MARGARET WARNER: Shortly after President Bush declared "a new kind of war" on terrorism, news stories surfaced about a rift in the administration, over how wide a war-- particularly a military war-- it should be.
The stories reported on behind-the-scene discussions among Bush and his advisers; they also reflected differences in the way administration officials publicly described the coming campaign. Two days after the bombings, for example, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was asked how wide a war it would be.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: I think one has to say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that's why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign. It's not going to stop if a few criminals are taken care of.
MARGARET WARNER: Wolfowitz elaborated the next evening on the NewsHour.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: It's not going to be solved by some limited military action. It's going to take, as the President has said and Secretary Rumsfeld has said, a broad and sustained campaign against the terrorist networks and the states that support those terrorist networks.
MARGARET WARNER: On September 17, Secretary of State Colin Powell gave his view on the scope of the coming campaign.
COLIN POWELL: In the first round of this campaign, we have to deal with the perpetrators of the attacks against America in New York and in Washington. And it is becoming clear with each passing hour, with each passing day, that it is the Al Qaeda network that is the prime suspect, as the President has said. And all roads lead to the leader of that organization, Osama bin Laden, and his location in Afghanistan.
REPORTER: Last week, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz used the phrase "ending regimes" that sponsor terrorism. No administration official has repeated that formula. Are we really after ending regimes, or are we simply going to try to change their behavior?
COLIN POWELL: We're after ending terrorism. And if there are states and regimes, nations that support terrorism, we hope to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop doing that. But I think "ending terrorism" is where I would like to leave it, and let Mr. Wolfowitz speak for himself.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, our own debate on how wide the war against terrorism should be.
Richard Perle was Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration and a campaign advisor to President Bush; he's now head of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Richard Holbrooke was Assistant Secretary of State, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton Administration; he was chief architect of the Dayton Peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia. Welcome, gentlemen.
Richard Perle, beginning with you, last week you wrote, "those countries that harbor terrorists must themselves be destroyed." What did you mean?
RICHARD PERLE: I mean the regimes of those countries, and not the countries of course. And in most cases the regimes are ruling by terror themselves, even within their own countries. As long as the structure of state-supported terrorism is available to support terrorists, we will not end terrorism; we will not win the war against terrorism.
MARGARET WARNER: But what kind of -- which countries are you talking about?
RICHARD PERLE: I'm talking about countries like Iraq, like Syria, Sudan -- parts of Lebanon and others.
The fact is that we often think of terrorists as sleeping in caves, like bin Laden in Afghanistan. Terrorists go to office blocks, where they have modern communications technology, where they have the ability to move money around the world, to obtain false documents -- the technology of explosives and the like.
Take that support structure away from them and they will be so diminished that we will be secure again. Leave that support structure in place, and there will be other acts of terror against this country.
MARGARET WARNER: But just to make sure I understand what you're saying, are you saying these countries should be military targets even if there's no direct link between them and the September 11th attacks?
RICHARD PERLE: Absolutely. There are countries that we know to be consistent supporters of terrorism. The fact that they may or may not have been involved in September 11th cannot be the basis on which we decide to get them out of the terrorism business. I'm not saying we need to attack all these countries. I think if we deal effectively with one or two, the others will decide to get out of the terrorism business, because until now there's been no cost attached to supporting terrorism.
MARGARET WARNER: Richard Holbrooke, is that what's it going to take to end global terrorism?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Margaret, I honestly don't know the answer to your question. And I don't believe Richard Perle knows it either.
He has left the impression with his comments that, and I'm sure he didn't intend to be this narrow, but because he and I have discussed this privately, but he's left the impression with these comments that if you end the state sponsored terrorism, you end the terrorist network.
It is not my understanding that it's that simple. Some of these states are sheltering the terrorists without actively organizing the terrorism. That would appear to be the case with the Taliban in Afghanistan. They're giving Osama bin Laden and his network shelter. But Osama bin Laden is running his own network.
And I need to stress one clear point -- since President Bush in his very eloquent speech last week focused on the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, not on the countries Richard just mentioned -- and that is that if and when Osama bin Laden is eliminated and the Taliban are removed, and I should stress here that I am utterly confident that those two objectives will be achieved by the United States and its allies, particularly now that Pakistan has made this historic shift, if and when Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are removed, the problem will not disappear -- nor, Richard, do I think it will disappear when Saddam Hussein finally receives his just reward, which he should have received a decade ago.
I agree with you that a regime change in Iraq is a highly desirable American goal. But the more we learn about this horrible network, the more clear it is that it operates without necessarily what we call in the Washington jargon, state sponsorship. It is an independent network loosely linked, ideologically linked, getting money from businessmen, including Saudi Arabian businessmen who are playing both sides of the street, money coming out of Egypt, and it is by the way a tremendous threat to the moderate Arab regimes of the region including Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
MARGARET WARNER: So what would you do about those states?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, let's be clear here, there is going to be an American military reaction in the region. That armada moving towards the Gulf now is not going out to get a suntan. But I cannot stress too highly that the network that did September 11th wasn't run by somebody from a cave, on a cell phone in southern Afghanistan.
This network is in Hamburg; there are tens of thousands of people in Hamburg, Germany who apparently are sympathetic. It apparently is in Jersey City, as we knew since 1993 when the origins of the attack on the World Trade Center were there. It's in the Washington area. It has its sympathizers. In fact your previous discussion, racial profiling, was another cut at the same issue from a different point of view.
So what we're debating two things here. Whether or not we should go after Iraq and Syria and other terrorist organizations. This is a very important issue, which is now getting publicity.
But the other thing is getting the network that's already in place in the West. The immediate danger to the United States comes from the existing network. And I cannot stress too highly that as we marshal our forces to move against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in the region, the highest priority is the homeland security issue, which will not be solved no matter even if a missile hits Osama bin Laden's cave head on.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Richard Perle, one of the objections that many would-be members of this coalition, our allies even in Europe and certainly in the Middle East are raising is, they would have a hard time maintaining public support at home if the United States were seen broadening this campaign militarily attacking more than one Muslim country. What about that?
RICHARD PERLE: Well, if we have to choose between protecting our country or having other countries say they support what we're doing, there's no doubt in my mind, we have to defend ourselves. And the countries you're talking about who may find it inconvenient or awkward to defend a more aggressive position on our part can't protect us. They're not offering to protect us. They're incapable of protecting us.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: But this is a false choice.
RICHARD PERLE: I agree it a false choice. I think if we do the right thing, if we are seen to be effective, we will get all the support we need. And we don't need much, to be blunt about it. The idea of --
MARGARET WARNER: Just a minute, Mr. Holbrooke.
RICHARD PERLE: -- of recruiting large numbers of countries, signing them up behind us, the fact is that we will do most of the military work, we will do most of the political work. It's wonderful to have the support of our friends and allies, but it is not always essential for the particular missions we have in mind, and our first and foremost consideration has to be to protect this country and not take a vote among others as to how we should do it.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Holbrooke?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, first of all we both agree that it's a false choice. I'd like to say two points on coalitions and on unilateral action.
First on the coalition side, the Secretary of State Powell and his colleagues have done an excellent job in the first 15 days of building international support backed by unified and bipartisan America. And the most important achievements so far have been Pakistan's historic switch, and the administration's correct and immediate decision to lift sanctions on both India and Pakistan.
I would sub note here, very, very importantly, that Pakistan is going to need massive relief for the 2 million refugees now headed for its border, and the Congress and the Administration are going to have to give the U.N. High Commission on Refugees a great deal of money for that immediately.
MARGARET WARNER: If I could just direct you, though, do you think the administration would risk the coalition it needs by expanding or broadening this campaign?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I honestly believe, Margaret, that journalists right now, some journalists, not you of course, but some journalists are way over reporting the alleged problems with the coalition. I think for 15 days under these circumstances, compared to where they were ten years ago with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the administration has done fine.
The Saudis have cut ties with the Taliban now. UAE has cut ties. There is a -- I'm concerned about Egypt. The NATO countries with the notable exception of Greece have been terrific. The Greeks have been lagging a little. NATO is going to be there for us. The Chinese and the Russians are going to be fine. I think the Administration is okay in coalition building. I think it's a false choice. Richard has talked about America taking certain actions on its own, and I'm sure we will.
There is a special problem with Canada, because under NAFTA we have a single economic unit but we have different security areas, different security regulations, and that border, the 410 billion dollars of two-way trade, is either going to have to be closed, which would wreck the economies, or we're going to have to have a common security perimeter and that is a unique sub plot of enormous concern.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you also, Mr. Holbrooke, about other would-be coalition partners. Secretary Powell and the State Department have actually reached out to some of the states that are on the State Department terrorism list, in fact three of the state Mr. Perle enumerated, Sudan, Syria and Iran, trying to get them to join this coalition. Do you think that's a wise idea?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: It's not my understanding, and Richard will know more than I do about this, it's not my understanding we're asking them to join the coalition.
We're testing, particularly with Iran, which has a unique history, that degree of cooperation; the Iranians hate the Taliban, they potentially could help us here, but they have a very bad track record and they rebuffed the British foreign minister, Jack Straw, on this the other day.
I want to make one other point, going back to what Richard said. In order for the United States to succeed, and I cannot stress this too highly, we will have to make sure and encourage Muslim leaders around the world from Indonesia to Morocco, Muslim clerics, religious leaders and political leaders to make clear to the million, the billion Muslims in the world that this isn't Islam. We cannot do it alone. And I think Osama bin Laden's greatest desire here would be to begin a crusade versus a Jihad, and have a tremendous strife between two religions. And that is critical to success. It isn't just going to be unilateral action, it's got to involve repudiation by the Islamic leaders, some have done it, some have not.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me let Richard Perle back in. What's your response to that, because many Muslim leaders or leaders in Muslim countries are saying that themselves?
RICHARD PERLE: I think that's fine. But when we talk about the action we take to eliminate the support structure for terrorism, we have to focus on that, whether other countries approve of that or not. Otherwise we're going to leave them intact. And if we leave them intact, there will be other acts of terror on the scale that we saw on the 11th of September.
MARGARET WARNER: Are you saying that you think that the approach that Secretary Powell for instance just sketched out about trying to persuade these other states, through diplomatic pressure, financial pressure and so on, to perhaps not join a coalition but to take the steps we want them to take to root out the terrorists in their own countries, that that's just not likely to be effective?
RICHARD PERLE: It's always better -- if we could go to the Syrians and say there are a number of terrorist organizations on your territory, on the territory of that part of Lebanon that you in effect control, we would like to see them expelled and we'd like to see them expelled now.
If they did that, I think that would be fine. If they chose not to do that, then we would have only one conclusion to draw, which is they are with the terrorists and not with us. The President put it very clearly.
MARGARET WARNER: What course of action would that --
RICHARD PERLE: Then I think we have to hold those regimes at risk. Until now, the cost of giving sanctuary to terrorists of supporting them in a variety of ways has been essentially nil -- because when there were acts of terror or when we foiled terrorist plots, the retribution, the counter action from us was aimed narrowly at the terrorists. And not at those who supported them. If now by assisting terrorists, they themselves are at risk, I think they'll get out of the terrorism business. So I don't think we're going to have to persuade more than one or two countries. And we may need force to do that.
MARGARET WARNER: All right, Richard Holbrooke, a brief final point from you; we only have about 45 seconds, on this sort of ultimatum idea.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: What Richard just said, you mean?
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: It's fine in theory. But it has to be applied individually. There are terrorists; there are many terrorist groups in the world, which have nothing to do with the United States. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, some of the groups in the Philippines and Indonesia.
I can't imagine that we want to undertake to go after every group in the world and make that our campaign. The immediate thing is to defend the United States and go after people who pose a threat. I wonder what Richard's view is about the specific groups like the Hamas and the Hezbollah who have been very dangerous in the Mid East and have killed Americans in the Mid East but have never done anything in the American homeland. Otherwise I agree with him on many of his points.
MARGARET WARNER: And we're going to have to leave it there and you all can continue it off camera. Thank you both very much.