that I've developed with almost every one of my European foreign minister colleagues. I am in constant touch with them. I am listening to them. I'm explaining what we are doing.

When you look at what we did with the Madrid Quartet a few weeks ago, where I stood on stage in Madrid with Kofi Annan and the United Nations being represented by Kofi Annan, with Javier Solana and Josep Pique representing the European Union, and with Igor Ivanov standing there - and I'm being - we are being attacked for not being multilateral or being too unilateral? Why was I there? Why was I doing that? Why do I spend so much time doing that? Because it is important for the United States to be a leader, but a leader needs fellow leaders, and a leader needs other people to work with us in grand coalitions. The President spends an enormous amount of time. I was late coming to see you because he was meeting with the president of Slovenia to talk about NATO expansion. The president spends an enormous amount of time on it as well.

Now, what I will also say is that this is an administration and this is a president that has strong beliefs and values. And when we have a strong belief, we will explain that strong belief to our friends. We will explain it to the world, and we will try to see if we can accommodate what we believe is the right thing to do with the interests of our other friends who might not agree with us. Just because we may not be able to reach an agreement doesn't mean that we don't care or that we are just going off on our own or we don't care what anyone else says. Frankly, the evidence is rather thin that we don't take concerns into account.

The evidence is also there that sometimes when we strike what we believe is the correct position, and we explain and people don't agree with us, it turns out that a few months later, or a half a year later, maybe we weren't all that wrong. The president said "axis of evil" and it was amazing what happened after that in terms of the criticism that came our way, without people saying, wait a minute, we have talked about these countries repeatedly. ... And guess what? The North Koreans now want to talk to us. The Iraqis are trying to pretend that they're behaving better. And the president reinforced his policy that he wants to talk to the North Koreans.

He believes that the multilateral approach to Iraq is correct with both improved sanctions that don't hurt the Iraqi people, and nevertheless a belief that a regime change would help the Iraqi people and would help the region.

And so we will continue to take principled positions that we think are right for us and right for the issue, even when our friends, after the most thorough consultations, don't agree with us.

Q. So your impression that the criticism in Europe for the "axis of evil" approach has been defused?

A. I don't know. You tell me. All the catastrophic things that were supposed to happen because the president used the line have not happened. In fact, I can show you some suggestions of improvement. Because he called it clearly. He said, "North Korea we will meet with any time, any place, anywhere," but please don't ask him not to consider it a member of the "axis of evil." When a regime starves a people, when a regime is in the hands of one single individual, with no pretense that there is any kind of a representative system, when that regime puts all of its money into military expenditures to threaten a neighbor that does not threaten it, what is wrong with calling it a member of an "axis of evil"?

So we realize that sometimes we Americans speak in certain ways that cause distress in certain quarters. But it is not because we were necessarily wrong.

Q. There is a lot of criticism about the U.S. in Europe, but it's also going the other way. There's a lot of Euro-bashing going on here. It's now - and sometimes you can have the impression that anti-Americanism has a sibling, which is anti-Europeanism in the public. And why is Europe part of the political spectrum in this country [inaudible]?

A. What? Give me - I'm the secretary of state of the United States of America. Have you heard me Euro-bash?

Q. No, no ...

A. Do you hear me in any of my speeches Euro-bash? Does the president? Q. I'm trying to understand why there is a perception that it's not public policy, but it's a perception. I'm trying to understand and I'm trying to get your interpretation of a perception.

A. Well, it's your perception. (Laughter)

Q. I don't know, turn on Fox TV. I read commentaries about fair-weather friends, free-riders on security. We could go on forever [inaudible] - and it's certainly there, and it's growing and I'd like to pose the question to you, how do you interpret it, and why is it coming out of American [inaudible]?

A. To some extent, it reflects the fact that we get bashed all the time. I think it may be something of a counter to the - the speed with which Europe always finds fault, some in Europe. I mean, we really do have - we have to stop thinking of Europe as some monolithic thing. As we have discovered, it is no more monolithic than politics in Washington.

And so there are some in Europe who are quick to find fault with any position that the United States might take that we believe is the correct, principled position. We talked about a number of those issues here today. So I think there is something of a reverse spin coming back on the rhetoric, when we say, we invest a huge amount in our defense structure, and have for many, many years, in order to be part of an alliance that has served Europe rather well.

And yet, we manage to draw fire on almost every issue we undertake. Not from all of our European friends, but from some, and sometimes it's others who attack us.

But this churning and this intellectual ferment that we see - does not mean that we are on the verge of some kind of separation or divorce; far from it. I have absolutely no problem, when I testify before my Congress, in getting whatever I need for foreign affairs, and in fact they are increasing the amount of money that I have to spend in terms of - you see nobody in Congress who says, well, let's leave NATO; you see no one in Congress who is in any way taking serious action ... taking serious action which would undercut any of the transatlantic work that I do.

And if you take a poll among the American people, it will be not unlike a poll with European people. NATO doesn't quite have the same cachet that it might have had years ago, because the threat isn't quite there.

It isn't quite the real-and-present danger thing. But what is interesting, you will not find Americans saying, therefore, bring home the remaining troops. No. I get no questions about American presence in Europe and what we're doing in Europe. I get no questions that would suggest that the American people don't understand the importance.

I mean, attitudes with respect to increasing the size of NATO - how many countries should be added - this is a subject of enormous discussion throughout Europe. This is not being discussed out in Duluth or in Kansas City. You want to increase it and people want to join? Great. It's a great club to join.

The Warsaw Pact went out of business; nobody wanted to be in that club. Everybody wants to be in our club.

But the point is - I'm with you; I understand that there is this churning. But I have been in this business for many, many years, and I have never seen a time when there wasn't churning.

Q. But you can understand a person like me getting up in the morning and reading the paper, watching the TV, that myself I'm sort of getting worked up on some of this stuff I'm reading about Europe. And I'm asking myself, what is this about?

A. Well, make sure you take a good stiff drink when you go home. You get up in the morning, put a cold compress on your head and a couple of aspirin, and you'll get through the day. I mean, when I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, back in '90, '91, every day it was whither NATO? I mean, why do we need it anymore? Remember what we went through with the intermediate range nuclear force deployments. ... Does Greenham Common ring a bell?

Q. No. (Laughter)

A. You know what I'm talking about. Greenham Common, and what was the base on the mainland? ... It was in Holland. It's where we put the GLCM, the ground-launch cruise missile. And nobody knows what a GLCM is anymore.

But in those days, there was concern the whole alliance was going to have a huge - every capital in Europe was in arms over this problem. Remember the ladies at Greenham Common? Surrounding the place and marching - don't you dare bring these missiles here. We brought the missiles there, and we survived that, and the alliance was strengthened.

And what did we do about it four years later? We took the missiles out when the INF Treaty was signed. I was proud to sign that one, to be one of the negotiators in that one.

And so there are always these kinds of things within the transatlantic family. And there will continue to be these kinds of arguments within the transatlantic family. I think they are probably more vivid now, because the way we talk about things, and on some of these ...

Q. Can it be the way some of them are being presented?

A. It could be.

Q. This talk of evil and what's good and moral clarity. Could that be sort of ...

A. It could be. I think that has something to do with it. I think we do have a tendency to speak in very clear terms, and we tend to speak in terms where we try to - in the first instance, recognizing there are shades of gray in every situation, but nonetheless, let's start with a clear statement of the black and white, and we'll mix the colors and see where the gray is, which shade of gray we're going to work on.

Q. You're the shades of gray department. (Laughter)

A. The fact of the matter is, it is sometimes useful in order to clear the sinuses and make sure everybody is breathing deeply of the reality of the situation - I'm almost getting poetic now. (Laughter)

It is good sometimes to clear the sinuses and breathe deeply of the reality of the situation, and the reality of what we are facing. And then figure out how to solve the problem, which gets you into the compromises. We are a democratic nation. We know what compromises are. I give long lectures to students about the fact that the United States is a nation where you have constantly got to make compromises. Why? In order to arrive at a consensus. Why do you need a consensus? Because that's how democracies work. But it is also good for one side to lay out a clear position, the other side to lay out a clear position, and let the battle be joined.

And so sometimes we lay out a clear position; let the battle be joined, meaning let the discussion start. Let's have a debate. Europe consists of nations that are our friends. Each and every one of them. Every nation in Europe is a friend of the United States. We have good bilateral relations with all of the nations of Europe. I believe we have good relations within NATO, and I believe increasingly - increasingly - what we have going with the European Union, and the amount of time I spend with the European Union, is a reflection of that.

So I think things are in very good shape, notwithstanding the churning about "axis of evil" or unilateralism or the occasional charges of simplicity, and the occasional ...

Q. Come to appreciate the ...

A. No. Criticize us. If you feel it is appropriate, criticize us. There is a debate taking place - there is a debate taking place on farm subsidies on both sides of the Atlantic. There is a debate taking place on trade issues on both sides of the Atlantic, whether it's steel or on other issues.

But this doesn't mean that we are not mindful of the concerns of our European friends. I mean, I was there just a few weeks ago, and the president sat across the table from Jose Maria Aznar, our good friend, who has the presidency of the EU, and they talked about steel. And the president gave, I think, a spirited defense of the situation he found himself in. And the farm bill, we know there are concerns about the farm bill. And let's discuss these issues and get clarity.

But because there are these disagreements that are always part of a political dialogue. I don't think people should translate that into some new reality that the United States is not sensitive to European issues or is not working with Europe.

Q. Do you think an issue like the Middle East, it would be more efficient for the U.S. foreign policy to reach a consensus with Europe to reach a convergence of views on what's happening in the Middle East?

A. We have. We have. I stood on stage in Madrid with Javier Solana on one side of me, and with Josep Pique on the other side of me, and with Igor Ivanov on the other side of Javier, and with the secretary-general of the United Nations. And we issued a declaration that it only took us two days to write and reconcile among these rather diverse parties, and that declaration contained a common view of how to move forward in the Middle East.

And then, just two weeks ago, the same gentlemen were here in the United States, and we met upstairs for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and we reviewed my trip to the Middle East, we reviewed what happened. We looked to the way forward, and that same group reaffirmed the Madrid declaration here in Washington, and we talked about a way forward. It was at that meeting, three Thursdays ago - if my memory serves me correctly - that I announced on behalf of all of us that we would be convening a meeting, a ministerial-level, sometime in the summer.

Q. The conference?

A. Excuse me?

Q. The conference. A. The conference, the meeting ... (Laughter)

Q. What is it?

A. Whatever I said; take your pick. As the president said to me, what's the difference, Colin? I said, well, I don't know. (Laughter) Meeting, conference ...

Q. Is it still on?

A. Oh, yes. We are going to have a meeting or a conference or a soiree. I don't have a date yet, but the date isn't as important as the fact that a lot of pieces are moving now. Arabs are more involved in what the Palestinians are doing; the Palestinians are talking about the reform; Chairman Arafat has been making some responsible statements. Prime Minister Sharon is staking out his position; the Arabs are staking out their position. Good. As I said before, you have to see what the black and white is before you start picking out where the gray might be, and what shade of gray you might be able to paint the wall.

Q. You can say there is a full consensus between U.S. and Europe ... (inaudible)

A. Your question didn't talk about the total attitude in Europe compared to the total attitude in the United States.

Q. No, my question was ...

A. We talked about the process going forward. We have convergence on that, and that's the question I answered. Is it true that you will tend to get from European audiences if you poll them more support for the Palestinian cause than if you ran the same poll in the United States, where there would probably be more support for the Israeli cause? Yes. That's correct. That's indisputable.

It is also the case if you read the poll that was out last week - sounds like you if you haven't seen it - to an extent that I hadn't expected, public opinion in the United States is very supportive of finding a way forward for both sides, and is essentially neutral as to who is right or wrong; let's find a solution.

And while I was getting a little bit of criticism on my travels around the Middle East, a very high percentage of Americans supported that trip. I think it was in the high 70s. And 82 percent of all Americans were supportive of the United States playing a role in bringing the two sides together.

So the bottom line is that, in my view, we are working very well with Europe. The president is looking forward to his visit next week to Europe. He will speak in a powerful way I think in Berlin. He will then go on to Russia. He will meet with President Putin; he will sign an agreement. He will visit St. Petersburg to enjoy the beauty of Russia and the culture of Russia. ... He will be in France briefly, speak in Normandy, talk about what we did together as an alliance some years ago, and why that alliance is still strong. And then he will go to Rome, and south of Rome, at the air base. All of the NATO members will sign an agreement with Russia for the NATO-Russia Council.

So for all of the concerns about the strength of the trans-Atlantic relationship, and with all the concerns that you have communicated to me today about is America going off, is there a distinct problem with Europe, I have to sit back and say, wait a minute. Monday we announced the treaty, and we didn't blow up the strategic framework, but enhanced it; Tuesday, I was in Iceland, and I met with my NATO colleagues, and we resolved the NATO-Russia Council; I then met with the European Atlantic Partnership Council, 46 nations talked among themselves about shared values and shared responsibilities.

I talked to the Vilnius Nine about how many of them - work hard, some of you will be getting into NATO. And then my president is going next week, and he's going to be in several capitals in Europe, and he's going to be signing a treaty in Russia, signing an agreement in Rome. This doesn't seem to me to be a relationship that's on the verge of breakup.

Copyright 2002 United Press International

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Q. Do you think Europe, with going conservative in these recent elections, will be more amenable to that view? A. It will be interesting to see. ... I'm not sure how much new flexibility you get when the political defining point moves from left of center to right of...
Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM
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