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Armitage IV by Journalists From NATO Countries

Interview by Journalists From NATO Countries

Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary

Washington, DC
September 27, 2004

[1:00 p.m. EDT]

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, first of all, let me welcome you here to the seventh floor of the Department of State. I'm delighted to have our friends representing, in this case, NATO nations. I'll try to answer your questions. You'll be the judge of whether I do it or not. But please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay, since we are from Europe, we will start with a question about the European-U.S. relations. So we'd like to know if, for the U.S., is the European Union now, or Europe, in general, a partner of necessity or a partner of choice?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think you're clearly a partner of choice. We're all involved in a global war on terrorism. Many of our friends in Europe have been struck, most tragically, Spain. But this is matter of relationship choice for us. We've gotten a little bit behind the 8-ball, if you will, in terms of some of our relations with some of our European friends. We think we're working our way out of it and are eager to prove that.

MR. MATONIS: According to you -- I'm from Lithuania. According to you, does the mission define the coalition, or does the coalition define the mission as has always been to NATO? This question is concerned with NATO transformation and the new missions emerging throughout Afghanistan.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I guess it's a little of both. What we're seeing in NATO through the Istanbul Summit, particularly, was a coalition, which is trying to come to grips with the new challenges that we all face.

I think we're seeing a -- even before that, in Prague, when we had the decision on the NATO Response Force, we've seen a coalition trying to come to grips, again, with how to be mobile, hostile, agile, lethal and maintain a sufficient amount of defense spending to be able to respond to multiple challenges.

So I think the mission to some extent, defines the coalition, but in a way, the coalition would define what sort of mission we're willing to undertake, what sort of things we ought to bite off, if you will. So I think it's a little of both.

MR. MATONIS: But do you conceive NATO as an organization to do the cleanup after, once the U.S. acted unilaterallyor with some allies or --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, I don't. No, our view is it's much better to have all our friends in on the takeoff, the flight and the landing. We don't want to look at a situation where we are in the takeoff and the flight and we ask our friends in NATO to land it. We'd much rather have all of our NATO friends in from the beginning if possible.

QUESTION: I'd like to go to Iraq.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Iraq?

QUESTION: Yeah.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Imagine my surprise.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: The U.S. intervention in Iraq was meant to bring democracy and freedom, but didn't you create a new sanctuary for terrorists, instead?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. We get that question quite often. Our President had the feeling that we were going to be involved in Iraq sooner or later. And after the surprise attack on us on 9/11 the President made the decision that he was not willing to wait while, as he said, the storm gathered.

So he made what I would describe as a cold, calculation of national security. And after his discussions last week with Prime Minister Allawi of Iraq, I think we certainly came away with the feeling that democracy, elections, et cetera, are very possible for the people of Iraq, and quite to be desired by the majority of those in Iraq.

MR. STEPHENSEN: Olafur Stephensen from Iceland.

Shall there be elections in Iraq at the end of January even if not all Iraqi citizens will be able to take part?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Our view is there should be elections in all of Iraq. We wouldn't conceive of holding elections without California, well maybe without California (laughter). No, it wouldn't be fair. We need to have full up -- that's a U.S. joke -- they need to be full-up elections. Every Iraqi citizen who wants to vote should be afforded the opportunity to vote. And I know that Prime Minister Allawi, and certainly the United States are dedicating themselves to that proposition.

Sir.

QUESTION: Radim Klekner, Czech Republic.

The Kurds are expelling --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I was just visiting in the Czech Republic last week and I'm much the better for it.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: The Kurds are expelling Arabs from Kirkuk and Mosul. Are you afraid of a new civil war in Iraq?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Am I afraid of it?

QUESTION: Is there a possibility?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The, as we know, the Kurds were -- had their land expropriated during the Saddam Hussein years; land tracts were given to Arabs. And so now there's an attempt to correct that situation. Thus -- and there are dispute mechanisms.

And from the beginning of our, what's described as our intervention in Iraq, we had dispute mechanisms to try to resolve land issues -- and primarily in Kirkuk more than Mosul, but Kirkuk is really the hot place -- that have worked to a greater or lesser degree.

We have been pleased thus far that civil war has not come forward. And, indeed, historically, any look at Iraq would show you that civil war is not known in Iraq. It's not something they've had. But you are correct to point to Kirkuk as a potential flash point if the land ownership issues aren't managed very carefully.

QUESTION: Okay, this is, talking about the (inaudible) and I'd like to ask a question about Iran.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.

QUESTION: So the West has presented intelligence on Iran trying to produce nuclear weapons.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Right.

QUESTION: Now, is this intelligence resting on less shaky places than some of the intelligence you had about Iraq, as a whole? And is there a case for preemptive strikes in the near future?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, let me say the obvious, that any President of the United States, just as a president for any other country always has all options on the table and it would be bad business to remove any options.

Having said that, we're very content of the pace of our ongoing discussions with the international community about the Iranian nuclear program. We had a pretty good statement out of the IAEA during this month of September. We're looking forward to the November Board of Governors meeting. And our view is that we'll keep the international spotlight, led by our European friends, on Iran and the need for Iran to come clean with their program, or else we have the ability to refer this to the Security Council for a discussion, at least, of possible sanctions.

So we're very content with the direction and the pace of those discussions. And we're content with the leadership of our European friends on this, particularly the EU-3.

MS. OZYURT: Azu Ozyurt from CNN Turk.

So we won't probably have a chance to come back to Iraq, but let me switch to Afghanistan for a moment, anyway.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.

MS. OZYURT: Now that the elections are getting near, do you have a second scenario if President Karzai doesn't get elected? Or how would you work with the --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we'll work with whatever government is voted in. First of all, let me review the bidding if I may. We're awfully happy, and I think the people, most importantly, the people of Afghanistan should be awfully happy that more than a million, 10 million of them, rather, have registered to vote and almost 42 percent of them are women.

The shocking thing to me was that women were registering to vote at a higher rate in the countryside than in the city, leading me to the understanding that they've had enough and they want to be able to take more charge of their own fate and their own lives. So, having said that, that's a pretty good deal.

Second of all, all the opinions polls, which are completely available for you, as us, show that Hamid Karzai is the most popular politician. The second most popular politician is a woman, who's also one of the 18 candidates for president.

And as I understand the process, if no candidate in the first round gets 50 percent or above, then there will be a runoff with the top two. So we'll let the people of Afghanistan decide whom they want, but we're awfully proud of the international coalition, which has brought about sufficient security, confidence to be able to have these elections. We are very proud of such developments as the Conventional Reconstruction Teams in which NATO and others take part in. We do as well.

We are delighted at the fact that, for security surrounding the elections, some of our friends have surged forward some troops to bring about a little greater degree of security. There's a lot of good going on in Afghanistan. The only negative thing on the horizon is the drugs and the opium poppy. There is so much in Afghanistan.

MR. STROOBANTS: Jean-Pierre Stroobants for France.

I'd like to follow up with another question about Afghanistan. There are currently 17,000 U.S. soldiers and 8,000 from allied countries --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Right.

QUESTION: If more troops are needed --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We're talking Afghanistan here?

MR. STROOBANTS: Yeah. If more troops are needed to fight the remaining Talibans, the growing terrorist threats, and to protect reconstruction workers, who should send them?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, wait a minute. Why did you say this threat was growing? It has maintained pretty much steady at about two incidents a day and thus far the Taliban has been unable to surge. And I would note that our allies in Pakistan have been very muscular and very rigorous in their prosecution of particularly foreign fighters in Waziristan, so I dispute the growing threat. We have expected the Taliban to pop up and they haven't yet done it or they're not able to do it.

You forgot to mention the almost 11,000 trained Afghan forces that have been fully trained and are not disappearing into the woodwork. They are staying and fighting. So we're always alert.

If General Abizaid felt that more troops were needed, he would talk to the Secretary of Defense, and the President, I am sure, would agree to send them. We've also talked with others who have been very involved in this. Right now, the feeling is the troops aren't needed. We've only got two weeks and October 9th is the election, so it's -- by the time we got the troops there the election would almost be over. So I think we're about where we need to be.

Yes, sir.

MR. KAAS: Kaarel Kaas from Estonia.

I would like to ask one more question about Iraq.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.

MR. KAAS: With all the pictures about bombings and beheadings coming in from Iraq, do you have sometimes this feeling that Iraq is kind of, I would say, ungrateful for their liberation?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I don't know if you happened to be here last -- I guess you got here yesterday, did you, or two days ago?

Prime Minister Allawi spoke to a Joint Session of Congress in a very moving way. He thanked the people of the United States. He thanked the families of those who had died in the invasion of Iraq.

In the Czech Republic last week, or a week and a half ago, I found that 48 judges from Iraq were just doing some training. I asked to go see them. I went down to see them and while I was there I made a presentation to them. And one of their fellows started -- made a return presentation to me, and right in the middle of it he stopped and started crying. A judge. He stopped and started crying, and yet all he could say is, "We're so grateful for liberation. Thank you."

These are just anecdotes, true, but they are not unmeaningful. The great majority of people, I think, are delighted to be rid of Saddam Hussein. All the neighbors are delighted to be rid of Saddam Hussein. And now we have to get the security situation in such a state that they can be rid of us and be free of foreign presence.

Prime Minister Allawi last week said he wants that as much as we do, and he and the Iraqi people don't want us to be there -- the coalition -- any longer than absolutely necessary. And that that's why he's putting so much emphasis on the training of his soldiers.

But the larger picture -- you started off by talking about bombings and all that stuff. It's going to be a tough slog. There's a lot of violence in Iraq and we've lost 782 soldiers to combat and another 250 to accidents and other, and that's a big investment to make. But having made that big investment, that big of an investment, the President is not going to turn away and he's going to see it through to the end.

MR. KULCSAR: I'm Ferenc Kulcsar from Hungary.

Not mainly about Iraq. We tried the lessons learned in your first term and how do they affect U.S. foreign policy in the second term -- the possibly second term? Sorry.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The lesson is the one that -- (laughter). No, I appreciate the vote of confidence. (Laughter.) And I suspect there will be a second term. We learned a lesson again, and that is that nobody in the whole world, including us, wants us to be the policeman of the world. But every single time there's a problem and people dial 911, who do you think they want to answer the phone? And it's us. And whether it's Darfur or whether it's another, or HIV/AIDS -- it doesn't have to be a sort of combat situation, but combating an infectious disease, I have learned yet again that if we don't start it, if we don't start moving, it won't happen and it won't happen in a timely fashion.

So the biggest lesson is nobody, including most of you, want us to be the policeman of the world, but all of you, or most of you, would want us to answer the phone when you dial 911. So it puts us in a very difficult position. MR. GUTSCHKER: Thomas Gutschker, German weekly Rheinischer Merkur.

I would like to come back to Iraq, if I may. Last week, NATO has given the go-ahead on the training mission.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah.

MR. GUTSCHKER: Now, obviously, this was going to happen in the upcoming months. But if you look further to the future, the next, say, one or two years, could you see a role for NATO other than just training, taking over more responsibilities? Or would you rather say that NATO has already so many missions which is it involved with that it should not be further involved in Iraq?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I've got several things to say about it. First of, what, 75 days or so after the Istanbul summit, here we've had the agreement of NATO, of the alliance, to take on a rather interesting and, I think, a heavy, weighty, responsibility by this training area east of Baghdad. Number one.

Number two, that now we'll let the men in the military committee discuss how to exactly go about it in the best possible way. I thought it was very good that Lieutenant General Dave Petraeus was double-hatted or dual-hatted as the commander for this NATO mission, and that allows us to continue to have unity of command, which is an important military term.

I'd be delighted if there were other aspects in Iraq that NATO would be willing to take up. I don't think we have anything to lay before our friends in Brussels. I haven't heard of that. We will continue to keep people completely briefed on just what's going on in the security field, but I'm uninformed of any new sort of request to make of the alliance. We're awfully happy and gratified that this training mission has been accepted fully by all members of the alliance. I underline all, but I mean no particular country. (Laughter.)

Sir. Yes, sir.

MR. SECHI: I'm Mario Sechi from Italy.

Two French journalists and two young girls, Italian girls --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The Italian girls, yeah.

MR. SECHI: Yeah, are hostages in Iraq by terrorists--are kidnaps a new weapon for -- against Europe and allies?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that it's an old weapon for us. We were very involved -- it's been used against us. I was in the Pentagon at the time when it was used in Lebanon to such a large degree. And some of you -- Terry Waite comes to mind, the Anglican, I believe, bishop who were mistreated so sorely, along with many American citizens. So, for us, it's an old weapon.

I think what's new is, particularly in the tragic situation of the two French journalists, is because France was not involved in this.

MR. SECHI: Yeah.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And it's been punished for reasons that are beyond, I think, France's understanding and certainly ours. The two Italian women, it's a terrible situation. We hear it from time to time that they've been killed but I've seen no evidence of it, and thank God for that. We pray for their eventual release.

What you have going on with these kidnappings is an attempt of these killers to try to break our will, whether it's Italian will, U.S. will. You've had other hostages killed in this Iraq and have stood your ground very solidly and very well.

Allawi spoke about this last week and he said if we break and run, if we seem to cower in front of this threat, it will actually put other citizens of other nations at risk.

The interesting phenomenon to me about these kidnappings is that there is a condominium between criminals and terrorists, and criminals who will kidnap people for money. They don't care to whom they sell. They'll kidnap people for ransom, sell them to the terrorists, and then the terrorists use them for political ends. So it's this marriage of criminals and terrorists, which is new, but it wasn't the situation that we found, for instance, in Lebanon.

MR. SECHI: Thank you.

QUESTION: What kind of democracy do you think that realistically Iraq can have? Because just yesterday, the Republican senator who said it might not be a legal one, kind of Romanian one, he made this kind of joke.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You know, our own democracy developed slowly over a lot of years. At the beginning of the 20th century, women weren't allowed to vote in my democracy. It wasn't till 1965 that African Americans were allowed to vote. The Secretary of State of the United States was not allowed to vote. So democracies don't develop like that. They develop over time. And I think that's what I'd expect to see in Iraq.

But the difference in Iraq is parts of Iraq have a head start. Kurdistan has been basically democratic for 12 years. So they've got a little understanding, feeling of it. Certainly in the south with the Shia, the leading Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is very keen on the democratic process and having a democratically elected government. That's a pretty good basis on which to move forward.

But anybody that said that democracies develop slowly, I would agree with, our own being a sort of prime case of that.

QUESTION: I would like to address the issue of Central European and Eastern European bilateral relations to the United States. The -- candidate, Kerry, said that he would reconsider visa waiver program if he was elected. Do you think there is a need to reconsider that in respect of those new allied nations and new EU members?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. I thought that Mr. Kerry's saying that was a little cynical, because there's an Act of Congress involved and it's a law about visa-waiver programs. Having said that and just having come back from the Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia, Norway and where else did we go?

A PARTICIPANT: Slovakia. The Slovak Republic.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Huh? Ah, the Slovak Republic, exactly-- where, I, as you can imagine, I heard plenty about visa-waiver programs, and so much so that I came back here and have sent our top people in the consulate affairs operations out to those countries to try to resolve as many of the issues that exist as possible. I can't just go like that and make people in the visa-waiver program, but I can try to remove every other obstacle that exists, try to make it very clear to all of our European friends that we very much want them to visit the United States.

We're open for business, and I'm not talking money, I'm talking the intellectual business, exchanges, et cetera. So, we're making progress and I'm going to continue to push on. I'm seized with the issue. If people want to visit our country, they damn well ought to be able to do it and I'm working as hard as I can to get it done.

QUESTION: Have you decided about the redeployment of U.S. bases from Western Europe to Eastern countries and could you elaborate on this?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Now, this is all -- this global defense posture we call it -- we've been having for two years now, consultations with our friends globally -- not just in Europe. Primarily, the Department of Defense is in charge of that and they've made up their minds, changed their minds, made it up again, changed it again, so I don't think they're ready to settle on a full and complete plan yet.

We have briefed, to some extent, sort of in grand terms, a certain number of troops coming out of Europe and certain other capability moving in, particularly to Stryker Brigade. Just where we'll have these capabilities hasn't been worked out with the host countries yet.

QUESTION: We were talking about Iran, but I would like to talk about North Korea.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.

QUESTION: Negotiations concerning North Korea's nuclear programs haven't really gone anywhere. Do you think it makes sense, trying to talk with the current regime there?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: How do you mean?

QUESTION: Well, they don't seem to be responsive.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: True. Kim Chong-il's regime doesn't seem to be responsive, but we've got a very good situation in that the five countries most interested -- Japan, South Korea, China, Russia and us all have a similar view. So, that's a good basis on which to move forward. I think it's very unlikely that the North Koreans will do anything before our election. Now, they seem to think they can wait us out. They are mistaken. I think the Chinese and others have told them they are mistaken, but we're in no hurry.

The reason we're in no hurry is we have what we feel is a pretty high-deal situation with all of the most important countries having exactly the same view and it gives us a good basis to move forward within our diplomacy. And we're, as I say, the President is very patient on this because of the alignment of the other five -- four countries and ourselves. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Might I follow up on what you said on your wish to have NATO allies with you on both the takeoff, flight and the landing? Do you believe that the European allies have the capabilities? Both have lived up to their promises and aims on military capabilities and do they have the political capabilities to support you all the way?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, these are -- depends on what the situation is. Each of the NATO countries, to some greater or lesser extent, is wrestling with their own transformation. I think almost all of our European friends are wrestling with something that's much larger and that is the need to resolve the social contract, the societal compact; and that -- Social Security, we call it -- how to resolve that, and at the same time, to go two or more percent to defense.

So, these are the issues which everyone is wrestling with at different paces and different scopes. The political will is something that you have to look at your body politic, look at the case in point, and make a decision. The military capability is one that I've worried about for years and that is that if our friends in NATO don't make appropriate investments in defense, then we end up with what I think is a terrible situation. That is, that the United States would kind of be above the battlefield, seeing it very well and knowing a lot about it, but our European friends would be left with low-tech capabilities which would force you just to be the ones with your boots on the ground.

I think it's better to make the investments now alongside us to be able to participate in every facet of the endeavor and not just on the -- sort of boots on the ground thing.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Once more, North Iraq and the Kurds.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah.

QUESTION: What will the United States do if the Kurds one day will demand a fully independent state, they have deserved?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Look, the Kurds have a very finely developed sense of their own destiny and their own geography. I think your colleague across the table would probably have a view about this.

(Laughter.)

And one of the reasons that our friends in Kurdistan have not done such a thing is because of the absolute need for them to live in peace and harmony with our friends in Turkey, and this would be putting that at risk. So, I think it's unlikely.

They've pointed out continually to us -- and we go into Kurdistan fairly regularly that they are Iraqis.

Sir?

QUESTION: Well, normally the U.S. are promoting free trade across the world. But, in Europe, one has, some, probably, impression that they don't need -- that they sometimes do it when it suits their interest. I refer to the question of steel tariffs or the Airbus question. Isn't there a need in the U.S. for the policy to have a more constant approach to this question?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Were you referring to the Airbus - Boeing controversy and the 1992 agreement? Look, we feel that subsidies are a thing of the past and we ought to be walking away from it. And that was kind of the thrust of the 1992 agreement. But if governments aren't willing to do away with subsidies, then the playing field isn't level and we are opposed to that. We're having discussions right now on how to level the playing field.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Very quickly, one link to my colleague's question and what you said just a minute ago, that they call themselves Iraqis, the Kurds?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yes.

QUESTION: Would General Petraeus, at some point, demand the Kurds to join the regular army as well, or general Peshmerga?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Peshmerga? Peshmerga are participating in it already.

QUESTION: In the training missions?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: In well, in forces, in units.

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Prime Minister Allawi made that point to our President. I was at the meeting. He said that some of the Peshmerga are actually fighting alongside Sunni and Shia in the units.

QUESTION: But whether the regular army, they will be a part of it?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Not all of them, some of them.

QUESTION: Okay. And General Abizaid yesterday just said that there might be violence during that election period. Do you have a beef with that?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. (Inaudible) and saying that there will be violence. We expect an increase in violence through our election and through the Iraqi election, and we fully believe that the insurgents want to confuse our elections, as they seem -- as they think they did to the Spanish election and they certainly don't want elections to be held in Iraq. So we fully expect the violence to increase as we approach this.

QUESTION: How would you define the relation between the U.S. and old countries of Europe, old European countries like France today after the crisis about Iraq?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I, personally, have never used the term, old or new Europe. It's all Europe to me.

Having said that, I'll answer your question directly. With Germany, for instance, I think we're in much better shape that Chancellor Schroeder and George Bush have agreed to disagree on the questions of the war in Iraq and things of that nature. But my view is that it's water under the dam and we're moving forward in a much better way, and I think witness the decision, the Istanbul decision on the training center at NATO. I think that's indicative of the fact that at least some in France want to have a somewhat better relationship with us. And, of course, our relationship with Great Britain is one that is unparalleled -- perhaps only paralleled by our relationship with Japan, but that's a little bit out of Europe.

Sir?

MR. FLOYD: We only have time for a few more questions.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I want to give (inaudible).

QUESTION: I would like just to jump from the Middle East and Europe to Russia. Two weeks ago, we witnessed this huge crisis in city of Beslan.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah.

QUESTION: How do you find the operations of Russians and Caucuses, part of global war on terror or not?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We I chair the U.S. side, along with a Russian counterpart who was formerly First Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov in something called the U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Working Group. It's global in nature. It's been very helpful to both of us. It started out just being concerned with Afghanistan, but it's gone and it pre-dated 9/11, but after 9/ 11, it took off and it's truly global in scope.

For us, and we said that we understand the anger of the Russian Federation after the tragedy of Beslan. We share in it, and our hearts went out to everyone who suffered in Beslan. But as our President has said, those who engage in this war against us, including the Russian Federation, those who are against all of us, are people who are trying to thwart democracies. And as we fight the global war on terror, we must remember to be consistent with the principles of democracy. I think the Russian Federation is wrestling with that now.

QUESTION: One more Iraq question.

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Certainly.

QUESTION: Did the U.S. count on the situation that some allied country like Spain finishes its Iraq commission after a terror attack or a kidnapping, what we hope won't happened?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Did we take it into consideration? No, we were surprised by the decision of the new government of Spain. We understand that popular opinion was very much against this war, but we had hoped that the Spanish authorities would take into consideration the impact of such an action to others in the coalition, but they didn't and that's that. So, we hadn't expected it and we're not real happy about it, but it's the sovereign decision of Spain, and we certainly don't contest the right of Spain to make those decisions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in Europe, we very often hear a position from the State Department and one from the Department of Defense, and they tend to not always agree. How do we find out what the position of the government is?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You could ask the President or listen to what he's said.

(Laughter.)

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And I think you'll find that in general, if you look at the actions of the President of the United States, they're generally those of the Secretary of State; many times, those the Secretary of State has recommended. So, having several voices is not unknown, certainly to our European friends who also seem to have many voices in their internal discussions. It's just a little unfortunate that sometimes, ours are so public.

You know, to have differences of opinion is very important. Yeah, we believe it's almost vital. I liken it to parents. If mothers and fathers always agreed on just exactly what needs to be done for the child, it would be a pretty off-balance child. I think that you should debate these issues, where does a kid go to school and what, the extracurricular activities all of those things. So you get a little tension.

That's what we have here in the Pentagon -- between the Pentagon and the State Department, a little tension that's supposed to be creative and then we present our views to the President and then he can make his own mind up. He likes that. He likes people to fight things out in front of him.

It would be nice, however, to be able to fight it out in front of him and not have to fight it out in the front pages of our newspaper. Last question.

QUESTION: Who wins the race for the White House? Are you ready for a second term?

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Me, personally? I think George Bush will be elected to his second term. I think that the American people like his clearer vision, his strength of his views, even if they don't agree with him sometimes, they like that. So, I would say George Bush. Regarding me personally, I have never accepted or rejected a job, which hasn't been offered.

(Laughter.)

SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Best of luck to you.

2004/1056

[End]

Released on October 1, 2004


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