Rice Interview by Gideon Yago from MTV News
Interview by Gideon Yago from MTV News
New York, New York
September 12, 2006
QUESTION: I feel very fortunate to be able to sit down and talk with you, the first senior administration official in five years to come and talk with us.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, my goodness. That's long then.
QUESTION: Well, I actually wanted to know what made you want to come and talk to a young audience today?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I love having a chance to talk to young audiences and I like spending a lot of time with, particularly college age students. I'm, of course, a college professor. And I think it's extremely important that young people get involved with international politics and that they understand international politics. It's a time when connections between young people from different parts of the world can be knowledgeable, hopeful and understanding. And so it seemed like a really great thing to be able to come and talk to MTV.
QUESTION: Where do you see those areas where the young people can do the most good?
SECRETARY RICE: It is really important that people around the world get to know Americans and that Americans get to know people from around the world. There are so many misconceptions about what Americans are like. And when I go to certain countries in the world, they say well, Americans are not really family oriented or they don't believe in religion, they're anti-religion, or I hear they are anti-Islam when, in fact, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States.
And so I think when people meet people, rather than government officials meeting government officials, they get a chance to know what Americans are really like, Americans get to know what other people are really like. And I would encourage young people to take opportunities to study abroad, to take opportunities to go on short-term fellowships. There are all kinds of organizations that provide those opportunities. It's really important to get out into the world and have the world know us.
QUESTION: I can't agree with you more, although I have to say I'm -- are you familiar with this poll that came out that PEW did in March of this year about U.S. attitudes towards the Muslim world and vice versa? It seems to indicate that there really is a chasm that's growing. And I wonder what can be done to bridge that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, if you only see other people through violence on the news and you only see people through caricatures of something, a statement that was made that perhaps was not a statement that was very eloquent about another culture. If you only hear governments talking at each other rather than talking to each other, which very often is the case, then attitudes are not going to be very favorable.
And we're going through a difficult time in which we have an ideology of hatred and terror that are using what is a peaceful religion, which is Islam, and converting that religion to their own causes. And so very often what Americans see is they see people on television and they say, well, they're Islamic Jihadists. Well, they no more represent Islam than extremists in the United States would represent Christianity or Judaism.
So we've got to break through those attitudes. We've got to recognize that Islam is a peaceful religion. We have to recognize that it is practiced here in the United States by millions of people; that if you go into a lot of communities in the United States, you'll see a church on one corner and a mosque on another and that our common humanity gets expressed extremely well when we live in a democratic environment like this where there's respect for religious values, respect for religious freedom. So that's a message that can be carried as well people-to-people as government-to-government.
QUESTION: What do you think the Bush Administration is doing to bridge that gap?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, at the State Department, I'm responsible for student exchanges and for international visitors. I've been seeing a lot of young people lately come through from different countries. We had a lot of people come through, young people come through for the World Cup, and we've had a group of young people come through recently. I saw a group of young women from the Middle East. We try to provide opportunities for students through student visas, for studies at American universities and we try to encourage American students to go and study in other places.
We're working really hard just to get Americans to be more interested in learning other languages. You know, we're a very vulnerable society because we're a very big country. And because a lot of the world speaks English, we've not spent very much time learning other cultures and learning other languages. And we have -- I have a new (inaudible) programs to encourage language learning in high school and in colleges in hard languages, like Arabic and Persian and languages like Chinese.
So if you're a young person today, I would say really take advantage of the opportunity to get to know other cultures, to get to know other languages, to travel to other places. It just widens your horizons and as importantly, meeting Americans when they travel abroad widens other people's horizons as well.
QUESTION: I absolutely agree. Those are very, very noble ideals. But I have to say that I've spent a lot of time talking with potential study abroad students, young people who have realized or grown up post-9/11. And I think that there is a fear of how an American overseas will be treated, how an American overseas will be engaged. And I was wondering, do you think that young people are too scared post-9/11 to go out and engage the world or are they not scared enough?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I wouldn't be fearful of going out and engaging the world. There are some places that Americans shouldn't go. And if you check the State Department list, they'll tell you where those places are.
QUESTION: Sure. But aren't those the places where we need to be? I mean, you're talking about places like Iran or Afghanistan or Iraq or Saudi Arabia.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, look, it's not -- it's not most places.
SECRETARY RICE: Most places in the world, Americans can travel, Americans can study. There are university exchanges. There are high school exchanges for that matter. And most places in the world Americans can go and they are welcome. And in fact, I think you would find that even in places where perhaps countries where people don't like our policies, they still want to get to know Americans. A lot of them watch MTV, you know. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Believe it or not.
SECRETARY RICE: That's right. And they want to know what is it like to live in America. They want to meet Americans. Even in places like Iran, one of the ideas that we had was to try to increase student exchange. I would love to have lots of Iranian students coming into the United States, Iranian musicians coming to the United States and soccer players coming to the United States and vice versa. Because even though there are differences between government, sometimes people can begin to bridge differences of culture and differences of thoughts and it's extremely important to have it happen. So I'd say to all your viewers here in high school and in college make a vow to spend at least a few months in some other country before you enter the work force.
QUESTION: Now you had said that sometimes people disagree with America's policies, but they love Americans in general. It seems like the one policy that has sparked a lot of anti-American sentiment has been the war in Iraq. I remember watching news feeds of candlelight vigils in Tehran after September 11th. Has the war on Iraq damaged that opportunity that the U.S. had to really engage the Muslim world after September 11th?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, there's no doubt that a lot of people disagree with the decision to finally overthrow Saddam Hussein after 12 years of trying to get him to answer legitimate questions about his weapons of mass destruction, after 12 years of having him continue to fire at our aircraft on a regular basis, after 12 years of having to continue to threaten his neighbors. But I would hope that as people think about what was done in Iraq, they would realize that we've also liberated 25 million people from one of the most brutal dictatorships in the 21st century. There are 300,000 people in mass graves that Saddam Hussein killed and put in those mass graves. He used chemical weapons against his neighbors and against his own people. So even if people disagree that -- with the decision to go to war, I would hope that they wouldn't disagree that it was a noble thing to try and free the Iraqi people of this horrible dictator, and we just have to explain that.
QUESTION: No. I think that's a very noble goal. But I guess my question was a little bit more about a real opportunity to engage the Muslim world and with Iraq, has the Iraq war shut that door?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think the Iraq war has perhaps opened that door because --particularly because what the Middle East has lacked for many, many years is a movement towards individual freedoms and political participation. Political participation of women has really been slow to develop in parts of the Middle East. And the United States has been now a champion for those in the Middle East who want to have the same -- very same liberties and freedoms that we enjoy.
I've heard people say well, you know, the policy in the Middle East, maybe they're not quite ready for democracy. Well, what a horrible thing to say about any people. And so Iraq, which will be or is now the first constitutional democracy, elected democracy in the heart of the Middle East, gives us a chance really to have a place in the Middle East where these -- values are practiced in the heart of the Arab world.
QUESTION: Are we sure of that? Do we know that for certain? Is that --
SECRETARY RICE: It will happen. The desire for freedom (inaudible) -- people say you shouldn't impose democracy. You don't impose democracy. You impose fear. If you ask people do you want to have a say in those who are going to govern you, most people will say yes. Do you want to be able to educate your children (inaudible)? Do you want to be able to worship as you please? These are the basics of democracy. It's true that democratic institutions will look different in different parts of the world. Japanese democracy doesn't look like American democracy. It doesn't look like Brazilian democracy. But people should have these basic freedoms (inaudible). But the United States should stand with those who want those basic freedoms (inaudible) that it's hard, and that it's a struggle when you start down that road that, too, is true. But we have always been the (inaudible) of our own (inaudible) to make our democracy one for equality for (inaudible) should recognize that as hard as it is, so does everyone (inaudible.)
QUESTION: I agree with that wholeheartedly. What I wonder, though, is that it seems like and this is according to different intelligence estimates, Pentagon estimates, there's a rising violence in Iraq. You're seeing less than prewar reconstruction levels in many parts of Baghdad, by getting the lights on, getting jobs back to people, installing basic systems of security. If that is not addressed, can democracy thrive?
SECRETARY RICE: And you're right. There's no democracy with that distracting the people. There is no doubt about that.
QUESTION: So that's the responsibility of the Iraqi Government?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, with our help. With our help. We helped out a lot in the reconstruction. America can be proud of the effort that has been made to take what was their power grid that Saddam Hussein invested nothing there and began to modernize it. Americans can be proud of the improvements to their health care system that we have helped the Iraqis make, or schools that have been opened there. University participation is up in Iraq by a (inaudible.) So there are a lot of very good things happening in Iraq, but they have a lot of enemies, and that's people who don't want the democratic process to go forward. And so those are the people who car bomb innocent people, who murder and assassinate people. But just because they have enemies doesn't mean that most Iraqis are not dedicated to a better, more democratic future. In fact, twelve and half million came out to vote in an election, despite the fact that terrorists told them if they voted, they would be killed. That's the kind of commitment that you have to go back a few generations in the United States to see that kind of (inaudible.)
QUESTION: On a personal level, how much more difficult has the Iraq war made your job?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iraq wasn't (inaudible) Secretary of State (inaudible) been very consequential and in the turbulent times of international politics. But (inaudible) and you know, the last time that I was here, I think it was before you were born, in 1989.
QUESTION: No, no. I appreciate that, trust me. But, no.
SECRETARY RICE: But the last time I was here in 1989, 1990, 1991, it was the end of the Cold War. And we went through a 45-year period of containing the Soviet Union, nurturing democratic values, even on the eastern side of the Berlin wall. And I was fortunate enough to be here when all of that came to fruition. So I got to participate in the liberation of Eastern Europe and the unification of Germany and a peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union and that was the White House specialist at the (inaudible) end of the Cold War. That was a lot of them. This time I (inaudible) come back and I think I met with Secretary of State (inaudible) transition. And so I'm really quite confident that one day we're going to look back and we're going to say, how could we ever doubt that Iraq could be democratic? Why would anybody ever doubt that (inaudible) democratic policies, because so many times in the international history things that once seemed impossible, the next day they seem inevitable. Nobody ever thought the Soviet Union would peacefully collapse but it did. A lot of people don't believe in democracy, but it will happen.
QUESTION: What happens if it doesn't? What's our Plan B?
SECRETARY RICE: You know you have to go after Plan A, with all of your might. Nobody's given me a good alternative to a more prosperous, freer, Middle East in which women are real -- have real citizenship, fully realize their potential. Nobody's given me an alternative to a Middle East in which there is hope and in which people are more interested in pursuing a degree in engineering than going and blowing up other innocent people. Nobody's been able to give me an alternative to trying to build the Middle East. But we've spent every waking hour supporting those who are trying to develop that country.
QUESTION: I think it's interesting that you brought up the Cold War analogy because some have characterized the war on terrorism as a new Cold War. Do you think that's a fair assessment?
SECRETARY RICE: I think what's fair is that it is like a Cold War generationally. It is not something that's won after four or five years. Obviously it's different when you're confronting a big communist state in the Soviet Union then now confronting these kind of loose transnational networks of terrorists who --
QUESTION: It's an ideology.
SECRETARY RICE: But (inaudible) ideology. And that's the real analogy when you were able to think the ideology. When you are able to demonstrate that the values of democracy and free markets were more powerful than the alternative of the communists were (inaudible), it collapsed.
QUESTION: So doesn't that put us, though, in a really interesting predicament, because we're talking about a system of values and a system of government and a system of society. And what we're up against is a theological thing. How can you say this is better than, you know, a misinterpretation of the Almighty? How do we defeat a religious ideology?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, in part -- in part it has to be done from within Islam. Islam itself has created that ideology that takes everybody back to the (inaudible) not represent Islam, that there is no contradiction between democratic value and Islam, that there is no contradiction between modernity and Islam. And if you look at democratic societies around the world, Indonesia, the United States, India, what you see is that Muslims are a part of multiethnic democracies. They prosper. They thrive. But they keep their (inaudible) and they keep true to their Islamic value. There is no reason to believe that somehow people who protect Islamic ideology are any less (inaudible) of having a good future for their children or being able to express themselves politically than anyone else.
I think it's a false choice and it's a choice that the terrorists and the extremists would like to make us believe is there, that it's Islam or democracy. It's not Islam or democracy. Those two can certainly live together.
QUESTION: Now, you characterized the war on terror as a generation kind of thing. What is it, though, besides simply joining the military that you're asking John or Jane Q. of generation Y to do?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, if you don't want to join the military or other government (inaudible) have the Foreign Service and being able to go out and be a part of America's diplomatic force. I'd say that people can contribute in so many ways to international understanding. We talked at one point about having international visitors. You know, I meet so many students -- so many people abroad, people who are now in positions like mine, who perhaps spent a summer in Iowa or perhaps went to a high school in Alabama and welcoming people into communities and doing exchanges. I know that there are many churches and synagogues and mosques that are inviting young people on exchanges. That is a big part of winning the war of ideas.
Similarly, if you're inclined and -- you can learn a foreign language. I learned Russian and back when I learned Russian it was considered the patriotic thing to do, to learn Russian. People needed to know more about the Soviet Union. People needed to know more about Eastern Europe, and we encouraged our best students and brightest students to really get to know other cultures. We're far too (inaudible). I would really encourage people to get to know other people, get to know other cultures. That's also part of winning the war of ideas.
QUESTION: Because it's topical, I would like to know -- well, first off, can you tell me what the National Intelligence Estimate is?
SECRETARY RICE: The National Intelligence Estimate is supposedly a classified document that is a product of the entire intelligence community. We have 16 different intelligence agencies and they come together to do an estimate on specific issues. And the one to which you're referring was on the war on terror. The problem is that the selective leaks from it actually don't cover the -- what the entire estimate was talking about on the war on terror and it's still a classified document. But let me just take on the argument. The notion that somehow because we're fighting back, we're creating more terrorists because we're fighting back therefore we are hurting ourselves in the war on terror. These are people who have had lots of different reasons for fighting us. They didn't like the fact that we had forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. We attacked Afghanistan. This is a movement that does not draw distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq. There's Iraq, some of them say Sudan. The terrorists are always going to have ways to recruit people to their cause.
Our job is to recruit people to the cause of peace and prosperity and our job is to defeat those who are intent on killing innocent people in the perversion of the name of a great religion.
QUESTION: Sure, but as I understand it -- the argument -- and I haven't read the document because it is classified. Until I get your job, unfortunately, that's how it's going to have to be. From what I understand though, the argument that's made in the National Intelligence Estimate, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that we're giving more fuel to the fire. Where actually the Iraq war has a more direct role in recruitment and is actually doing a better job of creating terrorists than it is of capturing and killing them.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, they have lots of ways and reasons to recruit. And the -- it is true that they have made Iraq a cause. Now why have they made Iraq a cause? Because they know that an Iraq that is democratic, that is modern, that is fighting in the war on terror is a tremendous blow to their cause. That's why they've tried to make Iraq a cause. So in a funny way, you would say to yourself, okay, so they want to make Iraq a cause. That must mean that we're actually doing the right thing by challenging them in Iraq. Because they suddenly realize that if that Iraq emerges, that the Middle East is going to be different. In the heart of the Middle East -- Iraq is the heart of the Middle Arab world, the heart of the Middle East -- a democratic, stable, tolerant Iraq is a cornerstone of a different kind of Middle East and of course they're going to fight and they're going to fight to keep that from happening. But it doesn't mean that you stop challenging them. It doesn't mean that you stop doing the things that you know will help to win the war on terror long term.
QUESTION: But are there more of them? Are there more radical Islamic terrorists because of the war in Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't -- well, first of all, I really rather doubt it, but let's say for a moment that there are. Does that mean that we don't do the things that we know will ultimately lead to victory on the war on terror, like the transformation of Iraq and the transformation of the Middle East? The terrorists attacked us on September 11th before we'd invaded Afghanistan and overthrown the Taliban, long before the Iraq war. They -- they attacked us in 1993 at the World Trade Center. They attacked our embassies in 1998. They attacked the USS Cole in 2000. They've been attacking us for a long time. It's time for us to stop blaming ourselves for the fact that they are attacking us and that they are recruiting and start blaming their ideology and the absence of a challenge to them for any progress that they might make.
QUESTION: Oh, I don't think anyone's blaming America. I think it's, you know, a fundamental question. I can't tell you the number of, you know, young marines that we've interviewed even this summer, or young servicemen that we've interviewed this summer, who are part of that generation that signed up to defend America after September 11th. They are the boots on the ground.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: And they did it because they want to make America safer.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: But we've heard questions from them having served -- is this working, is this making America safer and I guess that's really fundamental, the central question that the NIE provokes, at least for our audience.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, certainly, that part of the NIE provokes -- the part that was selectively leaked. The fact is that when September 11th happened we had a choice, we could just try to defeat al-Qaida and not take account of how al-Qaida got created, the conditions that led to the creation of al-Qaida. The fact that a Middle East where there was an absence of legitimate political activity, where authoritarianism rule produced this extremism, we'll just ignore that and just try to defeat them. I can assure you if you take that approach, there'll be another one and another one and other one. Unless you start to change the very basic nature of where this came from, your generation will be fighting this war and so will the next generation and so will the next generation.
You know, in Europe and I don't mean (inaudible) -- your listeners undoubtedly have read (inaudible) and at the core of it (inaudible) always (inaudible). And in 1922 we were drawn into World War I. We thought Germany was defeated. We left. Nobody did anything about the internal structures of those countries. Thirty years later we were back in Europe fighting again. After we defeated Adolph Hitler in 1945, the United States decided that it had to do something also about the internal (inaudible) and insisted on a democratic open Germany, which became then a partner for France. And France and Germany have never fought again. And Europe has never fought again.
In a sense, you can either defeat the present enemy but do nothing about the underlying circumstances and you'll continue to be at war or you can try to do something on the underlying circumstances. The United States this time is trying to do something about the underlying circumstance and trying to encourage the democratic transformation of the Middle East. And Iraq is an important (inaudible) in doing that.
It's very hard because building democracy is hard where it hasn't been before. But if you don't do it, you're going to end up finding yourself in a very (inaudible).
QUESTION: So the first question then, one of the things that we continually hear out of the Bush Administration is that it's necessary to fight the terrorists over there, meaning Iraq, so that we don't have to fight them here at home. Is that -- I remember when that first started circling during press conferences. I was actually in Baghdad at the time. And I think there were many young Iraqis that I think that did not sit well with because it kind of implicitly says that the life of a young Iraqi, or the land of a young Iraqi, is less valuable than that of a young American because we can turn it into an open trench in this generational conflict. Is that the case? I mean, is that what's being implied?
SECRETARY RICE: No, that's not what's being implied. It really simply meant that if you don't stay on the offense there's no way to completely defend yourself at home. Terrorists will find us here.
But we're giving -- the United States of America is sacrificing (inaudible) young men and women (inaudible) but also the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan. You know, I think no one should doubt the motive of the United States in wanting to see the Iraqi people or the Afghan people have control of their own future. We're not wanting to stay there and control their future. We want to give them a chance for their own better future. And so I hope it would be understood in that context that our -- their security is our security and our security is their security and so fighting them there secures us both.
QUESTION: I want to go move on to what is now the biggest grassroots movement on college campuses, which is to stop the genocide in Darfur. Just last week you appointed a special envoy to deal with the genocide there, but the violence has been going on for three years. Why did that take so long?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have been working at it for a number of years. I went to Darfur myself, you know. I've never seen anything sadder than those refugee camps and I'm told that they're (inaudible) -- little kids playing with flies on them because the (inaudible) heroic aid workers were just trying to make life for them. I've talked with women who had gone out to get water or firewood and raped. There is no doubt that this has got to stop -- the violence in Darfur has got to stop. The United States gives most of the (inaudible) to the people of Darfur, something like 80-plus percent. The United States is supporting the African Union mission with money and with planning (inaudible).
We helped to negotiate the peace agreement that we're now trying to put that together between the rebels and the government that might stop the violence. But most importantly, we have led the diplomatic charge to get a UN force into Darfur to actually protect people of Darfur. And people are right -- the international community (inaudible) slow. There are parts of the international community that protect (inaudible) government. Tell them, well, yes, you know, we shouldn't or say, yes. And I said that to my (inaudible) we should let the Sudanese know that you're not going to protect them. But in fact, we have to have (inaudible) security -- a UN force. We have a Security Council resolution; we need support.
So the United States has been on the front edge of trying to push these forward but we need more (inaudible).
QUESTION: But what if we do take it to the UN, what if there is a resolution and it is blocked? What do you say to the student activists who have been working for this?
SECRETARY RICE: I'd say turn (inaudible) some of those governments that are blocking it. By all means, I expect that the people in the United States should be pressing and pushing the U.S. Government (inaudible). We are working (inaudible) the President. But there are some governments that aren't doing everything that they could, where mixed messages are going (inaudible) about (inaudible).
QUESTION: Are we able, after Rwanda and now after Darfur, to really (inaudible) the genocide at the paths? Can we stop them (inaudible).
SECRETARY RICE: I (inaudible) Darfur we still have a chance to prevent (inaudible) we had a report this week from Jan Egeland, head of the humanitarian efforts for the UN. And we said there are people we can't get to, thousands, tens of thousands of people we can't get to. We've got to change that situation. We're going to try to support the AU force until a UN force can be put together. But everybody (inaudible) that the AU force is not large enough and mobile enough to deal with the problem. So we're going to keep raising the profile. I know at (inaudible) at the UN to try and place more pressure on the international community.
We sat here in New York last year and the leaders signed a statement that had something called the responsibility to protect, meaning governments have the responsibility to protect and the international system has the responsibility to protect Darfur. If Darfur is not an example (inaudible) and so we're going to keep pressing for that (inaudible).
QUESTION: Ten minutes or last question?
STAFFER: Ten more minutes.
QUESTION: Oh, fantastic. That's extraordinary. I would love to know what this situation room was like on the day of September 11th, because you're probably the first person that I ever interviewed who was in there.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's a day I'll never forget. I was standing at my desk actually when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. And I called the President and (inaudible) plane flew (inaudible). And he said (inaudible). I then went down to the situation room and I was in a meeting, and they handed me a note that said (inaudible). And I thought (inaudible). And so I went in to try to gather up the National Security Council. I called George Tenet who was at (inaudible). Colin Powell was in Peru (inaudible). And then I couldn't reach Donald Rumsfeld. I -- (inaudible) plane hit the Pentagon. And there was a sense that Washington and the United States was under attack. I called the President again and said, Mr. President, you can't come back here. And then I went to the bunker. And you know what the Vice President and the Secretary of Transportation (inaudible) for two hours in traffic. (Inaudible) was sitting here (inaudible). (Inaudible) when I actually thought that (inaudible). So it was really horrible because the terrorists didn't just try to terrorize us, they really wanted to try to break us down.
And one of the first calls I made that day was to the Deputy Secretary (inaudible) you have to send out a cable and let the rest of the world know the United States is (inaudible).
When you think back on a day like that, you realize that war was (inaudible). There are some who think of the war on terror (inaudible) -- because on that day that war was declared.
QUESTION: The other great tragedy that has affected America, unfortunately in the last five years, has been the hurricane on the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina. And I think that there's a lot of people in our audience who wonder why that didn't elicit the same kind of effective response as you guys in the situation room that day on September 11th?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you know, you have a natural disaster -- first of all, I think probably people did (inaudible) estimate how bad it was and how bad it would be. You know, my dad was (inaudible). And I remember he used to talk about the fear that there would be a hurricane and, as he used to put it, the Mississippi would overflow and (inaudible) and Lake Pontchartrain would literally engulf New Orleans. That's exactly what happened. But he would have been 84-years-old and he would have to (inaudible). And so I think that people weren't really quite prepared. And the fact that we had local government, the state police, the federal government who's responsible, we've got a lot of work to sort a lot of that out now.
The other really sad thing is that a lot of the people who got trapped (inaudible). But for one thing I resented the notion that somehow it was because a lot of these were black people so people didn't care. (Inaudible) no President, especially this President, I know and who's my friend, I know as well as I know my own family, the thought that he would let Americans suffer because they're black -- that's a hideous thing to say. But that people who were poor and didn't have the means to get out, I think probably that was (inaudible). But it's going to be quite (inaudible). There's been a lot of rebuilding (inaudible). And I simply hope that there'll be a rebuilding of spirit, you know. That's what needs to be (inaudible). I'm quite sure that (inaudible).
QUESTION: Some of that criticism was directed not at the President but at you, someone from Alabama, why you didn't make it more personal.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I mean, (inaudible) Secretary of State. The people in the lead were, you know, the Department of Homeland Security and others. But I remember a day after the (inaudible), cutting short vacation, going back, mobilizing the Department (inaudible) many, many foreign donations. There was an outpouring of people from foreign countries, even from the smallest and poorest countries. You know, we had Afghanistan sent contributions. It was really touching (inaudible). And then I did go home. I went to Mobile that weekend just to say that we were thinking about everybody, about Alabama. So, yeah, it affected me personally and the fact that my father was (inaudible).
QUESTION: My final question is, because prognosticators like to prognosticate, do you think America is ready for a woman President? I won't (inaudible) her name.
SECRETARY RICE: America is ready for a woman President at anytime. I'm --
QUESTION: Anytime the right candidate comes forward?
SECRETARY RICE: Anytime someone who actually wants to run for President and (inaudible) -- that would be present company excepted. But sure, I (inaudible).
QUESTION: Outstanding. Well, I guess that's our final question then. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: All right, thank you.
QUESTION: Hey, my pleasure. Thank you very much.
Released on September 29, 2006