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Condoleezza Rice IV With Sydney Morning Herald

Interview With Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Hanoi, Vietnam
November 19, 2006

QUESTION: So may I?

SECRETARY RICE: Of course.


QUESTION: I wanted to start on the subject of Iraq. And I notice you're getting lots of free advice on the subject of Iraq at the moment, including Kristol and Kagan, even John McCain talking about the idea of increasing troop numbers in Iraq. Is that a feasible idea or is the only flexibility going to be downwards?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President is clearly going to listen to his commanders and to ask them, I think, and to ask them again in light of the fresh looks that are being taken about Iraq, the Baker-Hamilton of course, but fresh looks that are being taken inside the Administration as well by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Pete Pace, work that we've been doing in the State Department, what does that mean from their point of view about troop levels. I think that that's where people look for advice on that issue.

But the real key of course is that Iraqi forces are going to have to be the principal means of security for Iraqis. In part, in places like Baghdad, these are increasingly high-end police activities, going after death squads.

QUESTION: Rather than military.

SECRETARY RICE: Right, going after death squads, going after people who kidnap people. And so the training of Iraqi forces is really the key and I think it's also notable that Prime Minister Maliki has made very clear that Iraqis want to take the lead. And so while I think the President will certainly listen to his commanders under this fresh look, I think we do have to recognize that the nature of the fight is changing, particularly as regards to Baghdad, as opposed to Anbar, which is still more of a counterinsurgency anti-terrorist activity.

QUESTION: So that suggests that that's a very -- the idea of increasing troop levels is very remote?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, no, I would just -- I think the President will ask the question. But I just note that the context is changing considerably.

QUESTION: The Australian Government, as you know, has been a close and supportive ally through this enterprise. As this fresh look, as you put it, goes on, what sort of level of consultation can the Australians expect?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I had an extensive discussion yesterday with Alexander Downing, and the President is going to see Prime Minister Howard, so it will be the most direct consultation. And I know that the President will want to hear from our Australian colleagues, our Australian allies, on their views of where we are and where we go. I think we will also fairly shortly have further consultations in Washington through the Australian ministers through -- at the level of ministers. So we'll continue to talk to the Australians, but we do that in any case all the time. But as we do this evaluation, obviously we'll want to have the input of our closest allies.

QUESTION: So that as the strategy unfolds, Australia will be closely involved?

SECRETARY RICE: Certainly closely consulted for ideas and also for -- as the President moves toward any decisions.

QUESTION: Does this fresh look at Iraq strategy mean that the Australian opposition policy of immediate withdrawal from Iraq, does that make that less unacceptable?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't think anybody believes that the immediate withdrawal -- let me put that differently. I know there are people who believe that. We do not believe that the immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq is going to do anything but cause chaos in Iraq. And I think responsible voices are saying that from across the political spectrum. Whether people favored the war or didn't favor the war, the precipitous withdrawal of coalition forces would not be a healthy development -- the Iraqis themselves recognize that -- before there are adequate security forces from the Iraqis and before there is some maturity of the political process.

But it is also the case that things are moving along. They're moving forward on the political side and Iraqis will have to take more responsibility, not just security, in terms of security, but for making the difficult decisions about their political future. These are really decisions that Americans can't make, Australians can't make, only Iraqis can make.

QUESTION: So am I interpreting you correctly that a precipitant withdrawal would be irresponsible?

SECRETARY RICE: I think a precipitant withdrawal would be irresponsible, yes.

QUESTION: And while we're on the subject of Australian opposition policy, I'm told that the last time you visited Australia the leader of the opposition, Kim Beazley, approached you for a meeting, which you declined. I don't know if you can remember the reason why you --

SECRETARY RICE: I don't. But it wouldn't be unusual not to meet with opposition. So but I'm sorry, I don't remember the actual incident.

QUESTION: Looking at American policy from an allied country's point of view, now that there's a Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress, does that make -- will that make policy for an ally more unpredictable?

SECRETARY RICE: In fact, I think I could argue the opposite.

QUESTION: Oh, really?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, it's very funny. First of all, America has had a so-called split government a lot in our history.

QUESTION: Yeah, I know.

SECRETARY RICE: And it's not at all unusual. It's especially not at all unusual in the sixth year of a presidency. This President actually lost, on the average, fewer seats than has been the historical average in the House. Ronald Reagan lost the Senate in his sixth year in 1986. So the American people have a way of doing this in the sixth year of a presidency. And it of course does not cripple the Executive because the Executive is the principal executor of American foreign policy.

But the reason that I said that sometimes you get policies that are as coherent if not more is that you now have in -- the Democrats have a certain responsibility not in opposition but as a part of now controlling the houses of Congress to help resolve problems and to help move them forward.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: I think the President has said that he believes, for instance, on immigration that there is a possibility of real work to be done there. And on Iraq, I think what you're hearing from the American people is that they don't like where we are in terms of Iraq, and we don't like where we are either, we've not made enough progress. But there appears to be a real commitment to trying to find an appropriate way forward that would not do something that is irresponsible like a precipitant withdrawal of American forces, but also that recognizes that four years into the conflict we do need to address problems in the way that we -- that this has evolved and to find solutions to what is a new phase with a new government in Iraq that is very determined to have a lot of responsibility itself for its own affairs.

I know that there are those who say, well, you know, you're seeing these tensions between the Iraqis and the coalition. My view is: Good for the Iraqis to actually now have views and to want to take control of their own destiny. We've been waiting for a long time for an Iraqi government that was determined to act.

QUESTION: Looking at a slightly different manifestation of policy, which is trade policy, in a speech John Howard said recently that he was concerned at the prospect of more protectionist or less free trade type policy from the Congress. Is that a real concern?

SECRETARY RICE: I think this has been a concern for some time and it's something that America's trading partners should understand, that this President, who is a free trader, believes in fair trade but believes strongly in free trade, has been fighting what is increasingly in American an uphill battle to stay on a free trade. We got trade promotion authority a couple of years ago by one vote -- the Central America Free Trade Agreement, which was a very favorable agreement for the American economy, by one vote.

So this is a problem that has been brewing in the United States for a while. I think it makes ever more important flexibility on the part of our partners for the Doha round. No one should take for granted that the United States can continue its policies of very active free trade in an environment in which there are questions about fairness of trade. If I look at the number of free trade agreements the President has signed, it's really quite remarkable, including with Australia, where we have a very good free trade agreement. We have a number pending with Latin America. We've got others that are being negotiated.

But it's not this election that has created this circumstance. The President has spoken very clearly about his own concerns about isolationism and protectionism, and we've all got to fight it together.

QUESTION: When you talk about flexibility from your partners, you're talking specifically about the EU or others as well?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think both the G-20 and the European Union. It's important that Doha succeed.

QUESTION: And a free trade agreement for the Asia Pacific, which has got some currency here, is that a feasible fallback?

SECRETARY RICE: I think it's -- well, I wouldn't even call it a fallback. I think it's something that we ought to be pursuing. It needs a lot of examination because it's obviously, this particular set of countries, a number of relationships among them, it's complicated. But APEC is a grouping of probably the most dynamic economies in the world if you take them all together, spanning from the tip of South America all the way up to the tip of Northeast Asia. It's a remarkable grouping.

And it would be, I think, very useful to have a free trade agreement of this Asia Pacific area but it's something that's going to take some work, and I think the ministers yesterday were interested in proceeding to do that work.

QUESTION: So it can exist in parallel with a global Doha type agreement, too?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think we ought to be pursuing it all in parallel.

QUESTION: And if you had to put a best guess on the plausible sort of time frame for getting something agreed, what would you say?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm not competent, really, to judge. I think the trade people will have to take a look at what would be a set of very obviously complicated interlocking relationships. But as a political-economic matter, I think to see the power of these APEC nations united economically would be quite something.

QUESTION: Rupert Murdoch said in a speech this week talking about the Australia-U.S. alliance that -- he said the risk in that partnership for Australia is being taken for granted and that if the U.S. really wanted to demonstrate its goodwill and credentials in the alliance that it would consider abolishing agricultural subsidies. What do you think about those two propositions, the risk of being taken for granted and in particular the agricultural subsidies?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I don't think anyone takes Australia for granted. We're awfully glad to have Australia as an ally. It's been one of the most stalwart allies, really, for decades. But I remember going to Australia in January and we did an event with Americans and Australians who had served together. They've served together in Afghanistan, they've served together in Iraq, they've served together in tsunami relief, they've served together in so many circumstances that it was just difficult to count. And nobody takes for granted the sacrifice. Nobody takes for granted the steadfastness. Nobody takes for granted how really good the Australian forces are. You talk to our military people and they just love fighting side by side with Australians. And nobody takes for granted that Australia and the Australian Government have had a very clear-eyed view of the challenges in the war on terrorism.

I think as to agricultural subsidies, the President has made clear that he would like to eliminate trade-distorting agricultural subsidies but won't do it unilaterally, that we're not going to unilaterally disarm. But of course the Doha round becomes an opportunity to both deal with agricultural subsidies and to deal with market access, and for the United States market access is very crucial.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a question about the South Pacific? You might have seen in the last day or two Tonga is the last one. There seems to be --

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, a wave.

QUESTION: Yes, a modern domino theory sweeping through the South Pacific. How do you analyze the problem? How do you see the Australian approach to it? And is there any role for the U.S. directly or is it sort of an Australian sort of division of labor?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do think that the problems are somewhat -- you know, it is all in the same region but the problems are different. You know, East Timor has its own particular set of challenges coming out of what appear to be relatively stable evolution after independence, but then problems within the government between various figures in the government, leading then ultimately. But a situation that seems to have gotten better.

You know, a completely different situation in Fiji, where elections which Australia and New Zealand had really put a great deal into, and then this potential for a military coup. Solomon Islands, you had a different set of -- a different situation now in Tonga. I think really more of a police action. But so they're different, but they do all seem to have come in a row. I talk frequently with Alexander Downer about these, but we've greatly appreciated the willingness of Australia, and to a certain extent New Zealand, to be active in putting peacekeeping forces in where necessary and to really, I think, both reacting to the problems there and to being a deterrent to further problems.

So I don't think this is a place where American forces really are needed, but it is -- we have had very close political consultations about each of these as it's gone forward.

QUESTION: Jumping to climate change, there's a lot in sort of in foment at the moment on climate change policy. Would the U.S. or this Administration ever agree to any international deal that had a proscriptive approach to emissions, that had some, you know, Kyoto-style binding limit?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let's recognize that the Kyoto limits haven't worked that well. I think people really ought to go back and do an audit of how well countries that signed up to Kyoto did. I think it'll be a surprising story.

QUESTION: That many countries aren't going to hit their targets.

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, they're not going to make their targets. And what the United States did was to say that we weren't going to sign on to targets that we knew we wouldn't meet and an approach that we thought would cripple the American economy. And I think that was the honest way to deal with this.

But it doesn't mean that the United States hasn't been very active on issues of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The United States spends $5.8 billion a year on the science of climate change and on incentives for corporations and others to, through R&D, to improve the capability to go to clean sources of energy. We've been pioneering in clean coal technology. We've been -- the President has been very active, back to a State of the Union Address a couple of years ago on hydrogen fuel cells. We are interested obviously in bio-diesel. But the -- and the President has put back on the agenda nuclear energy, which of course for a variety of reasons had dropped off the agenda but does provide the potential for significant energy supply that is clean.

Now, in terms of international activity, we have a very good partnership, the Asia Pacific Partnership Six, of which Australia is a member, which is trying to unite economic growth, energy resources and environmental stewardship, which I think those three have to go together. And they have to go together for economies like our own, but they especially have to go together if you intend to enlist large developing economies like China and India, which, if they are left out of any international approaches, those approaches are of course going to be wholly ineffective. So the fact that China and India were left out of Kyoto was another problem.

India and China are parts of the Asia Pacific Partnership Six and very much like this approach, but I think that there is more that we can do. I know that Australia is very interested in this issue and perhaps promoting it as a part of the APEC next year, that's something that we're very interested in. But ultimately, economies have to grow, the environment has to be clean and we have to have sufficient energy, and we've got to put those three together into an active policy.

I'd just note finally that if you look at energy intensivity in economies, ours has actually been pretty good. In terms of how much unit of GDP1 gets for how much energy we expend, the United States has been going in the right direction. And it is in part the decisions of scores and scores of individual companies that are making good stewardship decisions about energy resources.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one final question?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: Actually, can I ask you one more climate change question?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: Did you see the French proposal about taxing imports? The Prime Minister said this last week --

SECRETARY RICE: I have a feeling that would be wildly unpopular.

QUESTION: Taxing imports from countries that don't take what the French deem suitable action on climate change and ending what he called environmental dumping.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I just don't think that would be a particularly useful or acceptable proposal in a world economy that is highly dependent on the economic growth of the United States and increasingly on economic growth from China.

QUESTION: How would the U.S. react to that?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't think it's going to come into being, so I think it's probably not worth commenting from me on that.

QUESTION: And if I can ask you a final question, please, about the role of women in politics.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: It's quite interesting. We're going to see the new President of Chile here at APEC.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: I don't know if you saw in France overnight the Socialists --

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, I did.

QUESTION: Nancy Pelosi, first woman Speaker of the House.

SECRETARY RICE: Right.

QUESTION: What is your future in politics? I mean, are we going to see you enlarging the --

SECRETARY RICE: I thought you were going to say, "Why is all this happening?" I was going to say it's about time.

QUESTION: Are we going to see you enlarging the boundaries of --

SECRETARY RICE: No, no, you're not.

QUESTION: You're not going to be running right for anybody in --

SECRETARY RICE: No, I'm looking forward to a return to California for either to go back to academia. Or, as I've said to many people, you know, I really do love sports and I really do love management, and if somebody needs someone to run a football team I'd be happy to do it.

QUESTION: You really are serious about that?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, I really am serious about it.

QUESTION: You're not tired of people trying to draft you all the time into politics?

SECRETARY RICE: I think it's a parlor game that everybody plays in Washington. But quite seriously, my view is that if you have to draft somebody you probably have got the wrong person.

QUESTION: Well, even so, it's still a hopeful and interesting time for women in politics.

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, it's a great time for women in politics. And it is about time.

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

QUESTION: Well, thank you. Very interesting.

SECRETARY RICE: It's a pleasure. Thank you very much.

2006/T25-6

ENDS


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