Powell: The Kashmir Crisis Can Be Solved
'There's Nothing Inevitable About War' Says Secretary of State
Listen to Juan Williams' report.
Listen to an extended version of the interview
June 5, 2002 -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is unequivocal in his belief that there is a political solution to the crisis over Kashmir. India and Pakistan may have hundreds of thousands of troops facing off against each other, but "there is nothing inevitable about war," Powell tells NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams in an interview for Morning Edition.
He is less adamant when the subject is Iraq. Is there a political solution there? "There are some political steps that can be taken," he says, such as "smart sanctions" and Iraq's relenting to U.S. demands that it let weapons inspectors back into the country. "But it's hard to imagine that we will ever find a solution to this problem with Saddam Hussein sitting at the head of that regime … and we'll see whether there are political, diplomatic or other ways to change that regime."
Still, he repeats the Bush administration's insistence that there are "no war plans on the president's desk" and no formal recommendations from top advisers as to what actions, if any, to take against Iraq.
Powell does offer a glint of hope on the Kashmir crisis, saying that there have been "some indications" in recent days that "there is a little less activity going on along the line of control" that separates India's and Pakistan's sections of Kashmir, where both nations have massed troops. But, he says, "it is still a very dangerous situation; it is still a crisis."
His characterization of the crisis bore a striking resemblance to his view of the crisis in the Middle East. "We've seen so many false starts in the past," he says. Observers wonder, "isn't the solution for them to get in a room across the table? Well, that hasn't worked very well the last couple of times they tried it. So it seems to me that we should not be in a hurry to move this issue to the center stage until necessary preparatory work has been done. Right now we are trying to end this crisis … we want to get that under control and then we can see how best to get a dialogue started…"
In her February piece in Slate, "In Defense of Colin Powell," Anne Applebaum argues that power-sharing among cabinet members shouldn't be thought of as a zero-sum game.
Foreign Policy magazine takes a critical look at possible actions against Iraq.
Time magazine in April named Colin Powell its "Person of the Week" for "bearing on his broad shoulders the world's hopes for rescuing the Middle East from bloody chaos."