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This transcript is produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

Thursday 13/9/01

KIRSTY WARK:
I'm joined now by ambassador Richard Haas, who's head of policy planning at State Department and a Middle East expert. George Bush made it clear that this is the first war of the 21st century. How do you engage in a war of this sort? It's unprecedented, the enemy is dispersed, probably across borders, and elusive.

RICHARD HAAS:
You engage in this war on all fronts with, Secretary Powell said, every tool in your arsenal. It is probably wrong to think of the word war in military terms. It could be diplomatic, there could be sanctions, intelligence obviously plays a big role. It is also probably wrong to think of this as simply a military response. Too many people say, okay, the United States of the world needs to retaliate, as if it's a single event. The goal is not simply to deal with what we have just seen in the last few days. The goal is to get certain countries out of the business of supporting terrorism, be it direct or indirect.

WARK:
So this is very much what George Bush is saying - it's not just about the terrorists, it's about the country that harbour terrorists.

HAAS:
It's harbour terrorists, aid terrorists, abet in any way. And it's not just one country. You are talking about a group of countries.

WARK:
So you are building a coalition. NATO is a given, but who else do you absolutely need on board?

HAAS:
Again, think about this almost in the way of the Iraq coalition and Desert Storm - you have countries doing different things. Some may help with military operations. Some may help with intelligence. Some may help you diplomatically. Some may simply cheer-lead from the sidelines. Others may contribute militarily directly. You almost end up with a division of labour¿

WARK:
But it is a different target.

HAAS:
You have many targets here. In some cases those who perpetrated this act, it could be the governments that supported them, it could be other governments involved in terrorism.

WARK:
You talk about a number of things, including sanctions. You need Pakistan on board.

HAAS:
Pakistan is critical here. Pakistan support for this Afghan Government is critical to the Taliban survival, which is in turn critical for the ability of the Osama Bin Ladens of the world to survive.

WARK:
But you can't ensure that support, and there is, no matter what Pakistan leaders are saying at the moment, a huge support on the ground for the Taliban.

HAAS:
You can't ensure, but that, in a sense, is what diplomacy is all about - to get the Pakistanis on board, to help them make their calculation, that they have more to lose by continuing to support the Taliban than they do by perhaps alienating some of their public opinion but working with the US and the civilised world.

WARK:
This could be diplomacy with a jackboot?

HAAS:
This is serious. This is not some minor¿the United States...

WARK:
Sanctions against Pakistan, for example?

HAAS:
The United States has had sanctions against Pakistan for years. Pakistan has to decide which side is it on. Is it on the side of those states which actively or indirectly support the sort of evil we have seen? Or does Pakistan want to side with, essentially, the civilised world? That is the sort of decision the Pakistani Government has to make, and they may have to lead their people. Clearly, there's people on the street who don't want them to do it, but this is, again, the sort of decision a President has to make - in this case the President of Pakistan.

WARK:
But if you're talking about using words like "civilised world" - isn't that like a red rag to a bull to many Muslims, this sense that somehow that part of the world is uncivilised?

HAAS:
There's nothing anti-Muslim about the US. These people are not acting in the spirit of Islam. These people are acting in a way that is a affront to Islam and we will have millions of Muslims on the side of the United States. You correctly pointed to the NATO vote. Turkey, a Muslim nation, is a member of NATO. I will bet you that you will have Muslims throughout the world, including Muslims in the US, who will support extremely firm action here.

WARK:
Returning to Pakistan¿if Pakistan does not support you, if there is conclusive proof that Osama Bin Laden was involved in this attack in some way, do you rule out military action? After all, Pakistan does have a nuclear weapon.

HAAS:
I don't rule out military action against, for example, Afghanistan or against those involved in Afghanistan. I don't rule out anything. But with Pakistan, what we want to do is persuade the Pakistanis that the time has come to cut off the Taliban. I think we can work with the Pakistani Government to help them do it in a way that their government and their society can actually prosper as a result.

WARK:
In 1998 there was a spectacular failure to go after Osama Bin Laden, which possibly had the effect of recruiting hundreds of new, young members to his organisation. If you bomb Kabul, will you not just recruit further to his organisation? You cannot stamp out this kind of terrorism from the world.

HAAS:
I think if you can show that these who perpetrate terrorism pay dearly, if you can then persuade governments not to support terrorism¿you perhaps can't eliminate it completely - it is almost like disease - yes, there will be degrees of it, but you can make a tremendous difference. What we can do is reduce the scale of the threat. I'm not saying we can eliminate it, but we can dramatically reduce the scale by going after the terrorists themselves and going after the governments that either through what they do or what they don't do make it possible for terrorists to ply their trade.

WARK:
Colin Powell has not ruled out individual activity by the Americans. Say you were going in to bomb Kabul, you would expect NATO support.

HAAS:
NATO is already on record, and I think lots of other countries would support us. There's lots of ways they can support - some militarily, some with intelligence, some with over-flight, whatever. It is not a one size fit all approach. There's lots of ways people can help.

WARK:
You were talking about trying to bring on-side Syria, for example, who was on-side in 1991. You were talking about trying to bring on-side Iran. Is there a danger if you start blanket, rather than precise, bombing campaign you will alienate a lot of support at the first hurdle.

HAAS:
I don't think we're going to alienate a lot of people. We make clear what all the evidence is. When a lot of these countries realise it wasn't just Americans who were attacked - already in your country over 100 people probably have lost their lives. This is going to look like the United Nations by the time we're done, I'm afraid. It is not just Americans who are the victims. Plus, a lot of these governments are themselves threatened by these kinds of extreme terrorists. These are not people with normal political agendas. They threaten many of the modern Arab governments. I don't think it is going to be quite as hard to assemble a coalition, a diverse coalition, as some people are suggesting.

WARK:
Including, for example, Iran?

HAAS:
I'm not ruling out anybody. The Iranians made a very positive statement in response to what happened. They have a long history of opposition to the Taliban. The US and Iran have consulted in diplomatic frameworks about Afghanistan. I would not rule out the possibility at the moment of any country necessarily working with the United States and the international community. At the end of the day, this is not simply an American problem. It will not be simply an American response.

WARK:
So, we could see American bombers overflying Russian airspace to attack Afghanistan?

HAAS:
I don't want to get into the specific military means, but if you are saying, at the end of the day, could you imagine an unbelievably diverse coalition where Americans, Russians and others all act together, yes. This is the post-Cold War era, for ill, and in this case possibly for better.


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