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Interview With FOX News

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, it's good to see you again.

SECRETARY RICE: Good to see you, Sean.

QUESTION: You've had a busy day.

SECRETARY RICE: I have, indeed.

QUESTION: Why don't you sum up what happened today, because I know there was a lot of contact between you and the Israeli Prime Minister and getting this resolution together. Where are we and what was going on today?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've been working, Sean, for now several weeks really to try to bring an end to the large-scale violence that would not allow a return to the status quo ante. I know that there were a lot of people who talked about an immediate cease-fire. We always wanted this to happen as quickly as possible, but the conditions had to be there so that you can't have a state within a state again going across the blue line, attacking Israel, and then causing -- sort of plunging the region into this chaos.

Today was the culmination of that. I had several conversations with the Israeli leadership, the foreign minister, the prime minister, several conversations with the Lebanese leadership, with Prime Minister Siniora. And I think we got to a good outcome for both Israel and for Lebanon, who want the same thing. They want the south to be a place where the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army, with the help of a robust international force, are able to prevent the kind of vacuum that led to this crisis in the first place.

QUESTION: Is the UN -- we talk a lot and the President has spoken at length about it's "us versus them," it's a war on terror. Hezbollah is a terror organization. There has been a state within a state, as you point out.

Is the UN, is this resolution, is it stopping Israel from ultimately defeating Hezbollah, and would that have been a good thing?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Hezbollah has to be stopped. It has to be stopped from being the state within a state. And so you have to ask what's the best way to do that. Now, I don't think there is any doubt that there has been significant damage to some of Hezbollah's capabilities, to some of their command and control. But ultimately the way to stop Hezbollah is when there is a Lebanese government and a Lebanese army with a major international force, a robust international force, that can make sure that the south is not the vacuum that it's been for the last six years. And so this is the really important step forward.

And this force, the international force and its mandate, will be very robust.

QUESTION: At different times, though, during this conflict -- and I know our government has supported the Lebanese government tremendously.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: But at different times, the prime minister, the defense minister has spoken out very supportive of Hezbollah. If Hezbollah is a terror organization and they get outspoken support from the Lebanese government, why are we fighting so hard for them to succeed?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Lebanese government, first of all, has Hezbollah ministers within it, by the elections. But what the Lebanese government has also been saying is that they cannot have armed militias that are operating outside of the authority of the state. They also have said that they have to live up to their obligations under Resolution 1559, the Taif accords, to disarm those militias. And so what we're trying to do is to create an environment in which the Lebanese government can finally carry through on its obligations to disarm Hezbollah.

QUESTION: Is there a danger that if Hezbollah is not defeated -- because I think we understand the unmatched fanaticism of the terrorists. If they're not ultimately defeated, if Israel doesn't finish the job, does it give the funding of Iran, $100 million a year, the support of Iran and Syria, does it give them an opportunity to rearm, to fight another day? How does this resolution prevent that from happening?

SECRETARY RICE: First of all, this resolution has an arms embargo within it, and a responsibility of the Lebanese government to make sure that illegal arms are not coming into the country.

QUESTION: Wasn't that in 1559, that it was supposed to be disarmed?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, but we're in a different situation now, where the Lebanese will have help doing that, to make sure that their borders are secure. It's also the case there was not an arms embargo before. So now Syria, Iran, whoever violates that embargo will be violating a Security Council resolution.

It's not, Sean, going to be the final step in creating the circumstances we need in the south. It's a first step. But it's a good first step because it does just very strongly reinforce the authority of the Lebanese government, the Lebanese armed forces, and a force, an international force that can help them.

QUESTION: What do we do about Iran? In many ways, I think most observers think that Iran was fighting this war by proxy. The Israelis found Iranian revolutionary guards fighting side-by-side with Hezbollah, they fund Hezbollah $100 million a year. The long-range rockets, they took credit for giving it to them. And we now discovered that there had been training of the people that kidnapped the Israeli soldiers from Iran. What do we do? And of course, Ahmadinejad says wipe Israel off the map and annihilate them. What do we do with the Iranian problem?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have said many times Iran is a very big strategic threat. And we have to deal with that strategic threat. For instance, I think it's extremely important that should Iran not respond to the Security Council resolution that was just passed on its nuclear program, that we go ahead with another resolution that begins to impose sanctions on Iran. I think it's important that we begin to use financial measures to make it difficult for Iran to engage in the kinds of support of weapons of mass destruction and proliferation that it engages in. And ultimately, the international community has to stand up to an Iran that is a state sponsor of terror, really the central banker of terror, terrorism, that is causing this destabilization in the international system.

QUESTION: If we assume that Ahmadinejad and his incendiary rhetoric continues, if his pursuit of nuclear weapons continues, must America and the world consider military force to stop him and stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power? I mean, assuming that somebody who says they want to wipe Israel off the map is not somebody you can negotiate with or that wants to go along with the world community, at some point a military option has got to be considered, no?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, the President isn't going to take the military option off the table. He doesn't take any of these options off the table. We still believe that a robust diplomatic response to Iran's intransigence on its nuclear weapons will work, on its nuclear program will work. Particularly if strong measures are taken that make it difficult for the Iranian regime to continue to argue that they are paying no price for their defiance of the international system.

I think, Sean, they were surprised that the resolution passed in the Security Council with the weight that it did, Russia voting for it, China voting for it. And so we will, if on August 31st there is not Iranian response, I think we'll move to another resolution.

QUESTION: Our war, the President said yesterday, is with Islamic fascists. Some people took issue with the use of that word today, but that's really what it is, isn't it? Is that the right terminology?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the key here is that Islam is not the problem, of course. The problem is that there are some people who, much as the fascists do, in the name of religion, just carry out the most horrible attacks where really their target is civilians. Civilians are not collateral damage in their wars; civilians are the targets. And what they're trying to do is they're trying to destabilize the little roots of democratic governments that are there throughout the region. They are trying to make sure that their vision, which is one of darkness and terror, is one that free nations will not challenge them. And free nations have to challenge them.

QUESTION: I agree. I will tell you -- and you know I have strong opinions. But, you know, there's been two people that seem to be steadfast and that's President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. Joe Lieberman, I think you can argue, paid a price for it politically.

In your assessment of the big picture, and we saw this threat that was foiled yesterday, how large, how massive is that perversion of a religion? Is it -- are we talking about tens of millions of people? We hear Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda. We see every corner of the world has been hit, in some regard has been affected by terrorism. How big a threat is it? How many people are we talking about?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't know how many people there are. I don't know how many are active fighters who are irreconcilable fighters. I know that there's a battle for the hearts and minds of a lot of young people that we really have to engage. They shouldn't be taught this hatred. They should be taught about the technological revolution that's under way in the world, allowing people in the Middle East and in the Muslim world to reclaim a rightful place in the future of scientific and technological inquiry and progress.

I don't know how large it is. But I do know, Sean, it's going to take a long time to defeat it. I do know that this is a long war, not a short one. But that it is a war, that it is not a series of police actions. That this is a struggle for the way that the world, the international system, the world that our children will inherit, that's what this struggle is.

QUESTION: Let me ask you one last question. A lot of people have been using the analogy of the rise of Nazism and the world fell asleep. There were a few people that tried to wake the world up. Winston Churchill is the obvious example.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: There were other people that thought they could negotiate with Hitler in their time and have peace in their time. Do you see that analogy? Is that applicable in this particular case?

SECRETARY RICE: I think whenever you have irreconcilables, if you will, people who just want to destroy, as the Nazis did, as these fascists do, these modern-day fascists do, I don't think there's any doubt that you have to see this with moral clarity and you have to see that there's a right and a wrong. I also think that you need allies in this war. And so those who are trying to be the fresh, new start for the Middle East, those who are trying to bring a more moderate face and voice to the politics of the Middle East, people like frankly Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon or President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority or certainly those brave Iraqi leaders who are fighting now a terrible terrorist toll on their people. We need those allies and we need to support them. But we can only support them if we're strong and if we're clear about who the enemy is, and if we're willing to confront that enemy.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, it's always good to see you. Thank you for your time on a very busy day.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

2006/T20-3



Released on August 11, 2006

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