Subject: CONG: Excerpts from Powell Confirmation Hearing

[East Timor and Indonesia excerpts]

U.S. Senate Committee On Foreign Relations Holds Confirmation Hearing On Secretary Of State-Designate Colin Powell January 17, 2001

POWELL: We can't do it alone. We need friends and allies to help us as we look to the security challenges in the new century. In the Pacific, for example, we are very, very pleased that Australia, our firm ally, has played a keen interest in what's been happening in Indonesia, and so we will coordinate our policies. But let our ally Australia take the lead, as they have done so well in that troubled country. Indonesia, as you well know, is a state that extends, if it was superimposed on a map of the United States, from New York to San Francisco, and this nation is undergoing enormous change. Our relations with this hugely important country need careful attention. President Wahid is attempting to undo years of neglect while at the same time hold together a fractious population, a population much affected by the flow of ideas that I mentioned earlier.


POWELL: If we have people in the region such as Australia, that had a greater direct interest in what was happening in East Timor and the capacity to act, then perhaps we can just give them support, help them. Financial support, provided all the logistics support they need and used that kind of regional grouping to handle it, rather than America's feeling it has to respond to every 911 call that's out there. We're seeing the same thing in Africa, as they try to train up Nigerian and other battalions to handle peacekeeping.


Senator FEINGOLD (D-WI): ... General, with regard to Indonesia, in March of 1997 you make a trip to Jakarta and you were quoted endorsing a sale of F-16s to Indonesia, a sale that was subsequently canceled in large part because of congressional concerns and concerns from civil society groups about the Indonesian military's long history of gross human rights violations, particularly in East Timor. You asserted that halting arms sales to Indonesia was a punitive act that would not be useful, but many observers believe the restrictions on our military relationship with Indonesia helped to pressure the government to ultimately allow East Timor's referendum and to begin at least acknowledging that human rights abuses are serious issues that have to be addressed. How do you view your statement at that time in retrospect? In fact, at what point do U.S. arms sales and military relationships run the risk of legitimizing aiding and abetting forces that behave in a manner that is -- as you have indicated in other areas -- are utterly inconsistent with internationally recognized human rights norms and our own national values?

POWELL: I think you have to look at any arms sales against that kind of measure. Is it a sale that benefits the nation? I mean is it really in their national self-interest to have such a sale? Does it contribute to their security? And is it principally defensive as opposed to offensive, where they would use it aggressively against a neighbor? Every nation has the right of legitimate self-defense, and if they don't buy it from us, they have many other sources in which they can get such weapons. In 1997, when I was on a private trip to Indonesia and made that statement, it seemed to me at that time in the relationship that existed between our two nations, it was a reasonable sale to make. And I did not directly relate it to the circumstances in East Timor. And whether or not it was the cancellation of that sale and the cutback of military-to-military exchanges that caused the solution to come about, I will -- I have not made that judgment. I have not studied the situation that carefully.

FEINGOLD: Thank you.


POWELL: I think it's very important, and I hope if you look at my statement, you will find that pretty close to the front I put a paragraph in there to make sure that no one misunderstood that President Bush will be coming in with a clear commitment to human rights. I think it derives from our values; it derives from the God-given rights that all of us have and you can see it in our own founding documents. So the rights of men and women to live in peace, to live in freedom, the rights they enjoy to pursue their own destiny I think, have to be part of the essential value system that we use within our own nation and that we take to other nations as an example of the way one should behave and how one should treat one's citizens. So I think you will find a firm commitment to human rights within the Bush administration State Department. 

SARBANES: Do you think other countries and their leaders, in considering their relationship with the United States, should factor in as a very significant dimension their attachment to human rights? In other words, to what extent are we going to allow our relationship with some country to be shaped -- not determined, but shaped, significantly shaped by their human rights performance?

POWELL: I think it should be an element that we apply in making a judgment concerning the nature of our relations with another country. A country that has no respect for the dignity of man or woman, a country that believes they can oppress their people, really is not following the kind of value system that we should honor and give particular currency to. So I think it should be a part of our dialogue with those countries, but at the end of the day, they have to decide how they're going to run their countries. And I think we should consistently press them on the issue. We have human rights reports that we put out on an annual basis that give evidence of how these various countries are behaving.

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