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Former US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger
Former US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: If President Bush is going to prosecute his war on terrorism it looks certain that he's going to include some sort of action in Afghanistan. It's a formidable prospect as the Russians found to their cost in the 1980s when they lost thousands of troops. The US Defence Secretary at that time was Caspar Weinberger and a little earlier I asked him about just how difficult it is to take on Afghanistan.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well on ground war it is very difficult, yes, it's, was probably the most inhospitable terrain on earth, it's very sharp jagged cliffs and the valleys are not nice green swarthes, they're all dusty, dirty places with very little water and basically it's terrible infantry country, terrible tank country and I think the most suitable warfare against it is probably air warfare. But even that doesn't always work, they're very stubborn, very tough people.

DAVID FROST: Yes and obviously the problem with an air war, tracking Bin Laden or anybody else is the pinpoint accuracy that would be required?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Yes you are, the weapons that we have are, all we really have to know is your address but they have to know your address accurately then they can hit it but he will be, he's like Gaddaffi, he moves around from tent to tent and it will, we'll have to one way or another have information that will enable us to take him rather than just bombing blindly because the President quite correctly, and I certainly agree, we should do no bombing unless we have a target that directly connects us to the, to the attack.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of how we approach this situation, it's a complex situation with the UN of course and I think the President's made it clear that he's not looking for any additional UN support, is he?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: No I think the problem of the UN of course is there about 150 or 160 votes and usually we have anywhere from five to ten on our side so that you can't really get very direct or immediate action from the, from the UN and they have at this point as I understand it, passed a resolution which is the normal approach that they get after a few days. But so I don't think we would rely on, or await UN approval or anything of that kind.

DAVID FROST: At the moment it looks like everybody's onside for this war, but if it takes ten years do you think this sort of coalition could be maintained?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I think so, I certainly hope so, it was vital in the Gulf War and I think we can, can do it again because it's to everybody's interests to, to work in the most effective way against terrorism which can, can effect all of us, has affected all of us and will continue to be a threat. We hope it won't take ten years but there will have to be, basically, a man-by-man extermination of these, of these gangs, just as well, Germany had the example a few years ago the Meinhoff and all those various people, it can be done but it does take a continuing resolve and as I read the American public now they certainly have that.

DAVID FROST: And do you think as the editor of Foreign Policy was saying the other day that terrorism in fact can never be eradicated, can it ever be eradicated?

CASPAR WEINBERGER: Well I think you can reduce the effectiveness substantially, there are always going to be people who have sufficient hatred and insufficient resources to do anything else who will think that it's useful to go around murdering people, for profit.

DAVID FROST: Thank you there to Caspar Weinberger who was there, Secretary of Defence, when the Russians were in Afghanistan in the '80s.


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