Condoleezza Rice Interview San Francisco Chronicle
Interview With Debra Saunders of San Francisco Chronicle
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
October 11, 2006
QUESTION: Jimmy Carter wrote today that your response is likely to stimulate further weapons activity in North Korea.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, I think people have to recognize that the North Korean program has been going on for decades. In fact, some people would say it began in the late 1960s. It most certainly began as early as the late 1970s. And it's an international effort now to put enough pressure on North Korea, including from some of its closest supporters, is what is needed in order to get the North Koreans to back off and to decide to go back to negotiations.
I don't quite understand the argument that you would simply -- would you let this go and have them then continue their program? They've continued their program under any circumstances.
QUESTION: Is it possible that neither your approach nor the Clinton approach works?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's possible that the North Koreans are just determined to do this. But I think that there is a much better chance of getting them to reconsider their course and to find another way to enter the international system than through threat and intimidation. But the best way to do that is to have a coalition of states that have the same interest and can bring pressure on the North Koreans.
I'm quite certain that the way that it will not work to do it bilaterally with the North Koreans. The Chinese have leverage, the South Koreans have leverage, and I think now we can bring all of that leverage to bear on the North Koreans letting them know that there is always a diplomatic solution if they wish to take it. But I do believe that this is the best chance to convince the North Koreans to take another course.
QUESTION: The South Koreans do have leverage, but they frequently don't get what they want and continue to give humanitarian aid and work with North Korea. So is the six-party deal really better when the results with the other parties isn't as strong as you might want it to be?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do think you're seeing a different level of resolve now from some of the parties that have been -- I would say no one's been really supportive of North Korea, but the South Koreans and the Chinese -- I think the Chinese have been very outspoken that they now think you're going to have to have some punitive measures. And the South Koreans have said that they are going to review their relationship. I think that people are quite determined not to have a nuclear Korean peninsula, which means a nuclear North Korea, and that you're going to see people start to takes steps to deal with that.
Now some of it will come through sanctions. But you also -- we can strengthen the defensive measures to keep the North Koreans from, for instance, transferring weapons technologies to either other states or to non-state actors. We can work to have defensive measures like ballistic missile defense so it takes away any advantage that North Korea might actually think that it is going to have. There are a lot of arrows in the quiver of the diplomatic community if they are used, and I think you've got a much better chance of using them when China and South Korea are actually a party to the agreement than when it's just a bilateral agreement between the United States and North Korea.
QUESTION: About a year from now you have the test sanctions, something happens, the result seems to weaken, doesn't it? I mean isn't that usually when the other parties give in?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I don't think you're going to see people's resolve weaken at the thought of a nuclear North Korea with long-range missile capability. This is fundamentally different. The -- it's one thing to know that the North Koreans are pursuing a program, that they are either creating plutonium or enriching, it's quite another to see them trying to move toward weaponization. And this gets peoples attention in ways that I think things in the past have not, and I think you're seeing now a much stronger effort.
It's also the case, Debra, that the President has been working at building this coalition for several years. It takes time to build a strong coalition of states that have the same interests and that are prepared to stick to a program to bring the North Koreans around. I think this is also a coalition that put together an actual agreement, which if the North Koreans wish to adhere to it, they actually have an agreement. So a lot has been done in this period of time, but the North Korean behavior over the last couple of months, first with the missile test and now with this announcement of a nuclear test or proclamation of a nuclear test, puts things in a different place.
QUESTION: David Frum said that the U.S. should end humanitarian aid to North Korea. Do you agree?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, at this particular moment we're actually not contributing to the World Food Program because we have had concerns about whether the food is being diverted and there has not been enough transparency to ensure that the food is not being diverted.
But we also have to take care, you know. We don't want to use food as a weapon. These are impoverished, oppressed people who, through no fault of their own, live in probably the most repressive regime in the world. And the United States has always tried to be generous even under the circumstances of very bad regimes. For instance, we were at one point the largest food aid donor to Afghanistan despite Taliban rule. And so we will have to make some judgments here. I don't know that food assistance is where you want to begin, but right now we have been concerned about transparency and so we've not been making those donations. But I think if we can -- if we are less concerned about transparency, I don't think we're going to want to use food as a weapon. I mean, what does that mean for the starving people of North Korea?
QUESTION: For you, how does it feel that no matter what you do you're going to get barraged on all sides?
SECRETARY RICE: By whom?
QUESTION: Everybody. From Hillary Clinton, your plans didn't work one way. There are other conservatives who say the fact that the resolve -- that you softened for a while, that it emboldened North Korea.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, look, that's what some people get paid to do. I currently get paid to try to solve the problem. I'm quite sure that when I'm back in the gallery of people making comments I'll have other views. But look, I'm going to just -- and the President -- we're just going to keep working at this coalition and working at getting the international system organized to deal with this threat.
I really do believe that people don't recognize how extraordinary it is to now have China in a position where they are willing not just publicly to criticize North Korea but to make clear that they plan to go along with punitive measures against North Korea. When the Agreed Framework fell apart, it was the United States out there alone. It's no longer the United States out there alone. That takes work and that takes time and it's a success.
QUESTION: Now, I hear you but I sort of, I see something happening in six months or a year. I see Kim Jong-il violating the agreement and he'll get away with it, he'll continue to get what he wants, and I wonder what that tells him as to whether it works.
SECRETARY RICE: I don't think he's getting what he wants. What he wants is for the world to acquiesce in his nuclear program. What he wants is to be rewarded for his nuclear blackmail. And what he's gotten is further isolation. What he wants is for people to give him a light-water reactor. He's not getting it. What he wants is for people to give him assistance so that he and his cronies can have luxury goods. He's not getting it. So what he wants is that people accept his regime as legitimate and nuclear. He's not getting it. So I don't think Kim Jong-il is winning this.
QUESTION: I was reading your speech on transformational diplomacy and you said that you often look at certain things and say, "What would Jefferson have thought?"
SECRETARY RICE: Right.
QUESTION: What would Jefferson have thought about what's happening in Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: In Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, look, for the Founding Fathers the notion that America would have had this kind of reach or this kind of international responsibility I think would have been not thinkable. We were 13 small states with a few territories to the west of those 13 states and very little in the way of international relations. As a matter of fact, I was looking -- you know, Thomas Jefferson was the first Secretary of State. He had 11 people working for him. (Laughter.) So I suspect he would have been absolutely -- he would be absolutely amazed that American strength and influence is that -- is now that broad.
But I do know, too, that he believed very strongly in democratic values as the basis for a more secure world. And in that he was not like some of the Founding Fathers, you know, and it was at the base of their arguments about whether the more natural ally for the United States was at the time France that was going through a democratic revolution or Britain that was not. And so I think he would have looked at the -- perhaps the promotion of democracy would have been a surprise to him. But America standing with democratic values, I don't think that would have been a surprise.
QUESTION: Do you think that fear of what will happen in the 2006 and 2008 elections is a good thing vis-Ã -vis pressuring the leadership in Iraq now?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we have to be clear with the Iraqi leadership that the United States is committed to an outcome in Iraq that leaves Iraq stable and with a foundation for democracy. But there is also no reason for Iraqis to just assume that that commitment doesn't require a commitment from them as well to overcome their political differences and to make progress on the things that they have to make progress on and disband their militias. When I was there, Debra, I told them. I had sessions with them and I said: Look, this President is committed. And as long as he's President, America is committed. But I'm going to tell you that the America people don't understand Iraqis killing Iraqis. They don't understand it. And frankly it's up to you to have that stopped.
Now, we can help them a lot with the training of their security forces, with providing help to the security environment, but ultimately it's a political choice that they have to make that they're not going to let sectarianism overrun them or overcome them. And I think that I see in their leadership a very strong commitment to that.
QUESTION: On the other hand, there's a very strong commitment on the part of terrorists living in that country to stop it.
SECRETARY RICE: There is. They have determined enemies but they have the great majority of the Iraqi people who want a stable life. They have a political system that I think has evolved a lot in the three years since we've been there. And they have security forces that can respond. Now it is absolutely the case that there is going to continue to be violence in Iraq. You're not going to be able to destroy all of the violent people.
But the real question is, is it going to go the way of a number of other places where the violence continued but the stability also continued? I think of El Salvador, which was very violent, but after a period of time, even though there was some violence, there was no threat to stability or Colombia, which was very violent. But even though there are still insurgencies in Colombia, still terrorists in Colombia, nobody believes that they are going to bring down the Colombian Government. So, yes, I think the violence will continue for some time as will determined violent people.
But the question is for the Iraqis how are they going to stabilize the core and how are they going to bring a kind of stability that cannot be undone by those violent people. And I think they understand that, but they've got to begin by making some difficult political decisions that really are before them in the next several months and making them despite their own political differences.
QUESTION: And what if they don't make them?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't think it does any good to speculate. You know, we just have to put all of our efforts into helping them to make those decisions.
QUESTION: And if they ask us to leave?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've always said that if the Iraqi -- Iraq's a sovereign nation and we stay because they have asked us to be there. Now we're there under Security Council resolution, and I have to tell you I don't hear much from the leadership about asking us to leave. In fact, the -- one of the Sunni leaders who just a few months ago associated with the insurgents, was more associated with the insurgence and said, you know, we were occupying forces not too long ago, just a few weeks ago said actually he really, really hoped much not America would stay, he said something a little outrageous, reoccupy Baghdad he said, make it safe.
But I think that what you're finding is that people understand that we are a force for stability that can provide an atmosphere -- help to provide an atmosphere under which they can all come to a resolution of their political differences. But you're not hearing from almost anybody in the political leadership any longer that they want us to leave.
QUESTION: So Americans who say if we -- we should give a date when we're going to leave?
SECRETARY RICE: I think that would embolden those who believe they can wait us out. I would rather say to the Iraqis our commitment is a commitment to get the job done, but we can't get the job done alone. It takes Iraqis to get the job done, too. And to force that bargain.
QUESTION: Do you know if Darfur is part of the international war on terror?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Darfur I think is located in a country, Sudan, which has been very central in the war on terror. And it is a place that still has a fair number of terrorist activities. It still has people w ho are associated with terrorism, and it has been and the Sudanese Government has been able to help some in the war on terror in recent years. But Darfur itself is more just the outcome or the result of the inability of Sudan to ever -- it's a central government in Khartoum to ever have governed Sudan effectively.
Sudan is a place that's very diverse with African populations intermingled with Arab populations intermingled with Christian and Muslim populations where in this very far-flung territory the central Khartoum government has for years, ever since its independence, refused to share equitably among the various regions. And that's really the cause of the Darfur conflict. We helped to resolve one of those conflicts when we got the North-South agreement and brought about a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Africans in the South and the Arabs in the North, but now Darfur, which is another one of these conflicts where you have an inequitable distribution of resources, needs to also have a political agreement that will address that underlying problem.
QUESTION: When I interviewed you last in 1999-2000, you said that the Bush Administration wouldn't want America to be the 911 number for the world to call when there's a problem. So what more do we do in that region?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first thing is that, as I think I've probably -- I probably recognize that while we are maybe not the 911, we're certainly a phone number that everybody calls when there is a problem. And what we have to do is that we do need an international system, an international community, that functions more effectively, more urgently, that is not afraid to make tough calls, not afraid to say that there are rights and wrongs.
We need the Security Council to function really effectively. I think it's had a good year, actually, if you look at the Security Council. In the month of July it got a resolution on Iran and a resolution on the North Korea missile test. It's about to get a resolution on the North Korean nuclear test. It ended a war in Lebanon, not without a lot of American involvement in actually putting together the ceasefire. But the international community has put together a resolution on Darfur to get troops in to Darfur. So we're doing better in the Security Council, but we need states to step up and be willing to take difficult decisions and sometimes there's a tendency to talk and to assume that there just must be a solution out there if you talk about it long enough. And sometimes there isn't. Sometimes you have to take the tougher decisions.
QUESTION: About Kyoto, do you think the President was wrong to proclaim it dead, that maybe he should have continued to pay lip service to it and not ratify it, as President Clinton did?
SECRETARY RICE: No, I think we had to be honest about what we thought about Kyoto. Now, I'd be the first to say we could probably have done it a little bit more smoothly than we did and probably didn't given enough notice or consultation to those who were very wedded to it.
But I think what you're seeing is that the Kyoto targets are not being met. Even if they were met, without China and India covered by Kyoto you're not going to deal with greenhouse gas emissions in an effective way. And actually, we've put together a much more effective, I think now, way of dealing with the climate change issue that was really at the core of the Gleneagles agreement which really does understand that economic growth, technological advancement and environment need to go -- and energy needs need to go together, that you're not going to be able to tell and India or China that's trying to grow rapidly that they're not going to be able to have the energy supply to sustain that growth. And that means that you have to have access to technologies that are clean and don't continue to contribute to the greenhouse gas problem.
So the United States has a partnership, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Climate and Energy, which is a partnership with Australia and India and China where we are working toward sustainable, clean ways to protect the environment and yet get energy for these growing economies. One of those answers is going to have to be nuclear energy and one of the things that the President has really pioneered is a way for countries to pursue civil nuclear power without contributing to proliferation risk. So we've been actively engaged in perhaps a program of fuel assurances so that if a country wants a civil nuclear reactor, it can have that reactor, get the energy from that, but not have to have the byproduct of fuels that could be used in a nuclear weapons program. So the President has been very active in this area and I frankly think we have a much smarter policy on this than Kyoto.
QUESTION: What did you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger signing a greenhouse gas bill and meeting with Tony Blair?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, I think first of all California is an awfully big state and it's an important state and I don't see anything wrong with Governor Schwarzenegger reaching out internationally. I think that much of what is being talked about there is probably consistent with the way we see the future of these issues. But this is an issue that's going to be resolved in very large part by technological innovation and breakthrough, and California is on the lead edge of that.
QUESTION: Now, people wonder if you're coming back to California.
SECRETARY RICE: I am coming back to California.
QUESTION: Are you running for governor?
SECRETARY RICE: No, I'm just coming back to California. I'm looking forward to it. I was recently out in Sun Valley, Idaho and I thought to myself that there's no doubt that I belong west of the Mississippi. So I'm looking forward to getting back.
QUESTION: Do you ever think about getting into California politics?
SECRETARY RICE: I really don't think about it, Debra. As you might imagine, I've got my hands a little full right now and so -- (laughter)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) a lot.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, so I'll worry about two years from now two years from now. I think I'm really enjoying this work. I'm fortunate to be Secretary of State at a time that's actually consequential and it's a time when we have a lot of challenges but we have a lot of opportunities.
You know, it's -- I was in London the other night and someone had left a little saying by Churchill on my bedside table. And it said, "An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity and a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity." And I count myself among the optimist. There are a lot of very tough circumstances out there right now because the world is changing very dramatically post-September 11th. But there sure are an awful lot of opportunities for people to live more democratically, for women to live democratically, for the 50-plus million people that have been liberated by the United States to have a better future. I think for the Palestinians to have a state. I can see so many opportunities so I'll focus on that for the next couple of years and then I look forward to getting back to California.
QUESTION: Mind asking just one more question?
SECRETARY RICE: Sure.
QUESTION: I was reading the Senate Intelligence Committee Accuracy Report and toward the end it talks about the defection of Husayn Kamil in 1995 which led Saddam Hussein to sort of give up information that (inaudible).
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: And what the committee concluded was that he thought he was doing a gesture of goodwill that would make people -- and that the U.S. and the UN would see that. The U.S. and the UN saw what he did and looked at them and said, ah, this is proof the guy's just a cheat.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: But in the end that's when he stopped his concealment activities.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, he continued -- I mean, he did continue his concealment activities. He fessed up a lot because he knew that the defection was going to produce all kinds of information. But the fact is that this information around the Iraqi WMD program was really pretty extraordinary. I think when people go back and look there are going to be really important questions that probably can be answered from the documents but that haven't yet as to even how widespread within the Iraqi Government it was known what their programs were, what the state of them was. Because he, on the one hand, was saying that he didn't have them, and on the other hand, not providing any information and data that he -- that would have given anybody comfort that in fact he didn't.
QUESTION: You almost get the feeling that they're saying there was this tremendous misunderstanding.
SECRETARY RICE: I don't think Saddam Hussein was misunderstood.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Okay, Debra.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay. Take care.
Released on October 12, 2006