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Rice Interview on ABC News with Miguel Marquez


Interview on ABC News with Miguel Marquez


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
November 11, 2005


QUESTION: I guess the first issue is the topical one. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed today that there were Iraqis who took part, including a married couple, in the bombings in Jordan. There were many Iraqis rounded up there. Is Iraq now exporting terrorism?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know what to make of those claims, but Zarqawi and his fighters have been in Iraq before. They are -- this place is no -- they're no strangers to this place. But what we have to concentrate on is that quite clearly Zarqawi is evidence of an ideology of hatred, which is determined to try and create a situation in which the United States will not stay in the Middle East, in which Iraq will become a place in which terrorism could flourish, and in which they will be free to carry out their ideology of hatred.

We have a very different Middle East in mind. We have in mind a Middle East in which democracy and freedom replace the kind of hopelessness that leads people to fly airplanes into buildings. We have a view of a Middle East in which free men and women are a bulwark against terrorism and in which Iraq is one of the pillars of that different kind of Middle East.

Yes, there's a contest for Iraq and our vision of Iraq has got to win out.

QUESTION: Are we really getting closer to that vision, though? And maybe it's because we in the press always seem to talk about the bad, and what's going wrong, and where the policy is failing us, but a lot of Americans have the sense that things are not necessarily getting better here, that the front lines in Iraq seem to have -- it's like that gopher game; when you hit one, it seems to come out somewhere else.

SECRETARY RICE: One of the reasons that I like to come to Iraq, and that it is in many ways exhilarating to be here is that you get to see what Iraqis are really doing. And they are building a political future on the ruins of a tyranny. It's not easy to move from tyranny to democracy. It's not easy to replace fighting out your differences through violence and coercion through overcoming your differences through political compromise and the political process, but that's exactly what they're doing.

So when I talked to Sunni leaders today, they weren't talking about the fact that they boycotted the elections in January or that they -- many of them -- voted no in the referendum. They were talking about how to be part of the political process that is going to elect the first permanent democratically elected government in Iraq. They were talking about how they were going to mobilize their voters, despite the security threats to them.

When you talk to Iraqis, you see a people that have now devoted themselves, committed themselves, to a political process, and you just know that that process is ultimately going to undermine an insurgency -- particularly these foreign terrorists who have no view, no positive view, of what Iraq should or can be.

And so being here, it gives you a sense of the tremendous progress that these people have made in really a very short period of time.

QUESTION: And I think today you saw some of the PRT work in some of the towns here. This also sounds like a perfectly reasonable and good idea.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: Why is it just being done now, though?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, they are building on the foundation of what we had been doing, which is to try to get out to the provinces, but we believe that now with the new Iraqi Government on the eve of its election and when they do have a permanent government that we're going to be in a much better position to unify our military and civilian and political efforts to put together teams that will have not just people who do reconstruction but also people who do civil affairs work and rule of law and bringing justice systems, and to do that at a more local level.

It was very interesting talking to the provincial leaders today in Mosul because since they are close to the people, their concerns are also much closer to the daily concerns of the people. We understand this from being a federal system in America; that a lot of governance is at the state and local level. Well, here in Iraq, a lot of governance is going to have to be at the provincial, regional, and local level, and the Provincial Reconstruction Teams will marry our economic, military, and political people in teams to help these local and provincial governments get the job done.

QUESTION: How much longer do you think Americans -- before Americans will see their investment in Iraq look like something that they believe is going to happen?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I hope that Americans understand that they are already seeing an Iraq that is no longer ruled by a dictator who threatens his neighbors, as he did, and actually taking over a neighbor in 1991 which, by the way, brought us to war in this region; that they're no longer facing a dictator who puts 300,000 innocent people into mass graves; that the ripples from Iraq are starting to make a difference in a Middle East where you have Syrian forces leaving Lebanon, where you have a Palestinian leader who talks about peace with Israel, where you're beginning to see the stirrings of democracy in places like Egypt, and certainly in Jordan and even in Saudi Arabia; and that this effort to build a more democratic Middle East, a Middle East where people's aspirations can be met legitimately through democratic processes, is likely to be a Middle East in which people are not so hopeless that they strap on suicide belts and blow themselves and other innocents up, or fly airplanes into buildings on a fine September day.

A region that produces that kind of hatred has to change, and America would never be completely secure unless the Middle East changes. And Iraq is one of the keys to that change.

I want to be very clear. That commitment is not primarily a military commitment for the long term. The military is here to clear out terrorists, to allow Iraqi forces to develop to the point that they can hold the territory away from the terrorists and to secure a situation in which the Iraqis can begin to build. But the long-term commitment to a democratic and peaceful and stable Iraq is really a commitment that is more political in character, more diplomatic in character, and more economic in character.

QUESTION: We're talking years and years?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, not the military commitment, I don't think has to be years and years. But America's commitment to a Middle East that will not produce the kind of terrorists that hurt us so badly September 11th, I think it's a commitment that's worth making.

###

2005/T19-5

ENDS

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