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Rice IV With Neil Cavuto on Fox News Your World

Interview With Neil Cavuto on Fox News Your World

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
November 6, 2006

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, good to have you.

SECRETARY RICE: Nice to be with you.

QUESTION: First off on Saddam.


QUESTION: Your reaction.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it is a great day for the Iraqi people. This is a process that has gone on for a while and it is a process that has been going on under the most difficult circumstances, when you think about threats against judges, defense and prosecutorial lawyers who have lost their lives, it is really remarkable that the Iraqi people have been able to go through this process which they ran, which was their process. And they now have come to a verdict which I think shows that the rule of law is strong in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein will be punished for his crimes.

QUESTION: Well, as you know, Tony Blair of Great Britain had said, "We are against the death penalty whether it's Saddam or anybody else." What do you think?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is a longstanding European Union position. The European Union is against the death penalty. But of course the Iraqis do have the death penalty and it is, of course, an Iraqi process. It is an Iraqi decision and I think they'll carry this out. They're obviously is an appeals process that will take place.

One of the things that is perhaps not very well understood about Iraq is that generally judges and the legal profession have fairly high standing in Iraq and have for a long, long time. And so --

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QUESTION: But Sunnis don't feel that way.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, some Sunnis don't feel that way, but there are an awful lot of Iraqis who are looking at this process and saying that it has been fair and that it has produced a result and now that result will be carried out. But this is not an American process. This is not something for Americans or frankly Europeans to comment on. I think this is something for Iraqis to decide.

QUESTION: Because the perception among some of your critics, Madame Secretary, and the Administration critics, is that despite your saying that, it is the impression that this is an American influenced verdict. What do you make of that?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, the Iraqis have run this process. If you've watched any of the Saddam trial, if you've watched the testimonies of these people who lost family members, who found mass graves, people who suffered at the hands of Saddam and his henchmen, you know that this is very much an Iraqi process. And of course this is only one of many trials that could be held against Saddam Hussein for his crimes against the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: But the law is he's hanged if found guilty. So now the question is, let's say the second trial is the same result, what do you do if you hang him?

SECRETARY RICE: Again, no, it's not what we do. It's what Iraqis choose to do.

QUESTION: But I'm just stating what most predict will be increased violence in Iraq on that day.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let's see, because the Iraqi people know what Saddam Hussein did to them and he didn't just do this to Shia, he didn't just do it to Kurds. There were an awful lot of innocent Sunnis who also suffered at his hand. And so the Iraqis who are in a broad process to try to bring about national reconciliation under the most difficult circumstances where there are determined enemies of the Iraqi democracy that every day try to thwart that process, the Iraqis have completed this trial. It's something that the Iraq people should be proud of. And now we will see what the appeals process brings, and we will see how they choose to carry out this sentence. But this is an Iraqi process, not an American process, not an international process. The Iraqis deserve to run this for themselves.

QUESTION: Could I ask you a little of the political questions? One is that this was timed right before our midterm elections.

SECRETARY RICE: Oh,I can't even believe that people would say such a thing. Come on. The Iraqis have been in this process. They've been losing people who have been under threat from terrorists who didn't want this trial to go forward. Any number of judges have had to step down. These are brave people who have carried out this process, and it is an insult to them to suggest that it was somehow timed to something American. It's in fact – it's a bit self-referential for my taste. This is the Iraqi process and we should congratulate them on it.

QUESTION: On another issue of timing, Madame Secretary. Last week at this time, I was speaking with Vice President Cheney, and he had wondered aloud whether the increase in insurgent attacks was at all timed to our midterm elections. And he suspected they were. Do you?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I suppose it's possible. There are lots of things that have been going on in Iraq. This has been Ramadan, and during Ramadan there's been a historic spike in violence. There is a process of national reconciliation going on. There are people who would like to stop that process of national reconciliation. I suppose there are multiple motives. But the important thing is that people are working to try to bring down the violence whatever its cause.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about the way the war is still perceived by the American public. I guess not exactly news to you, in a Fox News dynamics poll, when Americans were asked who would be more effective at finding a solution to Iraq, Democrats win 37 percent; Republicans win 30 percent. What do you make of it?

SECRETARY RICE: My job and my responsibility is to try and help conduct a foreign policy that gets American goals achieved. And we have to do that in a way that is bipartisan, and I intend to do it in a way that is bipartisan. The American people are going to have a vote tomorrow. Everybody understands that. That's the American democracy at work. But our foreign policy, which is to work with the Iraqis, to try and create in Iraq something that has never existed in the entire Middle East, which is a legitimately elected government that is overcoming differences that have long been overcome by repression or violence through political means, that's not going to change. And we're going to continue to pursue those policies.

It's not hard for people to see that it has been hard going in Iraq. The American people can look on their television screens and see that it's been very hard going. They're trying to do something very difficult. They have determined enemies that are determined to use violence to try to short-circuit the process. But the stakes are very high in Iraq. An Iraq that is peaceful and begins to move toward democracy is going to be a pillar of a different kind of Middle East.

QUESTION: But do you really see that as something that is a short-term possibility or just totally out of the question right now?

SECRETARY RICE: In a democratic Iraq, no. I think --

QUESTION: A peaceful Iraq.

SECRETARY RICE: A peaceful Iraq I think is in Iraq's future. They are going through the most terrible violence at this particular point in time because there are a lot of determined enemies.

QUESTION: But the Prime Minister can't seem to control it. So if he can't control it, the government can't seemingly even with our backing control it, would you call this a civil war?

SECRETARY RICE: This government has been in power for a very short period of time. Less than half a year this government has been in power. It's the first permanent government that Iraq has had. They had a series of temporary governments. They are having a great deal of difficulty obviously with the sectarian violence, particularly in Baghdad. But there are really two courses of action that they're taking to deal with it. One is that they are working toward a national compact that would resolve issues, Neil, like how will the oil revenue be shared, so that people know what their political interests are going to look like in the new Iraq. How --

QUESTION: You have faith in the Prime Minister?

SECRETARY RICE: I have confidence in this Prime Minister. He's tough. He doesn't -- look, this is someone who will say to you, "I don't agree." We've been looking for an Iraqi leadership that wants to lead since the liberation of Iraq. We have now in this Prime Minister someone who wants to lead. He's a good partner and they're making progress, but obviously the going is very tough.

The other thing that they're doing is they're training their security forces. We're working with them on their security forces. But they have determined enemies and they have to make themselves some very tough political decisions about sharing the distribution of wealth, about sharing the distribution of power. That's something we cannot do for them. This is something they have to do themselves.

QUESTION: Could the United States, Madame Secretary, live with a prime minister who then concludes maybe separating this country into three parts is the way to go?

SECRETARY RICE: You know, that's very interesting. I've heard that suggestion from a lot of internationalists. I've never heard it from the Iraqis. The Iraqis talk about a unified Iraq. They talk about an Iraq in which Shia and Sunni and Kurds live together.

Now, obviously there are differences among the political elites of Iraq about how power is going to be shared, about how resources are going to be shared. But it's almost never -- very rare, if ever -- that you hear from an Iraqi, "Let's divide our country into three parts and administer it that way."

QUESTION: Well, they might not volunteer that, but it might be forced on them. You don't see that?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't see that. I see that you will have a very loose federation because there are very big differences, for instance, in the Kurdish territories which have a particular history and a particular ethnic character. But we have to remember, too, that despite the sectarianism which has broken out -- and by the way, we think broken out largely at the behest of al-Qaida which went down this road to produce this outcome. About a year ago, they said we're going to stoke tensions between Shia and Sunnis. They've succeeded to a certain extent. But --

QUESTION: We didn't foresee that?

SECRETARY RICE: No, you could see it happening but, frankly, the bombing of the Golden Mosque seems to have had a more deleterious effect on the society than one might have thought.

But let me just note that despite those differences politically, this is actually a society in which a Shia will tell you, "Oh, I'm married to a Sunni," in which tribes are mixed Sunni and Shia.

QUESTION: So why doesn't that get out, Secretary? I mean, the Vice President seemed to intimate with me last week that it is a question of media bias, that the bad news gets reported, the good news does not.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's easier to report on the daily violence than it is the quiet political process that's going on underneath. I think it's -- I don't know how to characterize what the media chooses to report, but I do think it is harder to show local councils coming into being, it's harder to show the inner workings of the parliament on any given day.

QUESTION: So when you're at home and you're flipping around, what are you watching?

SECRETARY RICE: On television? You mean other than sports? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, there are alternatives to that.

SECRETARY RICE: There are alternatives. Look, every day I talk -- practically every day I talk to our Ambassador in Baghdad and I talked to him this morning. What was on his mind? What was on his mind was getting the Iraqis -- helping the Iraqis to conclude their national law on oil, which is going to be critical to the sharing of power. What was on his mind was that he's been working with General Casey and with the Iraqis on a post-Ramadan security plan for Baghdad.

My point is that, yes, the violence is terrible and, yes, innocent people are dying and our troops are certainly sacrificing. But every day Iraqis get up and they try to work through the particular challenges that they have on that day. This is a government that is functioning, that is making decisions. They have really hard decisions to make and they've got to make them rather quickly. But if you look at where Iraq was three years ago, this is a political system that's maturing and maturing rather rapidly.

QUESTION: The political system could change a lot in this country tomorrow. And the feeling seems to be, Madame Secretary, that if Democrats take the House and /or Senate there will be a clarion push, get us out, set a timetable. What do you say?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm going to wait until the elections are over and then I will deal with the circumstances as they come. I think that the President has been very clear that the commitment to Iraqis, the commitment to an Iraq that is stable and democratic, is obviously a moral commitment to them given our role in the liberation of Iraq; but it's also an issue for American security because an Iraq that is abandoned to the likes of al-Qaida or abandoned to the likes of terrorists is going to be a problem for regional stability in the Middle East. Our neighbors, the Saudis -- their neighbors, the Saudis, the UAE, the Jordanians and others, are expecting that American commitment to Iraq is going to be solid because they view a stable Iraq as key to regional security and stability. And so from our point of view, that policy has to be pursued. But as far as what happens tomorrow, that's not my concern for --

QUESTION: All right. Nevertheless, despite the controversy over the war, Madame Secretary, it's amazing to me that when Americans are asked on this subject, "Would you like to see Condoleezza Rice run for President?"

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, goodness.

QUESTION: They overwhelmingly said yes. And matched up against Hillary Clinton, depending on the poll, you would beat her. What do you make of that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't play fantasy football either. It's not going to happen. Look, I know what I'm good at doing. I know what I want to do. And I want to try and do my very best in this job over the next couple of years to --

QUESTION: How about a running mate?

SECRETARY RICE: How about a running back? I'd love --

QUESTION: A running mate. Running back. (Laughter.) Everything goes back to football with you.


QUESTION: Let's say the Republican nominee comes to you and says, Madame Secretary, I need you.

SECRETARY RICE: I know where I'm going after this. I'm an academic at heart. I'll go back to Stanford unless someone needs someone to go into sports management. That I might consider.

QUESTION: But if someone approaches you and says, I need you on my ticket. You'd say no?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't have any desire, and I wouldn't be very good. You know, anybody that you have to persuade to go into electoral politics shouldn't do it.

QUESTION: Well, some of the best ones were persuaded. Let me ask you a little bit about Fidel Castro. Today you might have heard that his foreign minister was backing away from the prediction that Castro would return to power I think in December.


QUESTION: So he appears to be a lot sicker than we earlier thought.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly a transition is underway in Cuba one way or another. I don't have any information on the health of Fidel Castro. I think we don't know. But a transition is clearly underway and what has been a longstanding dictatorship is obviously going to come to an end sooner or later. I think our role and our goal has to be to insist that the Cuban people will have a real opportunity for a true democracy, that there wouldn't be just the transfer of power to another member of the regime but that the Cuban people will get to do what people throughout the Western Hemisphere are now doing. They'll get to select their leaders. There will be free and fair elections in which they can select their leaders. And that's what we're talking --

QUESTION: So you think things would be better post-Fidel? Even with his brother?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I -- no. I think what there cannot be is simply the transfer from one to another.


SECRETARY RICE: The Cuban people deserve to elect their leaders just like everybody else in the Hemisphere's electing their leaders. And so when there is a transition, whenever that comes, it has to be the goal of the United States and the goal of the international community to insist that the Cuban people get to make a choice.

QUESTION: Let me ask you, switching gears a little to North Korea.


QUESTION: Is there a limit on how many tests we will allow them?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, one was enough from our point of view, which is why we worked with a coalition of states, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea in particular, to support UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which is a Chapter 7 resolution, to which China agreed that sanctions North Korean behavior for the test and deals with the risk that there might be a leakage or an effort to transfer nuclear materials out of North Korea. So I certainly hope that they would not test again, but they crossed a threshold when they tested.

QUESTION: But they keep flaunting you, Secretary. You had said recently Iran would "suffer greatly" if it uses sophisticated missiles in anger -- the "suffer greatly" is what I'm quoting. And yet, they keep doing these tests. In other words, they keep these military exercises going as if to push you.

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I don't think that either Iran or North Korea is confused about the military balance and about the threat to their own security were they to try somehow to harm American allies or American interests.

QUESTION: So what do we do when they fire off missiles next week? The week after?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, North Korea, I would assume that they are not going to because they did that and it ended them, the missiles and the nuclear tests, with sanctions, very heavy sanctions and with sanctions imposed by China, which has been their supporter. As a result, I think we see that since the international community spoke with one voice the North Koreans have now said they're ready to return to negotiations. We are going to work, and in fact there are two diplomats, Under Secretaries, today in the region working to make sure that when we return to the six-party talks they could actually be productive talks. But I think you see the North Koreans responding now to the international community's resolve.

QUESTION: I know you don't like to answer things political or deal with them. I just want your opinion on Hillary Clinton and whether she commands the respect of the troops.

SECRETARY RICE: Look, I'm not going to talk about individual -- I --

QUESTION: Well, you've been very complimentary of her in the past.

SECRETARY RICE: I know Senator Clinton.

QUESTION: Does she?

SECRETARY RICE: I know Senator Clinton. I think highly of her. Not only do I think highly of her but, in fact, I know her well because she was a Stanford mother. And I know her, and I know her daughter, but it's not for me to comment on political candidates.

QUESTION: Quick Super Bowl pick?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, until yesterday I would have said Chicago and -- (laughter) -- and New England. It's looking a little different.

QUESTION: All right. Maybe the Colts, all right. Madame Secretary, very good seeing you. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: It's a pleasure. Great.


Released on November 6, 2006


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