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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > November

Interview on Nashville WTVF

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Interview by Chris Clark
Washington, DC
November 13, 2003

(3:30 p.m. EST)

MR. CLARK: Mr. Secretary, as you know, President Bush told reporters today that the United States is developing a plan for Iraqis to more quickly assume governance of their own country. Now this comes after Paul Bremer, the special -- the Civilian Administrator in Iraq, called quickly back to Washington for meetings with top Administration officials including the President, following the worst weeks of violence since major combat operations ended, and increased criticism from the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi being one of them, saying either the Administration doesn't have a policy or it's not working.

So that announcement that comes today, is this pushed along by political considerations here at home and abroad, or is this part of a deliberately carefully crafted thought-out plan to return power to Iraqis and eventually extricating American troops? In other words, are we doing this quickly, or are we doing it right?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we're doing it right, but there's no reason we shouldn't do it as quickly as is possible. If you look at what our plan is, it is to put in place an Iraqi Governing Council; we've done that, and then put in place cabinet positions to run the ministries of the government; we've done that. And now what we're looking for is how quickly can we move to put in place some body of law underneath all of this so that the Iraqis can start to have elections and put in place leaders who enjoy the mandate of the people.

Ambassador Bremer came back to discuss how quickly we can move in that direction, and we had good consultations with him. It's got nothing to do with domestic politics. This rises above domestic politics, and it is wise for us to have these kinds of consultations. The President is getting ready to go Europe, Secretary Rumsfeld was getting ready to go to Asia and before we went off on these trips, we thought it was useful for Ambassador Bremer to come back, give us some thoughts that he had been given by the Iraqi Governing Council. We had a chance to discuss them. Now Ambassador Bremer is on his way back over to speak to the Iraqi Governing Council.

Keeping in mind that just a few weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1511 which endorsed this approach and placed a requirement on the Iraqi Governing Council to come forward with a plan by the 15th of December. That's only a few weeks away, so we thought it was very appropriate for us to have this consultation so that Ambassador Bremer could go back and work with the Iraqis to develop that plan and have it before the United Nations, hopefully before 15 December.

MR. CLARK: If the plan takes effect, the effect on American troops is going to be, what, nothing, right?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, no. I think that if the plan --

MR. CLARK: They'll still have the same duties, they'll still have the same responsibilities.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, initially they will, of course, until the plan is executed. But at the same time that we are seeing these developments, something else is going on. We're building up Iraqi forces, more Iraqi police forces. The army is now starting to be built up again. Civil defense forces, border patrol forces, militia forces, all of those are now being put in place, and increasingly, Iraqis themselves can substitute for American presence in the streets of the towns and out in the countryside.

That hopefully will reduce the risk to our troops and allow us to reduce the number of American troops that will be needed. But let's not -- let's not in any way try to dodge the reality of the situation. It's going to take time, and American presence, military and political presence will be required for some time to come.

MR. CLARK: Is the Administration disappointed that, as a result of these recent attacks, Japan has decided to delay deployment of a token force, and Korean is limiting theirs to 1,000. I think the Administration is looking for more than that.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't -- there have been a variety of reports. I know that the Japanese have reaffirmed their commitment to take action by the end of the year, and the South Koreans are continuing to review how many they might make available. Secretary Rumsfeld is on his way to Tokyo now, and from there he'll be going on to Seoul, and we'll see what the results of his consultations are in the very near future.

MR. CLARK: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: You're welcome.


Released on November 14, 2003

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