Interview with the CNN Editorial BoardSecretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
June 19, 2008
QUESTION: The Secretary is on a tight schedule and so we'll do all that saving the world and, you know, stuff like that. So we really appreciate you taking the time (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the top issue (inaudible) global in nature, energy, oil prices, Iraq, national security, et cetera. But then, of course, we've been covering an awful lot of non-election oriented international stories. Zain herself has the scars to prove it from Kenya. Christiane herself has the passport to prove it from travels that have already taken you this year, right, to North Korea, right? Europe, points east, west. Been to Asia already this year for documentaries and all. John Roberts has done two tours in the Middle East for us alone in the past couple of years. Fareed's launched a brand new show called GPS which is going to become even more must see now that you're going to be on it afterwards.
So all of this obviously touches on your areas of expertise, but we're also next month going to be launching a very special multi-hour look at the experience of blacks in America, aptly called Black in America. Right? Creative title. And it's -- we thought so. Soledad O'Brien has been doing the reporting. It's going to be six hours of documentary work charting the progress that blacks have made in this country in the 40 years since Martin Luther King was assassinated. And you've had some very interesting things to say about that of late as well.
So we're looking forward to a good, frank, interesting conversation. We've got about 45 minutes or so, I understand. We'll try to make the most of it. We'll kick it off with Christiane asking you a few questions, and then we'll open it up to the room.
SECRETARY RICE: Terrific, great.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you for being here.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, indeed. Yesterday, you scooped everybody yourself by telling the Heritage Foundation about North Korea's nuclear declaration, which you described as coming soon. Can you give us any more specificity about when this is coming? Is it next week? When could we expect it to happen?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's the intention of the six parties to move this process along quickly. And the hope is that within -- let's say within the month that we might receive the declaration. I can't say for certain. North Korea is a difficult country to read, as you would know, having just been there. But that's the expectation. There's been a lot of work done, principally by the Chinese, to try to move this forward. So that's the hope, within the month.
QUESTION: It was just announced that you yourself are going to China, to the earthquake zone. It's also known that you would like to go to North Korea. Will you use that opportunity to be in China to hop across the border?
SECRETARY RICE: No, I won't. I think that if I go, it will be at another time. And it's certainly premature right now. We will at some point get the ministers together once that is well prepared. The thought has always been that after the second phase -- if you remember, we are now coming to the end of the second phase -- the declaration, the end of the -- the disabling and some steps on our part as well and the part of the other parties -- that once we got to the end of the second phase, we might look ahead to the third phase, and that might be an appropriate time for the ministers to get together.
QUESTION: I mean, it's great where you've got to. Certainly, those of us who have followed these negotiations. It's also taken eight years to do something that kind of existed before you came into office. Do you regret the time lost in throwing out the previous administration's agreement, basically trying to get a better agreement, and ending up -- I don't know where you think you've ended up -- better, worse?
SECRETARY RICE: Christiane, I think they're actually quite different -- their structures are quite different. The Agreed Framework was essentially a U.S.-North Korean framework. There were other elements, but I would contrast that with what is truly a six-party framework. Yes, there's a lot of talk about the fact that we talk directly to the North Koreans, but the North Koreans also talk directly to the Chinese, the Chinese directly to the Russians, the Japanese, the Koreans and the United States together. And so this is truly a six-party framework and commitments are within that six parties. That's enormously important because you bring China to the table, you bring South Korea to the table; they have leverage that the United States does not have.
It's also structurally different because it is back-loaded in terms of benefits for North Korea, not frontloaded. North Korea, if they finish this second phase, will be -- the President will notify Congress that he intends to take them off the terrorism list. They're still on any number of lists that will keep sanctions in place. And we have given 130,000 tons of fuel oil. The Agreed Framework alone, before -- just for freezing the reactor, not for shutting it down and then disabling it -- had a lot more benefits for the North up front.
And the final structural difference is that the Agreed Framework -- and look, I believe the Clinton Administration did the right thing in 1994, the best thing that they could do. But in effect, it never really went anywhere. When we got into office, what you had were endless debates about you're not building the light-water reactor fast enough and therefore we're not going to do this, the reactor was frozen, but that was all. We have at least already gotten to the place that we've set back their plutonium production and we've begun a verification regime that I think will allow us to really know how much plutonium they made and to begin to get a handle on it.
QUESTION: You have done that and many are really pleased about that, because in the interim they did make enough plutonium and did test-fire a nuclear weapon. In Iran, which is --
SECRETARY RICE: Just on that point. The fact that they test-fired a nuclear weapon probably helped us get to where we are, because it really solidified the international consensus that this was a state that cannot be trusted with nuclear devices and with nuclear materials. And so I would say that we're much further along than we were. It's come at a cost; you're right. But I think we're more likely to get a very good outcome as a result of where we are.
QUESTION: In Iran, you have -- you described yourself on television today -- some six months of work to do before the end of the Administration. You have just presented the U.S. and European latest proposal to Iran, which involves more incentives and more punitive measures than the previous one. They have not rejected it yet and they are looking at it, I am told by the Europeans. Are you surprised by the fact that they haven't rejected it? Are you hopeful?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know what to make of the fact that they've not rejected it. I think one reason they can't reject it is we published it this time, and so the Iranian people for the first time can see that indeed their government has been deceiving them when they said that the West was trying to prevent them from getting civil nuclear power. We have always said that Iran can have civil nuclear power. The Russians have offered it to them through Bushehr. We've supported that. There's been talk about a consortium outside of the country. But what they can't have is the fuel cycle. And so by publishing it, I think it's a little bit harder for them to reject it out of hand. There are a lot of benefits for Iran in that. And so that may be one reason that they've not rejected it, but we always have to hope that they've not rejected it because maybe they're taking it seriously for a change.
QUESTION: And if they do reject it, what are your real options for stopping the program, as you wanted, stopping the uranium enrichment? What are your real options? Because many in your own Administration, including in your own military, are concerned and don't feel that they have a good answer.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the option, first and foremost, is to continue to raise the cost for Iran for continuing down this road. And we're seeing Iran have great difficulty in terms of investment, difficulty in the international financial system as banks withdraw from Iran. We're raising the cost -- for Iran of doing business in the international system. I think you will see more of that. And the European Union, I believe, really told the President that they were prepared to step up now.
We're looking for the responsible parties in Iran, the reasonable parties in Iran, who are willing to say that the cost of an enrichment and reprocessing activity that's not going to contribute to civil nuclear power for Iran, that is going to continue to isolate Iran, and that will keep everyone suspicious of what Iran really wants is a nuclear weapon, is not worth it.
QUESTION: Who are the reasonable parties? Who have been identified?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't identify them. I'm just hoping that they're there. I've said --
QUESTION: Wishful thinking?
SECRETARY RICE: No, I think there are people who criticize, for instance, the Ahmadinejad government, criticize the costs that the Iranian people are paying in terms of high inflation, in terms of -- here's a country that sits on an incredible hydrocarbon store and yet has to import 40 percent of its fuel. Something's wrong in this country.
QUESTION: You've said that -- and the President has said that they respect the Iranian people and they're hoping that the Iranian people can somehow do something to stop this situation. If you continue with a tough sanctions regime, are you not concerned that you will hurt the very people who you kind of are relying on to get you out of this situation?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, in fact, the sanctions regimes have been targeted at the regime, and for instance, the Security Council resolutions are lists of travel bans on people who are associated with the nuclear program. It has targeted -- our sanctions, the 311 sanctions through the Treasury Department, have targeted the bank accounts and the financial transactions of entities that are known to be dealing in either proliferation or in terrorism. Those are the kinds of sanctions that have been in place.
Now, unfortunately, because the regime has also mismanaged the economy, there are effects on the Iranian people, and those are probably somewhat intensified by the character of the sanctions. But the sanctions are not to blame for what the Iranian people are going through. The regime and their economic policies really are.
I should just say we also have reached out to the Iranian people. You know, we had -- I myself had a group of Iranian artists under the age of 40. They were terrific. I went, I spent time with them, I didn't give a political speech. We talked about the arts and the universality of art, I myself am a musician. We had American wrestlers go to Iran. They were wildly cheered everywhere that they went. We had Iranian disaster relief people and epidemiological people at the CDC.
We'd like to see more of that. We opened a station in Dubai so that Iranians can get visas more easily to the United States. We would like to have as much outreach and contact with the Iranian people as possible. But in order to put enough pressure on the Iranian regime to get them to consider stopping this enrichment and reprocessing, and by the way, having a pathway to extremely valuable relations with the rest of the world, we have to be somewhat tougher. But the sanctions are really targeted at the regime.
QUESTION: Just very briefly, do you believe the uranium enrichment issue is going to be left to the next president or do you think it's going to be resolved in your Administration?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't say. I know that we have a very good coalition of states that that are working to resolve it. Nobody wants Iran to have uranium enrichment and reprocessing. And so we have a good coalition. We'll see if the Iranians -- and I think the pressures are going to only increase. The Europeans will come onboard even greater. We'll see when they make the choice.
QUESTION: One of your distinguished predecessors in your own Administration said to me that actually maybe we have to accept a nuclear Iran, and the way to deal with it is to aggressively monitor it and be in their face all the time and be, you know, in all the areas where you'd have to be under such a regime. Is that at all a goer, do you think?
SECRETARY RICE: The problem with a regime like Iran is that they can always find a way to outfox that kind of arrangement. We've had IAEA inspectors in Iran for quite a long time, and yet we find out through reporting -- from sources that were opposing the regime outside of the country about the enrichment and reprocessing. So I don't -- I wouldn't trust that you can blanket the country with the kind of verification that you would need to ensure that they're not moving forward.
We would trust a civil nuclear program there. It's just the fuel cycle. That's the problem. Because the fuel cycle is so easily hidden, and once you're perfecting the fuel cycle, you are perfecting the ability to make the materials for a nuclear weapon.
QUESTION: I'm going to throw it open. I'll just ask you, do you think, as you hoped in Annapolis and how the President said many, many times, that there will be a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis before he leaves office? Will that happen?
SECRETARY RICE: I still think they have a chance to do it.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, I do. Because, first of all, the three tracks of Annapolis are proceeding -- the work on the ground, Roadmap implementation -- but the negotiations themselves are continuing. They are wise not to do it in the open light of day, so to speak. And we forget that the most effective negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis were Oslo, and nobody even knew Oslo was going on. So I've been sitting with them. They have been willing to have trilaterals with me in which they talk very openly about how they're going about it. They're very serious negotiations. They're dealing with the critical and important issues. I can't say that they will bridge them, but I think they've got a chance to do it.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: I'm wondering after your experience in the past three and a half years, putting politics aside, what effect do you think the first African American president would have on American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's an interesting question, John. I do think people look at America and they recognize that even given our own extremely difficult history -- I've said we did have a birth defect -- but even with our extremely difficult history, that we are a country where the process of not just integration but really the forward progress of black Americans is really extraordinary. I know that when I go to places like Brazil, where Afro-Brazilians are still really marginalized but are starting to emerge -- I had a meeting with the first Afro-Brazilian minister just during my last trip to Brazil. And Afro-Colombians, the same sort of thing. Not to mention even in Europe where today I was very proud their state secretary is a woman of African descent. And so it's beginning to happen. But I remember a leader, a European leader, saying, "When I look at Colin Powell and I look at Condi Rice and I ask how long would it be before that could happen in France or in England, and I tell myself a very, very long time." Well, of course, the same could be said or even more could be said for an African American president.
But I think that what people learn very soon is that it is also the case in the United States that as that is happening these people are colorblind in what they represent in terms of their positions. So I don't represent the United States as an African American Secretary of State. I represent the United States as the Secretary of State. And sometimes, that means that the positions that I take in the Middle East are not popular. I don't expect that you're going to find that whoever is in this position, or president or whatever, is going to take positions that are always going to be popular because of the color of their skin. They will represent the interests of the United States.
QUESTION: But do you think that initially the perception might be different and the door may be open a little wider to certain engagements that perhaps they might have resisted in the past?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't -- I really don't think so. I think it's more what we represent in terms of being a multiethnic democracy that works. I think that's very important because there are so many places where difference is still a license to kill, that when they come to the United States, which is one reason I like to have student exchanges and have people come to the United States, but when they come to the United States or diverse people represent abroad, people step back and they say that's pretty remarkable that you've got that kind of diversity in America and they are the CEO of this or the Secretary of State or the -- when Colin was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or whatever. That's what's remarkable and that is what we represent to the world. But when it comes to the hard course of doing the hard work of diplomacy, you represent the interests of the United States and sometimes those will be popular decisions and sometimes they'll be unpopular decisions.
I do think, though, that the first of those -- that is, representing diversity and representing multiethnic democracy is important enough that I've been -- you know, it's no secret. I've been really disappointed, for instance, that I can go into a meeting in the State Department -- and Zain and Elise are there quite a lot -- by the way, the two of them were speaking Swahili with the Prime Minister of Kenya yesterday.
QUESTION: We weren't discussing you. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. I'm glad since I was -- yeah, I mean, she taught her a few words. It was quite something. But you know, I've said it before at the Department. One of the real disappointments for me has been that I can go into a meeting in the Department of State and encounter fewer people who look like me than I do in almost any other walk of life. So our Foreign Service, our Diplomatic Corps, needs to look like America, because one of the most important things we do for the world is we show multiethnic democracy can work. And that's a good thing, even if once you open your mouth they realize, oh, it's actually the Secretary of State of the United States.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask you a couple questions about Iran's influence as it relates to Iraq. We had some very interesting reporting yesterday by our Michael Ware, who's been in Baghdad and Iran -- I mean, Iraq, I think forever, actually, a lot over the past few years. But one of the things he said that I thought was interesting was he said the U.S. mission now accepts that Iran has high levels of influence and infiltration in the government and in the security forces, and he feels that it's going to be more so once the American forces draw down. So I'm interested, how much influence from Iran is America willing to accept in Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the question is how much influence are Iraqis willing to accept. And I think that, in fact, Iran will have influence. It's a neighbor. It has close ties with some people in Iraq, including, by the way, the fact that some of the leaders spent their exile in Iran. So it's a neighbor.
But you always have to remember that Iranians are -- that Iraqis are Shia, many of them, but not Persian, they are Arab, and that Iraqi nationalism is not particularly pro-Iranian. I think that the Iranians really overplayed their hand in Basra. They supported, armed, and trained militias that took on the state and lost. And it was very interesting to hear the Iranians getting to the head of the parade to say that, in fact, those were just criminals down there and they really support the Maliki government when, in fact, if they were criminals, they were criminals that (inaudible) trained and equipped. And they paid a price for that in terms of influence in Iraq.
And so they'll have influence. I did hear, very interesting, at the Sweden -- in Sweden during the Iraq Compact meeting when the Iraqi -- when every other delegate had gotten up to say that the Iranian Government -- the Iraqi Government was to be congratulated for the improvements that it's made, for the progress it's made in reconciliation, for bringing the level of violence down, and the Iranian got up and said that things are grave and getting graver. And I thought, well, maybe for Iran things are getting grave and getting graver, but not for Iraq. And so there are tensions there, and I wouldn't overstate the influence of Iran.
QUESTION: How does Iranian influence in Iraq affect America’s strategic interest, though, in the region?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it underscores the importance of a stable Iraq that is sovereign, unified and capable of asserting its Arab identity. It’s why it’s so important for the Arabs in the region to become more active with Iraq, and you’re seeing that now as the UAE is going to put an investor there. I think Bahrain and Jordan will follow and others. As Iraq, a founding member of the Arab League, asserts it’s identity within the Arab League and as it becomes a member of the Gulf Corporation Council plus Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, you’re beginning to see Iraq pulled in that direction because that will be a barrier to bad Iranian influences in the region.
Iran is going to have influence. It’s a major state in the region and it always has. But it just underscores the importance of Iraq being unified and with its Arab identity intact.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you’ve made some pretty bold statements in the last week or so about Lebanon when you were there. You said that this is the time to resolve the Shebaa Farms issue. Coincidentally, maybe not, a couple of days later Prime Minister Olmert said that he’s ready for talks with Lebanon. Could you explain what you're working on here? It seems as if you're trying to, our understanding, through talks with the UN and Lebanon and Israel that you're trying to resolve this issue.
The Lebanese say that they kind of doubt the seriousness of this intention because they’ve been asking for Shebaa Farms for 10 years and they have a mechanism that they know through the UN that they can work with.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first step is that under 1701, which ended the war in July 2006, the Secretary General is supposed to have a cartographer’s report on the Lebanese claims about Shebaa Farms, because the UN had declared Shebaa as Syrian. And so that work needs to be completed.
The Secretary General was then supposed to work with the parties to act on the basis of whatever that report says, to come up with -- so that's the first step, that is, for the Secretary General to do that.
I do think that the context is somewhat different. Effectively once you had the beginnings of Israeli-Syrian discussions and you have Palestinian-Israelis discussions going on, I don’t think you want to be in a position in which the Lebanese track is the one that’s left out. And so part of our concern that Shebaa be addressed now is because as you -- if you remember from Annapolis there’s three tracks. As two of them begin to move, you don’t want Lebanon to be left to the side. And so that's one of the reasons, the principal reason, for bringing it to the floor now.
QUESTION: You haven’t shown as much enthusiasm for an Israeli-Syrian track as you are for the Israeli-Lebanon track and, obviously, the Israeli-Palestinian track. Are you going to, in your remaining time, put your efforts towards obviously focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian, but try and make advances towards a comprehensive peace in the region?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would welcome a comprehensive peace in the region. And certainly we have known about from the very beginning -- I assume from the very beginning the contacts between Israelis and Syrians through the Turks who support it.
But the Israeli-Palestinian track is the more developed of the tracks. It’s the one that's got the international support. And frankly, it’s the one that I think is perhaps most urgent because if you’re going to have the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas represent Palestinian interests, we’re going to have to make (inaudible) safer. And so it’s just very -- it’s urgent in ways that I think the other tracks are important but perhaps not as urgent.
And my only concern has been that the Israeli-Syrian track not detract from the progress of the Palestinian-Israeli track. And the Israeli leadership says absolutely not, they don’t intend it to do that.
If you remember, at Annapolis we had all three. In fact, I spent a long weekend trying to figure out how we were going to do this in the way that the Syrians felt they could come. So -- and we did manage to get this comprehensive approach.
In the Middle East everything is connected to everything else. So it’s not inconceivable that movement along one and movement along another might bring people to a comprehensive solution. I just think that you have to recognize that there’s a lot of hard work to do on the Palestinian-Israeli track and we just can’t afford to lose focus on that one.
QUESTION: With that mind, Secretary Rice, I mean Israel has defied you publicly. You pulled for a hold on settlements and they’re constructing thousands of new units. What are you going to do about it? Or is the Bush Administration (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RICE: The settlement issue with Israel is not unique to the Bush Administration.
QUESTION: At a time when it’s the most urgent --
SECRETARY RICE: The settlement issue is not unique to the Bush Administration at a time when negotiations are going on either. There's a pattern here. And we’re going to continue to raise it. I am hopeful that the Israelis understand that we very seriously are concerned not just about the activity itself, although that’s an issue, but about the effect that it has on the confidence of the parties -- of the Palestinians but also of the United States. There's no effort here to create facts on the ground. And we believe and have said that the realities on the ground have to be taken into account when any agreement is done. And a lot has happened since 1966.
But that said, it isn’t acceptable to keep trying to create realities on the ground, new realities on the ground. And I think there is an important message there to the Israeli leadership.
QUESTION: What kind of pressure are you putting on the Israeli leadership so that it’s not just dialogue (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RICE: Israel is a sovereign government. And they’ve always said that they have a different position about this. But again, some of this comes down to whether the United States, when asked, is going to accept that new realities have been created on the ground or whether or not we continue to believe that when we talked about population realities on the ground, we were talking about population realities on the ground at the time. I think that's an important distinction here.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when Harry Truman left office in 1953 he was personally unpopular. The country was involved in a war that many thought we shouldn’t be in. Over the 50 years that have followed, history has taken a different view of Harry Truman and the Truman Administration, what America’s role was then.
As I'm sure you'll help write the story of this Administration’s history, but as historians take a look at this past eight years, 25 years and 50 years from now, what are they going to write about? What is going to be the legacy of this Administration?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you start with the right story because I think what it demonstrates is that today’s headlines are rarely the same as history's judgment. And I'll tell you that I keep four portraits of Secretaries of States near me. Everybody has to have Thomas Jefferson, first Secretary. Everybody has George Marshall -- probably the greatest Secretary. But I keep Dean Acheson who, at the time, was probably remembered most for who lost China and now probably is remembered most for NATO and the foundations for the end of the Cold War that I got to be a part of in ’89, ’90 and ’91. And just outside in the hallway I keep Seward. We’re glad he bought Alaska even if at the time it was called “Seward’s Folly.” So you just have to keep that in mind when you're doing this work. I don’t know how to think about legacy or what historians will think.
I do believe that a couple of things are already obvious. I believe that the decision to liberate Afghans and Iraqis will matter to how the international system evolves. The decision to liberate Iraqis will matter because Iraq is a fundamental state in the Arab world. It’s a founding member of the Arab League. It was -- it is a state that in some ways is a microcosm of the Middle East with Shia and Kurds and Sunnis and Christians all living in the same body. And it was a state that was held together by violence and tyranny.
And if it can make the transition, which I think it is now showing a track line toward, to be a state that actually holds those disparate peoples together through democratic processes and institutions, that will be fundamental to the way the Middle East evolves.
If you think about, for instance, the bargain about how Shia have been dealt with, it’s either been through marginalization or repression. And their finding their voice in Iraq will matter to finding their voice elsewhere.
So I think Iraq will turn out to be pretty fundamental. I also think that we will have done some other important things. One will be a little bit boring; I'll put it at the end, but I think it’s pretty important.
I believe that the work that we’ve done in transforming partnerships into true global partnerships will matter. NATO is not the institution that it was in 2001. It is, first of all, an institution which 12 of the 26 plus two, 28, are former captive nations. And they have a fundamentally different view of what NATO is. And they are -- because they were so close to tyranny in their time -- they are fundamental fighters about freedom, and they were the first on the lines in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And NATO, where we used to have long -- people like Fareed and I used to have long debates about out-of-area operations for NATO -- NATO is now fighting in Afghanistan. These are global partnerships now with Japan and South Korea; all for an Iraq and Afghanistan. So I think these relationships have been fundamentally transformed.
The one that I said is boring but I shouldn’t say that, it’s not boring to me, has to do with how we think about what diplomacy really is, and I don’t mean what you do in a room with another foreign minister or reporting on what another government does. But I called it transformational diplomacy. You can call it by whatever moniker you would like. But American diplomats are less and less reporting on other people’s lives and more and more helping them transform their lives.
So whether it is the people who are working in AIDS relief or the people who are working on the front lines to build a justice system in Afghanistan or the people who are doing women’s empowerment programs in Bolivia or programs for marginalized people in Guatemala, you see a different kind of diplomat. And it shows most dramatically in a place like Iraq or a place like Afghanistan where literally we are embedded with the military. Because the different kind of war that we’re fighting now is that you don’t have war and peace; you have a continuum. So you clear a village in Afghanistan or in Iraq, and immediately you have to bring in reconstruction efforts and governance efforts. And so you're seeing civilian institutions change quite dramatically.
I think that will be a lasting element. And I think we’ve been the pioneers in it but other people will perhaps perfect it. So those are a few of the things that I think will survive. And I hope that as much as Iraq is a major change, I hope the Palestinian state, that it’s not just a Palestinian state but one that's democratic will also have a major impact.
QUESTION: You came in not liking nation building at all and you just said this is going to be your legacy.
SECRETARY RICE: I admitted it in the Foreign Affairs article that --
QUESTION: The 2nd Airborne doesn’t disclose the (inaudible) --
SECRETARY RICE: I --
QUESTION: I heard (inaudible).
SECRETARY RICE: But the 82nd Airborne still shouldn’t do it. The problem is we have not had the civilian institutions to do it. And I'll be very frank. I think in Bosnia and Herzegovina we tried to have the -- and Kosovo we tried to have the UN do it. It didn’t work so well.
In Afghanistan we had the “Adopt a ministry” approach. Germany got one. Italy got one. That's a lot of -- the United States got a few. That's the incoherence we’re dealing with now in Afghanistan and what Kai Eide is trying to fix.
In Iraq we thought, all right, we’ll let a single department, the Defense Department, do it. It didn’t work so well.
Finally, I think we’re realizing that we need a permanent civilian institution that can mobilize expertise from city planning to justice system to police training to budget execution. And the Civilian Response Corps, which the President talked about and we now actually put into being, is going to be that institution because it is the 82nd Airborne. It will degrade the military mission. And ultimately it will degrade the civilian mission as well. But I admit it.
STAFF: We probably have time for just one last question before the Secretary bumps up against her next obligation which is with GPS. So Parisa, why don’t you go ahead. Parisa heads up our international news gathering.
QUESTION: And I am from Iran, but I'm going to take you out of the Middle East.
SECRETARY RICE: All right.
QUESTION: I'm not going to bring up Iran anymore. Madame Secretary, you're going to China to visit the aftermath of the disaster there. And another recent disaster there, of course, with the cyclone in Myanmar. It devastated the country. Over 100,000 dead. Probably over a million affected. Probably the secondary deaths are even going to be more and worse. Aid workers barely trickling in. We ourselves had to sneak into the country and with that it’s quite a bit of reporting and we’ll do so again soon.
The U.S. ships were off the shore for a few weeks, and just about a week ago they just pretty much waved off and said sorry, we can’t deliver any aid and they sailed off. Why didn’t the U.S. do more to get aid into the country for the people that really need it? The international community would have --
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the question is were you going to try to do this in a non-permissive environment?
QUESTION: That should have been one good reason to do it. Over a million people --
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you know, the question of international legitimacy has come up any number of times in many, many things that we’ve done. And I believe, and I will tell you I think the international community has not done a good job in this case because if the responsibility to protect is going to mean anything, it will have meant something in this case. But we couldn’t even get Burma on the Security Council agenda because of China. We couldn’t.
Now, you can say the United States should have done it unilaterally, but that has its costs. And in this case, when you have a strong friend of Burma -- and not just China, by the way, but ASEAN and others --
SECRETARY RICE: -- India -- that resists, then it is very hard to do. And so we took a different course, which was to press the Chinese to try to get some aid in. And much of what you see and the ability to get some of the aid in is because a lot of representations and tough efforts were made with the Burmese by their neighbors to try to get aid in.
I'm going to the Asia Regional Forum, ASEAN’s Forum this year, and I'm going to put it on the agenda again because it didn’t have to happen to those people that they couldn’t be aided in their time of need. Nobody was talking -- we took politics off the table. This wasn’t about the nature of this regime. This was about helping people in need. And so when all of us talk about how important it is to have multilateral approaches, to have the international community, to have a Security Council and the Security Council can’t act.
We have another case that’s not as dramatic or as bad but Darfur. Try to get a decent resolution out of the Security Council in Darfur. So something is -- it is a problem. Something is broken when the Security Council can’t act after -- at the General Assembly two years ago -- and by the way, the United States was one of the most skeptical about the G8 adopting this resolution about the responsibility to protect because we said it won’t mean anything when it comes right down to it. When people’s interests are involved, it won’t mean anything. And sure enough it hasn’t meant anything.
So yes, the United States turned its ships around. They couldn’t just float and bob out there. So did the French. But we’ve done everything that we can short of going in under hostile circumstances to deliver what aid we can, to get it in through ASEAN, to get it in through NGOs. But that's probably what you're left with when you have to deal with the international system.
I was at the Security Council this morning. I led a session on Resolution 1325 and Women and Violence and War, and I said that, you know, we had to get this on the Security Council agenda. There had actually -- despite the resolution. Not for this meeting, but there had been in the past some notion that rape and the use of rape as a tool of war and the sexual violence against women in war was not a matter of threat to international peace and security. So the Security Council has got to function better.
QUESTION: One final very quick question. As the nation’s top diplomat, when one discovers that one has -- that someone has misspelled the name of your guest of honor, what’s the diplomatic thing to do? Does one ignore it and hope that she doesn’t notice? Does one come up with a lame excuse or do you make light of it?
SECRETARY RICE: One tells a story that she actually doesn’t have a high school diploma. I finished high school. I'll assure all of you. But when I was issued the diploma, it was spelled this way. And my mother, who was extremely proud of the fact that she had created the name Condoleezza with two e’s and two z’s sent it back to St. Mary’s Academy to be redone and it was never returned to me. So don’t feel bad; it’s been done before.
QUESTION: Okay. We might have just copied it off of your diploma. But we owe you a z. We’ll get it right. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Released on June 20, 2008