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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 16:58 GMT
Counting the cost of war
Bill Owens

In a HARDtalk interview broadcast on 4 November, Gavin Esler talks to Colorado Governor, Bill Owens, about the cost of war in Iraq and whether President Bush's policies are the right ones.

A day after 15 American soldiers were killed in a helicopter attack in Iraq, Colorado's Governor Bill Owens tells Gavin Esler that the cost is justified.

"The results will be worth it," he says.

Twelve-thousand soldiers from Colorado are now in Iraq and Bill Owens has had to attend more than one funeral.

He tells the families the same thing: "We've lost three hundred and fifty brave American troops. Is it worth it? I would say yes."

The subject of weapons of mass destruction has been downplayed in the US since no proof of their existence has been found, and Governor Owens is in no hurry to resurrect it.

Although regime-change was never the reason for going to war, he highlights this as proof that it has been successful.

"It is a just war to take out a fascist dictator," he says.

President George W. Bush stood in front of a banner emblazoned with 'mission accomplished' on 1 May, declaring the end of major combat.

But more troops have died since then than during the entire war.

Governor Owens, a Republican, believes this message is misunderstood, that he was not saying, as many thought, that the war was over.

"It will take years to bring Iraq the democracy it deserves."

But what about the rise of anti-American sentiment, since Saddam Hussein's fall?

Governor Owens insists there is a great misunderstanding about what the US is trying to do in Iraq and, despite an alarming number of attacks against coalition troops, does not think that the level of terrorism has increased since.

"I think terrorism is weaker than ever before. We're better off today than before September 11."

On 16 October, Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo, later leaked to the media, declaring 'we lack the metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror'.

While some Republicans have begun to turn away from Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Owens hails him as an example of excellent management.

He sees the memo as an effort to challenge his staff, "the sort of manager we want running the Pentagon".

How important is changing this negative view of America?

"It does matter what people think of the US, but we're doing what we think is in the best interests of the world. We're not always going to be popular around the world, or have people appreciate or like us, but it is something that a power like the US has to play. Sometimes we have to accept that we're not always going to be well understood."

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 04:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 19:30 GMT and 00:30 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30


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