Interview on Tokyo Broadcasting System International with Shigenori Kanehira
Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC April 15, 2004
MR. KANEHIRA: Thank you so much, Secretary. We just received the good news from Baghdad that three Japanese civilian
hostages have been released in Baghdad.
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
MR. KANEHIRA: What is your reaction?
SECRETARY POWELL: I'm very pleased. I was very worried about the Japanese hostages and I'm so pleased that they have
been released and they are safe.
MR. KANEHIRA: However, the group that took the four Italian hostages, they are taking as four Italian hostages. I'm
sorry. However, that group that took four Italian captives claimed that it killed one of the hostages because Italian
Prime Minister Berlusconi rejected its demands that he withdraw Italian troops.
It seems to me that both Prime Minister Koizumi and Berlusconi reacted in the same way. What do you think of the
different outcome -- the reason for different outcome?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know. We don't know who these criminals are who are holding hostages, and we regret
that one of the four Italian hostages was killed.
The important point here is that both Prime Minister Koizumi and Prime Minister Berlusconi realize you can't give in to
terror, you can't allow yourself to be put at the mercy of terrorists.
We regret any hostage situation. Nobody wants to imagine what it would be like for a member of their family to be taken
hostage, and we will do everything we can to rescue these people.
But you must not give in to the hostage-taker. You must not say, "Oh, it's okay, we will now do what you want." Because
they will just place new demands on you.
The civilized world must stand against this kind of activity, and I am pleased that Prime Minister Koizumi, Prime
Minister Berlusconi, President Bush, President Blair and other leaders have the courage to stand up against this kind of
threat from terrorists.
MR. KANEHIRA: In the history of the modern nation, it is said every government has an obligation to protect their own
citizens. Some people in Japan are saying that those who are kidnapped are willing to take risk and they were expected
to assume the responsibility for their own act. What is your comment?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, everybody should understand the risk they are taking by going into dangerous areas. But if
nobody was willing to take a risk, then we would never move forward. We would never move our world forward.
And so I'm pleased that these Japanese citizens were willing to put themselves at risk for a greater good, for a better
purpose. And the Japanese people should be very proud that they have citizens like this willing to do that, and very
proud of the soldiers that you are sending to Iraq that they are willing to take that risk.
But even when, because of that risk, they get captured, it doesn't mean we can say, "Well, you took the risk. It's your
fault." No, we still have an obligation to do everything we can to recover them safely and we have an obligation to be
deeply concerned about them. They are our friends. They are our neighbors. They are our fellow citizens.
MR. KANEHIRA: According to the latest information, Usama bin Laden sent an audiotape with the intention to divide the
coalition of European countries with current security situation increasingly unstable. What are the implications for the
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he is exactly what we have told the world he is -- a terrorist -- and we have to reject any
demands that come from him. You can't negotiate with Usama bin Laden. He is a terrorist. He is a murderer. And he must
be seen as that and he must be brought to justice.
And I hope that, because of this tape today, the world will once again see him for what he is and come together even
more strongly than we have in the past in this common fight against terrorism.
MR. KANEHIRA: The last question. I read through your biography, My American Journey. It's very impressed. And your
government scoffed at the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam that have been made. However, increasingly, the American
media is making a comparison and the American public are more and more seeing the similarities.
And even if it is a false comparison, as the Administration argues, what is the danger of this perception perpetuating
in reality if a complete exit strategy is not soon discovered?
SECRETARY POWELL: We do have a strategy. And what makes Iraq different from Vietnam or any other conflict is that it's
Iraq, not Vietnam; it's Iraq, not Lebanon. It's Iraq.
And we have a clear strategy of what we're trying to achieve in Iraq. The first goal we had was to remove a regime, an
evil regime, a dictator. He's gone. We did that. We accomplished it. So there's no confusion about our mission there,
and we accomplished that mission.
The next mission was to build a democracy, to put in place a functioning democracy in Iraq that its people could be
proud of, and a country that would live in peace with its neighbors. We are working on that objective now. And we have
put in a great deal of money. We have put in a large number of soldiers. We have brought in the UN. We have brought in
many nations to help us.
And so we are going to achieve that goal, too. We have not lost sight of our goal. We know what our objective is and we
are applying the resources to that objective. And we will be successful.
MR. KANEHIRA: Thank you so much.
Released on April 15, 2004