A Preview From Powell

Feb. 1, 2001

Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), the 63rd US Secretary of State, is former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93) and White House national security advisor (1987-89). On Dec. 16, then-President-elect George W. Bush announced Powell’s nomination to the nation’s highest diplomatic post. Here are excerpts of Powell’s remarks on that occasion:

Sources of Strength

“[S]trength comes to us from the power of our system, the democracy and free enterprise system. It comes to us from our economic power, it comes to us from our military power. And as we go into this new century and as we begin this new Administration, we have to make sure that all those elements of power are protected and allowed to thrive even more, with an economy that is strong, growing, part of the new international economic system, global trade, with military power. We are the best on the face of the Earth. We’re going to keep it that way.”

US Military Power

“[W]e’re going to take actions early on to ensure that our young men and women who might be called to go in harm’s way have what they need to be successful. We owe that to them. I spent a good part of my life helping those GIs get ready for battle, and I spent a good part of my life up on Congress, before Congress, working hard to get those troops what they needed. … I will certainly be there with the Secretary of Defense, assisting the Secretary in getting what he needs for the military.”

The New World Map

“[T]he old world map as we knew it–of a red side and a blue side that competed for something called ‘the Third World’–is gone. And the new map is a mosaic, a mosaic of many different pieces and many different colors spreading around the world, a world that has seen that Communism did not work, Fascism did not work, Nazism did not work. If you want to be successful in the 21st century, you must find your path to democracy, market economics, and a system which frees the talents of men and women to pursue their individual destiny.”

Internationalism and Allies

“[W]e will continue to [pursue a] uniquely American internationalism, … not by using our strength and our position of power to get back behind our walls, but by being engaged with the world, by first and foremost letting our allies know that we appreciate all we have been through over the last 50 years, and our alliances are as strong now as they ever have been, and they are as needed now as they ever have been, and we will work with our allies to expand and to make those alliances the center of our foreign policy activity.”

Handling Russia and China

“We will work with those nations in the world that are transforming themselves, nations such as China and Russia. We will work with them not as potential enemies and not as adversaries, but not yet as strategic partners, but as nations that are seeking their way. We will have areas of agreement and areas of difference, and we will discuss them in rational ways, letting them know of our values, letting them know of the principles that we hold dear.”

“We Will Stand Strong”

“For those nations that are not yet on this path of democracy and freedom, for those nations who are poorly led, led by failed leaders pursuing failed policies that will give them failed results, we will stand strong. We will stand strong with our friends and allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction, that practice terrorism. We will not be afraid of them, we will not be frightened by them. We will meet them, we will match them, we will contend with them. We will defend our interests from a position of strength.”

Israeli-Palestinian Peace

“It is absolutely a given that, under a Bush Administration, America will remain very much engaged in the Middle East. I expect it to be a major priority of mine and of the department. It will be based on the principle that we must always ensure that Israel lives in freedom and in security and peace. But, at the same time, we have to do everything we can to deal with the aspirations of the Palestinians and other nations in the region who have an interest in this.”

Persian Gulf Dangers

“We have a different situation now than we had in 1991 and 1992. At the end of the Gulf War, the Iraqi regime agreed to the conditions that brought an end to the conflict, that they would fully account for all the weapons of mass destruction and other evil technologies that they were working on. They have not yet fulfilled those agreements. And my judgment is that the sanctions in some form must be kept in place until they do so. We will work with our allies to re-energize the sanctions regime. And I will make the case in every opportunity I get that we’re not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people. We’re doing this to protect the peoples of the region, the children of the region, who would be the targets of these weapons of mass destruction if we didn’t contain them and get rid of them.”

End of Saddam

“Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years’ time. The world is going to leave him behind and that regime behind as the world marches to new drummers, drummers of democracy and the free enterprise system. And I don’t know what it will take to bring him to his senses. But we are in the strong position. He is in the weak position. And I think it is possible to re-energize those sanctions and to continue to contain him and then confront him, should that become necessary again.”

Balkans Situation

“[O]ur plan is to undertake a review … and take a look … at our deployments … in Bosnia and Kosovo and many other places around the world and make sure those deployments are proper. Our armed forces are stretched rather thin, and there is a limit to how many of these deployments we can sustain. So we’re going to take a look at that. We’re going to talk to our allies. We’re going to consult. We’re going to make on-the-ground assessments of what we’re doing now, what’s needed now, but also what is really going to be needed in the future and see if we can find ways that it is less of a burden on our armed forces. … So we’re not cutting and running. We’re going to make a careful assessment of it, in consultation with our allies, and then make some judgments after that assessment is concluded.”

National Missile Defense

“The President-elect has made a commitment to national missile defense. I have watched the debates on national missile defense for many, many years, and I think a national missile defense is an essential part of our overall strategic force posture, which consists of offensive weapons, command-and-control systems, intelligence systems, and a national missile defense. And I still hearken back to the original purpose of such a defense, and that is to start diminishing the value of offensive weapons. We have been pursuing the technology. I’m quite confident that when a Secretary of Defense is named, that person will go into the Pentagon and make a full assessment of the state of technology–where are we and what can we accomplish?–and structure a plan that is consistent with the approach that then-Governor Bush gave in Washington early this year. So we’re going to go forward.”

Persuading Allies

“We have to spend time discussing [national missile defense] with our allies, discussing it with other nations in the world that possess strategic offensive weapons and don’t yet understand our thinking with respect to national missile defense. These will be tough negotiations. I don’t expect them to be easy. But they will have to come to the understanding that we feel this is in the best interest of the American people–and not only the American people, the people of the world–to finally start to move in the direction where we can take away the currency associated with strategic offensive weapons and the blackmail that is inherent in some regime having that kind of weapon and thinking they can hold us hostage.”

Colin Powell, Superstar

According to a recent Gallup poll, the US public has an extraordinarily positive view of retired Gen. Colin Powell, Secretary of State.

Fully 83 percent of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of him. Powell appeals to 90 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents, and 80 percent of Democrats.

The poll, conducted Dec. 15-17, showed Powell is better liked than other recent Secretaries of State. The favorable rating of his immediate predecessor, Madeleine Albright, was just 36 percent when she was named Secretary of State in January 1997. Her predecessor, Warren Christopher, received a 41 percent favorable rating from the public.