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Rice Interview With Sean Hannity Radio Show


Interview With Sean Hannity Radio Show


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 14, 2005

(5:20 p.m. EST)


QUESTION: Anyway, joining us on our Newsmaker Line, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is with us. Madame Secretary, how are you?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm fine, Sean. How are you?

QUESTION: Well, I'm good. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, happy happy, and thanks for being with us.

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, it's good to with you, and Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you, too.

QUESTION: By the way, you know, there was a book written by Dick Morris that said Condi versus Hillary, the next great Presidential race. Any desire to fulfill that dream?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I don't think so. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I don't know if you have an opportunity, but you're on the front cover of Drudge right now and the headline is "Bush Gives Rice Lead Role in War Zones."

SECRETARY RICE: Really?

QUESTION: Yeah, did you know that?

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) I haven't sent the Drudge Report. I think it may be referring to the fact that we have a stabilization program that we are working out, whereby we want civilians to be able to relieve our military of a lot of the tasks of rebuilding countries once the war has been won. We've now had a series of experiences: Bosnia, and of course, in Afghanistan, and now in Iraq. And eventually civilian authority has to be able to take over, and the State Department is trying to increase its capacity to do exactly that.

But I can just assure you that in a place like Iraq, you'll never see a closer, more integrated working relationship between the military and the Embassy than we have out there.

QUESTION: Am I wrong when I see, Secretary Rice, an analogy with the former Soviet Union, the evil empire, the Eastern Bloc, the wall coming tumbling down. Remember when President Reagan took office and he called them an evil empire and he pursued modernization of weaponry in Europe and he sought to develop strategic defense and he walked away from Reykjavik and he said, "tear down this wall." All along the way, he had his skeptics, his critics, those who were against him. And I don't think anybody would have imagined what the result of confronting that empire could be, and we saw what happened.

Similarly, if you put it in the context or the prism of history, are we going to look back on the situation of Iraq and see that this was just the beginning, in your view?

SECRETARY RICE: I think that's how we're going to look back on it, Sean. I know it's difficult sometimes, you know, with the violence and being inside it, but nobody ever thought the Soviet Union would collapse. And, frankly, back in the 1940s, nobody thought we would have a Europe in which Germany and France never fought again.

And so, sometimes, you have to be able to imagine a very different future. And what this President shares with Ronald Reagan is his ability to imagine a different future and then to set the United States on a course of leadership to achieve that different future.

QUESTION: Yeah. Now, the President said he doesn't expect this to be without difficulties tomorrow. What do you anticipate? And how widespread do you believe Sunni participation will be?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think all indications are that Sunni participation will be very widespread, and we've gotten some good statements out of even some of the most hard-line Sunni leaders encouraging people to vote. But I want to caution that, of course, the terrorists know that every time there is a successful election in Iraq, their cause gets much harder and much weaker. So I'm quite certain that they're going to try to disrupt the elections. They are threatening people. I'm sure there will be violence. But the Iraqi people have demonstrated that they are determined to have a democratic future, and that's why it is so important that we support them and believe in them and that we stay until this job is finished.

QUESTION: When the White House and the President formally today giving you this authority to take the lead in the planning and reconstruction efforts in the conflict areas in Iraq, what does that mean?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is really a future-oriented-looking document that when we have these kinds of situations in the future, we want the civilian side to have the capacity to really rebuild and reconstruct countries after our military has done the job of defeating the bad guys. And we are putting together some new institutions --

(Break.)

QUESTION: Anyway, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is back. How are you?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm fine.

QUESTION: Now, you spent the whole day with the President and then you've got to, you know, mess around with the phones with me. That's awful.

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) There's something wrong with our phones. I'm sorry about that. I thought America's technology was prime.

QUESTION: Now that -- listen, you're gracious to spend more time with us, and we appreciate it.

Can I ask -- I'm not going to ask you a lot of political questions; I know you don't want to answer them, and I know that you probably shouldn't. But when you hear the head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, say that we're not going to win the war in Iraq or John Kerry says we're terrorizing women and children in the dark of night, what impact do you think that has on this war, and especially on the eve of these historic elections?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the important thing is that we, as a country, support the efforts that --not that just our troops are making, that's obviously very important because they're making great sacrifice. But we also need to give the Iraqis some credit for what they're doing. And I think that expressing a -- not just a commitment to them, but also belief in them is extremely important. It's important to our effort, it's important to their effort.

QUESTION: But do you think their comments hurt morale? Does it give justification -- are you there?

SECRETARY RICE: I am.

QUESTION: Yeah. In other words, the comments of -- these are the leaders of the opposition party in our country.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think there is no doubt that we can strongly disagree with those statements, and we can make very clear that we believe that the Iraqis are going to succeed and that we will win. We have to win. So my own view is no, it's not helpful, but you know it's a democratic country; people can say whatever they wish.

QUESTION: Let me ask about Iran for just a minute here. I mean, first of all, this Iranian President saying that they're going to wipe Israel off the map. Now comments have been made dismissing the Holocaust as a myth, saying that the Jewish state should be moved as far away as Alaska. There is also talk about, well, we can engage in some type of nuclear strike against Israel and yet they will not survive, but we will.

SECRETARY RICE: No. He's -- he obviously is saying things that are just completely outrageous. I think it's having the effect though, Sean, of just further isolating the Iranian regime. Nobody thinks that a -- the president of any civilized country should talk this way, and I can't imagine that Iranians want to hear their President talk this way.

He is sharpening the contradictions, if you will, between Iranian behavior and Iranian views and the civilized world.

QUESTION: You know, does it put Israel in the position that they now must think about a potential confrontation with Iran? I know that the Prime Minister, Sharon, he had some very tough words to say that Israel has this capability and if necessary would use it. Do you foresee the potential of this type of -- these types of statements are made over and over again that Israel might find themselves in a position of striking some of the nuclear facilities in Iran like they did in Iraq in the early '80s?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't speculate on how this might all play out. I think our goal has to be, as a civilized international community, to just condemn this and to take it as a warning about the Iranian regime and about its policies, and to make certain that they are not going to get a nuclear weapon.

I remember what the Russian Foreign Minister said when one of the first of these came out. He said that this has given a lot of ammunition to people who want to take this issue to the Security Council. Well, absolutely. If Iran keeps behaving in this way, we're not going to have any choice and they aren't demonstrating any willingness to actually negotiate.

I think the fact is Iran is just getting more and more isolated, and we're going to have to act on that sooner or later.

QUESTION: Well, we keep hearing reports. The International Atomic Energy -- IAEA made the statement that they may be closer to nuclear weapons than anybody imagined. How dangerous would nuclear weapons in Iran be to the entire world?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, it would be enormously dangerous, in that region, with the volatility in the Middle East, and with an Iran that has the policies that Iran has. Of course it would be extremely dangerous. And that's why I think you're going to find that there's more and more understanding of that and more support for a policy that simply will not permit the Iranians to go down that road.

QUESTION: So how do you like the new job?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm having a great time, Sean. It's -- I have found a lot of wonderful people to work with here at the State Department. I think it's sometimes not really understood. We see what our military forces are doing in Iraq. We see what our military forces are doing in Afghanistan, and it's terrific and they're sacrificing. If you go out there, though, and you meet with the men and women of our diplomatic corps, they're serving under difficult circumstances and dangerous circumstances and they're totally committed to this cause. And so it's just -- it's great to here, and I'm even not minding the travel very much.

QUESTION: Yeah, I actually think this prepares you very well to be the next Commissioner of the NFL.

SECRETARY RICE: I'm with you on that one. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: All right. Well, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as always, thank you for being with us and sorry about the phone trouble. And thanks for being so gracious.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Sean, it's great to be with you, and very happy holidays to you.

QUESTION: All right, you, too.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

QUESTION: All the best to you and your family. And, you know, we really appreciate it.

2005/170

Released on December 14, 2005

ENDS


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