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Wanted; Middle East Moderator


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A nice question, and Answer Period. I must warn you for anyone about to sit down, and read this "It is a Long Read".





/noticias.info/ SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, thank you very much, Lester, for that kind introduction and I also want to thank Marshall Bouton and everyone at the Council on Foreign Relations here in Chicago for inviting me to speak today.


Now I have to tell you that I just did a radio interview and I want to be the first to tell you that I was asked to make a prediction. I was asked what would be the number associated with the Chicago Bears this year. (Laughter.) And I said 11 and 5. (Applause.) So if I'm right, I'll come back. If I'm wrong, you won't see me for a while. (Laughter.)


Thanks for giving me the opportunity to get out of Washington, if only for one day or so. And I'm really honored to be here and I want you to know that I just had a wonderful experience at the airport. I met some young sailors from the Naval Station, Great Lakes. They greeted me there at the airport. These young men and women arrived in northern Illinois as patriots. Soon, they're going to say goodbye to their families and join thousands of Americans like them who are protecting our nation across the globe. And ladies and gentlemen, these men and women are more than patriots. They are heroes. And America owes them and all of our young men and women in uniform an enormous debt of gratitude.




SECRETARY RICE: Now I didn't come all the way to Chicago just to give a speech. I really want to have a discussion with you. I know that the Chicago Council is famous for deliberation and I thought that that's what we might do today. And we can talk about any of the many foreign policy challenges that we face. They are, in fact, many in this time of testing and in this time of history.


But I wanted to start with just a few remarks about Iraq, because I know that there is deep concern in the country about the future course of Iraq and our policies in Iraq. I know that what you see on your TV screens every night has got to be somewhat disconcerting and that you have a lot of questions. So let me just start by saying the decisions about Iraq that we, as a nation, will make in the coming years will largely determine not just the future of Iraq, but the future of peace and progress in the Middle East as a whole.


I ask you to remember the broader problem that we confront in that region. Decades of despair in this troubled region fueled an ideology of hatred so deep that people flew airplanes into our buildings on a fine September day. The status quo in the Middle East was unstable and it was unsustainable. But today, there are signs of hope in the Middle East. Democratic reform has begun in places like Jordan and Morocco and haltingly in Egypt and ever so slightly in Saudi Arabia. Citizens in Lebanon are securing their freedom from Syrian occupation and Kuwaiti women have won the right to vote.


Now though we may not agree with every choice that the people of this region make, we must still defend their right to choose; for we have seen the consequences of authoritarian governments that deny people their liberty. The vision of a hopeful Middle East, however, will disappear if we do not succeed in Iraq.


If we abandon the Iraqi people, we will show reformers across the region that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We will embolden the enemies of democratic reform. We will leave the makings of a failed state in Iraq like Afghanistan in the 1990s and it could become a base of operation for terrorists yet again. And we should not assume for one minute that those terrorists will not come after us with renewed determination. This is why President Bush calls Iraq a central front in the war on terror.


Now helping the Iraqi people to build an effective democratic government is the only way to secure victory and to enable our brave men and women in uniform, who perform so heroically and never let us down, to return home with the honor they deserve. Democracy in Iraq is actually easy to describe, but it's hard to achieve. And it's important for Americans to understand why. Democracy in Iraq is difficult because the country rests on the fault lines of religion and ethnicity in the Middle East.


All too often in the past, Iraq's different groups settled their differences through violence and coercion. Now they're trying to do something completely different. They're trying to do it through politics and compromise. And for the first time in their history, Iraqis are wrestling with the idea of democracy, the idea that one person's gain does not have to come at the expense of others.


Democracy in Iraq is also difficult because for three decades, Saddam Hussein sowed the seeds of strife, civil strife in that country. To maintain his hold on power, Saddam pitted Iraqis, many tribes, and sects against one another, forcing different groups to rely only on themselves and to trust no one else. To keep Iraqis divided, Saddam's regime engaged in every form of evil imaginable: torture and genocide and rape and ethnic cleansing, even the use of chemical weapons.


The shadow of Saddam Hussein still looms over Iraq today, even as he himself stands in the dock to be tried. It is felt most acutely in the deep suspicion and mistrust that still pervades much of Iraqi society. And it explains why nearly every Iraqi faction maintains its own militia, just in case. This is not the culture of the Iraqi people. It is the legacy of Iraq's tyrant.


Finally and most importantly, democracy in Iraq is difficult because it faces determined and ruthless enemies, enemies that seek to provoke civil strife by exacerbating Iraq's divisions. We know this because the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq said so himself in a letter to Usama bin Laden's deputy.


Now, unfortunately, in the face of these horrific attacks like the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, some Iraqis have been tempted to take justice into their own hands. The sectarian violence that we see today is extremely worrying and there can be no place in a democracy for armed militias operating outside the law. Yet time and time again whenever Iraqis have been drawn to the edge of the abyss, cooler heads have prevailed. Iraq's fragile democratic institutions have so far managed to contain popular passions and the country's political and religious leaders have united to stay the hands of vengeance in their communities.


In the face of this overwhelming adversity, the vast majority of Iraqis are sending a clear message that they wish to live together in peace and freedom. Millions of Iraqis braved the threat of violence to vote, not once, not twice, but three times, each time in greater numbers and with greater representation of all Iraqis. And last January, nearly all of Iraq's Sunnis boycotted the election, choosing to hedge their bets with support for the insurgency. But by the end of the year, most Sunnis saw their future in the democratic process and a vast majority of them voted in the December elections. And lest we forget, in just one year the Iraqi people drafted and ratified the most impressive constitution in the Arab world.


Now Iraqis are working to form a government and Americans are right to want to know why this process is taking so long. I myself went to Baghdad a couple of weeks ago and I asked that question. President Bush and I share your concern. Iraq needs an effective government that can act decisively to meet the momentous challenges that that country now faces. And this is a message that Iraq's leaders are hearing from not just our government and not just our coalition partners, but from the Iraqi people themselves. The citizens of Iraq want a government and they now have the freedom to express their frustration with those elected leaders that have not yet given them one.


Recently, in newspaper articles, in satirical cartoons, even in internet blogs, Iraqis -- men and women -- have been saying things about their leaders that literally would have gotten them killed in the old Iraq. They are urging their leaders to put the good of the nation above the narrow interests of one individual or one party.


But in fairness to Iraq's elected leaders, it is important for us to understand that the process of forming a government is difficult and time-consuming because Iraqis have set the bar very high. They want a government of national unity, one that is agreeable to all of Iraq's many different factions. But that's not all. Iraqis also want their unity government to be strong. They want it to be effective. And far from being idle, Iraq's leaders have taken three important steps to empower the government they will create.


First, Iraq's leaders have agreed to form a national security council. This body will represent all of Iraqi society and ensure that decisions concerning the country's security reflect national interests, not sectarian ones.


Iraq's leaders have also approved a ministerial security committee which will give stability to the policy-making process among Iraq's senior officials.


And finally, Iraq's leaders have drafted important by-laws to regulate how their different cabinets will work together and make decisions effectively.


It is these kinds of small but essential steps that will now determine Iraq's success. And once formed, the new Iraqi government must lay the foundations of a democratic state, building institutions that can function transparently, accountably and effectively.


Iraq is now entering the most critical phase of its democratic development and I want the American people to be prepared for a few things. Americans must be prepared for violence to continue in Iraq even after a government is formed. There will be no Iraqi equivalent of VE Day or VJ Day. Rather, peace will be secured as more and more Iraqis recognize that the democratic process is open to them and that politics, not violence, is the best way to achieve their interests and redress their grievances. This is how democracy will conquer terrorism, but it will do so gradually.


Americans must also be prepared for the fact that another election in Iraq is a long way off. The moving and highly visible images of ink-stained fingers and joyful voters will now give way to the less colorful but no less important stories about the slow and subtle work of governing. Progress in Iraq will now emerge incrementally through negotiation and compromise.


But all Americans must also know that their government, our government, is pursuing a clear strategy for success in Iraq. Ours is an integrated political-military strategy that seeks to empower our Iraqi partners to control their own country and to solve their own problems. We call this strategy, in part, clear, hold and build because, first, America's men and women in uniform are training Iraqi security forces and fighting by their side to systematically clear Iraq's cities of terrorists and insurgents. Next, we are helping Iraqis to hold those areas that we have cleared together, extending both the material benefits of reconstruction and the legitimate control of the Iraqi government. And lastly, we are working with our Iraqi partners to build the institutions of a free economy and an effective democracy.


Now I'd like to update you on some of the steps that we're taking to advance this part of our strategy.


An idea which we began implementing late last year is one of provincial reconstruction teams. We have deployed these teams of people, or PRTs as we call them, in specific parts of Iraq and along with our allies we plan to expand them across the country. These are small, agile teams composed of U.S. and coalition members, who are vital to empowering Iraq's young democracy. They're military and civil affairs workers, aid workers, rule of law experts and political and economic officers. They don't sit in the Embassy in Baghdad; they go out to Mosul and to Irbil and to other parts of the country. The PRTs are important because they can adapt to the unique challenges of each province, helping our Iraqi partners to take ownership of their democracy and to deliver benefits to their constituents.


You see, under the old regime the provisional leaders had little -- the provincial leaders had little power, authority or capacity. Decisions and resources were concentrated in Baghdad. The Iraqi constitution, the new constitution, gives more authority to the provinces and to the localities. This will place many decisions and the delivery of services closer to the people. But these local and provincial leaders will need to develop the capability to deliver these benefits. We will help them. At the same time, we are working to build a capacity and increase the effectiveness of central government ministries. Under Saddam, cabinet ministries were dominated by one faction and run by patronage, not on the basis of performance.


Today, however, it is vital that Iraq's ministries, especially the ministries of defense and interior, function effectively along non-sectarian lines. That is why we launched our ministry assistance program and have requested from Congress $125 million this year to strengthen our Iraqi partners with training and assistance. We're focusing on everything from how to manage a budget to how to fight corruption and how to deliver real results.


These two policies, as well as our overall strategy for victory in Iraq, I want to assure you, did not emerge over night. They were the result of adaptation to new circumstances. As facts on the ground changed, as we've learned the lessons of some things that did not go so well, we have had to adapt. We've had to rethink our assumptions, correct our course and we're better off for it. The result is a not a perfect strategy but it is a realistic strategy; one that is now ensuring success in Iraq.


I understand how hard it can be to believe that there is real progress in Iraq and that one day there will be a stable and democratic Iraq. I see the same tragic images, the violence and suffering that you do, and like you, I mourn all of the 2,372 of our fallen heroes, as well as the dedicated individuals of our State Department family and other civilians who have been lost. I know what many Americans are saying to themselves right now: Will Iraq ever become peaceful and democratic? Do the Iraqis really value freedom like we Americans do? Maybe, just maybe, they don't.


But I want to close with two stories: one about Iraqis and one about America. I have in the last three days made phone calls to two Sunni leaders in Iraq; people who are heavily involved right now in trying to form a nonsectarian government. And the reason that I called them is because both of them have lost their brothers to assassination in the violence in Iraq. The personal sacrifice that Iraqi leaders are making is one that you should know. Both of these leaders said to me, "I mourn my brother. Yes, I will take care of his widow and his children. But I will continue my work toward a unified democratic Iraq because that is what my brother died for."


Iraqis are sacrificing in large numbers for their own future. They are facing down terrorists for their own future and they, like human beings across the world, want a future of peace and security and the dignity that comes with democracy.


Now, for them and for us, these are trying and testing times. And sometimes in trying and testing times, it is good to look to history to gain a little sense of perspective. I was very fortunate in 1989 to 1991 in that I was the White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War. It doesn't get much better than that. I got to participate in the liberation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany and the beginnings of the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union.


Those are things that I, as a student of international politics, would never have dreamed possible, let alone that I might have been a part of it. But as I reflect on those heady times, I realized that we were really only harvesting good decisions that had been taken in 1945 and 1946 and 1947 and 1948, when the victory of freedom and liberty in Europe and Asia did not seem so assured.


After all, as I walk the halls of the State Department, when I look at the portrait of Marshall or Acheson or I think of Truman and Churchill and others, I think of what they faced every day. In 1946, the communists won large minorities in Italy and in France. In 1947, there was a civil war in Greece and civil strife in Turkey. In 1947, Europeans were still starving because the reconstruction and relief effort had not succeeded. In 1948, there was a coup in Czechoslovakia, removing the last free government in the communist world. In 1948, the Berlin crisis permanently divided Germany. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule and the Chinese communists won.


Those could not have seemed like days that would lead to the victory of a Europe whole, free, democratic and at peace in 1990 and '91. In fact, these were not just small setbacks. These were huge strategic reverses for liberty and for freedom. And yet somehow, the people who were responsible for American policy stayed true to their values and they came up with answers and they created great institutions like NATO and they believed that democracy could take hold in Germany and Japan, where it had never taken hold before. And they believed that if America stood by these then-fledgling democracies, there would be a day when war was not thinkable in Europe.


Now, I can assure you in 1947 or 1948, the idea that France and Germany would never war again did not seem possible, let alone probable. And for those people, they still believed. That suggests to me that when you look back on periods of great turbulence, periods of great history, historical change, that it all seems much more orderly in retrospect.


And it suggests to me, too, that things that at the time seemed impossible, in retrospect seem inevitable. And so as we look at the difficult times ahead in Iraq, as we look at the struggles of the Middle East to come to terms with the relationship between Islam and politics, as we look at an entire region trying to break out of years of authoritarianism, let's remember that we all know historical examples of that which seemed impossible but now seems inevitable.


And I do believe that if we do our work well, that if we do not lose our will, that if we stay true to our values, we will look back someday and ask why did we ever doubt the triumph of democracy in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine? Why did we ever doubt it? And that those who look back will also say it was always inevitable. Of course, it would not have been inevitable. It would have been human agency and human will that made it so.


Thank you very much. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: Thank you very much for the information and the insights that you brought to us today. The Secretary has graciously agreed to answer questions. The rules of the road are if you would just stand, a portable mike will be brought to you, and if you'd be good enough to state both your name and your affiliation for the benefit of the Secretary and then present your short question.




QUESTION: Do you want me to wait for the mike?


SECRETARY RICE: Yes, I think one is coming right there.


QUESTION: Thank you. My name is John Ryan (ph). Madame Secretary, could you explain U.S. policy, when the United States might take military action otherwise and pursuant to UN mandate or UN resolution to enforce a UN resolution?


SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that it's difficult to state a principle in the abstract. Obviously, the President keeps open his options and we have always said that the right of self-defense does not necessarily require a UN Security Council resolution. I would note that, for instance, we went to war in the Balkans without a -- war action without a Security Council resolution. We did in the case of Iraq, of course, have multiple resolutions that constituted Iraq as a peace to -- a threat to international peace and security and a final resolution, Resolution 1441, from the 2002 that said that there would be serious consequences if Iraq did not go forward.


And so it's been a mixture of how the United States has -- or the President of the United States has decided to use military force. We believe that in the current case that's on everybody's mind, and let me just go to the bottom line and then -- and sort of go to the underlying question here. That in the current case, which everyone asks about, Iran, because of all of the speculation that there has been in the paper, that it is important to note that the President doesn't take his options off the table, yet we're on a different course with Iran.


The issue here is to mobilize the international community, to unify the international community around the view that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon, that is agreed, and that in order to turn the Iranians back from what has been behavior that has been contrary to all of the wishes of the international community, that we are prepared to use measures at our disposal -- political, economic, others -- to dissuade Iran from the course that it's on.


Now I want to be very clear. We don't have any problem, any quarrel with the Iranian people; quite the opposite. We want the Iranian people to be a part of the international community. This is a great culture and a great people. We want to reach out for exchanges with the Iranian people. We want their students and their musicians and their sports stars to be with us all. The problem is that the Iranian leadership, the regime, is isolating itself with its behavior. You can simply read the statements of any government in response to what the Iranians just did to see that the Iranians are isolating themselves. By being in the Security Council, we have a number of diplomatic and other tools at our disposal to persuade the Iranians that they really need to come back to negotiation.


And just finally, the Iranians say that they want to make this, or they want to make this about their right to civil nuclear power. We are not questioning their right to civil nuclear power. They can have civil nuclear power. But because of a track record of 18 years in which they were not clear and not transparent with the International Atomic Energy Agency that civil nuclear power cannot include the ability to enrich and reprocess on Iranian territory, because when you learn to do that you've learned the key technology to making a nuclear weapon. And so the Iranians have been offered ideas by the Russians, ideas by the Europeans, it's time that they take those ideas, suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities and return to the table. But Iran is not Iraq, these are two very different circumstances and we believe that the remedies before us are quite robust.


QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). In the paper this morning it was said that President Bush is going to be discussing with the president of China about natural resources and oil in particular. In light of the fact that the Chinese have made great inroads into Africa, both signing contracts for oil and natural resources, the same thing in South America, the same thing in parts of the Middle East, the same thing with their trade agreements with India and in light of the fact that they are building a navy with the apparent object to exert hegemony over the Middle East and the oil resources of the Middle East, what is the United States foreign policy with regard to China and the capturing of oil and other natural resources around the world and what will President Bush will be saying to the Chinese President today?


SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, of course, China is a rapidly growing economy. And just to keep it in perspective, the Chinese leaders will tell you that they need to create 25 million jobs a year in order to simply keep pace with the population pressures in China -- $25 million a year. That explains why they have to have in part very rapid economic growth, and very rapid economic growth has to be fueled by something and that's why you have the all-out drive for energy that the Chinese are engaged in. That is a discussion the President and President Hu will have, but they, I think will also discuss what kinds of energy cooperation can reduce some of the pressures on hydrocarbons and the sort of all-out search for oil that is going on around the world.


For instance, we are very interested in -- the Chinese are very interested in nuclear energy cooperation. The Chinese are a part of a group that we have, the Asia-Pacific Partnership for climate and energy that is trying to explore new technologies that will be greener technologies, so that at the same time that you are able to fuel your economy you can reduce greenhouse gases. And so I think that the conversation that they will have will be one about cooperation on energy issues.


Now that said, let me be very clear about the search for oil. It is distorting international politics in a very major way. It's distorting it because there are places that have oil that are using oil as a weapon, or using oil as a carrot for certain policies and that's troubling. And it only underscores what the President has emphasized, which is the need to find a way to diversify our own, America's own, energy mix so that we can begin to rely on something other than oil. But we recognize that it can't just be us. That that diversification has got to be take place worldwide and I think that will be part of their discussion.


We also want to encourage the Chinese to allow markets to work rather than the way that this is sometimes thought about in places that are not accustomed to market economies, which is sewing up contracts around -- in a way that is non-transparent to the market. We would also like to talk to them about that.


Let's see, I promised the lady in the blue. Yes.


QUESTION: First, I wish there were a piano here so you could play for us. I know how wonderful you play. My name is Kathy Posner (ph). In today's Washington Post there was a story about Karen Hughes, Under Secretary of State, head of public diplomacy, and while it was a positive story it still spoke of the problems we have in disseminating positive messages about the United States around the world. In July, my sister will become special assistant to Karen Hughes --




QUESTION: Yes, she's in the Embassy in Budapest now and is moving back to America. I know she'll be so embarrassed when I tell her that I asked her boss any advice for when she comes back to America to sit in the office of public diplomacy.


SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. First of all, I'm sure she's doing out in the field what we believe is the front line, which is to get our embassies out more talking to populations. We are encouraging our ambassadors to get out and do radio interviews, do television interviews. We can't simply sit in our embassies and talk to governments. Increasingly, talking to populations is important, particularly with democratic governments where they have to have the support of their populations for the policy that they are pursuing to support American foreign policy and Hungary would be an example of that. Hungary's been a very good ally, but it's a democratic state. It has to keep its population with it and we have to help the Hungarians with that.


Secondly, I would tell her that she's coming back to a Department that is absolutely committed to the public diplomacy mission. It is in part a mission of trying to undo what are sometimes malicious and propagandistic reports about us. People just say anything and we have to be, particularly with the internet, and you have to be able to respond to that in a very quick fashion, because once a piece of propaganda gets out or a story is told about us that isn't true, I can ensure you it becomes part of the urban legend and then it's very hard to deal with.


Third, we're not just about messaging. You know, public diplomacy has to be a conversation, not a monologue. And we Americans are perhaps not as good at understanding other cultures and other languages as we might be. Now that is partly we are continental size and so forth. But we are encouraging students to come here from abroad and our students to go abroad. We are encouraging universities -- we had a University Presidents Summit where we're encouraging them to be involved in more -- the study of international issues, more international exchanges. And we have a major critical language initiative that the federal government is partnering with others around the country to try to improve our language capabilities.


When I was a young scholar coming up, a young student coming up, it was the patriotic thing to do to learn Russian. And so the government had all kinds of projects and fellowships if you wanted to learn Russian and become a Soviet specialist. And yet we have a tremendous dearth of people who can speak Dari or Arabic or Persian or any of the languages, Farsi, any of the languages that are so critical now, let alone Chinese; one of the languages that will be most used. So that's another part of the public diplomacy.


But let me just say a word to all of you, this isn't something the U.S. Government can achieve on its own. America's great strength in engaging other countries is actually not what we do in the State Department or what we do in the U.S. Government. It is the contacts between business leaders. It's the contacts between civic society. It's the contacts that nongovernmental organizations have with one and other. It is, as a university professor, I think it's the engagement of young minds across borders that really is our strength. And so I would ask you, because you have an interest in foreign policy, you have an interest in our doing well in the world, to think about what can be done through communities, your communities and through your businesses and through your organizations to reach out particularly to young people around the world and to let them know what America's really like.


QUESTION: Madame Rice, my name is (inaudible) and my question is regarding the Indo-U.S. nuclear peace civil agreement. My question is that how this agreement, if ratified, will bring more prosperity to the world and why is it in the beneficial interest of the United States to go for this agreement? And has the White House taken any initiatives to ensure that this treaty is ratified when placed before the House? Thank you.


SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. The gentleman is referring to an agreement that President Bush and Prime Minister Singh signed on the President's recent trip to India, which is an agreement between the United States and India for civil nuclear cooperation. This agreement is a path-breaking and really very important agreement because India is an anomaly in international politics. It is a country that never signed the Nonproliferation Treaty, did develop nuclear weapons but did so, of course, having never signed the NPT, by not having violated the NPT, but it has been cutoff as a result of those decisions from any kind of civil nuclear cooperation with the rest of the world. And so we want to change this anomaly. Why do we want to change this?


First of all, because the United States needs good strategic partners around the world who are democratic and India is a huge multiethnic, multi-religious democracy that is transparent and that can play an extremely important role in the world as a strategic partner, a responsible strategic partner. And so we see this broad relationship that is now burgeoning in agriculture and in military-to-military cooperation, and across the board cooperation between the private sector and business. We see this agreement in that context.


Secondly, I was referring to China and energy; India needs energy. And India is also a country that is desperate to fuel economic growth at 8 percent, 9 percent, and it's going to need an energy supply and it needs to diversify its energy, too, to clean technologies like nuclear energy. We cannot begin to share those technologies with India without an agreement of this kind.


Third, and here people have criticized the agreement by saying, well, isn't this harmful to the Nonproliferation Treaty since India didn't sign the Nonproliferation Treaty? India has lived up to its obligations not to transfer nuclear technology around the world. It has a really very good record. Moreover, no less than Mohamed ElBaradei, who is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the agency that protects, in a sense, the NPT, supports this agreement, because while it doesn't bring India into the Nonproliferation Treaty, it does bring India into the broad nonproliferation regime. India has agreed to put its civilian reactors under international safeguards.


A question I am also asked is, "Well, if you will do it for India, doesn't that make your argument weaker for North Korea or Iran? Isn't there a double standard?" And I say absolutely, there's a double standard and Iran and North Korea created it by cheating on their obligations to the NPT, by being nontransparent, closed societies where everybody worries what they're doing. Here, you have a democracy in India that is trying to move closer to the nonproliferation regime and we ought to support that. I believe that we will -- I hope that we will get Congress' support. I, myself, testified a couple of weeks ago and we're continuing to seek support for it, but you have to understand it in that broad framework, not just as an agreement on civil nuclear power, but it's a very important agreement in the broader sense as well.


Yes, sir.


QUESTION: My name is B. Herbert Martin. I'm Pastor of the Progressive Community Church in Chicago. I'm interested in American foreign policy toward the continent of Africa. Could you, Madame Secretary, share a little bit about the improvement and the progress in American foreign policy toward the continent of Africa, especially in light of Rwanda, since Rwanda, and now in light of the crisis in Sudan?


SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. Let me make a couple of points. First of all, on our broad policies toward Africa, we have tried to see the potential of this continent and to treat African leaders as partners, strategic partners as well as partners in the development of their own countries. That means that we have had very forward-leaning trade policies like the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows for the ease of the entry of goods into the American market, African goods into the American market. We have, with the African leaders, had a deep political engagement on a variety of issues and as well, we have tripled development assistance, official development assistance to Africa.


Now we have done that broadly for humanitarian reasons, but for some special countries in Africa which are democratic and governing wisely, they are becoming part of something called the Millennium Challenge Corporation program, which the President announced, which means that we give fairly large grants to a country if they can come up with a project that will help alleviate poverty and increase development. But they have to be governing wisely, fighting corruption, if there's no need to put more money into a place where it's just going to go down the drain to corruption. So on the economic side, we have been very active in Africa.


On the security side, we have also been very active in Africa. We've been part of the reason that there is a more hopeful picture in what's called the Great Lakes region. We were very involved in helping the Democratic Republic of the Congo come to a resolution of its civil war. We were instrumental, along with the African states, in bringing peace to Liberia, where you now have -- and I attended her inauguration, a very fine new president of Liberia, the first woman on the African continent. And we are going to support Liberia so that West Africa is beginning to become a place that is no longer given to conflict.


And in Sudan, the United States led the international effort to end the North-South conflict through the efforts of Ambassador John Danforth, Former Senator John Danforth, to get an agreement between North and South, ending a decades-old civil war that had cost millions of lives. Now we have the problem that has also emerged in Sudan of Darfur. And make no mistake about it; this is a horrible humanitarian moral crisis. The President is focused on it personally and we are determined to lead the international effort to help the UN get a more robust security force in Darfur. There is an African Union mission there. They're doing a good job. But it's too small, it's not mobile enough, it's not capable of getting to the outer reaches. Darfur is the size of Texas. And so a small force of 7,000 people is not going to be able to provide security. We want a more robust force, at least twice that size. We want it to be a UN force.


Secondly, we are taking the lead on the humanitarian side. I was in Darfur. I saw what the nongovernmental organizations are doing out there to support women, to support children, to support the refugee camps. We are the largest donor, by far, to that effort. And third, we are very actively engaged in a process in Abuja and Nigeria to try to bring peace between the rebels and the government.


Now to be sure, this is a difficult government to deal with, because it is -- it has caused most of these problems. It is, however, a government that somehow has to be part of the solution, but we have not been shy about using other tools that we have gotten through the UN. We have a Security Council resolution that allows us to bring sanctions against members of the Khartoum Government and we are doing that as we see fit. So it's a very comprehensive program on Darfur. There is good support from the international community and NATO is providing some of the logistical support to the current mission and is prepared to help with the UN mission as well.


Let's see, I'm going to come back to this side. The lady all the way in the back -- yes, microphone?


QUESTION: Alice Alavastro. I was wondering, you had presented a very utopia view of the democratization of Iraq and also a very logical approach to our entrance into a possible war with Iran. But considering the muddied and controversial approach that the Bush Administration took to going -- to invading Iraq and going to war, how is the American people supposed to trust the Bush Administration and their spokesmen on their approach to going to this controversy with Iran and other different policies that the Bush Administration speaks of?


SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. Well, first of all, let me just say that I don't think that the road to democracy in Iraq is at all utopian. I think it's tough and it's heart-slogging and it's violent and it looks like the road to democracy that any number of countries have had to face. Sometimes, I think here in the United States, we need to engage ourselves, and I try to do it personally, in a little bit of humility about what it took to build democracy in this country. After all, when the founding fathers said "We The People," they didn't mean me. My ancestors were three-fifths of a man in Mr. Jefferson's first constitution.




SECRETARY RICE: So when we think about what the Iraqis are struggling with, we need to recognize that democracy is hard. It just happens to be the only system of government that's worth it, when you get to the end of it. By the way, dictatorship is hard too, except for the dictator. (Laughter.) And so when we think about what the alternative is to democracy in Iraq, let's remember the 300,000 people in mass graves or the killing fields of chemical weapons against the Kurds and against Shia. We need to keep perspective on what it is they're doing.


Now as to the issue, I know that it's controversial. The decision to have gone to war in Iraq was controversial. I would just note that when the President spoke to the UN Security Council in September of 2002, he said what we would do. He said that we would give Saddam Hussein time to answer the just demands of the international community about the multiple resolutions that have been passed in the UN. And after Resolution 1441 was passed in November, the Council said that there would be serious consequences if he didn't.


Now serious consequences can mean almost anything, but in this context, given Saddam Hussein and given the only way that he was going to change his ways or be brought down, that meant the use of military force. And let's remember that it was not just the United States that supported that action, but also Great Britain and Spain and Italy and Australia and a number of other countries. This was a broad coalition. Not everybody supported it, but a lot of countries did.


Now I know too -- and again, I'm going to go right at the -- kind of the assumption or the underlying question here. I know too that there is controversy about the issue of the weapons of mass destruction. But I can tell you that everybody who had worked on this -- well, let me not say that. Most people who had worked on this issue thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. If we didn't think he had weapons of mass destruction, what was the UN doing in keeping the most severe sanctions on the Iraqi people that have ever been kept on any population? What were we doing? If we didn't think he had weapons of mass destruction, we were being awfully unfair to the Iraqi people.


And by the way, those sanctions, of course, were having an effect on the Iraqi people, but we now know that Saddam Hussein was gaming the system through the oil-for-food program so that he could continue all of his activities and, in fact, increasing his take. So yes, we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. He clearly had an appetite for them. He clearly had infrastructure for them. He clearly had used them before. But no, we did not find stores of weapons of mass destruction, but it was not because anybody said something they didn't believe or didn't have very good reason to believe. It was because in a nontransparent government like Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, it was not possible to know precisely what the state was of those weapons of mass destruction until we overthrew him. That's the real truth of the case.


So I would hope that the American people would go back and they would look at this history and they would remember that we had multiple resolutions in the UN Security Council that said he was a threat to peace and security. There wasn't disagreement in the international community that he was a threat to peace and security. There wasn't disagreement that he still coveted Kuwait, which he refused to recognize as an independent state. There wasn't disagreement that he was firing at our aircraft that were trying to keep him from harming his own people and his neighbors. That was all agreed. And there wasn't disagreement that he refused to answer very clear questions about the state of his very dangerous weapons of mass destruction programs. Those things were all agreed.


The only disagreement was, was it time to deal with that issue and to take him out of power and there, there were disagreements. The President made a judgment that I fundamentally agreed with then and I fundamentally agree with now. Having done that, it is the obligation of the United States to leave that country better than it was. Given our values and given our experience, that says leave it with a foundation for democracy and then it can become a pillar in a different kind of Middle East, because the Middle East was not stable.


I've heard people say, "You disturbed the Middle East." No; any place that could produce al-Qaida wasn't stable and we needed a different kind of Middle East. I think we will get one. On Iran, it is not just the United States that believes that Iran is on a dangerous course. I would ask you to read the comments of the Russian Government or the British Government or the German Government on this. The world wants Iran to adhere to its obligations and that's why the United States, in coordination with its allies, is seeking and probably will have to seek Security Council resolution to that effect.


QUESTION: Thank you.


SECRETARY RICE: Yes, all the way back here.


QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. My name is Chris Robling (ph.). I want to ask you, as a Russian expert, if you could speak with us for a couple of minutes about the way in which you personally believe Vladimir Putin relates to the evolution of democracy in Russia and the basis on which he approaches that issue.


SECRETARY RICE: All right. Thank you. Well, there's one thing that I want to say about President Putin. I have no doubt of his commitment to his country and of his desire to see Russia prosperous and stable. I also have no doubt that he is not -- he and the Russians are not in the Soviet Union any longer. Russia is a very different place and as we look at Russia's evolution, we have to remember where it came from. It is not -- this is not the Soviet Union.


That said, I think the most troubling thing about the evolution of politics in Russia over the last couple of years is not that the state has become stronger. I think the state had to become stronger. It was really dangerously weak in the 90s. I think that most of us who knew the place thought that it was dangerously weak in the 90s, the Russian state. But the problem for Russia has been that it has tended to swing then too far to the other side. And the absence of a truly free press, the absence of a legislature that is really able to check the presidency, the absence or the seeming absence of an independent -- truly independent judiciary presents you with a circumstance in which most power is now held in the Kremlin and that -- quite apart from Vladimir Putin and what his personal predilections may be.


And I don't -- I frankly don't think he is the problem. The problem is that when you have that much concentration of power in the Kremlin, in the hands of a president, you are going to have more authoritarian tendencies. That's why the founding fathers recognized the need for balance of power. That's why, in parliamentary systems, you have the ability to remove the executive if things go wrong. And so what we've been trying to do with the Russians is to talk to them about the institutions of a free society and encourage them to build those institutions. And I have to tell you that I think it's not gone in a very good direction over the last couple of years.


That said; we're working with the Russians on a number of important issues. I think we need to continue to work with them. And I've read the articles and the stories that say, "Well, exclude them from the NATO-Russia Council, exclude them from the G-8," and so forth and so on. I don't see any outcome -- good outcome for Russian democracy that comes from excluding Russia from institutions that have democratic values at their core. And so I continue to believe that the engagement of Russia in these institutions is a net-plus, but we also have to challenge the Russians that their own domestic development is troubling and that it is troubling to the world because a truly deep relationship with the United States or with the West rests on common values. And Russia's adherence to those common values and the institutions that represent them is in question at this time.


Yes. You, sir, you were standing earlier.


QUESTION: Ronald Emberman (ph.). Thank you, Madame Secretary. Everyone is waiting to see the Iraqi army replace our soldiers and yet, the Iraqi soldiers, I understand, have no continuing obligation to serve. They can just relieve themselves of any service with no consequences. Could you amplify that and perhaps even talk about the deflection rate that's involved with the Iraqi army?


SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Iraqi soldiers do undertake an obligation to serve and they don't have the ability just to walk away. In the early days, the first time that we trained the Iraqi army, we frankly didn't do it very well. It was a kind of false start and yes, there were lots of defections because we tried to create an army without really a chain-of-command that was Iraqi, without a defense ministry that could support them. And now, you're getting that chain-of-command and that defense ministry in a way that makes it truly an Iraqi army, not Iraqi soldiers serving under American commanders. And that has worked considerably better.


The Iraqi army is actually an institution in which Iraqis have considerable pride. When you talk to Iraqis about their army, they do believe that the army is an institution of pride. A lot of Iraqi army officers are, in fact, putting their lives on the line -- Iraqi soldiers are putting their lives on the line every day. They are taking more control of their own territory; for instance, the highway from the airport into the international zone, which has always been a very dangerous highway, has been less dangerous since Iraqis took control of that highway. There are towns in which the Iraqis are the presence and so, they are making progress.


There's been a bigger problem with the police and we are intensifying our efforts this year on police training, because as you might imagine, it's somewhat harder when you have police who kind of live in the community, go home at night, and are not subject to the same kind of discipline that you get in an army barracks circumstance. That's why we've had trouble with the police. But the Iraqi army, if you talk to our soldiers, our people who work with them, they are very pleased with the development of the Iraqi army.




QUESTION: My name is Greg Friend (ph.) and I'll be going to Northwestern in the fall. My question deals with the NSA wire taps that were uncovered by the New York Times in December. As far as I understand by reading the DOJ's recently published white paper, it seems that there are two sources for Bush's claims that he has authority to conduct these warrantless wiretaps without probable cause, the first being the invocation of the Inherent Powers Doctrine, which, during the 70s with the Nixon Administration, the Supreme Court ruled that the President's invocation of -- or such an invocation of the Inherent Powers Doctrine was unconstitutional, in violation of the protection of -- the Fourth Amendment protections guaranteed by the Constitution.


The second source that the white paper outlines is the AUMF, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress, I believe, in relation to use of force in Afghanistan, which, as far as my reading of, doesn't explicitly contain language about the use of things like wiretaps or warrantless surveillance. It just talks about the need to be able to use any necessary force.


Those given, I guess my question is, where does Bush actually have this authority? And if it's true that he can meld interpretations of either of the Inherent Powers Doctrine or the AUMF, then where do we draw the line on how far the President can go in unilateral actions that seem scarily dictator-like?


SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, I defer to the Justice Department white paper. I'm not the Attorney General and I don't try and tell -- give the President legal advice.




SECRETARY RICE: But let me answer your question from my perspective as a National Security official and as the National Security Advisor at the time. This is a very difficult war in which we find ourselves. It is a war that is not law enforcement, to be sure. Because if you wait to let people commit their crimes, so-called probable cause, and then wait to allow them to commit their crimes, then 3,000 people die or dozens die at a stop in London or wherever.


Remembering that for the terrorists, the purpose is to kill innocents. That's not collateral damage for the terrorists. That's the purpose, is to kill innocents. And so you have a different kind of circumstance in which what you try to do is to get as much information as you can, as much intelligence as you can to stop the attack before it happens. You cannot wait until it happens. That makes intelligence and information the long pole in the tent in the fight against terrorism every day.


And the United States faced a particular problem in terms of our inability to cover the conversation of somebody outside of the country who was plotting, potentially plotting a terrorist attack, and somebody in the country who might be a part of that plot. And there was a wall at which the United States was not able to hear what was going on inside our own country. We know that there were people in this country before September 11th that were having conversations with Afghanistan, people that later on turned out to be hijackers. We know that. We had no way to know that they were in San Diego. That's a problem if you're trying to protect the American people.


And for the President and for those of us who lived September 11th, and by the way, also lived the inquiry afterwards, when the people asked, did you do everything you could have to prevent this attack, you are absolutely determined to use all of your powers within the law to try to prevent that from happening again. We talked often about the wall between -- what went on in the United States and what went on outside the United States. Because of the way we had grown up with no internal threat for so long in this country, the fact that there were people inside the country plotting was something that was very difficult for us to connect up with what people were doing outside the country, who were part of the same plot. And so this was one of the efforts to bridge that divide.


Now, the President got the rulings from his -- from the Justice Department, from his lawyers that he was within his powers to do this. He would not have done it if he did not believe that he had the inherent powers and the statutory powers to do it. But having been told that, I think he had an obligation to do it. Now we're having a debate about the very delicate balances between civil liberties and national security on a whole range of fronts. And I think that's only appropriate in a great democracy like ours.


And by the way, when I went to Europe, I said to them we should have the same debate with our democratic allies around the world, because we do face another kind of threat and we have to protect who we are and protect our civil liberties. We also have to protect innocent life. And I think we're going to be having this debate for a long time. But I hope that as we have it, we keep in mind the fact that there are people in this country who talk to people out of this country about how to kill innocent Americans. And the President has an obligation to use every power available to him to stop that from happening. We're not talking about political enemies here; we're talking about people who want to kill innocent Americans. That's their goal. That is what they're after and they have to be stopped. (Applause.)


Sorry, this lady right here and then I'll get you.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, my name is Kelly Rasok (ph) and I'm a law student at (inaudible) University and I will be doing an internship with the State Department this summer.


SECRETARY RICE: Good. By the way, I was a State Department intern. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Wow, good to know.


SECRETARY RICE: I'm telling everybody in the Department, be good to your interns, you never know what might happen. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: A few weeks ago, a gentleman in Afghanistan was to be tried for his conversion from Islam to Christianity and you were instrumental in securing his freedom and urging for the Universal Declaration of Human Right to be upheld. And my question is: As Afghanistan is a young democracy, do you see this as setting a precedent that may lead the way to wider-spread freedom in that country?


SECRETARY RICE: It's a really good question and the way that you put it is very important because it is a young democracy. Afghanistan and many of the Muslim countries that are going through democratic transitions are having to deal with one of the most difficult issues that confront any political system, and that's the relationship between religion and religious law and individual rights and liberties. And we have been through it, although we were founded on separation of church and state; not everybody was founded on separation of church and state. And so it has been a very important evolution as these countries try to deal with this issue.


Now, I do believe that what happened in the Rahman case was a bit of a wake-up call to us and, frankly, to Afghanistan because it immediately brought international expectations into play in Afghanistan for what is understood to be the course of democracy. And I think that was a very good thing. The Afghanistan constitution does have protections for individuals in terms of their religious practice. And so as these countries go through this evolution, I think you're probably going to have more cases, some of them are going to end up in their courts. You know, we have to remember, again referring to our own experience, that our own evolution was one in which the Constitution has been interpreted time and time and time again as individuals come to the courts and say, you're violating my constitutional rights. And then we have a case about it and things evolve.


Again, as I said to the lady, we've had some pretty awful cases. You know, the Dred Scott decision was a pretty awful decision, and we've evolved out of those over time. The same thing will happen in Afghanistan. The same thing will happen in Iraq and there will be decisions that we do not like and that we will have to call to attention the international obligation. I think there will be victories for individual liberties as well. But this is the natural process of democratic evolution and it's going to take some time. The good news is it's not the Taliban. Because the Taliban could have carried out that sentence and nobody would have been able to do a thing about it, and that's what we have to keep in mind. Even when it's a young, troubled, struggling democracy it's far better than a dictatorship or an authoritarian regime that does not respect rights nor respects the will of the international community.


There is a gentleman all the way in back who was trying to ask a question. Yes.


QUESTION: Hi, I'm Michael Sand (ph). I just wanted to ask are we going to be able to hold accountable ever the governments or militaries, or at least members of the governments and militaries of Syria and Iran for terrorist attacks, like our base in Khobar Towers, the Jewish Community Center in Argentina or marines in Beirut or the French peacekeepers in Beirut and hold the members of those militaries -- or the assassination of Hariri for that matter?


SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, it is something that we are constantly cognizant of because those who commit atrocities of that type need to be brought to justice. When they are protected by authoritarian regimes or when they are themselves members of authoritarian regimes that are still in power, it is of course more difficult. Saddam Hussein and his henchmen are being held to account now because there's a democracy in Iraq. In Lebanon, you mentioned the Hariri assassination, the international community is going to hold those accountable who participated, planned, did whatever they did to plot the assassination of Rafik Hariri and so that will be held accountable. Charles Taylor is before the court of Sierra Leone; that's a good step forward. And so the trial of war criminals in the Balkans is another example of this.


I do think there is very little appetite around the world any longer to let those who commit these kinds of atrocities simply go free. Rather there is a very strong view and it's one that we share, that until you can hold them accountable, hold these people accountable, it's very hard to have reconciliation in the countries where they've done their terror.


I think I can take one more, I'm told. Okay, two more. Yes.


QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. My name is Kemal Abraham (ph) and I'm going (inaudible) another question related to the other two questions before that, is to do with human rights and equality in Egypt. Egypt is a friendly country to our country is getting the biggest aid after Israel for the last 20-some years. But as you know, Egyptian Government discriminate against minority Christians in Egypt and it is always a chain of violence. Last one -- last few days, they attacked churches in Alexandria, Muslim fanatics, and killed a Christian there.


My question to you is two-folds. One, what is the American Government going to do about our friend, the Government in Egypt, since we gave them the biggest aid and since it's a human right issue and equality issue and democracy issue? And my second question is, why the State Department opened dialogue with Muslim brotherhood in Egypt after they won the -- some of the election and we know that their extreme fanatic Muslim group -- which related to Hamas as well?


SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the latter question, we actually do not, as a rule, maintain contacts with Hamas. As you know, they're listed as a terrorist organization. And we have not -- we don't have contact with the Muslim brotherhood at this point. It's complicated because, of course, this is a growing force in Egypt, but our view is that the organizations that are really committed to democracy ought to be the ones that are supported by contact with the United States.


As it comes to the broader problem in Egypt, though, you know that I gave a speech at Cairo University. We talked about the need for Egypt to lead -- this great country of Egypt to lead the democratic revolution that is going on in the Middle East. And some good things have happened. I think the multiparty, multi-candidate elections that took place were a good thing. It opened a political debate in Egypt that had never been seen before and I think it will be hard to reverse that ever again.


On the other hand, we were disappointed in the way that the last round of parliamentary elections was conducted. It certainly was not conducted in a way that was free and fair and that was a great disappointment. And we continue to tell Egypt that this is an extremely important part of our relationship and it's going to continue to be the democratic dialogue.


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