WASHINGTON – In a campaign-style speech acclaiming President Bush's foreign policy, Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) said Thursday that force is and will remain an option to defend peace and defeat terror in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.
Making a case for force — even war — as a policy weapon, Powell cited former President Clinton's bombing of military sites for four days in Iraq (search) in December 1998 "based on the same intelligence" that Bush used for war.
In both instances, Powell said, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (search) was disposed to use weapons of mass destruction, even against his own people. But Powell acknowledged in his speech to the United States Institute of Peace that the Bush administration may have been wrong in citing hidden chemical and biological weapon stockpiles as justification for last year's war.
With Democratic presidential aspirant John Kerry (search) criticizing Bush's tactics and saying he would be more restrained in using force pre-emptively, Powell said: "Extending the peace is the ultimate goal of the President's policies. Sometimes we extend the peace by using war."
If diplomatic solutions do not protect the peace and secure U.S. borders "it may be necessary to use force," he said.
"And we have to, do it, do it well, and then on to the business of rebuilding, get on to the business of protecting a new democracy, protecting the peace again," he said, referring most directly to Iraq.
For the last three years, Powell said, the clear U.S. strategy has been to "make sure that we defend the peace" by going after terrorists where they are and by securing U.S. borders.
But he tempered these statements by saying that, more often than using force, "we extend the peace by working with international organizations and friends and neighbors."
Upbeat on Iraq's future, Powell said the Iraqi people have new leaders and opportunities to shape their future and the interim government is "off to a good start."
"Iraqis are uniting; they are coming together under this interim government," he said.
"We are on a roll now, I believe, with the transfer of sovereignty" from U.S. occupation to Iraqi rule, Powell said.
Assailing the insurgents who have been targeting Iraqi officials and U.S. troops, Powell said they were terrorists and remnants of Saddam's regime.
"These individuals will be defeated," he pledged.
In Afghanistan, where U.S. forces ousted a Taliban government, Powell said "there will be difficulties in reining in the warlords, in getting rid of the remaining elements of Taliban."
Still, he said, the Afghan people are believing in their government again.
After the speech to the U.S.-financed Institute, which has trained Iraqi police, Powell slammed the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, saying it did a "horrible job," slanted the news and inflamed anti-U.S. sentiments.
Powell, in response to a question, said he had complained to officials in Qatar, the Persian Gulf emirate that finances the network. Steps are being taken to correct the way Al-Jazeera presents events in the region, he said.