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Postwar Strategy

Aired October 8, 2003 - 13:10   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go live now to Chicago. The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, with an important speech before the Council on Foreign Relations. She's going to talk about the U.S. role in Iraq, and specifically her role, after a consolidated effort to place more power in her office, in the administering of the U.S. role there.
Let's listen for a bit.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: September 11th made clear our enemy's goals and provided painful experience of how far they will be going, they are willing to go to achieve them.

September 11th made clear our enemies' goals, and provided painful experience of how far they are willing to go to achieve them.

From their own boasts, we know that our enemies would not hesitate to use the world's most devastating weapons against us. In fact, they would welcome it. And that threat is so potentially catastrophic and can arrive with so little warning, that it is not a threat that can be contained.

Now, to be sure, we have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks. Yet the possibility remained that he might use his weapons of mass destruction or that terrorists might acquire such weapons from his regime to mount a future attack beyond the scale of 9/11, and that terrible prospect could not be put aside.

President Bush put it this way: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intention, politely putting us on notice before they strike?

"If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all action, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy and not an option."

When the president went to the United Nations in September of 2002, there was little controversy about the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The intelligence agencies of most governments agreed on his capabilities and on his appetites. The United Nations and other international organizations had, again and again, documented Saddam's aggression against his neighbors, the tortures of Iraqi people and the violations of international law.

The U.N. Security Council passed resolution after resolution -- 17 in all -- laying out Saddam's obligations to the world and demanding that he comply or face serious consequences.

RICE: The Security Council was right to demand that he comply. And President Bush was right to lead a coalition of nations to enforce the Security Council's clear resolutions, in order to uphold the credibility of the United Nations and to defend the peace of the world.

Remember back to the clear logic of Resolution 1441, that was passed after the president's speech in September of 2002. That resolution, 1441, posed a test, a final test, for Saddam Hussein's willingness to disarm and comply with his obligations.

Saddam Hussein refused to meet that test. 1441 mandated serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. A coalition of nations ensured that those words would not be empty words.

Today in Iraq, the killing fields are yielding up their dead, the mass graves are being discovered, and Dr. Kay's Iraq Survey Group is finding and recording proof that Iraq never disarmed and never complied with U.N. inspectors.

We now have hard evidence of facts that no one should ever have doubted. Right up until the end, Saddam Hussein continued to torture and oppress his people. Right up until the end, Saddam Hussein lied to the Security Council. And let there be no mistake, right up to the end, Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction and to hide his illegal weapons activities.

Let me read you a passage from the progress report that David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, submitted to Congress last week.

"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.

"The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about, both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld, and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that the ISG," the Iraq Survey Group, "has discovered that should have been declared to the United Nations."

RICE: The Iraq Survey Group has confirmed many activities that we already knew about, including Iraq's massive deception campaign to conceal its efforts, and its maintenance of prohibited delivery systems.

The ISG has also uncovered some information that appears to corroborate reports that Iraq might have tested chemical and biological substances on human beings. And the ISG continues to find evidence of activities that the United States did not know about before the war. For example, they have found, and I quote, "new research on BW, biological weapons, applicable agents, brucella (ph) and Congo Crimean hemorrhagic fever; clandestine attempts between late 1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300-kilometer range missiles; research on a possible VX stabilizer, research and development for weapons capable munitions; and procurement and concealment of dual-use materials and equipment."

These are only the highlights of a statement that runs more than 6,000 words. Iraq was required to declare all of these activities to the United Nations, but instead it deliberately concealed them and deceived the inspectors.

Had any one of these examples been discovered last winter, the Security Council would have had to meet. And I believe that they would have had no choice but to take exactly the course that President Bush followed: to declare Saddam Hussein in defiance of Resolution 1441 and enforce serious consequences.

It is worth taking a moment to reflect on the alternative two actions. Had 1441 and the 16 other resolutions not been enforced, the credibility of the United Nations would have been in tatters. The effectiveness of the Security Council as an instrument of enforcing the will of the world and of keeping the peace would have been weakened.

Saddam would have remained in power with all that that entails: more mass graves, more children in prisons, and more daily deprivations of the Iraqi people.

RICE: And Saddam would have remained indefinitely poised in the heart of the Middle East, sitting atop a potentially deadly arsenal of terrible weapons, threatening his neighbors and threatening the world.

For 12 years, Saddam gave every indication he would never disarm and never comply with the Security Council's just demands. There was no reason to believe that waiting any longer for him to change his mind was going to yield results.

Those who question the wisdom of removing Saddam Hussein from power and liberating Iraq should ask themselves: How long should Saddam Hussein have been allowed to torture the Iraqi people? How long should Saddam Hussein been allowed to remain the greatest source of instability in one of the world's most vital regions? How long should Saddam Hussein been allowed to provide support and safe haven to terrorists? How long should Saddam Hussein been allowed to defy the world's just demand to disarm? How long should the world have closed its eyes to the threat that was Saddam Hussein?

Let us be clear, those were the alternatives to action. But President Bush and Tony Blair and John Howard and Alexander Kwasniewski and Jose Maria Aznar and other leaders resolved to take action. And because they did, Saddam Hussein is gone. He will never again use weapons of mass destruction for mass murder. And his support for terrorism is over. Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms and children's prisons are closed.

The war on terror is greatly served by the removal of this source of instability in the world's most unstable region.

And the people of Iraq are free and working toward self- government. Step by step, normal life in Iraq is being reborn, as basic services are restored, in some cases for the first time in decades.

RICE: Throughout the country, schools and hospitals are being rebuilt; banks are opening and a new currency, without Saddam's picture, is being prepared.

America's service men and women, working with Iraqis and coalition forces, are helping to usher in these improvements. Our troops in Baghdad and other cities are operating under difficult conditions. Baathist dead-enders, Fedayeen Saddam fighters and foreign terrorists continue to attack coalition forces, innocent Iraqis and symbols of progress.

As President Bush has said, Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there and they must and will be defeated.

The building of a new Iraq also provides opportunity for a different kind of Middle East.

Today, the 22 countries of this vital region have combined populations of 300 million, but a combined GDP of less than that of Spain. It is a region suffering from what leading Arab intellectuals call a political and economic freedom deficit. And it is a region where hopelessness provides a fertile ground for ideologies that convince promising youths to aspire not to a university education, not to a career, not to a family, but to blowing themselves up, taking as many lives with them as possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is unacceptable. These ingredients are a recipe for instability and they pose a direct threat to American security.

But working in full partnership with the peoples of the region who share our commitment to human freedom, the United States and our friends and allies can help build a Middle East where hope triumphs over bitterness; where greater political and economic freedom and better, more modern education encourage people to reject the path of terror and instead to fully join the progress of our times.

A free, democratic and successful Iraq can serve as a beacon and a catalyst in this effort.

RICE: And a free, successful Iraq can help create new momentum toward a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and set in motion progress toward the realization of the vision President Bush outlined on June 24th, 2002, a vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.

Terrorists in the Palestinian territories have lost the patronage of Saddam Hussein. Other regimes in the region have been given clear warning that support for terror cannot be tolerated.

Without this outside support for terrorism, Palestinians who are working for reform and long for democracy will, over the long term, be strengthened and encouraged.

The appeal of terror is, to be sure, still strong, as we saw last Saturday in Haifa, when 19 people, innocently enjoying a Sabbath lunch, were murdered.

The Palestinian Authority must do its utmost to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in its midst, a Palestinian state must be reformed and peaceful, and it must abandon forever the use of terror.

Israel, too, has responsibilities. It will be expected to support the creation of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state. Israel should dismantle outposts, improve the lives of Palestinian people and end its settlement activity.

And the Arab states will be expected to oppose terrorism and support the emergence of a peaceful and democratic Palestine, a state that can clearly live in peace with its Israeli neighbor.

RICE: The Middle East is, despite all of its difficulties, a region of tremendous potential. Yet achieving real transformation in the Middle East will require a commitment of many years. It will require America and our allies to engage broadly throughout the region, across many fronts, including diplomatic and economic and cultural and civic engagement.

We must remain patient. Our own history should remind us that the union of democratic principle and practice is always a work in progress.

There are no peoples of the world who do not yearn for freedom. But when the founding fathers said, "We, the people," they did not mean me. My ancestors were considered three-fifths of a man.

O'BRIEN: We have been listening to Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, in Chicago, addressing the council on foreign relations, with what is being billed as a major speech, solidifying and codifying administration stances as relates to the whole Middle East picture right now. We're going to continue monitoring it. She's going to take some questions from people in the audience, and we'll bring you excerpts as they become available to us, and should they become newsworthy.


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