Rice Interview With James Rosen of Fox News
Interview With James Rosen of Fox News
February 9, 2005
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for your time.
SECRETARY RICE: Nice to be with you.
QUESTION: Do you enjoy being called "Madam Secretary?" It seems a bit arch as titles go.
SECRETARY RICE: Well I did the first week spend a lot of time looking around to see who that might be, [laughter] but I'm starting to get used to it.
QUESTION: Thank you for your time today. You've done an awful lot of interviews on this trip and, interestingly, you have been asked very little about Iraq. You remarked the other day, I think yesterday, that the Shiite political parties that are expected soon to be declared the winners of the recent elections in Iraq know that it would be unacceptable to the people of Iraq for them to form any kind of exclusionary or clerical government. What assurances has the United States received in that regard, and from whom?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm simply looking at the statements that the Shiite leadership is actually making to the Iraqi people. And it's interesting, we are now in a period where, because democracy is beginning to emerge, accountability to the Iraqi people is really going to be the most important element. I was listening to the Finance Minister, who is one of the leading Shiia leaders, Mr. Al-Mehdi, and he was saying that they intend to invite even those who didn't vote to be a part of the formation of the government, to have positions, because they wanted to be one Iraq.
I also believe that the Iraqi people don't have a tradition of clerical or theocratic government. This is not Iran. And so, I really do believe that they will come to an arrangement that has a proper role of course for Islam but one that recognizes that there are other religious and ethnic traditions in Iraq as well.
QUESTION: Certain pains were taken to make sure that women would be represented in whatever national assemble is formed, is there a female leadership class in Iraq that will be equipped even to fulfill those positions?
SECRETARY RICE: Well there are women leaders in Iraq and some of them have been very important in this early stage of Iraqi political development. But there needs to be more development of a leadership class that includes women. One of the things that the United States was very active in in Afghanistan was something called the Afghan Women's Council, which really did seek through civil society groups and women's groups to help prepare women leaders in Afghanistan. And should the Iraqis desire, we're prepared to do more of that. We've been doing some of that through our educational and cultural exchange programs. But it is an important task, and it's something that, by the way, Europeans could be involved in too because the development of leadership classes takes time.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that in six months they will be running the place?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, maybe, I wouldn't count them out [laughter]. But it's really a great thing to see women taking their rightful place in leadership in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Let's move to proliferation issues if we may. I don't think you've explained or perhaps undertaken to explain, as much as you've been asked about Iran on this trip. I don't think that you've undertaken to explain exactly why it is that you believe that diplomacy does in fact have a chance with a group that you called the un-elected few, with a loathsome human rights record, that has been playing games. Why is it that you have any confidence that diplomacy really can work with the Iranians?
SECRETARY RICE: Well the Iranian regime is not like some other regimes in the world. I don't think that it can afford to be completely isolated from the international community because the Iranian people, who go back and forth in the world, who are very much a part of the international community. You see business people, particularly from Europe, going to Iran. It is a society that does have some permeability. And the un-elected few would be taking a great risk to actually end up in a situation in which Iran was completely isolated from the international community.
On the other hand, the international community has got to be certain to speak with one very tough voice to the Iranians that it is not going to be acceptable for Iran to build a nuclear weapon under cover of civilian nuclear power. I'm really quite confident that if we can get that unity of purpose and that unity of message, and if the Mullahs think that they have no other option but to give up their aspirations for a nuclear weapon and provide and allow for verification, then we'll have a very good chance of success.
QUESTION: Do you not yet have that unity of message?
SECRETARY RICE: We have unity of purpose and we have unity of message, but, for instance, the Iranians need to hear that if they are unwilling to take the deal, really, that the Europeans are giving them, if they're unwilling to live with the verification measures, to sign the additional protocol to allow the IAEA in completely, then the Security Council referral looms. I don't know that anyone has said that as clearly as they should to the Iranians. We've believed all along that Iran ought to be referred to the Security Council, and then a variety of steps are available to the international community. But they need to hear that the discussions that they're in with the Europeans are not going to be a kind of way station where they're allowed to continue their activities, that there's going to be an end to this, and that they're going to end up in the Security Council.
QUESTION: Speaking of other regimes that are perhaps more isolated than Iran, you have been and President Bush, you and President Bush, both have repeatedly stated on the record, explicitly, that the United States has no plans to invade or attack North Korea with regard to negotiations over its nuclear programs. Are you unwilling to make the same explicit statement on the record regards Iran? This is an opportunity right now to do so.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the history's very different on the Korean Peninsula and there we have a very strong deterrent of more than 30,000 American forces. We're going to reduce those forces by about 12,000, but we're increasing the technological capability of our forces there. And we have a South Korean partner with whom we have a very powerful alliance, very strong military alliance. And so the security condition is different on the Korean Peninsula. But with the Iranians, the question just isn't on the agenda right now. There is time for diplomacy. The President never takes any of his options off the table.
QUESTION: Do you have faith that Kim Jong-Il is sane and can be dealt with?
SECRETARY RICE: Well I have never met the man of course and we have no contact with him. The South Koreans and the Chinese believe that this is a leader who understands what he's doing and can live up to obligations if he chooses to do so. I think we have to go with that assessment. And the North Koreans have always demonstrated that they're pretty good at carrying out their interests; when they signed the 1994 agreement, within in a few years, were looking for another route to a nuclear weapon. They were pursuing the highly enriched uranium route. This looks like a leadership that's quite capable of knowing where its interests are and pursuing them. So what we have to do is convince the North Korean leadership that their interests are in a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula because the neighborhood and the rest of the international community will not accept a Korean Peninsula that is nuclearized.
QUESTION: Off to the Israeli Palestinian subject. General Ward, what kind of staff will he have?
SECRETARY RICE: We'll talk. General Ward will come back to Washington, and we'll discuss what he needs. I suspect that he can use a lot of the existing infrastructure; after all, we have missions in the Middle East, in Israel and a consulate in Jerusalem that deals with Palestinian issues. But the most important thing is that he is going to be actively involved, not just with the Palestinians, but with the Europeans, with the Egyptians, with the Jordanians who are going to be involved in helping to train and equip the Palestinian security forces. Yes, it will be important to help in security coordination whenever possible or whenever needed. And it will be important to help in terms of monitoring. But the focus, really, of General Ward's activities will be to finally get the Palestinian security forces to a place that they can really perform. When I was talking to President Abbas, one of his strongest points to me was that the security forces in the Palestinian territories are variable in their quality, that they need to be turned into a professional force that will be capable of really fighting terrorism and of keeping the peace. And so that is General Ward's number one task.
QUESTION: If, heaven forbid, something were to happen to Mahmoud Abbas, would this whole process and the progress we're currently seeing be down the tubes? Should we worry about that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well we certainly hope that nothing happens to him. What he is doing is quite remarkable- his statements about the end of the armed intifada- really very, very brave. And also he is laying a foundation for new institutions that will be the foundation for a Palestinian state that should be about ultimately more than one man. He has made that point himself- that he wants to appoint a government that is responsible, that will deal with reconstruction, a government that is not corrupt, a government that has the confidence of the Palestinian people. And the very fact that he stood for elections on that basis gives him and those that he brings into the government a firm foundation for governing.
QUESTION: Emily Miller is telling me that we're out of time, and I know how ferocious she can be in these instances. But I want very quickly, one last minute, sixty seconds of your time, if I may, to ask you some off the chart questions here [laughter].
When was the last time you just blew your stack, I mean lost it? Shouted?
SECRETARY RICE: [Laughter] You'll never know, James.
QUESTION: At least not this interview. What will be the first thing you do when you get back to the Watergate? Your bags are back, and you're finally alone after this whirlwind trip. What will be the first thing you do?
SECRETARY RICE: Well it depends on what time we get back, but if I can I'd love to watch that tape of the Super bowl again because I only got to see a little bit on and off on the plane, so I think I'll probably watch the Super bowl tape Friday night.
QUESTION: Who is the living person you most admire?
SECRETARY RICE: The living person that I most admire? Well, I admire a number of people who are living. I admire the President who, I think, has a remarkable, remarkable grasp of what it is we need to do.
But probably the person that I admire most is my aunt who is the person who holds our family together. She is the person who's always there when anybody needs her.... QUESTION: her name is?
SECRETARY RICE: Her name is Genoa McPhatter. If somebody's sick, she's there to take care of them. It's what every family needs. And since my own parents are deceased, she's the person that I'm probably closest to.
QUESTION: No relation to Clyde McPhatter?
SECRETARY RICE: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Lead singer of the Drifters
SECRETARY RICE: the Drifters, I doubt it [laughter].
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for your time today.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. 2005/150
Released on February 9, 2005