Tags: Powell: | U.S.- | European | Tension

Powell: No U.S.- European Tension

Monday, 20 May 2002 12:00 AM

In a plain speaking, wide-ranging interview with a group of European journalists released Monday, he said he spent a great deal of his time talking to his counterparts in Europe. Differences of view were sometimes inevitable, but the long-term consequences were never as dire as some Europeans predicted.

Powell said some Europeans seemed "disappointed" that the predicted "horrible consequences" of the U.S. rejection of the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia had not transpired. All the "catastrophic things" that were supposed to result from President Bush's "axis of evil" speech have not happened either.

Extracts from the question-and-answer interview follow:

Q. Can I start on the issue of the treaty to be signed in Moscow, the nuclear arms reduction? It seems like it is something that the U.S. wanted to do anyway. It's not very restrictive. It doesn't require any dismantling of arms. And the same for Russia – had to destroy missiles anyway. What was the point of having a treaty?

A. The Russians wanted a treaty, and the reason they wanted a treaty was because, in fact, it does reduce the level of arms that both sides have immediately available under the deployed status. It says that at the end of this treaty period, both sides will not have more than between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads mated up with launchers.

You may have lots of other warheads that are in various states of dismantlement, waiting to be dismantled, or being kept as reserves or test weapons, test items – I don't mean set them off, but to test them for reliability and safety.

But in fact, both sides now for this treaty period of 10 years will meet twice a year in an implementation committee to review the progress to going down. There will be visibility. There will be transparency. They will be able to watch what we are doing. We will be able to watch what they are doing. At the end of that treaty period, they will be able to come and look and will not find more than 1,700 to 2,200 warheads married up with launchers.

What we actually do with our respective stockpiles will be national judgments. I expect that the Pentagon – and the Pentagon gets very nervous when I speak about the Pentagon, because I used to be at the Pentagon – but I'm sure the Pentagon will do everything they can to reduce stockpiles because we don't want to spend more on these kinds of systems than we have to. The Russians also want to get their numbers down. But even if we had somehow made some deal on what to do with the stockpile warheads, the real constraint is the fact that we can only take apart so many of them a year, both we and the Russians. ... It doesn't mean we have to have 2,200 or we have to have 1,700. In fact, one can make the case the Russians may go even lower than that. It's a ceiling.

So I think it is good. The reasons the Russians wanted it, and we agreed to it, as a symbol and as a sign of the closeness of our relationship and our willingness to be sensitive to their needs and their interests, they wanted this to be more than just a political declaration between two sitting presidents. They wanted something that was between two governments and ratified by two parliaments and something that would outlive the two presidents and would show some predictability in the future. I think they got that. ...

Q. There's been concern for human rights ... that part of the price of cooperation with Moscow has been that Putin and the Russian government have a free hand in Chechnya to do whatever.

A. Not at all. ... We constantly point out to the Russians there is a difference between terrorists and those who may be part of other kinds of movements, and that we have told them they really should work harder to find a political solution, and because they are fighting terrorists does not give them a free hand to abuse human rights or to use their military in a way that would suggest the abuse of human rights. We haven't stepped back from that. It has been part of our continuing dialogue with the Russians.

And, also as part of that, we are today, in fact, starting to move our teams into Georgia to help train Georgian forces so that they can be more effective in the Pankisi Gorge. ...

No, the one thing the treaty did not do, nor will the political protocol, it will in no way inhibit our ability to pursue our missile defense programs. As you know, the ABM Treaty will lapse the middle of June, the 13th, if my memory serves me correctly. We look forward to working with the Russians as we move forward in missile defense to share our ideas with them, to hear their ideas and see in what ways we can collaborate or enter into cooperative arrangements.

Q. Do you think that the resistance of some of your allies will be easier to (inaudible)?

A. I don't know. You know last year we spent a good part of the year with everybody saying you cannot even imagine leaving the ABM Treaty; it is the centerpiece of the entire strategic concept. The Russians were saying, if you pull out this one key, the whole house will collapse on itself. And if you do this, the other terrible thing that will happen is you will launch an arms race that will just be so destructive, and the Chinese will do all sorts of horrible things.

We listened. We listened carefully, because you have to take those kinds of concerns into account. But the more we talked to the Russians and the more we explained to them that we were talking about defending ourselves against a limited attack, not the kind of attack that they could mount against us; and as we talked to the Chinese and said, look, you have your rather modest-sized strategic force, you have never tried to make it larger, you've never grown it, and you have not aggressively tried to modernize it, although you'll have to modernize it – we understand that – but we are not going to do anything that's going to cause you to do anything other than what you're doing now. So watch us.

So in the course of 10 months we explained that to everybody. We consulted. We listened to the Russians and then we were not able to work out with the Russians a way for us to do our testing inside the confines of the ABM Treaty. The president sent me over in early December and I sat down with President Putin and told him that we had to move beyond this, get out of the treaty. I went and spoke to my German, French and Italian colleagues and the prime minister of Great Britain, the chancellor of Germany and the president and prime minister of France, and explained it to them. They all wished we weren't going to do this, but we did it. And as President Putin said to me when I got through with my briefing, he said, "Well, we think you're wrong. We wish you would not do this. But it will not change the strategic reality that we do not feel threatened," he said, "and we will continue moving ahead with our strategic dialogue. And he said, "The one good piece of news about this is that it will be behind us. We won't have to keep arguing about this."

And then when we made our announcement and had choreographed with the Russians when we would make our announcement, Mr. Putin not only expressed his disappointment and said it would not change the strategic situation however, and they did not feel threatened, but he went one step beyond that; he announced his strategic reductions that same day on the 13th of December.

So when you look back on it, the ABM Treaty is about to lapse, the geo-strategic situation is not collapsing, and no arms race is breaking out. So I still don't know why anybody, and especially my European colleagues, would find some horrible tragedy about to befall us because we left the ABM Treaty and we are pursuing missile defense.

Q. Are you implying that [the Europeans] were wrong?

A. I laid out the case that all of the horrible consequences that some were speculating would befall us have not befallen us, and they almost seem disappointed that it hasn't – that all these horrible consequences did not befall us.

Q. But in Reykjavik last week, there was a happy funeral celebrated for the Cold War, but some critics said there was another funeral, and that is for NATO as a fighting force with Russia having a say in NATO and it will be, they say, little more than another political body like OSCE. Now, what role do you see for NATO at 21, 25 or 27 in the future?

A. The same role that NATO has performed successfully for the last 50 years. NATO has not lost any of its authority or ability to operate as an alliance at 19. NATO will continue to play a political role in reflecting the values of democracy and freedom of the great North Atlantic community. All of the nations of NATO, those present and those that will join, will have a connection – a strategic, political and military, and alliance and protection connection – to the United States of America and to Canada. So that role will continue. NATO can act collectively in its self-defense, and increasingly it will have opportunities to perhaps operate outside of the confines of Europe and North America.

When Russia is in the room with us with the NATO-Russia Council, ... and we have already started to discuss with the Russians the kinds of things we can do at 20. And I think you saw that also out at Reykjavik, and I think that list will grow over time as we get to know one another better in the context of this new council. ...

I remember Igor Ivanov at the meeting we had last fall very cleverly made the point, "We understand that this means that Moscow cannot veto anything that NATO at 19 wishes to do, and it also means NATO cannot veto anything that Russia may wish to do as a free and sovereign nation." So I don't think it hurts the alliance. I think it strengthens the alliance in an important way; it brings Russia closer to the West, and the West closer to Russia. And that certainly has to help stability in Europe.

And it has also, I think, helped defuse some of the concerns that we heard all last year and this year that if we ever dreamed about expanding NATO into the Balkans, this would be a major crisis with Russia. The alliance is considering a robust expansion, as you heard in Reykjavik. I don't know who will come in under that robust expansion, but you do not hear any longer concerns that if the invitation should include the Balkan states, this will create a crisis with Russia; whereas a year, year and a half ago, two years ago, that's what you heard everywhere.

Q. Now, there are terms like "a coalition of the willing," or "mission defines allies, not allies define mission" that have become fashionable in Washington. Where does this administration see Europe and NATO in its framework of different alliances that it has?

A. NATO gives you a military organization, and within the military organization there are many, many capabilities. And we often think in terms of sending tanks and planes and things like that, but there is something else in that alliance that is exceptionally useful, and I have used it many times in my former life as a soldier. And that is inside of NATO we have countries and units that have trained together, that have common doctrine, that are interoperable – not as much as we would like, but are interoperable.

And that is an important capability that NATO provides. So when we went to Desert Storm, it didn't take a lot to put on the battlefield French units and British units and American units and American army units and Marine units. Sometimes getting the American army and the American Marines is more difficult to glue together than the American army and the British army. But they came with common understandings of war. I saw the same thing when we did the one in northern Iraq after the war, and then we had the ...

Q. Northern ...

A. No, I'll think of it. I'll think of it. But we sent General Shalikashvili, who some of you may remember became SACEUR, but he was a three-star at the time, and I sent John Shalikashvili into northern Iraq and Turkey to put this thing together quickly. And I went in to visit him about a month later, and we had never put out a master plan or an op order about how this was going to work, but John had about, I don't know, a dozen NATO countries that all just sent troops there. He found the Luxembourg platoon standing there one day. Where did they come from? I don't know. They just showed up. Give them a mission. And he did. And he gave this platoon a mission. It was just – we want to be a part of this.

So when I look at Afghanistan and I see that there are 14 NATO countries that are doing something in Afghanistan, either in ISAF or working directly with our Central Command, or doing something else, and seven of those NATO countries are in combat, should I say NATO isn't there? Or should I say it's great we have this basket of capabilities to draw from?

Q. Perception really is that there is a division of labor – the U.S. fights, the Europeans either fund or keep peace.

A. Tell that to the British troops who are fighting –

Q. Well, the British are the only ones with the major capabilities from the West.

A. That's not just, that's just not the case. There are special forces and commandos who are there from a number of nations, and the list is known to you. But it's also true that nobody has, no other nation has the kind of lift capabilities, sustainment capabilities, logistics capabilities, communications and intelligence and satellite capabilities that the United States has. So we will always tend to be the major partner in any of these kinds of operations, and, in fact, what you heard in Reykjavik earlier this week as well was me pressing, and all of the others pressing, and Lord Robertson pressing, on the need for Europe to develop more of these kinds of capabilities. We think Europe needs to do more.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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In a plain speaking, wide-ranging interview with a group of European journalists released Monday, he said he spent a great deal of his time talking to his counterparts in Europe. Differences of view were sometimes inevitable, but the long-term consequences were never as...
Monday, 20 May 2002 12:00 AM
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