WASHINGTON – As U.N. Security Council (search) members met informally Friday to discuss a U.S. draft resolution to get more international forces in Iraq, President Bush's top foreign policy adviser said the president has "a vision" for creating the coalitions needed to bring countries into the "civilized world."
"The president set us on the task not just to get the killers of 9-11, but to instead lead a global campaign against all terrorism, against all terrorists," Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) told an audience at his alma mater, George Washington University (search), in Washington D.C.
"He understood that terrorism is not just America's problem ... it is a problem for the civilized world and the civilized world had to come together under his leadership to deal with it."
Of paramount importance on the president's list of foreign policy priorities is organizing global partnerships to quash terror, increase trade and bring democracy to all corners of the globe, Powell said.
Those objectives were laid out last year in the White House's national security strategy, which focused on a policy of pre-emption — going after emerging threats rather than sitting back and waiting to be attacked.
"It's not a new concept but it took on new meaning after the changed world we were in after 9-11," Powell said, adding that the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks is a reminder why the United States is involved in aggressive anti-terror efforts.
The president demands that "we not just sit back behind our oceans and not take part in problems that are out there that we can take a leadership role in solving," he said.
On Friday, the FBI sent out a warning to Americans to be on alert for Al Qaeda-related activities surrounding the upcoming anniversary. Foreign fighters are known to have entered Iraq to take part in attacks against U.S. troops. Powell said soldiers in Iraq can handle the assaults.
"Coalition forces are ready for them. They will find them, they will isolate them and they will be destroyed," he said.
But the United States has acknowledged that its 140,000 forces could use assistance and has sought the cooperation of the U.N. Security Council.
Security Council members who opposed going to war with Iraq have been critical of sending troops there to operate under the authority of the United States. Several nations said they would consider sending troops as long as the United Nations takes a stronger role in leading them.
Powell said that the United States will listen to comments from Security Council members evaluating the draft resolution that encourages nations to contribute to security and peace-keeping in Iraq and "will try to adjust and adapt to those comments" as long as they are consistent with U.S. goals.
But, he added, "there's nothing unusual" about an international force operating under U.S. command.
"We have seen this model work in many occasions in the past and we are confident it will work now," he said.
Meanwhile, he also suggested that Iraqis are pleased that U.S. troops are stabilizing the nation. Many hospitals in Iraq are up and running, medical supplies are being replenished, oil and money are flowing, the free press is operating, 75 percent of Iraq's courts have re-opened and throngs of police are being trained.
"Far more Iraqis are worried about us leaving too soon than staying too long," Powell said. "They need not be worried. We will neither leave too soon nor stay too long."
But even as progress is made in Iraq, numerous terrorist attacks have struck elsewhere, including Bali, Bombay, and Jerusalem. And nowhere are global partnerships as important as in the Middle East, Powell said.
The success of the U.S.-backed Middle East "road map" for peace, drafted by the United States, the European Union, NATO and Russia, has come into question as Israel has renewed its policy of targeted assassinations of Palestinian terrorists and Palestinian terrorists continue launching attacks against Israeli civilians.
"We need to keep the pressure on both sides to do everything we can to get to that point where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace," Powell said. "If either of the parties turns away from its obligations under the road map, both will slide into a ditch or tumble into a cliff.
"Unfortunately, Chairman Yasser Arafat has not been playing a helpful role," he said.
On Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (search) asked the Palestinian Authority to either support him or strip him of his post.
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has weakened Abbas' power by not giving up his own authority over Palestinian forces and funds. Abbas said because of this, he doesn't have the muscle he needs to effectively crack down on terrorists.
Powell said Arafat needs to cede that authority, adding that groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are "destroying the dreams of the Palestinian people."
He said the only way to stop Palestinian terrorist organizations from "making peace itself a hostage" is to create a strong international bloc against the terrorists.
"The entire international community must come together to isolate them, brand them as terrorists" and cut off finances, he said.
Although wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has taken up much of the administration's focus in recent months, Powell said, inroads have been made in other foreign policy arenas.
He noted that Bush this week signed a Chile and Singapore free trade agreement and has established the Millennium Challenge Account to aid countries that make efforts to root out terrorists and establish democracies.
The United States has also committed $15 billion over five years to a global AIDS initiative and has lent a hand in conflicts in Sudan, Democrat Republic of the Congo and Liberia.
"All of these are important initiatives in the president's approach to the world and his strategy," Powell said. "We're hard at work."