, Friday, November 09, 2001

'Truce' may aid 2002 Games

By Jay Evensen
Deseret News editorial page editor

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell believes a truce during the Olympics does not mean that the bombing will stop but that all athletes will be allowed to travel freely to and from the host city. This, he said, is the original ideal behind what has become a regular call for all nations to cease hostilities during the Games.

"It means that all athletes can travel freely without hinder," Powell said Thursday, adding the United Nations ought to pass a resolution to that effect. But he added there might be times when even that policy is unwise. "Of course, you're not going to let a terrorist in simply because he's on a bobsled team."

Powell made his comments in response to a question during a visit with a group of editorial writers from across the country. The writers, all members of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, assembled Thursday for the start of a two-day briefing at the State Department.

Earlier this week, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge had asked the administration for a truce, which he defined as a cease-fire, when the Games are held in Utah Feb. 8-24. A resolution is being drafted and is scheduled to go before the General Assembly on Dec. 11, according to Bill Hybl, the U.S. representative to the assembly.

But Hybl, an IOC member who also serves on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's board of trustees, said the resolution may not include the word "truce."

"Certainly the U.S. wouldn't want to do anything that would interfere with the ability of any nation, including the United States, to defend itself," Hybl said. "The word truce doesn't necessarily have to be there."

Instead, he suggested the resolution would reaffirm "the essence of what the Olympics are about, the peaceful participation of athletes in the Games."

On Thursday, USA Today quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman as saying the best way to make the Games safe and secure was to destroy terrorism. Should the conflict in Afghanistan continue into February, the administration does not intend to let up for the Olympics, just as it plans to continue bombing during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

But even if the United States continues to wage war during the Games, Powell said he believes the Olympics must go on as planned.

"I think it is important for it to go ahead, just like it was important for the World Series to go ahead," he said.

In a wide-ranging half-hour session, Powell gave a short speech on the importance and nobility of America's role as a standard for liberty and freedom in the world, then answered questions dealing mostly with the war on terrorism.

When asked whether he and other high-ranking members of the administration have disagreed on how to wage that war, Powell acknowledged, "I'm not going to duck your question. We have some great arguments. That's what makes life interesting and exciting."

But he said the war is going well, and he discounted critics who say it is being waged too slowly or without enough massive force.

"All campaigns begin slowly and then surge up," he said. "This is a different kind of war."

Powell said the United States and its allies came into the conflict with a "first-world air force," and yet the local forces helping the allies, such as the Northern Alliance, have not a third-world but a "fourth-world force" on the ground. "They charge into battle on horses, sometimes with sabers."

It takes time to coordinate those efforts, but, he said, "The news in the last two or three days has been quite good."

Powell said people would be surprised to learn that, rather than being involved in deep negotiations, he spends much of his time entertaining heads of state who want a part of the American prosperity. Rather than talk about the war when he meets with the president of Pakistan this week, "He's going to slap me around on the issue of textile quotas."

The nation's wealth, an outgrowth of its freedoms, rights, democracy and capitalism, speaks loudly, he said.

"Our biggest tool is not the size of our army but the size of our market," he said. His message to repressive nations of the world is, "Money is a coward. It is going where it is safe. C'mon. Try democracy. Free your people. Give them a chance."

Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche


© 2001 Deseret News Publishing Company