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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

The Changing U.S. View on Nation Building

Aired October 19, 2001 - 04:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SHIHAB RATTANSI, CNN ANCHOR: Well analysts say the counter- terror campaign has caused a geopolitical tectonic shift. Some adversaries have emerged as allies.

And as Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider observes, coalition building is driving White House policy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): During the campaign last year, George W. Bush had contempt for nation building.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I worry about the fact I'm running against a man who uses the military and nation building in the same breath.

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SCHNEIDER: A year later, the U.S. is in a war where nation building seems unavoidable. When the U.S. overthrows the Taliban regime, it becomes politically responsible for what happens in Afghanistan. On September 25, President Bush once again repudiated nation building, but he seemed a little less certain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We're not into nation building. We're focused on justice and we're going to get justice.

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SCHNEIDER: That drew a lecture from British Prime Minister Tony Blair a week later about taking political responsibility.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We will not walk away as the outside world has done so many times before there. If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broad based.

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SCHNEIDER: At his news conference the next week, President Bush signaled that he got the message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I think we did learn a lesson, however, from -- and should learn a lesson from the previous engagement in the Afghan area that we should not just simply leave after a military objective has been achieved.

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SCHNEIDER: So did the president flip-flop on nation building, not exactly. He set some rules. Rules one, the U.S. should keep out of Afghan politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We shouldn't play favorites between one group or another within Afghanistan.

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SCHNEIDER: That could mean, Secretary of State Powell has hinted, allowing some role for so-called moderate elements of the Taliban in a new Afghan government.

Rule two, the U.S. should share the political burden with other countries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Be a useful function for the United Nations to take over the so-called nation building. I would call it the stabilization of a future government.

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SCHNEIDER: And most important, Rule three, keep the military as far away from politics as possible. Isn't that what the president said during the campaign?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The purpose of the military is not, as he said on October 12, during the course of the campaign, to use troops all around the world to serve as social workers or policemen or, you know, school walking guards. I'm not for that, the president said. That's the complaint the president had about the use of military in nation building.

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SCHNEIDER: Apparently, the U.S. does do nation building, just not with the U.S. military. Don't even mention the two in the same breath.

(on camera): The idea is to build a wall between the military and politics. So how do you fight a political war like the one in Afghanistan, with politicians, and that's what President Bush and Secretary of State Powell are doing in Asia this week, meeting with politicians.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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