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Interview on CBS's Early Show With Harry Smith

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
July 13, 2007

7:05 a.m. EDT

QUESTION: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins us now. Madame Secretary, good morning.

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. Good to be with you.

QUESTION: Senator John Warner said yesterday afternoon: The Iraqi Government is simply not providing the leadership worthy of the considerable sacrifice of our forces. Do you not agree that that's a proper assessment?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Iraqi Government has not done all of the things that we would want it to do and frankly it has to do more. They are trying to do some very difficult things in a place that has never tried democratic processes. They're trying to come to consensus about critically important issues like how they're going to share the oil resources of the country, how they're going to deal with their past in terms of de-Baathification. It's very, very hard. It is a government that emerged out of an election by 12.5 million Iraqis. And so I think we have to recognize that that in itself is an accomplishment. But yes, they have to do more.

QUESTION: Is it not possible -- because here the House voted last night to -- for a troop pull out -- isn't it possible that unless there is some sort of incentive for this Iraqi Government to move forward on all these things that were included in the benchmarks, that unless there's a real threat that the United States pulls out, they don't have the incentive to actually do what they need to do?

SECRETARY RICE: These are people who are going to work every day under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. A number of them have lost family members, for instance, one of the Sunni leaders has lost three siblings. I really don't think that this is an issue of motivation. I think that it is an issue of a very difficult set of circumstances. Now, I myself am frequently in contact with them, saying you have no choice, but to put aside your differences and move forward. I think we will have a better assessment of where we are when General Petraeus and Ryan Crocker report in September because right now we are beginning to see progress on what I would call inputs, the security forces that are going into the field, the policies that are being adopted. But what we now need to see are the results of those inputs and that includes movement on legislation.

But if I may just say one other thing, Harry, I hope we don't miss the forest for the trees here. There has been an extraordinarily important development in Iraq that none of us would have foreseen and that is that in the Sunni areas in places like Anbar --

QUESTION: Anbar, right.

SECRETARY RICE: -- you have the sheikhs turning against al-Qaida, fighting al-Qaida, fighting with us and taking back their own streets, so that Ramadi, a place that used to be considered by many analysts lost to al-Qaida is now one of the safest places in Iraq.

QUESTION: On the other hand, you go to Diyala Province, it's -- we've talked about this so many times, it's like whack-a-mole -- you get peace, you get stability one place and horrible things pop up someplace else. If this were a midterm exam, as the President was talking about these benchmarks yesterday, you would have to give it a failing grade. Half -- only half were met. Do you really expect things to change by September?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I just -- I don't agree that you would give it a failing grade. I would say you would say it was a work in progress and you would say that they have made not inconsequential movement forward on some of the important benchmarks, particularly those concerning security. I would say that they have --

QUESTION: Well, except --

SECRETARY RICE: -- much, much more work to do on the political side.

QUESTION: -- wait, excuse me. Madame Secretary --


QUESTION: -- one of the benchmarks is increase the number of Iraqi security force units capable of operating independently. That's actually gone down according to the President's report.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. But one of the most important benchmarks was that they would increase the number of forces in the fight, that they would try to act in a less sectarian fashion and there they're making some progress. I think these benchmarks need to be taken as a whole, Harry. You're not going to be able to go step by step, benchmark by benchmark. Let's look at the whole picture. We'll have a much better view of that whole picture when General Petraeus and Ryan Crocker report in September and then we can chart a coherent way forward, reacting to whatever that report is.

QUESTION: Right. Madame Secretary, we do thank you for your time this morning. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Good to be with you.


Released on July 13, 2007

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