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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 San Diego KNSD/NBC

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Interview by Greg Dawson
Washington, DC
November 13, 2003

(3:30 p.m. EST)

MR. DAWSON: Mr. Secretary, we're getting ready in this community to send thousands of Marines back to Iraq again, this time to serve, we're told, as an occupying force. I'm sure you're well aware that has not traditionally been their mission. What is different now that's going to make that a situation that the Marines will more easily be able to deal with?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the Marines have done an absolutely wonderful job in Iraq when they first went in earlier in the year, and we have a requirement for fairly significant presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future. And it is for that reason that Secretary Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that it was appropriate to send Marines back in.

They're going back in into a different environment. I'm not sure exactly where they will be serving in the country. If they are in the southern part of the country, they know it well from their previous assignment there. I think what we will see in the weeks ahead is that the reconstruction effort will start to gain more momentum now that we have the $20 billion of funding from the Congress as well as funding that will be coming in from the international community, and I hope they'll be able to build on what they did before: creating town councils, dealing with those who are trying to resist the sweep of history in that part of Iraq.

We're so very proud of our Marines and we're especially proud of the city of San Diego, which has been a home to the Navy-Marine Team for so many years.

MR. DAWSON: Mr. Secretary, one of the ways it appears to me that Saddam Hussein remained in power is by making sure there was no one else around that could assume power. When you look around the country for leadership to fill that vacuum, the Council that has been chosen doesn't seem to be moving at a pace as much -- as quickly as the Administration would like, but who's going to become that figure or that group that will assert that amount of power in Iraq? Not dictatorship, obviously.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. Well, obviously, that's not what we're looking for. We don't see yet somebody like the gentleman who took over in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, but a leader will emerge. You can't keep a vacuum in political life for very long, and the Governing Council does have leaders in it representing different parts of the country. And what we have to do is give them an opportunity --

MR. DAWSON: Will it always be someone that -- I'm sorry, does that have to be someone that the Administration is selecting or the Administration will just deal with whoever emerges?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no. Quite the contrary. I think it's important for the Iraqis to determine who their leadership will be, whether it's one individual or several individuals. But I think as the country stabilizes and as we get the security situation more under control, people will step forward. People will stand up and want to play a leadership role in this country, and I'm quite confident of that.

We're starting to see some play that role. In the north, you have Kurdish leaders who are very effective in their part of the country. They will not have the same effectiveness yet as a national leader, but I'm quite confident leaders will stand up, because you can't have a vacuum in politics for an extended period of time.

MR. DAWSON: But isn't there a likelihood in Iraq that you get leadership from three different pressure groups, ethnic groups that then become a clash all on their own?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, absolutely, there will be leaders surfacing among the Shia, among the Sunnis, and among the Kurds. But what we're trying to put in place is a democratically based system that has a basis in law, so that these groups can debate the issues and work within a construct of law in order to determine who will hold the leadership reins. That's the guts of it all.

Some people have said to us, "Just turn it over to anybody who's there." That isn't going to work. We have to have a democratic process that leads to legitimacy, so the people are confident that those leaders that emerge out of that process represent all the people and are answerable to the people.

MR. DAWSON: Mr. Secretary, final question. I've been in this job for decades. I just don't ever remember the Secretary of State's office calling up and making the Secretary available for a one-on-one interview with a local television station. What is it that you expect to achieve from this that other members of the Administration have been unable to?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think all of us in the Administration realize that we give a lot of interviews in Washington, and I'm on a lot of international television programs as a result of my job. We thought it was just good to reach out and talk to communities around America. So you'll be seeing us do more of it, and not to spin anything, but just to be able to reach out to a broader audience. I do it quite a bit in my office --

MR. DAWSON: You're not getting through via the national media?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we get through in the national media --

MR. DAWSON: In the sense that you're not --

SECRETARY POWELL: We get through with the national media, but why not also take the opportunity, as I have this afternoon for 30 minutes, to talk to regional media in six different parts of the country in a 30-minute period? It's just a way of reaching out. I will also do national media, and I do international media. It's just yet one more channel available to us to reach out and talk to our fellow citizens.

MR. DAWSON: Well, we're delighted. Don't misunderstand. This is a very wonderful opportunity and we thank you very much, sir.



Released on November 14, 2003

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