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Interview on KSL-TV With Bruce Lindsay

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Salt Lake City, Utah
August 29, 2006

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, for some 90 years Iraq as a nation was held together by force. Why should we believe that I can be held together by democracy now?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iraqis want their country to be held together. They're undergoing very great sacrifice in order to try to build a unified Iraq. I've met Iraqi leaders who have lost family members personally because they are part of this unified government. And so they will be able to do this through politics. But you're right, it's hard. For a country that did it either through repression or violence, it is hard to learn to trust each other in a political process. But that has to be the future of a different kind of Middle East or we will never be able to defeat the ideologies of hatred that have caused us so much violence and so much destruction.

QUESTION: When you speak of the future of the Middle East, how do we engage other nations in that region as we remain a staunch defender and ally of Israel?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are going to be a defender and ally of Israel. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our friend, and we share values. And we also have very good relations with others in the region, with Egypt, with Saudi Arabia, with Jordan. And we all have, I think, a common vision of how the Middle East should look. It should be a Middle East in which there is a Palestinian state in which Palestinians can have their own aspirations met, one that is not corrupt, one that is democratic, one in which there is only one authority and one gun.

It's not easy to get there because the Middle East is in the midst of huge historic changes. But the United States is going to remain committed to the President's vision of a more democratic and stable Middle East which this time really is stable, that isn't a kind of false stability based on authoritarianism and turning a blind eye to the need of people to be able to express themselves.

QUESTION: As we look at the problems in the region and most recently in Lebanon, is the region really more stable now than it was three-and-a-half years ago when we entered Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it is the Middle East after all that produced al-Qaida and produced the ideologies of hatred that had people to fly airplanes into our buildings. And it is the Middle East that produced suicide bombers that blew up innocent children. And it is the Middle East that has had these problems for a number of years. And so it is a Middle East that is moving in a different direction. I will not by any means claim that it is stable. But it is better to be on a different course than to continue to hold on to false stability that produced a movement like al-Qaida.

QUESTION: Has the American presence in Iraq enhanced or reduced our stature as a nation in the world community, the diplomatic community?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, certainly there are those who have disagreed about the decision to go to war in Iraq, and I believe we've rebuilt most of those bridges. We have very good relations both in Europe and in the region, and there is an understanding now, broadly, that a stable and a more democratic Iraq is going to be a pillar of a different kind of middle East. It's hard getting there, and people are concerned with the continuing challenges of Iraq, but there seems to me to be little disagreement now on what the future should hold for Iraq, and that's very different than where we were in the past.

QUESTION: And that's a long-term future I'm guessing?


QUESTION: These institutions, these traditions, these values are not changed overnight. So how long are we engaged to make this happen?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we will be engaged with Iraqis for a long, long time, but that doesn't mean that we have to be militarily engaged for a long, long time. There's a difference in helping the Iraqis to create a secure environment, training their military forces so that they themselves can carry out their security mission and remaining engaged with them politically, economically in support of the changes that are going on there.

The most egregious error that the United States could make is to leave Iraq before this task is finished. Because what we do not want to see is an Iraq that falls to the likes of Zarqawi, who we managed ultimately to eliminate, an Iraq that might go back to its old habits and its old ways.

I fully understand that when Americans see on their screens the sectarian violence, the car bombers, that it's difficult to see how a future Iraq could be different. But I would just ask people to recognize when you have big historic changes of this kind, when you have people trying to come to live together through politics not through violence, it does take time; it does take support; it does take commitment. But it will be a Middle East in a world that is much more secure for us as well. A secure Iraq will make for a more secure America.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary.



Released on August 29, 2006

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