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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.

What happens next? 9/10/01

Senator JOHN WARNER:
(Republican, Armed Services Committee)
I am an old marine. Boots on the ground are often needed, but it remains to be seen in this conflict. You have to remember that this thing is a political war, it's an economic war, it's a cultural war. We are feeding the people, we're doing many things which hadn't been done before in military campaigns.

KIRSTY WARK:
Also today there was the question of Afghan opposition forces and any degree of support you may give them. Is it possible there might be close air support?

WARNER:
Clearly. To the extent that we can help them to achieve their goals, which is just repressing this terrible Taliban situation, that government, you bet we'll support them.

WARK:
But might that also be with close air support as well as intelligence support?

WARNER:
I wouldn't try again to get into tactical things, but, indeed, Russia is supporting them. We should support them to the extent that they are willing to take that support, and do it on their own all well.

WARK:
The US made it clear to the UN Security Council that the target may be broadened beyond Afghanistan.

WARNER:
It was the United States and Great Britain, as partners, that went before the Security Council. We have got to ferret out terrorism wherever it is in the world, because it's a challenge to our security.

WARK:
What if that weakens the coalition?

WARNER:
Let's take one step at a time. The coalition is strong at this point. I commend our President for the ability to put it together, together with your Prime Minister. Take it a step at a time.

WARK:
But if indeed the coalition was to balk at the idea of taking the conflict perhaps to another country, another organisation, Major Powell has said it doesn't actually matter. "If the coalition fails, we'll carry on".

WARNER:
I think keeping the coalition together is very important. But if there are other cells of terrorism that had the potential to strike out against the United States, Great Britain or any other freedom-seeking nation, you've got to put them down.

WARK:
So there wouldn't be unfinished business? Does that mean you might have to hit Iraq?

WARNER:
You're suggesting things that I am not going to answer. I don't know where those cells exist to the extent they're active and potentially able to strike us.

WARK:
There's been increasing unrest in Pakistan. How important is it to keep stability in Pakistan, if need be, to reduce US military impact?

WARNER:
That's a story of true heroism. The general who's in charge of that country at this time, even though he obtained that position through a coup, is handling this thing with tremendous courage. At the moment, yes, some street disruption, but by no means ready to topple the government.

WARK:
If, indeed, the Taliban say that they are ready to have two million more martyrs if necessary, in order to conserve their independence. It's a beautiful sunny day here in Washington, it seems a million miles away from conflict, but if American soldiers, British soldiers and others start to lose their lives, how are people going to look at this conflict?

WARNER:
As a survival of freedom. Let us not at this point in time suggest that we're going to run from anything. Our nation is strong, it is united behind our President, as your nation is united behind your Prime Minister. And we, together with other coalition members, must take those actions, those risks necessary to stamp terrorism out.

WARK:
Donald Rumsfeld said this is about a sustained campaign. In your assessment, is it years rather than months?

WARNER:
I would not try to put a time limit on it. Why play into the hands of the terrorists? Keep them guessing. Remain resolute, remain strong, and take such actions as necessary.

WARK:
Also today, there was a feeling from the administration that there was a need to tighten the loop of who actually knows what goes on. You are clearly in pole position here. Is there a danger that too much information is getting out?

WARNER:
You know, I've been in this Senate 23 years. I've served with many presidents. From time to time, regrettably, information does leak out. I don't know all the facts about this, but I was raised as a sailor at the end of World War II. The old slogan, I think it may have originated in Great Britain, "Loose lips sink ships". We cannot allow that to happen. At the same time, it is very important in our form of government where you have two co-equal forms of branches, President and Congress, unlike your form, that we remain informed so that we can be full partners with the President. Because if something goes wrong, we have to accept responsibility with the President, not skip and run from him.

WARK:
Thank you very much indeed.


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