Ted Koppel Interviews Gen. Tommy Franks

KOPPEL: As you and others have pointed to what's happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, and said that you feel that the world and the United States are a safer place now because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not quite sure on what basis you say that. How does one measure the security when indeed the number of attacks has gone way up, and the face and form of al Qaeda has changed, and perhaps most potentially of all, Osama bin Laden is still free?

FRANKS: Ted, I think that's a fair question, and I think part of it goes to the issue of safe harbors. I recall back during the Vietnam War, all the discussion that we had during those days and have had dialogue on so many years since then, about sanctuary inside, inside Cambodia and so forth. If we think about the sanctuary that had been created in Afghanistan between the earliest arrival of al Qaeda on the scene and the sanctuary that we saw in Iraq, where our young, where our young aviators, our young pilots, had been flying for 10 or 12 years post Desert Storm over Iraq and being shot at, but we had not put any ground forces at all in Iraq, then one begins to see a pattern of sanctuary.

And I believe as it has been in the past, we will see it in the future, Ted, that we cannot afford to provide terrorists sanctuary, and so I do believe that, that the United States of America is safer today than at the time that we entered Iraq.

KOPPEL: Do you take issue with the suggestion that the United States is a less popular place around the world among not only our previous enemies, but our former friends and allies, too?

FRANKS: No, Ted. I would agree with you. I think, I think we are less popular. People have asked me from time to time, "Well, General, what do you think about the United States of America being thought of as a bully?"

And on the one hand I don't want my country to be thought of as a bully, but on the other hand, I believe that, that we should retain the flexibility to act in our own self defense wherever it may be necessary.

KOPPEL: No question about that. But does not acting in our self defense also include having the support and assistance of nations around the world, many of them nations who traditionally gave us that support and friendship?

FRANKS: I think, Ted, it certainly can. And you and I, as well as so many others, recognize that a coalition of some 65 nations, as it stands today, I think it was above 60 when I left the command a year ago, is the largest coalition ever built. And so from time to time, people will say, "Yeah, but they don't provide any troops." Well, actually, they do provide troops. They provide moral support. They deny sanctuary to terrorists around the world, and so, you bet, I think we need to have an international coalition. I don't think we have to go so far as to give up our right to defend ourselves in order to get it.

KOPPEL: You said a moment ago that you believed that there would be more foreign governments that would send troops in once Baghdad was taken and it was clear that the major combat phase of the operation was over.

FRANKS: Right.

KOPPEL: Why hasn't that happened, and what makes you think it's likely to in the future?

FRANKS: I don't know that it is likely to in the future, and I don't know why it hasn't happened to, to the full extent of what I may have expected.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...