- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2002

The United States is not looking to fight wars in every place it detects terrorist activity, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said in a response to Democratic critics aired yesterday.
"It's not a question of us sending military units and strength all over the world," said Mr. Powell, answering criticism by some congressional Democrats that the U.S.-led war on terrorism is expanding too rapidly and getting out of control.
In the interview taped Friday and aired yesterday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. Powell rebuffed assertions by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, that the Bush administration expects "to kill every terrorist in the world."
Co-host Robert Novak asked the secretary of state whether Mr. Byrd had a point, since "the United States is talking about sending forces to Georgia, to Yemen, to the Philippines."
"What the president said is we're going to go after those terrorist organizations that have a global reach and that threaten us and our friends and allies," Mr. Powell responded, referring to President Bush's address to Congress shortly after the September 11 attacks.
"And, so far, I think we've done one terrific job in Afghanistan," Mr. Powell said. "We are going to help the government of Yemen. We're helping the government of the Philippines.
"And we're going to look at other places where we might be of some assistance. Georgia, for example," he said of the former Soviet republic. "We sent an assessment team in to work with the Georgians to see how they could improve their capability to fight terrorism."
Mr. Powell described these missions as "small" and "rather manageable" and "within the capability of the military to handle."
Such missions "don't tie us down around the world for a lifetime of terrorist-chasing activities," he said.
Some 660 Special Forces advisers are in the Philippines, helping that country's military track down Abu Sayyaf rebels. Last week, the Defense Department announced it will send up to 200 U.S. soldiers to Georgia to train about 1,500 of that country's troops to fight al Qaeda terrorists holed up in the Caucasus, near the border with Chechnya.
Another group of American military advisers is headed for Yemen to help its military conduct anti-terrorist operations.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Thursday that he is concerned the war against terror lacks direction, is too "open-ended" and will be a failure if terror kingpin Osama bin Laden and other key individuals aren't captured or killed.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat, said yesterday on CNN's "Saturday Edition with Kate Snow" that there is growing concern among Democrats about the open-ended nature of the Bush administration's campaign.
"I think there are concerns that we're not sure where it all leads," Mr. Bingaman said. "There does seem to be an expansion. It seems like every week or so there is a new commitment of troops.
"I think people are wondering how extensive it's going to become," what it will cost and how long U.S. troops will remain in the countries where they are deployed, he added.
Mr. Bingaman said it is understood why American troops are in Afghanistan, but there is far more uncertainty about some of the other missions.
Mr. Powell said yesterday that discussions are under way to determine whether the international peacekeeping force now deployed in the Afghan capital, Kabul, should be increased in size and moved to "outer cities" where the need may be greater.
When asked whether the 4,500-strong, British-led peacekeeping force in Kabul should be increased in size and scope to help head off violence and anarchy in Afghanistan, Mr. Powell said: "That's under discussion now with our colleagues in Europe, with the British and with the Turks.
"I don't see an immediate need to increase the size of the [International Security and Assistance Force]. It's about 4,500, and it has succeeded in restoring calm in Kabul."
But citing the "continuing violence in Afghanistan," Mr. Powell said officials are "looking at some of the towns outside of Kabul to see whether there is a need for that kind of presence."
He did not identify cities under consideration. But published reports have said they include Mazar-e Sharif in the north and Jalalabad in the east, near the Pakistan border.
U.S. troops are not part of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), which was deployed in early January to keep peace in Kabul and is currently dominated by British and German troops. No administration official so far has indicated U.S. troops would participate in an enlarged ISAF. However, the administration would have to assure the 17 nations that now make up ISAF that the United States would provide them with air cover and would be on hand to get them out of hostile situations.
On another matter, Mr. Powell hailed a proposal by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as designed to help bring peace to the Middle East. Under the proposal, Saudi Arabia would lead other Arab states in normalizing relations with Israel, if the Jewish state would withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it occupied in 1967.


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