'No One Wants War,' But It May Be Necessary, Powell Says
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2003 "No one wants war," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said today, "but sometimes it's necessary when you need it to maintain international order."
The crisis with Iraq is reaching a "moment of truth," Powell told members of the House International Relations Committee. Will the U.N. Security Council be able to impose its will on Iraq? Will war be necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime?
"The president still hopes it can be resolved peacefully," Powell said.
The retired general was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War. He reminded committee members that he has seen war and doesn't like it.
"I've sent men in(to) war. I've seen friends die in war," he said.
Yet, the United States is prepared to lead a coalition under U.N. auspices, he continued, or it will lead a coalition of the willing if the United Nations will not act. "And it will be a good coalition, a strong coalition," Powell said.
The United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and many of the newly independent European states that "understand the consequences of not dealing with a dictator when one should" are solidly on the U.S. side, he said.
Some other European nations, however, are calling for more inspections and more time, and to them Powell said, "Just to say we need more inspectors is a way of delaying, of diverting attention from the basic proposition that Iraq is not complying, and (U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441) spelled out clearly what should happen at that time."
The United States "will not shrink back from the obligations we undertook when we worked to get that resolution passed," he stressed.
Powell said he's been asked how the Muslim world might react to seeing "infidels" in Iraq. He said he replied: "Nobody complained when "infidels" went into Kuwait to save the people of Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion. We were welcomed by the Muslim population of Kuwait.
"Nobody talked about 'infidels' when we acted in Kosovo a few years ago. Nobody talks about 'infidels' when we're in Afghanistan today, because what the Afghan people are learning today is what the people of Japan and Germany and so many other places have learned over the years -- America comes in peace.
"America comes as a partner. America comes to help people to put in place better systems of government that respect the rights of men and women. America never comes as a conqueror," Powell said. "America comes to do the principled thing in the interest of peace and in the interest of stability, and that will continue to be the philosophy by which this president runs our foreign policy."