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26 June 2002

Wolfowitz Says U.S. Dedicated to Liberation of Afghanistan

(U.S. is mindful of history as it carries out its mission, he says)
"We want history ultimately to judge [the United States] as having
been dedicated to liberation, not occupation" in Afghanistan, said
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
In his prepared testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations in Washington June 26, Wolfowitz said the United States has
"no intent of 'colonizing' Afghanistan," as it continues its military
operations against terrorists.
He said the United States has been careful to avoid creating the
expectation that it will solve all of Afghanistan's problems and to
avoid taking sides in Afghanistan's political disputes.
"In fact, we have seen that Afghans are good at solving problems when
they must; and we must let them deal with as many as they can," he
In shaping the military campaign against terrorism and playing a role
to help establish long term-stability, "we have been very mindful of
the historical Afghan animosity to foreign armies and foreign
occupiers," said Wolfowitz.
"Afghans are an independent, proud people. For that reason," said
Wolfowitz, "we have emphasized from the beginning that we intend to
minimize the number of troops there."
The deputy secretary warned that although the military was encouraged
by many remarkable successes so far, Operation Enduring Freedom "is
far from complete."
He praised the coalition's partnership with indigenous Afghan forces,
saying that it has generally been "very positive," and said Pakistan's
President Musharraf has also made his country "a much less friendly
environment for the Taliban and al Qaeda."
Wolfowitz highlighted several humanitarian and economic assistance
projects being carried out by U.S. troops on the ground, such as
repairing schools and hospitals, digging wells, and repairing
irrigation canals.
Over 48 schools were repaired or built in eight different regions of
Afghanistan, reported Wolfowitz. "For over 30,000 children for whom
the sound of gunfire was a natural part of life, school is open,
certainly one of the most far-reaching ways we have helped shaped
their future," he said.
Following is the text of Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz's prepared
testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
(begin text)
JUNE 26, 2002
Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Committee: This
Committee has long provided our country strong leadership and
bipartisan support, especially now as the United States wages the war
against terrorism. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you
today the Defense Department's perspective on how the campaign in
Afghanistan to kill, capture and disrupt terrorists has helped us
protect the American people, and how we are helping the Afghan people
help themselves to ensure Afghanistan does not once again become a
terrorist sanctuary.
I. How the Campaign in Afghanistan Has Helped Protect the American
From the beginning of the war on terrorism, President Bush emphasized
that the United States must use "every resource at our command, every
means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of
law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon
of war, to the destruction and defeat of the global terror network."
Each has a role; each reinforces the others. The military is only one
of the instruments that we need to wage this war on terrorism. The
military cannot do its job without the support of other elements,
particularly intelligence, and its role is frequently to support the
efforts of those other instruments of national power.
This hearing is focused -- and appropriately so -- on Afghanistan and
our military effort there, but it's important to emphasize, as we have
from the beginning, that this campaign is not about a single country
or a single terrorist network. Al Qaeda alone is spread throughout the
world; it is a network. A network, by its very nature, is based on the
idea that should one node be eliminated, the network can still
continue to function.
Well before September 11, 2001, al Qaeda had burrowed into some 60
nations, including the United States and Germany, France and Morocco,
Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. It had critical nodes in Hamburg,
Germany and Jacksonville, Florida as well as Afghanistan. The pilots
who flew the suicide attacks were not trained in Afghanistan; many got
their training in the United States.
Afghanistan was an important node in the network, but by its nature a
network does not have a headquarters. So, while we focus on
Afghanistan today, we must understand that Afghanistan is only one
node of this terrorist network. The very name of this organization, al
Qaeda, which means "base" in Arabic, indicates that the entire
organization is the base of terrorist operations. It is spread
throughout the world and it needs to be eliminated, root and branch.
In Afghanistan, where al Qaeda's malignant plots and plans flourished
under the protection of the tyrannical and corrupt Taliban, America's
armed forces went to work to root out both. Our intent, as Secretary
Rumsfeld said, was to deprive the terrorists of a sanctuary in
Afghanistan where they could safely plan, train and organize -- not
only to capture and kill terrorists, but to drain the swamp in which
they breed. Over the last eight months, with our coalition partners,
we have defeated a vicious and repressive regime that gave refuge to
evil. We have killed or captured many of its ringleaders. And we have
others on the run, where they are more vulnerable.
Even in Afghanistan, our work is far from complete, although we are
encouraged by the many truly remarkable aspects of the campaign to
Our military campaign in Afghanistan has had some striking features,
some surprising, others less so. Not surprisingly, we have seen
America's Armed Forces conduct their operations with great bravery and
skill, as we saw at Mazar-e-sharif, Tora Bora and in Operations
Anaconda and Mountain Lion. What may have been a surprise to some was
the remarkable speed with which military plans were put together, the
swift success of the military operations -- in weeks rather than
months, and with relatively few troops on the ground. On September
11th, there simply was no war plan on the shelf for Afghanistan.
General Franks was starting from scratch on September 20 when he
received the order to begin planning, but less than three weeks later,
on October 7th, we commenced the military operations. And less than
two weeks after that, troops were operating on the ground. In many
ways, it was a remarkable feat of logistical and operational agility.
Another element of our success, which was undoubtedly a surprise to
the terrorists and barely noticed by many others, was something that
did not happen, something that calls to mind Sherlock Holmes' famous
observation about the dog that didn't bark. We did not become bogged
down in a quagmire unlike the British in the 19th century and the
Soviets in the 20th century. Nations that arrive in Afghanistan with
massive armies tend to be treated as invaders, and they regret it.
Mindful of that history, General Franks deliberately and carefully
kept our footprint small to avoid just such a predicament. On balance,
our partnership with indigenous forces has been very positive.
From the beginning of the war on terrorism, we have stressed the
importance of understanding the nature of our enemy as a world-wide
network. Al Qaeda is not a snake that can be killed by lopping off its
head. It is more analogous to a disease that has infected many parts
of a healthy body. There is no one single solution. You can't simply
cut out one infected area and declare victory, but success in one area
can lead to success in other areas as well. The bottom line, as
President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have repeatedly cautioned, is
that this campaign will be a long and difficult one.
Coalition forces have eliminated the secure operating environment that
al Qaeda enjoyed in Afghanistan and degraded cohesion of the worldwide
network. Well over 500 enemy -- including somewhat less than half of
the top 30 leaders-have been killed or captured -- as a result of
operations in Afghanistan and are currently held in Guantanamo or in
Afghanistan. Equally important, if not more so, the world-wide efforts
of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, in cooperation with
more than 90 countries, have resulted in the arrest of some 2,400
individuals ....
Our military success in Afghanistan has contributed to that success by
encouraging others to cooperate. Our efforts in Afghanistan have also
helped law enforcement actions more directly. Abu Zubayda, one of bin
Laden's key lieutenants, driven out of his sanctuary in Afghanistan
and was captured last March; his partial cooperation in turn
contributed to the detention of Jose Padilla, who came into the United
States with the intention of planning and coordinating terrorist
attacks. A Moroccan detainee in Guantanamo told of three Saudis
planning terrorist acts in Morocco, all of whom were subsequently
arrested, including one top al Qaeda operative. In December, the
discovery of a videotape in a safe house in Afghanistan led to the
arrest of an Al Qaeda cell in Singapore that was planning to attack a
U.S. aircraft carrier and U.S. personnel in that country.
President Musharraf's leadership has made Pakistan a much less
friendly environment for Taliban and al Qaeda. Since last fall, the
U.S. has sent the government of Pakistan about 1,500 requests for
assistance on terrorist suspects. They have responded to most of them
and continue to work on others. In the course of numerous raids on
foreign terrorist suspects, some 370 arrests have been made.
These developments are encouraging. However, it is important to
remember that al Qaeda is still dangerous and active. This network
still poses threats that should not be underestimated. However, when
the network as a whole is under pressure and on the run, it becomes
harder for them to carry out their evil plans and more likely that
they will make mistakes that permit us to capture more of them.
II. Helping to Build a Stable Afghanistan
While our primary mission in Afghanistan has been to kill or capture
terrorists who threaten the United States or those who have harbored
them, it is also important to help the Afghans establish long-term
stability in that country, so that Afghanistan does not once again
become an outlaw country that provides sanctuary for terrorists. While
the success of those efforts will depend most of all on the Afghans
themselves, the United States and its coalition partners have a
critical role to play in achieving that goal. In shaping that role, as
in shaping the military campaign itself, we have been very mindful of
the historical Afghan animosity to foreign armies and foreign
We have always viewed our mission in Afghanistan as one of liberation,
not one of occupation. So with this in mind, we have tackled the
challenge of striking the balance between keeping Afghanistan from
reverting back to a terrorist sanctuary, and keeping our footprint
small. Afghans are an independent, proud people. For that reason, we
have emphasized from the beginning that we intend to minimize the
number of troops there, and to focus instead on helping the Afghan
people to help themselves in their journey to representative
We have made it clear, and we need to continue to do so: we have no
intent of "colonizing" Afghanistan. We have been careful, through our
actions and through our words, to avoid creating the expectation that
the United States is going to solve all of the Afghanistan's problems.
We have made a determined effort not to take sides in Afghanistan's
internal politics. In fact, we have seen that Afghans are good at
solving problems when they must; and we must let them deal with as
many as they can.
If a representative government is to take hold, Afghans themselves are
the only ones who can make self-government a reality. President Bush
has said that the United States does not intend to create the future
government of Afghanistan. "It is up to the Afghans themselves," he
said, "to determine their future." As they do, the United States and
our allies will continue to support the new Transitional Authority and
the people of Afghanistan. Their success will contribute, not only to
the long-term stability of Afghanistan, but to the peace and security
of the world at large.
There are positive signs that the Afghans are making progress. Just
last week, the Afghan people made a significant step forward when more
than 1,500 delegates from all 32 provinces and ethnic backgrounds came
together under one roof. When this traditional Loya Jirga, or Grand
Council, elected Hamid Karzai president of the new two-year
transitional government based on Western-style ideas of control and
accountability. A Karzai senior advisor captured how extraordinary was
this first step, saying that, for the first time in 23 years, the
people of Afghanistan are acquiring a voice.
Along with self-government must come self-sufficiency in terms of
Afghanistan's security. That task is made more challenging by the
formidable geography of Afghanistan. It is a country roughly the size
of Texas, with peaks in the Hindu Kush (or "Indian Killer") Range that
reach some 24,000 feet -- ten thousand feet higher than the highest of
the Rockies. The sheer size and unforgiving terrain of the country has
been a major factor in the planning of our military operations and
remains a key factor in planning long-term security arrangements.
Encouragingly, the situation is becoming more stable. Out of 32
provinces in Afghanistan, our forces have experienced harassment
attacks mainly in five provinces, in the Taliban heartland of southern
and eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban have so far failed to mount their
often predicted spring offensive. The Loya Jirga convened with no
serious security incidents -- despite numerous threats -- and clashes
among militia leaders have been limited.
The Taliban regime collapsed quickly with no successor. Not
surprisingly, criminal activity revived faster than police forces
could be created. This activity tends to be localized along routes
through which international aid flows: from the North and from
Pakistan -- incidentally, traditional areas for banditry.
Afghanistan's lack of infrastructure is another hindrance, not only to
maintaining security, but also to distributing humanitarian aid. From
the beginning, humanitarian operations were a key part of our military
operations -- a concerted effort to reverse the desperate conditions
created by the Taliban regime. Just one week before September 11th,
the U.N. warned that 5.5 million Afghans, surviving on cattle feed,
grass and insects, were facing death without immediate help. The
defeat of the Taliban and the ending of civil war conditions have
brought food to more than five million people who were facing famine
last fall.
Even before last September, the United States was the largest
contributor of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. When military
operations began last October, those efforts were stepped up, and,
from the beginning, humanitarian missions were an integral part of our
military missions. Today, the picture is vastly different. Easing the
plight of widespread starvation was a humanitarian duty before the
war. Today it is one of the keys to bolstering political and civil
Coalition partners are also contributing to stability through their
humanitarian work. It is especially worth noting that Jordanian
personnel have been running a field hospital that, to date, has
treated 77,000 Afghan civilians. The Spanish and others have also
provided assistance through their military hospitals. The Indians have
provided a contingent of military medical personnel
The improvement in the situation is demonstrated by the fact that
people are voting with their feet. In just the first five months of
the year, 1.2 million refugees are recorded as having returned to
Afghanistan already, which was the UN's projection for all of 2002.
The UN has now doubled the target to two million.
One crucial factor in the success of a representative government in
Afghanistan is, first and foremost, a stable and secure environment in
which it can gain a firm hold and ultimately flourish. The U.S. is
committed to working with the Afghan Transitional Authority and the
international community to find effective solutions to the remaining
challenges to Afghanistan's security.
One of the most important pieces is training the Afghan army. At the
beginning of May, U.S. Army instructors took on the task of helping
build an Afghan national army, by initiating the training of the
initial group of Afghan recruits for the new Afghan National Army
(ANA). Coalition partners are assisting in this effort. France has
already begun training a battalion, and other countries, including the
U.K., Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Korea, India, and Romania, are
assisting with personnel or funding or equipment. In the process, we
are also "training the trainers" so that the process can become
To further enhance regional stability, the 18-nation International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been helping to stabilize the
situation in the capital city of Kabul since January. The British did
a splendid job leading that effort in its first six months, and we
expect the same from our Turkish allies who have now taken over the
Last month, the United Nations Security Council extended ISAF's
mandate in Kabul until the end of the year. ISAF forces helped train
the Afghan National Guard to protect Kabul during the Loya Jirga,
which was held without incident. Other important efforts to provide a
more secure environment include the German-led police training program
and British counter drug operations.
However, the most important instrument that the Afghan Authority and
we have to establish a stable security situation is the leverage
provided by economic assistance. It is in our interests to provide
such assistance, and to help Afghans rebuild their country after
almost a quarter century of war so it will not again become a haven
for terrorists.
The leadership provided by the State Department as described by
Secretary Armitage, has been key to that effort. Particularly
important was the organization of the Tokyo Donors Conference that
Secretary Armitage has described.
Our troops on the ground are also making a direct contribution to
economic assistance, implementing humanitarian projects across
Afghanistan that include repairing hospitals, digging wells, and
repairing irrigation canals. We repaired or built 48 schools in eight
different regions of Afghanistan. And for over 30,000 children for
whom the sound of gunfire was a natural part of life, school is open,
certainly one of the most far-reaching ways we have helped shape their
future. In Herat, with just a few U.S. personnel, a U.S. Civil Affairs
project, using local labor, de-silted over 250 kilometers of
irrigation canals, allowing thousands of farm families to do their
spring planting. The Department is allotting $10 million dollars for
more than 75 such projects, anticipated to continue through the next
12 to 18 months. These activities have been coordinated with civilian
relief organizations and have already begun to positively impact the
lives of many Afghans.
In support of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, CENTCOM is
also executing a plan to co-locate personnel from the U.S. Agency for
International Development and the State Department with our special
forces and civil affairs teams that are operating throughout
Afghanistan. This will allow USAID's people to get out beyond Kabul
and better monitor U.S. assistance, while also providing them some
protection in what remains an insecure environment.
CENTCOM's humanitarian efforts have been undertaken to reduce the
suffering of the Afghan people, and in the process, have helped build
the conditions for a stable peace -- an outgrowth of health, food,
educational, and economic security. The U.S. military is proud of its
contribution to the important efforts of USAID, the U.S. Department of
State, the U.N. and other international agencies and nongovernment,
organizations to provide a better life and a better future for the
people of Afghanistan.
Along with the many other law-enforcement, diplomatic, financial and
intelligence efforts now underway, the campaign in Afghanistan has
contributed to the disruption of the global terror network in tangible
and far-reaching ways. But, our task extends well beyond Afghanistan
and will be a long and difficult one. The stakes are enormous.
As President Bush said, speaking to cadets at West Point two weeks
ago, "we have our best chance since the rise of the nation state in
the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in
peace instead of prepare for war." We can do this is not by imposing
our own model of human progress on other nations of the world. But, as
he said, we can support this effort "when we reward governments that
make the right choices for their own people. In our development aid,
in our diplomatic efforts, in our international broadcasting, and in
our educational assistance, the United States will promote moderation
and tolerance and human rights. And we will defend the peace that
makes all progress possible."
In Afghanistan today, we see a democratic spirit rising from the
remnants of a once-failed state that is trying to defy the ravages of
decades of war and misrule. Despite a beginning that will, at times,
be rocky and no doubt suffer some setbacks, the Afghan people are
hopeful for a new tomorrow -- hopeful they, too, can have a chance at
peace instead of war. We remain committed to doing our part to help
them on their journey. And we want history ultimately to judge us as
having been dedicated to liberation, not occupation. We appreciate
this Committee's continued leadership and guidance in these ongoing
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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