Interview on CNN's American Morning
Secretary Colin L. Powell New York, New York September 13, 2002
MS. ZAHN: Secretary of State Powell, welcome. Good to have you with us on American Morning.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. Good morning, Paula.
MS. ZAHN: Do you think war is inevitable?
SECRETARY POWELL: War is never inevitable, and the President did not come to the United Nations yesterday to declare
war. We came to the United Nations to lay out a case against a regime and an individual leading that regime that for ten
years has violated UN instructions, has violated international law. And everybody has been suggesting that the United
States should present its case to the world community, and that's what the President did today: He put the problem
square where the problem belongs, before the United Nations Security Council.
MS. ZAHN: If you are able to get a resolution together that will get inspectors back into Iraq, do you think Saddam
Hussein might surprise the world and comply?
SECRETARY POWELL: I gave up predicting what Saddam Hussein might or might not do many, many years ago. And we are not
focusing on the inspectors at this point. We want to talk to members of the Security Council this morning, my colleagues
from the 14 other countries of the Security Council, make sure they understood the President's speech, the determination
and the power behind his speech, and see how they would like to proceed. I think we need resolutions that record this
indictment against Saddam Hussein and talks about actions that would be required of the Iraqi regime and what actions
the international community might take in the event that he continues to violate yet another resolution.
But this resolution, or resolutions if it turns out to be more than one, they have to be tough, they have to have
deadlines on them, and they cannot be resolutions of the kind we've had in the past that the Iraqis can simply walk away
from with impunity.
MS. ZAHN: So are you saying these initial resolutions will not then set any sort of timetable for inspectors to go back
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we'll see what they set. But they have some ideas that go beyond just the issues of inspectors,
and I'll be presenting those ideas to my colleagues in the Security Council.
MS. ZAHN: Let's talk, though, about what you might have to face down the road, and that is the issue of inspections.
Vice President Cheney has said he thinks inspections are dangerous, he thinks they would provide a false comfort. How
much faith do you have in restoring the concept of legitimate inspections, if that's the way this resolution reads over
SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's very accurate, as the Vice President noted, to view inspections with some skepticism.
The first seven years of the inspection regime, they found out quite a bit. They destroyed a lot of material. But they
didn't find out everything, and it was only later we discovered some of the other things that Saddam Hussein was doing.
So inspections in and of themselves won't solve the problem entirely, but they are a tool that can be used and I think
the Vice President was correct in saying we have to be skeptical and we should not think that just because you got
inspectors back in this problem is solved. It's just one tool that could be used.
But the issue of inspectors is not uppermost in our mind here in New York this morning with the Security Council. The
nature of the indictment that's been laid before the international body on what Saddam Hussein has been doing for the
last ten years and to try to achieve consensus within the Security Council on what we should do about it and how we can
put a deadline on our actions so that he cannot continue to just walk away from these obligations and to treat the
United Nations with this kind of disrespect.
MS. ZAHN: So as you're trying to achieve this consensus, can you explain to us this morning why you think the UN has
allowed for Iraq to violate more than 16 longstanding resolutions?
SECRETARY POWELL: Because in the course of this 11- or 12-year period when these violations occurred, the United
Nations was not prepared to take action against the violations. President Clinton in 1998 executed air strikes against
Iraq, but that didn't solve the problem, and the UN did not have sufficient inclination or strength, I guess, political
strength at that time, to take any more aggressive action.
This time, President Bush feels very, very strongly that you cannot just look away, you cannot allow Iraq to flout the
will of the international community. And we must come together to deal with this crisis or it tends to make the United
Nations somewhat irrelevant. We can't have an irrelevant United Nations. It's a powerful, important international
organization. It has a mandate from its founding charter that instructs it to deal with issues like this. And that is
the point that President Bush was making yesterday.
MS. ZAHN: We have 20 seconds left. Do you believe that the UN has the inclination this time around to make these
SECRETARY POWELL: I think that the UN will take it much more seriously this time around because of the determination
shown by President Bush to make sure we do something this time and not let Saddam Hussein walk away. And I'll be testing
that proposition in the course of today and in the days and weeks ahead as we structure these resolutions.
MS. ZAHN: We wish you luck. We know the weight of the world is on your shoulders and we know how treacherous it is to
get things through the Security Council when you're trying to create some kind of consensus. Thank you very much for
dropping by this morning. We appreciate your time.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Paula.
Released on September 13, 2002