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Interview With The Washington Times Editorial Board

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
March 27, 2008

QUESTION: Secretary, I want to thank you for joining us. It’s a great honor to have you here and I know your time is precious, so we’ll get right to the questions if you’re comfortable with it and --

SECRETARY RICE: I’m just fine. I think we should do that. I’m getting ready to leave town again Friday night. I’m going to the Middle East to continue to press forward on the Annapolis process. I’m then going on to meet up with the President for the NATO summit, which we can talk about. I think it’ll be a very important summit for NATO as it tries to talk about these very critical challenges that we face in Afghanistan and I’m very much looking forward to the trip. So we can talk about whatever is on your mind.

QUESTION: We understand there may be some news on – with Russia, good news to share.


QUESTION: If we can impose on you to find out about that.

SECRETARY RICE: We can certainly talk about it. I don’t know if good news would be the – we’re certainly working – let me say we’re working hard.

QUESTION: Any chance of an agreement?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think there is a good chance that the President and President Putin will have a strategic framework from which to work. It has a number of elements and we’ve been going over those elements with the Russians. I would be the last to say that we will agree on every element in it because we clearly do have some disagreements. That’s all right in a relationship this complex.

But one thing that we wanted to do was to go back and look at the relationship as a whole, to see what has been achieved and what needs to be pushed forward. For instance, there is a very important, but I think under-reported, agreement between the United States and Russia which they’ve now associated scores of other countries on global nuclear terrorism. This is one of our great nightmares, of course, that you could marry nuclear technology and terrorism. And Russia and the United States were really – the President and President Putin were the ones who developed this framework. So there will be elements like that.

We’ve had good cooperation on proliferation. We’ve had pretty good cooperation on economic issues. We are cooperating very well on the six-party talks on North Korea, on Iran. We obviously have some areas where we have work to do: on missile defense, on the future of arms reduction. But all in all, while the relationship is complex and while it’s had its difficulties, I’ve always thought that we’ve made more progress than is understood, even as Russia is going through an internal transition that has gone in ways that I think we would have hoped it might not go. It’s clear that Russia’s internal transformation has not been as we might have wished. But that’s the nature of this document and that’s what they’re going to be taking a look at.

QUESTION: Well, there are talks as we speak and there is a briefing at the Department at 5:30 on talks with Mr. Kislyak on missile defense. Our understanding was that because of what you took to them last week with the option of the Russians having access to bases that you all have in Eastern Europe, that they might actually come around. Are they not coming around this week?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I think we have indications that the Russians now realize that we are serious; that these missile defense sites are in no way aimed at them and that we’ve gone the extra mile to put in place really extraordinary measures— or to allow extraordinary measures that would demonstrate that this is a missile defense system that is not quite, to be frank, the son of the Strategic Defense Initiative of the ‘80s, but rather something that’s aimed at small missile threats: Iran, North Korea and so forth.

You may have seen Sergey Lavrov’s comments a few days ago. They clearly see now that we’ve gone a long way. They still want to kick the tires a little bit and understand a little bit better how some of these measures might work, but I do think we’ve made a lot of progress in allaying their concerns. And they’re not -- they’re undoubtedly not going to agree that the third site is a good idea. They think there should be an alternative. We think the third site is critical. But I do believe we’re coming to a place where the two sides can agree that we’ve worked to and possibly even allayed their concerns about what that site might be.

QUESTION: You’ve gone to great, great lengths trying to explain to the Russians, work with them. The President’s going to Sochi after the NATO summit. Why do you care so much about pleasing the Russians?

SECRETARY RICE: It’s not a matter of pleasing the Russians, Nick. It’s a matter of laying a foundation in what is one of the critical relationships in international politics, to be able to continue to cooperate on areas where we can and continue to disagree on areas where we can’t find agreement. Imagine, for instance, trying to manage the Iran problem without a working relationship with Russia; can’t do it.

Russia is, after all, a permanent member of the Security Council with a veto. That has to be taken into consideration. Imagine trying to manage global nuclear terrorism without a relationship with Russia, given that one of the concerns just a decade and a half ago or so was the potential for nuclear materials and nuclear scientists who had worked on the old Soviet programs being a source of proliferation in and of themselves. Imagine if we’d not had the kind of working relationship where we could deal with that danger.

So whatever one thinks of the internal evolution of Russia – and I’m very concerned about it, you know that I think it’s gone in a bad direction— or whatever one thinks about Russia’s continued efforts to maintain a sphere of influence in a kind of 19th century way with some of its neighbors, you do have to have, and you should work to have, a working relationship with the Russians that can help you to solve a lot of international problems.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, The Washington Times has reported in the last two days that the Government Printing Office has been, number one, outsourcing the printing of U.S. passports overseas and, number two, charging your Department far more than the cost of producing it. Could you comment, number one, on --

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. I was glad to learn that. (Laughter.) First of all, as I understand it, having gone now to the Under Secretary of Management, who then went to find out the facts of the case after Bill’s very interesting piece, there is a competitive bidding process for both the book itself -- we are required by law to acquire that from the Government Printing Office. In other words, the State Department doesn't go out and have multiple suppliers for it. And you can understand, it’s a government document so it has to be the Government Printing Office.

The chip that is in the book, the GPO bid that – and we are told that there are only two companies, both of which were foreign. The one that was chosen was, I think, a Dutch company that had the plant in Thailand. Both they and we maintain measures to -- security measures to track, trace the -- what happens with the passport document as it comes from there. But essentially, this is a Government Printing Office function. We buy it from them and – you know, it’s a legal requirement that we buy it from them.

QUESTION: Well, I think the suggestion in the story is not that you’re at fault, but maybe the victim. I mean, do you feel that you’re been a little bit victimized either on the price, or do you have any concerns about security?

SECRETARY RICE: I believe that -- the thing I was most concerned about, frankly, is the security side. And on that, the people who I rely on to make certain that the security measures are taken tell me that they are comfortable with the security measures that we take. In terms of price, you know, we’ll just have to look into that. But I hope the GPO is giving us the best deal that they can.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Given – given – I just – along those same lines, there have been concerns (inaudible) by Duncan Hunter, about – also about outsourcing to foreign countries with industrial – our defense-industrial bases, passports, and whether we have the talent here, are we building the talent here, and the are continued concerns overall about outsourcing to these foreign governments and our security is a very, very legitimate issue. Isn’t that --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, look, it’s a global economy, and sometimes you’ll even find circumstances in which you have what are truly multinational corporations. There might even be American subsidiaries involved.

But just to the more general principle, the way that we assure or try to assure that whenever there is an acquisition or a merger or the like, is through the CFIUS process, which can take into account, specifically, national security concerns even if there is an economic argument for doing something. And I think that process, which we’ve reformed significantly since the Dubai World ports incident, is working. Treasury sits on that, but State sits on it, Defense, Commerce; Homeland is a part of that process as well.

As to the “outsourcing” of defense industrial and the like, I’m not really competent to comment because I don’t -- as Secretary of State, I don’t come into those issues. But on the passport issue, let me just broaden it to say the following, because it’s been in the news a lot. I am very concerned that we do everything that we can to protect the personal data of Americans -- and I don’t care whether it’s a famous American or a “ordinary” American -- the data that we are given. When I heard about the snooping, my first thought was I wouldn't be very happy if I heard that somebody had gone into my passport file.

Now, these are big organizations and you put in place systems that try to help you deal with everything from potentially, you know, just snooping out to more nefarious kinds of activities. The flag system was intended to do precisely that, because you might imagine, if somebody’s got a famous name, that you’d want to know if that file is being accessed because that might be a kind of voyeurism or worse. So that was why this flag system came up.

But we’re doing a thorough investigation. And we’re not just doing an investigation of this particular issue, but Pat Kennedy, who is the Under Secretary for Management, has only been there a couple of months and we have new leadership also in our Consular Affairs office. They’re really looking thoroughly at the whole issue of protection of information. They’ve called back a couple of consultants to look at the whole question of protection of information.

We’re in a different world than we once were. If you think about it, we used to have paper for all of this, lots and lots of paper files. Somebody had to actually go down, get the paper file and do it. Now, with access through a computer, one needs to just make sure that we –that we think we have adequate controls, but we’re absolutely checking again.

QUESTION: Could I follow that up? I understand – and this is hard to put this diplomatically, that you were not happy with not being informed. Has that problem been fixed right away and --


QUESTION: -- have you done – (Laughter.) Well, and one of the reasons that you wanted to be informed, according to Sean, was that – so you could take steps. Have you done anything, kind of immediately, to increase the flag system or go beyond the flag system?

SECRETARY RICE: I have asked Pat Kennedy to do a couple of things. First of all, this information, when something like that happens, it shouldn’t just stay at the level of supervisors. Now to be fair, I think the supervisors thought, “Well, we’ve dealt with it. The offending people have been fired and the system worked.” And I think from the point of view of the supervisor, the system did work.

But from the point of view of the management, we have to be able to say, does that say something about the controls themselves; did there need to be additional screens, in a sense, either electronic or management screens to make sure that people aren’t going into these files. And that’s why I have said that today, the very day it happened, that at least the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs has to be informed.

And we’ll look at what level needs to be informed, but one of the problems in managing a big organization is that you want people to take responsibility and solve problems at the lowest possible level. But then you need to have people bring it up the ladder so that you can see whether something broader needs to be done and that’s – that was the basis of my unhappiness (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you’ve now had a little more than seven years in office, a little more than three as Secretary of State, certainly some great achievements, some disappointments, highs and lows. We now see the clock starting to run out, less than a year left. What realistically do you think you can accomplish in the time remaining and what are your top priorities for that time?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do think that the first several years of the Administration, the President was taking some extremely difficult decisions, frankly, that went – that flew in the face of common wisdom of the foreign policy elite about a number of issues, that we now, as a result of those difficult decisions, are in a position to perhaps deliver on a set of outcomes that will make the country safer, more secure, and the world better off.

I’ll just give you a couple. Why do we think that the Annapolis process on Middle East peace has a chance? Well, if you go back to the President’s speech of 2002 -- June 24th, 2002 -- he took on some shibboleths, if you will, about the Middle East peace process. He was firm in his defense publicly about Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks and effectively said there, you can’t, on the one hand, say we’ll fight al-Qaida and hug Hamas and Hezbollah. And so this notion that there were sort of freedom fighters who used terror and then terrorists who used terror, he broke down: Terrorists are terrorists. And so that was one.

Secondly, Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat couldn’t make peace in 2000 at the time of Camp David for two very simple reasons. He could not on give up on terror, which was very obvious when you saw the Iranians, through the Karine A, sending weapons into the territories a couple of years later. And he was corrupt. And the President said in his speech, the Palestinians needs new leadership committed to peace, committed to nonviolence and, most importantly, committed to democracy and to a better life for the Palestinian people – right.

Now they’ve got that leadership in Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, clean leadership that is not associated with terror. That gives, I think, reason for Israel to see that it has a partner. And frankly, because of the strong support-- or in part because of the strong support that the United States gave to Israel, Ariel Sharon was able, in 2003, to say it’s time to divide the land. Now, you had the father of the settlement movement, now you had the Likud Party on the side of the two-state solution. So that’s an example of the tough decisions taken up front in 2002 that I think are now paying off. And so one of our high priorities is to try to get the agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis as to what the new Palestinian state will be.

Similarly, on the North Korean issue, which I’m sure we’ll want to discuss, we were under, if you remember, enormous pressure in 2002, 2003, 2004 – you ought to talk to the North Koreans, you ought to have a bilateral dialogue with the North Koreans, the only way you’re going to get the North Koreans to move is engagement. And the President said no, this is bilateral between the United States and North Korea, then the North Koreans can do what they did in the past: sign an agreement and not fulfill it. But if China and Russia and Japan and South Korea are also at the table, now if the North Koreans do not perform they’re taking on all of the states that hold the incentives and the disincentives for North Korea. The six-party framework was born. It has been difficult. It’s sometimes slow. But we’ve already gotten the North Koreans to shut down their reactor, to disable it. And now we’re working on this declaration. I would like to see us make progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The other two that I would put very high on the radar screen: the tough decisions that we took to overthrow the Taliban and to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein, both right and both necessary. And yes, very difficult pathways for both these young democracies to stability and to learning to carry out politics through -- or carry out the resolution of differences through politics and compromise, not through violence and repression.

But I'll tell you, when you sit with, as I did recently, the provincial council in Kirkuk and you watch this hard-hewn Kurdish provincial chairman sitting next to his new deputy chairman who's an Arab, and you realize that neither of them really likes the fact that they have to listen to different views, but they are doing it and they're trying to come to a solution, you think this is the only way -- a democratic system is the only way that complex environments, complex countries, overcome differences without violence and repression. And so, doing everything that we can to lock in the gains in Iraq. In Afghanistan, too, but also to -- it's one of the reasons the Bucharest summit is important -- to make sure that NATO is really properly structured for the mission it's taken on. I think those are also two very high-priority items, from my point of view and from the President's point of view. But the thing about being Secretary of State is you, frankly, can’t have just a few priorities because everything keeps coming at you, you know, and you have to deal with those as well.

QUESTION: Did you ever -- those are two monumental decisions. Did you ever have any doubts about the impact on foreign policy that an invasion of Iraq -- even if they had WMD, did you ever have a doubt in the back of your mind that, well, this is going to be a tough one for me coming down the road?

SECRETARY RICE: I thought it would be tough. I didn't think it would be this tough.

QUESTION: Really? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: I didn't. But I thought it would be tough. I think what we didn't know was how truly broken that society was -- underneath. And not just because of the years and years of tyranny. That was -- that was about 90 percent of it. But frankly, you know, the Oil-for-Food program and the UN sanctions, as necessary as they might have been to try to put pressure on the regime, they also did a lot of damage. I look at agriculture-- which Iraq used to be a kind of breadbasket. Agriculture is virtually dead in Iraq because with the food basket and no internal market, it collapsed.

And I just think that when I listen to people say, well, he was -- Saddam was contained (inaudible) could have gone on and could have gone on, and I think, at what price to the Iraqi people was this going to go on? Because the international community couldn't deal with Saddam Hussein. At what price for the Iraqi people and the region (inaudible) continue to deal with this?

So it's a society that's now just beginning to emerge and, of course, has had to do so against the backdrop of brutal terrorists in al-Qaida, which, nonetheless, in showing their brutality, have united the Iraqi people against them.

QUESTION: Are you surprised -- well, I guess not surprised -- that so much of the world's conflicts are rooted in religion and culture right and now, and does that have any impact on the diplomatic corps? Do you have to do new training, new ways of teaching the diplomatic corps to deal with what is essentially a theological war?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think of it as essentially that what has happened is that, as has happened in the past, people have taken the great religion and subverted it to their own political purposes. And I think it's extremely important to distinguish, because this is not a war with or about or against Islam. This is about a group of people who have a particularly perverted view of religion and will kill in its name. And so, I think the piece that we do have to be very careful about is understanding the need -- what role the United States can play in drawing that distinction and enabling and promoting and supporting moderate Islam, and what role Islam itself has to play in that.

And so we have, for instance, when Karen Hughes was Under Secretary, she put together a council of American Muslims. I know King Abdullah of Jordan, for instance, has done a number of interfaith dialogues. In places as different as Saudi Arabia, they have been looking for moderate voices among the imams. There is a balance between our engaging in this debate and their engaging in this debate, and I think most of it has to be there.

But what we really are having to train differently is we're having to learn a whole bunch of languages that, frankly, the country didn't invest in. You know, when I was in graduate school, the patriotic thing to do was to learn Russian, and I've benefited from, you know, the national defense languages programs. And we have not invested in Arabic and Dari and Farsi and the languages that are critical.

But the more difficult transformation for the Department, because we kind of know how to do that, the more difficult transformation for the Department has been that diplomacy is only minimally practiced now in the halls of government in European capitals. It's -- I moved 300 people out of Europe, not because Europe isn't important, but because I needed them in China and India and Brazil. And I needed them not just in Brasilia, but in San Paulo1. And I needed them not just in New Delhi, but in Bangalore. And we need them not just engaging governments, but engaging NGOs and the business community and civil society. That's been one of the challenges. We had as many Foreign Service officers in Germany with 80 million people as we had in India with a billion, just to show you the imbalance.

The other piece that we've had to work really hard on is the Department -- the Foreign Service and our people have got to be more expeditionary. You know, there's been a lot written about Iraq and did we have the civilian side right after the initial overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and there will be volumes written about this. I'll probably even oversee some of these dissertations myself on what the Bush Administration should have done differently. (Laughter.)

But I think we had a structural problem. If you look at post-conflict societies, you're really not talking about war and then peace. You're talking about a continuum, where you're continuing to fight terrorists and extremists at the same time in a counterinsurgency way that you are trying to win the population by providing goods and services and governance to the population. So it's a continuum.

When Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo were done, we did it with a heavy UN footprint and a UN High Representative. And frankly, the structures of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are underdeveloped today. With Afghanistan, we did the kind of adopt-a-ministry approach, country by country. The Germans took the police, the Italians took the justice system, and you know -- out of the Bonn process. And while that was very welcomed, we're living with the incoherence of that effort today.

Then we got to Iraq, and we said, all right, there needs to be unity of command, so it’ll go to the Defense Department to put together the whole process and we'll all report up to the Defense Department. The Defense Department will be the first to tell you they couldn't, in a coherent way, put together all the different functions -- police, justice systems, city planners, governance people and so forth -- that were needed to do that. But the State Department certainly didn't have the capacity to do that.

And so what we've done now is to go back and look at what capability you need, and the answer has been this Civilian Response Corps that is the kind of analog of the National Guard and Reserve, so that you have the Arizona prosecutor who wants to take a year and work on justice programs someplace in the world and could be mobilized to go to Kabul or, for that matter, Haiti or Liberia, and work on justice programs. So you’d mobilize a large civilian capability that you could never hold just in the Foreign Service. But you still need Foreign Service officers who are going out to the most difficult places, very often serving in unaccompanied posts, meaning they can’t take their families.

And that’s a new world for the Department of State and we’ve had to change our personnel policies, we’re having to change our training, we’re having to work seamlessly with the military, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, in some places, are literally embedded with the brigade command combat teams. And it’s a whole new world for how the Department operates.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) managed, these teams you’re talking about with legal people from here or different --


QUESTION: They’re managed by Foreign Service officers, right?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, that’s right.

QUESTION: Now, the problem that they’re having is -- and you mentioned it -- it’s training.


QUESTION: Who do you get to train them when nobody else has ever done this before?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, we have to develop the skills. The Foreign Service Institute and the National Defense University have developed a curriculum for PRTs. They spend six weeks training together-- the military and civilian components training together. We will write the equivalent of the counterinsurgency doctrine that the military has, for civilians. And it’s -- we’ll just have to pass it on over time.

But one thing that we’ve had to do is we need longer for people to train. So one of the reasons that the President has authorized 1,100 new positions in the Foreign Service and 300 in USAID is that we need more of a training (inaudible) so that people can spend time training and then go out to the field, rather than just being sent out.

QUESTION: And one thing, just to be able to clarify, you talked about Bosnia and Kosovo and you said that the UN effort didn’t pay off, really, because they’re sort of underdeveloped. Are you saying that the United States, with the proper diplomatic effort and perhaps transformational diplomacy, which you’ve been talking about for two years now, can do this better than the UN can?

SECRETARY RICE: I think that the UN is member-states. And look, there are some UN agencies that have, I think, very specialized important roles. For all of its difficulties, UNDP, I think, does some very good work. I think the UN is terrific at elections planning. But state-building, this was something that requires skill sets that I don’t think actually reside in the UN structure. And what we’ve got to do is have them reside in the member-states in a coherent way.

Now, I think you might have seen Gordon Brown gave a speech very recently and David Milliband, they’re talking about a similar kind of capacity. And you could imagine that you would have a kind of network of these capacities from various different countries that could go in. The Indians have a wonderful civil service. You could imagine that they could mobilize people to do the same thing. We created something called the Partnership for Democratic Governance, which is kind of small programs that developing or post-conflict states can access. And one of the leaders in that has been Chile. So it doesn't need to be just the United States. (Inaudible) big-scale effort of an Iraq or an Afghanistan, probably the United States is going to have more capacity. But you could imagine this capacity existing in a lot of different states.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there was some thinking several years ago that nation-building was not something appropriate for the United States to do. Has that thinking changed?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And how important is it –

SECRETARY RICE: To be fair, yes. Look, I think we always knew nation-building was important, but I think my view coming in was, look, this isn’t something the 82nd Airborne should be doing. As a matter of fact, I think I’m famous for that quote.

QUESTION: Taking children to school.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. I still think this is not something that the military should have to shoulder, which is why getting the civilian capacity is so important. And it’s why some of our biggest supporters in this have been the military and the Defense Department -- Bob Gates, for instance, because you know, the problem is we now know the real cost of failed states. We know the cost of Afghanistan as a failed state that became, then, a breeding ground for terrorism, became terrorism central. I don’t think anybody wants to let that happen again. And we know the cost of Somalia as a failed state.

But the question is who’s going to -- who’s going to assist the people of those countries in building their own nation, I think if we say it’s our responsibility to do nation-building, I would flip it and say it’s our responsibility to help develop well-governed states. Because well-governed states can secure their borders, well-governed states can provide for their people, well-governed states can have intelligence and police and law enforcement that can deal with -- whether it’s terrorism or drug-running or trafficking in persons.

It is, to my mind, a strong reassertion of the importance of the state, of sovereignty. I know that there was a kind of post-sovereignty thing out there for a while that a lot of my academic friends were interested in. What I’m asserting to you is unless the state is strong, but responsive to its population-- which means it has to be democratic, because if it’s strong but not responsive to its population, it will be tyrannical and what you will get is that political activity will go in unhealthy ways.

It’s like I said in the Middle East; it’s not that there wasn’t politics in the Middle East where you had authoritarian states. There was politics, but it was in the radical mosque. And so unless you provide healthy channels for politics -- well-governed democratic states, how are you going to get there? Governance is not a natural act. You aren’t born knowing how to govern. You have to learn how to govern. You have to learn how to put ministries in place. You have to learn how to execute a budget. Somebody has to help with that. And that’s why I think this civilian capacity is so important.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, another topic, please. Presidents Reagan and President H -- President H. Walker Bush both supported boycotts of the 1980 Olympics. France is now threatening to boycott the Beijing Olympics. Tell us why the U.S. shouldn’t boycott and the President should not boycott the --

QUESTION: Or at least the Opening Ceremony.

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Well, my view of this is that we all knew that when the Olympics was awarded to Beijing, that there were any number of issues that needed to be dealt with because of the nature of the regime in Beijing. The Chinese at the time said that they -- they almost took a pledge that they were going to be open to discussions about these issues. I think we ought to take them up on it. I think that we should engage them on Tibet. We should engage them on Taiwan. We should engage them on all of these issues that are critical -- human rights. But frankly, it’s a sporting event. And if you go there, I do think you have an obligation before, during, and after to continue to engage the regime about troublesome policies. But I don’t see the benefit of boycotting. I do not --


SECRETARY RICE: I do not think the boycott of the ’80 Olympics was very effective. In fact, I think it looked feckless. I’ll tell you that. I really do. You know, they invade Afghanistan, and the best you can think of is to boycott the Olympics and keep athletes who have been training for their entire lives from going and competing? Who were we kidding?

So I don’t see -- I see this, first of all, as keeping faith with holding the Chinese to the pledge that they understand that there are political issues. I see it as keeping faith with athletes who have trained their entire lives for this opportunity and shouldn’t be denied it. And also, there is a broader audience than the regime in Beijing. It’s called the Chinese people. And this is a moment of international recognition for the Chinese people, too. And I would hate to do anything that was, in effect, insulting to them -- the people. Not the regime, the people.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary --

QUESTION: And there are many of them. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: And there are a lot of them. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Since you mentioned Bosnia earlier, I was talking to the Bosnian Ambassador today about Senator Clinton’s visit to Bosnia. And while I don't want to ask you about that, the Ambassador said that she was happy for the attention but she wished she would get more of it and the right kind of attention. And then she went on to say that she would really like to see America do more for Bosnia. And I’m wondering what more can we do. Do we have plans to do more for Bosnia, to get engaged --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, we continue both foreign assistance and support to Bosnia. But you know, I just had the three Bosnian presidents here about 18 months ago. So I don’t know what this is about attention. (Laughter.) I had them here. I said to them, you need to reform your constitution and unify your presidency, your armed forces, your police, because any country that’s got three presidents is in trouble. (Laughter.) And I spent a good deal of time on this, a good deal of effort, mobilized all the Europeans to support it, and they went back and they couldn’t get it done.

So it’s not that people aren’t paying attention to Bosnia. It’s – frankly, I think Bosnians have got to take more responsibility for turning themselves into a normal country. They were given a chance by our predecessors, and I admire the fact that our predecessors gave Bosnia-Herzegovina a chance. But what is needed is to take the next step beyond Dayton and make this a workable country. And that’s not something that the international community can do for them. It’s something they have to do for themselves. But I have spent a good deal of time on that.

QUESTION: Speaking of the –

QUESTION: Can I follow up on this -


QUESTION: -- about the NATO summit?


QUESTION: This is perhaps a side issue, but from what I’ve been reading, it could threaten to be a very big issue: Macedonia and Greece.



SECRETARY RICE: We have a number of people working with Matt Nimetz to try to solve this issue. I certainly hope it gets solved, because I think it would be a pity if something that has to do with antiquity were to get in the way of what I think is a very important step for Macedonia and important to NATO. I think that the entry of Albania and Croatia and Macedonia into NATO would be a stabilizing factor in the Balkans at a time that that is needed. I think that Macedonia and Albania and Croatia have proven their worth in being associated with a number of important security initiatives. And I would very much hate to see this get in the way, and so I’m hoping that both sides will be flexible and accept Ambassador Nimetz’s proposal when he makes it.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, last time you came to visit us, we asked you about the wisdom of encouraging democracy in countries where that was liable to bring radical Islamists to power. And you enunciated something that a few of us have since called the (inaudible) doctrine, which is to say that once in power, these people would have to deal with matters of good governance, and if they failed to provide good governance, they would soon find themselves out. Since then you’ve had a not happy experience with Hamas in the Palestinian territories. You’ve seen the rise of Hezbollah. On the other hand, in Pakistan, for instance, the Islamist party has failed to provide good government –

SECRETARY RICE: And they’re gone.

QUESTION: -- in at least some of these territories, and they’re gone. Given the experience over the last couple of years, do you feel that what you said then still holds? It holds or have you refined your thinking on the matter?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I think it still holds. And I think there was a front end to that, too, that I said I didn’t think there was an alternative to letting people have the ability to express their will in elections. And whenever I hear, well, you should wait until there’s a broader civil society or fill-in-the blank, economic reforms or whatever, I really do think, particularly on the former, that authoritarian regimes are not going to create the conditions for the emergence of moderate parties in the absence of the prospect of the expression of the will of the people through elections. So I don’t see how you get there from here without going ahead with that step, even if sometimes the outcomes are uncomfortable.

It’s, I would say, still a story in progress on Hamas, in particular, because I think there’s plenty of evidence now that one reason that Hamas went back to their bad old ways and took over the Gaza and overthrew the legitimate Palestinian Authority institutions is that actually they were failing at governance and it’s easier to be a resistance movement than to be a governing movement. And so I don’t think this story is yet finished. And one of the reasons that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would be very good is that I think that it would show to the Palestinian people that there is really a prospect of statehood along the lines that Mahmoud Abbas offers and it would challenge the extremists to show why they can do better. And so this – if you have a realistic prospect for the Palestinian people of a decent life out of peace and negotiations, I think you put yourself in a stronger position to disable the extremists. So I think that story is not yet finished.

You mentioned the Pakistani story. It’s again, one of the under-told stories, how badly the radical Islamist parties did in free and, you know, pretty good elections in Pakistan. And Hezbollah, kind of an interesting case because there, so far, it’s a bit of a stalemate. And the international community shouldn’t allow it to remain a stalemate because there’s a legitimately elected government, the government of Fouad Siniora. It is the majority. And they ought to be able to go and elect a President. And the reason they can’t go and elect a President is because, I believe, of not just internal opposition, but outside interference from Syria. The Arab League is going to meet at the end of the month. They have an initiative on the table that the majority would support. And I hope they’ll – that there’ll be a very strong message that the expectation is that they are going to be allowed -- the Lebanese are going to be allowed to hold their election.

QUESTION: On North Korea – and, unfortunately, my humorous effect will be completely lost now. (Laughter.) But earlier, speaking of Bosnia and not interfering in domestic affairs of other countries, Pakistan -- you’ve just mentioned it -- you have two people there, very senior people. There were, as you know, protests today and yesterday in Pakistan against the presence of your Deputy and Assistant Secretary Boucher in Pakistan on the day the new prime minister was being sworn in. And it’s viewed as attempts to interfere in the policies of the new government. Can you tell, us are you are concerned about some talking or whatever you call it -- talking, engagement -- with some of the militant groups? What (inaudible) to the American forces there who are trying to stabilize the areas (inaudible) of Afghanistan, and how is that going to hurt Afghanistan?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, as to John and Richard being there, they planned that trip some time ago. The timing was – turned out to be pretty coincidental. But as it turned – but I believe that given that Pakistan is an ally and a country with whom we have deepening ties, it’s a good thing to engage the government early. And I would take it – I would hope people would take it as a sign of respect, that we respect the democratic process in Pakistan and we respect its outcome and we welcome its outcome, and it’s now time, therefore, to engage that government.

But let me speak to – you know, there’s Pakistan and there’s the FATA. And obviously, they’re connected. FATA is a part of Pakistan. But the FATA is also a very special problem. It’s a special problem because it has not been governed really ever. It’s a special problem because the tribal ties are very deep and they are cross-border ties. And we are – we have been trying to develop with the – first with the Musharraf government, and I think we will be interested in conversations with the new government—as to how to address this part of Pakistan where, clearly, terrorism is a really big problem. You know, it’s the assessment of most that the forces that assassinated Benazir Bhutto are associated with terrorists who operate in that area. So this is not just an American problem or an Afghan problem. This is a Pakistani problem. So how can that problem be addressed and how can we address the surrounding problems of poverty and incapacity in that region? And I know that there are things being said about how it might be done. I think we want to talk to the Pakistani government about how this is going to be done.

What is clear is the terrorist threat in the FATA cannot be ignored. That's what clear. It can't be ignored for the sake of the Afghan situation. It can't be ignored because of the potential for the terrorists to operate there or to plan there or to train there and cause attacks in other parts of the world. And it can't be tolerated by the Pakistanis, who are bearing the brunt of the extremists attacking, whether it is the assassination of Benazir Bhutto or the actions that they've taken against the armed forces or the innocent civilians who have died in those attacks. So what's clear is it can't -- it has to be addressed, and these are pretty tough people. There is experience with the effort of the Musharraf government to have a pact with them. It did not work out. But there is a new government and I think we should have those discussions.

QUESTION: That's a very quick, simple question. I'm sorry --


QUESTION: Does Syria have a nuclear program?

SECRETARY RICE: We are concerned about proliferation -

QUESTION: It’s a yes or no question. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: There are no such things. (Laughter.)

We are concerned about proliferation and we've been concerned about proliferation in Syria for some time. And we will do everything that we can to get to the bottom of those cases and to deal with them.

QUESTION: And is there a North Korean connection?

SECRETARY RICE: We have also been concerned about North Korean proliferation activities. One advantage that we have on that one is that we are working to have the six-party framework be a place that those issues could be addressed. Because whatever the North Korean proliferation issues are, we're going to address them better with China, South Korea, Japan and Russia at the table than the United States alone.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wanted to ask a question that has absolutely nothing to do with any other country. (Laughter.) We're pulling up on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. And regardless of what race we were or what class we belonged to, it was a devastating time for America, without a doubt. And there's so much talk about race in the race for the White House. What, if any, lessons do you think Americans, as a whole, have learned since then?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, you know, it's -- America doesn't have an easy time dealing with race. I sit in my office and the portrait immediately over my shoulder is Thomas Jefferson, because he was my first predecessor. He was the first Secretary of State. And sometimes I think to myself, what would he think -- (laughter) -- a black woman Secretary of State as his predecessor 65 times removed -- successor, 65 times removed? What would he think that the last two successors have been black Americans? And so, obviously, when this country was founded, the words that were enshrined in all of our great documents and that have been such an inspiration to people around the world, for the likes of Vaclav Havel, associate themselves with those documents. They didn't have meaning for an overwhelming element of our founding population. And black Americans were a founding population. Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together; Europeans by choice, and Africans in chains.

And that's not a very pretty reality of our founding, and I think that particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today. But that relevance comes in two strains. On the one hand, there's the relevance that descendents of slaves, therefore, did not get much of a head start. And I think you continue to see some of the effects of that. On the other hand, the tremendous efforts of many, many, many people, some of whom, whose names we will never know and some individuals’ names who we do know, to be impatient with this country for not fulfilling its own principles, has led us down a path that has put African Americans in positions and places that, I think, nobody would have even thought at the time that Dr. King was assassinated. And so we deal daily with this contradiction, this paradox about America, that on the one hand, the birth defect continues to have effects on our country, and indeed, on the discourse and effects on perhaps the deepest thoughts that people hold; and on the other hand, the enormous progress that has been made by the efforts of blacks and whites together, to finally fulfill those principles.

QUESTION: Like running for President, for example?


QUESTION: Like running for President?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, yeah. I think the President, or being Secretary of State or having been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or being the CEOs of some of the most major companies or being the best golfer in the whole world.

QUESTION: I mention it because, obviously, the race has become a major issue this race.

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, but I'm not -- look, I'm not going to talk about the campaign, because I don't do politics.

QUESTION: It was a serious attempt.

SECRETARY RICE: It was a very good attempt. (Laughter.) I don't – I am not going to do politics --

QUESTION: Darn, that messed up my attempt. (Laughter.) And I wasn’t even going to ask about the presidency, but the vice presidency. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Barack (inaudible) speech about race -- did you listen to it?

SECRETARY RICE: I did and, you know, I think it was important that he gave it for a whole host of reasons. But look, I'm not going to talk about the politics. What I'm talking about is how -- you asked me about Dr. King and race in America. And I'm telling you that there is a paradox for this country and a contradiction of this country and we still haven't resolved it. But what I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them, and that's our legacy.

My grandmother and my great-grandmother, and my father, who endured terrible humiliations growing up -- and my father in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and my mother's family in Birmingham, Alabama-- still loved this country. And I've often spoken of the Civil Rights Movement as the second founding of America, because finally we started to overcome this birth defect. But if anybody believes that black Americans love this country any less than white Americans do, they ought to go and talk to people who live under very tough circumstances, sometimes doing menial labor and doing tough jobs, and really all they want is the American dream. All they're focused on is is their kid going to be well educated enough to go to college and have a better life than they had. And one of the things that attracted me to George W. Bush, one of the primary things, it was not actually foreign policy, it was No Child Left Behind. Because when he talked about the soft bigotry of low expectations, I know what that feels like.

And so to my mind, where our understanding of and conversation of race has got to go. And I mean now, race. Black Americans aren't immigrants. We may call ourselves African Americans, but we're not immigrants. We don't mimic the immigrant story. Where this conversation has got to go is that black Americans and white Americans founded this country together and I think we've always wanted the same thing. And it's been now a very hard and long struggle to begin to get to the place that we can all pursue the same thing.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I know you have to go. I just want to ask one last question. What does the future hold for you? You say you don't do politics now, but if you could change the things you've just talked about -- race in American, economics, opportunity -- would you do politics?

QUESTION: And would you consider vice president? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: Not interested. I’ve been at this, as you’ve kindly said, a long time. It's time for new blood. But look, I will go back to -- first of all, back East -- back West of the Mississippi -- which is where I’m from. There's a reason I'm an educator. There's a reason that the first thing that I would describe myself as is an educator. Because I believe that really is the basis on which we finally bring these two streams together: those of us who were fortunate enough to have parents and grandparents who set us on that path so that I became Secretary of State and my cousin became executive vice president of a major drug manufacturer, and people who are still struggling. And the difference is my parents and my grandparents were able to educate us.

I have worked hard on matters of providing educational opportunity for underprivileged kids. I started a program in East Palo Alto, California, that's -- in 1992. It an after-school and summer academy, called the Center for a New Generation. And the whole idea is that they should have limitless horizons and they shouldn't let anybody tell them what they're going to be, and somebody has an obligation to provide them that set of opportunities. But I'll tell you, the more I've been in the national security realm and in the foreign policy realm, I also recognize that it is absolutely essential for the health of our country as a whole because -- and for our role in the world. Because if our people are not educated and don't have opportunity and can't compete in a globalizing world where we're not going to be able to protect, I think that we will turn inward and we'll turn protectionist and we'll turn fearful. But if it really is the case that Americans can compete and can be educated and can be retrained, if necessary, when that job goes away to do the next job, then we're going to continue to be the leader on free trade and we're going to continue to be an open economy and we're going to continue to welcome people here from other countries, and we're not going to be fearful and we're not going to turn xenophobic. And so I consider the state of education to also be a key national security problem for us, maybe the most important national security problem.

I'll end with a little story, because it goes back to why, you know, why my family was educated and just says something about race --

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?


QUESTION: Do you think that -- you mentioned No Child Left Behind, do you think that turned out the way it was supposed to?

SECRETARY RICE: I think it’s had enormous impact, I really do. And I hope -- you know, I hope it can continue. But look, you can't tell if a child is succeeding unless you measure, and then somebody has to be held accountable if children aren't learning. If you don't hold somebody accountable that children aren't learning, you must believe that they can't learn. And so, I think, the program has had real impact.

But I want to just close with this little story because -- maybe some of you’ve heard it. But -- my grandfather, my father's father, was a sharecropper's son in Ewtah, Alabama -- E-w-t-a-h, Alabama. And for some reason, he decided he wanted to get book learning. And so he would ask people who came through where could a colored man go to college. And they said, well, there's Stillman College, which is a little Presbyterian school about 60 miles from here, but you're going to have to pay to go there. So he saved up his cotton and he got enough money from his cotton to go to Stillman. He made his way to Stillman. He made it through his first year of school. And then the second year they said, okay, now where's your tuition for the second year? And he said, well, I’ve paid with all the cotton I had. And they said -- he said, but -- well, how are those boys going to school? They said, well, you know, they have what's called a scholarship. He said -- and if you wanted to be a Presbyterian minister, then you could have a scholarship too. And my grandfather said, oh, you know, that's exactly what I plan to do. (Laughter.)

And so I always say, my family has been Presbyterian and college educated ever since, because he managed to go to college and then so did everybody else. So that's that. All right. Thank you.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you so much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.


1 Sao Paulo

Released on March 28, 2008

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