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Piers Morgan Live
Interview with Condoleezza Rice
Aired January 19, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Only a handful of people know what it's really like to be in the corridors of power (INAUDIBLE). Condoleezza Rice is one of those people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Of course, I know who Piers Morgan is. He's a Brit and we all know the British can read the phone book and sound intelligent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I want to know what makes her tick, what moves her, and who are the people closest to her heart.
I also want to ask her why she's remained the most eligible unmarried woman in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: I think that we'll have an interesting time together and I maybe illuminate some important questions that people have about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Condoleezza Rice, is it more fun being in power or is it more fun after power?
RICE: Well it's certainly different being out of power. You can read the newspaper and you can say, "Oh, isn't that interesting?" You can go on to the next page if you'd like -- which I rather enjoy.
But I've always loved my life whenever I'm in it. I had the great honor to serve the United States of America as national security advisor, secretary of state. It was a wonderful opportunity.
But I love being a professor. And I've been at Stanford University next year -- or this year, it will have been 30 years.
RICE: So, Stanford is home and I feel very comfortable there. MORGAN: How has your life changed? I mean, obviously, it must change dramatically when you come out of the kind of job that you had. But in practical reality what can you now do you couldn't do, that you missed?
RICE: Well, it's less of what I can do now that I couldn't do then than -- there isn't the sort of relentlessness of the days. I think the people really understand what it's like to get up every morning, read the terrorism threat report and whenever...
MORGAN: What is it, you used to get up at 4:30.
RICE: I did. I got up...
MORGAN: ... to do your work out.
RICE: I got up ... it's true. I got up at 4:30 to exercise because I could never control the rest of the day. And I was at my desk at 6:30. And literally, you read whatever is before you and then the day is sort of designed for you.
It might be a crisis someplace in the world. It might be an upcoming trip. Perhaps you have some leader, head of state here and you have to respond to that.
MORGAN: But it's relentless.
RICE: But it's relentless. It's every day, every hour. Pace is ferocious and -- and you're never off.
Now, I have some control, at least, over my own time.
MORGAN: We had a picture, lovely picture of you outside the White House, when you look at that picture --
RICE: Little Condoleezza.
MORGAN: The sweet, little Condoleezza.
MORGAN: Because Condoleezza means sweetness in Italian.
RICE: It means "with sweetness," right, con dolcezza. Right.
MORGAN: So you were born with sweetness. And there you are looking very sweet in front of the White House.
MORGAN: When you stood there, what were you thinking? Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that one day you'd be in there?
RICE: Well I was going to be a concert pianist. If I were -- I -- I probably thought I'd be playing the piano in there some day.
Now, my father told a story which I could never really remember. But he said I said, one day, I will be working in there. Today I'm standing out here. I don't really know if that was true. But I remember going to Washington for the first time on one of those family trips where you go to see the Capitol and you see the White House. And I was very excited by the energy of the city.
MORGAN: Your memoir is an extraordinarily personal one. I mean, it focuses very much on your early life and particularly your parents. They sound extraordinary characters.
Tell me about those early days.
RICE: Well, I wanted to write this book because I'm asked so many times, "How did you become who you are?"
And I say you had to begin with John and Angelena Rice. You had to know them, my parents. And they were ordinary people.
My mom was a school teacher. In fact, one of her first students was the great ball player, Willie Mays.
MORGAN: Your dad was a sort of firebrand character.
RICE: My dad was. My dad was a high school guidance counselor. I -- later on, a university administrator, but he was also a Presbyterian Minister, and very interested in history and politics and sports. He was also a football coach when I was --
MORGAN: Because you're a mad football nut, aren't you?
RICE: I'm a mad football --
MORGAN: I mean, the wrong kind of football, obviously.
RICE: American -- American football.
MORGAN: Yes, I was going to say. I mean, not the right one.
RICE: I don't understand soccer very well.
But my parents were, in that way, quite ordinary because I don't think they ever made $60,000 between them. But they --
MORGAN: What did -- what did they instill in you? What values did they give you?
RICE: Well, that was what was extraordinary. I mean, they were determined that I would understand and have all of the benefits of education. We were a family who visited universities like most people visit national parks. I mean, we once drove more than 150 miles out of the way to see Ohio State --
(CROSSTALK) RICE: So, they were very devoted to education. But not just for me but also for the kids that they taught and the kids in the community.
MORGAN: The most extraordinary thing about your upbringing was this interest you developed in the piano, which was encouraged by your family but you've become a concert standard pianist.
In fact, we've got some footage of, I would imagine, must be one of the great moments of your life --
RICE: Oh my. All right.
MORGAN: -- which is when you were actually playing with Aretha Franklin.
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RICE: Well, I'd already -- when this is being shown, I already played with the symphony. I played a Mozart concerto, so --
MORGAN: But this is Aretha Franklin.
RICE: Yes. But Aretha Franklin knew what she was doing. All I had to do was sit in the back and dance, you know? It wasn't so difficult.
MORGAN: You were concentrating quite hard there.
RICE: Yes. When you play the piano, you need to concentrate. Your hands will do things that you're not expecting if you're not concentrating.
MORGAN: Do you ever wish and in -- in some of the rough and tumble of the White House when, you know, the Iraq war was all blowing up. There was a huge contentious issue. Did you ever think to yourself, "I wish I'd just carried on playing the piano?"
RICE: No. No. No. Because I -- I knew that had I carried on playing the piano, I would have, instead been playing -- playing piano bars someplace and maybe playing at Nordstrom. Not that those aren't fine. But I -- I just wasn't good enough to be a great concert pianist.
And in any case, I played the piano throughout my time in Washington.
MORGAN: So if you have this awful day, everyone's screaming at you because that goes with the job. And when you get home, sit at the piano and play a bit of Brahms.
RICE: And play a bit of Brahms. And remember why you chose to do something else in life.
MORGAN: And why would you convince yourself that you had done this terrible, God-forsaken job? RICE: Well, because there's no greater challenge and there is no greater honor than to be in public service. You know, it really is -- and I know some people think that it's a rather hackney place that you want to serve. But I find that the great majority of public servants across the entire political spectrum come because they believe in the United States and they want to change the world.
Those are not bad motives. Sometimes, we tend to impugn the motives of public servants. But I can assure you they're not there for the glory. They're not there for the themselves.
MORGAN: But is that because there are some public servants who are in for themselves? I mean it -- you don't --
RICE: Well perhaps there -- no, of course not. And -- and no one is a saintly figure. Look, everybody is --
MORGAN: You're not far off, are you?
RICE: Well no, I'm -- I'm pretty far from that.
MORGAN: You're about the least sleazy politician I've ever met.
RICE: Well, thank you very much. But I don't -- I'm glad you think that.
MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) a compliment or not.
RICE: I'm glad you think so, but. --
MORGAN: I mean, you play the piano. You're a state -- you're, you know, you. --
RICE: That's right.
MORGAN: -- you never seem to have tripped up or made some catastrophic error in your -- in your own life. I mean, you seem --
RICE: Well, let's --
MORGAN: -- remarkably controlled.
RICE: -- let's not test the proposition, you know? Let's not tempt fate. But --
MORGAN: Lots of things we don't know about you.
MORGAN: Anything you want to share with me?
RICE: Not really.
(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: Do you ever -- never imagine you being a naughty girl.
RICE: I was a girl. I was a normal kid, despite the fact that I did all these things. My parents were not Stepford parents, they let me be a little girl. I was kind of a tomboy as a kid, you know? Jumping up on things and rolling around in the dirt, that sort of thing. So, I was a normal little girl.
MORGAN: Just a normal little girl who grew up to be the most powerful woman in America.
RICE: It's not the -- so that's the great thing about the United States. There are a lot of stories like that.
MORGAN: It is.
RICE: A lot of stories like that.
MORGAN: Condoleezza Rice, when we come back, we'll talk about the dark and sad days that blighted your early life.
And later, does Dr. Rice regret the decision to invade Iraq? Did that decision lead the U.S. to failure in Afghanistan?
MORGAN: So, you were just saying on the rest, you've got a little cold that you've arrived with.
RICE: I do. I do.
MORGAN: But unbelievably, you say you didn't get a cold in the eight years that you served in office.
RICE: That's right.
MORGAN: Nothing but a sniffle?
RICE: Well, not a sniffle. But I took very good care of myself.
RICE: And I --
MORGAN: How -- how do you stop getting a cold?
RICE: Well, you --
MORGAN: You can -- you can sell books on this.
RICE: You exercise. You take care of yourself. And there are some advantages to living alone.
MORGAN: What are they? RICE: You don't get colds.
MORGAN: So you live alone in a sterile home.
RICE: A little bit like that.
MORGAN: No one's allowed in.
RICE: A little bit like that, yes. Right.
MORGAN: It's fascinating.
MORGAN: Do you think keeping -- I mean, what is the secret? Keeping fit -- did you drink alcohol when you were in office?
RICE: Well, occasionally.
MORGAN: Did you drink alcohol?
RICE: Sure, occasionally. Occasionally.
MORGAN: Just wondering, I mean, when you -- when you're in your kind of job --
MORGAN: -- can you ever actually get intoxicated?
RICE: Of course not.
MORGAN: That's it.
RICE: No. No, no, no. But I would never want to get intoxicated anyway. I don't like that sort of sense that you don't know what you're doing.
MORGAN: I can imagine. You like being in control.
RICE: I'd rather be in control of things like that. But -- but, no, you do have to remember that you are always on. The phone call can come at 3:00 in the morning. You have to be absolutely alert if that phone call comes at 3:00 in the morning.
MORGAN: But it takes extraordinary self control.
RICE: Well, it takes a recognition that you've undertaken certain responsibilities and you're going to try and live up to them. But the nicest thing about being in Washington and doing this job is you do them with a lot of people for whom you have admiration. You -- they become your friends. And it is true that the people with whom you're working for that period of time become very close to you because you're together all the time.
MORGAN: Are you still absurdly fit?
RICE: I'm still fit. Yes.
MORGAN: You don't get up at 4:30. Please tell me you don't do that.
RICE: No, but 5:15.
MORGAN: Every day?
RICE: Every day.
MORGAN: Seven days a week.
RICE: Well no, six. Six days a week. I sleep in on Sundays until six.
MORGAN: You get up at 5:15 even though no need to anymore.
MORGAN: Why do you do this?
RICE: Because I like to exercise in the morning and I like to have the whole day before me after I exercise.
MORGAN: How -- how long do you do it for?
RICE: About an hour.
MORGAN: What do you do? Cardio? Pump weights?
RICE: I do cardio.
MORGAN: Kick boxing?
RICE: I do some kick boxing.
MORGAN: Do you?
RICE: I do.
MORGAN: Who do you think of when you're smashing the -- the bag?
RICE: I don't think. When you're working out, don't think. You -- you really want to be just in the moment.
MORGAN: Even when you're punching a bag.
RICE: No. Just in the moment.
MORGAN: I would think of people I really don't like.
RICE: Do you really?
RICE: Gee. No one's asked me --
RICE: No. I much prefer to just work out. I don't even listen to music when I work out anymore. I once did but I just work out.
And I think it may become -- you know, I was a figure skater as a kid.
MORGAN: Yes. Yes.
RICE: And figure skaters are on the ice at 5:00 in the morning. And so, maybe it came from that.
MORGAN: What do you think your parents would have made of you? I -- I mean the -- the sad thing for you, I think, is not just the fact you had this terrible, tough upbringing in, you know, Birmingham in those days was an awful place for a young black girl to be brought up, I guess.
But I think that for you, your parents neither living to see what happened to you. It must be a great sadness, isn't it?
RICE: Well, I have to -- first of all, Birmingham was not an easy place grow up if you were black, but I was fortunate to live in a very loving family, very loving community. We had our ballet lessons. We had our piano lessons, our French lessons.
We really weren't deprived of very much.
MORGAN: One of your friends was killed --
MORGAN: --.in one of the more notorious incidents.
RICE: Yes. Denise Signeir (ph). Yes.
MORGAN: I mean, just -- a bomb went off in a church and she died along with three others. I mean, these are appalling things that were going on.
RICE: Well, Birmingham became known as Bomb-ingham in those years, '62, '63. Bombs went off in communities including ours. Quite -- quite frequently.
But again, I was lucky. I had parents who told me you might not be able to control your circumstances but you can control your response to your circumstances.
MORGAN: But you -- here's an interesting thing. Your mother, it seemed to me had one view. Your father was a tough man who -- who believed in fighting --
MORGAN: --physically, if need be against the tyranny of racism.
MORGAN: So much so that he wouldn't march with Martin Luther King.
MORGAN: Because he said that I don't believe in peaceful protest about this. If someone comes after me, as a racist, I'm going to fight them.
RICE: That's right.
I remember very well my father and mother talking. I was a little girl. I was standing out in the hallway. They were in the living room. And he said, you know, Angelena, they're telling us we should go out there and be non-violent, he said. But if somebody comes after me with a Billy club, you know, a police club, I'm going to try to kill them and my daughter's going to be an orphan. So I'm not going out there.
And my father was a big man and a very physical man. Never with my mother or me, but somebody who I could no more imagine being clubbed or spat upon and not responding.
And so, yes, he was -- he was somebody who was -- was pretty tough minded.
MORGAN: Did he make you tough?
RICE: Well, certainly, I think I had -- I have, perhaps part of my father's personality. My father was a loving person. His students from across his life remember him as the most caring professor, the most caring minister that they ever had.
But he was tough-minded and he was demanding and I think I'm a lot like that.
MORGAN: What would he have made of what happened to you?
RICE: Well, he knew a little bit because he died in 2000. He died --
MORGAN: He died before you --
RICE: -- just before I left. Just before I left to become national security advisor. I don't think he would have been terribly surprised by the whole thing because he thought that I was going to do something special. That was always what he said.
My mother died considerably earlier. She died in 1985 and I was well on my way to being a Stanford professor but I was not really yet involved in the political life.
MORGAN: She'd been amazed, do you think?
RICE: Well I think she would have been amazed. They probably both would have been amazed in some sense because I was their little girl. And to see your little girl do that might have been amazing. But I don't' think they would have been surprised that I did something unique and that I did something that -- that took a lot of -- a lot of guts. I don't think they would have been surprised at that.
MORGAN: The passages in your book about your mother and her tragically early death, probably the most moving in the book, I think. What kind of woman was she?
RICE: My mom was a lady in the nicest sense of the term. She was born in Alabama in 1924. I don't think she ever picked up a ball or a bad of any kind, you know, ladies didn't do that sort of thing. She was a musician. She played a beautiful piano and organ and she was elegant. She believed in elegance and in social graces.
MORGAN: She -- she got cancer and then she made a recovery from cancer.
RICE: Fortunately, she got cancer when I was only 15 and she had a quite aggressive breast cancer, actually, at the time. But she survived it for 15 years. She survived it with tremendous courage and grace because in those days, the -- the treatment was pretty blunt. You simply lopped off the breast. You didn't bother with reconstruction.
I remember that her arm was swollen because of the lymph nodes that she'd lost and yet she just went to wearing long sleeved dresses. She never complained. She wanted us to have -- go back to normal. She didn't talk about her fears about the disease.
It recurred 15 years later. And even though that was very tragic, I've always thanked God that I was 30, not 15 when I lost my mother.
MORGAN: You must miss her terribly, though.
RICE: Oh, of course. Every day. But I'm a deeply religious person and I believe that spiritually, we are untied across the chasm of death. It's not a daily occurrence but there have been times when I have felt my mother and my father very, very strongly. So I -- I say in the book, and I really mean that very often I feel their presence more than their absence. MORGAN: They would have been, I would imagine, burstin0g with pride to see you reach -- reach Secretary of State level coming from you had all come from. An extraordinary journey for you -- all of you.
RICE: But the wonderful thing about my parents is they -- they were people who were bursting in pride with -- with pride when I did a bad, you know, tap dancing routine in my school. I never felt that achievement was, to them, somehow a litmus test for unconditional love.
But their conditional love led them to give me these extraordinary opportunities and I think they would have been proud.
MORGAN: My mother gave me a post card once that had -- had a hippopotamus flying with a flock of seagulls and the headline: Ambition knows no bounds.
RICE: Yes. Yes. I think that would have --
MORGAN: You can tout almost everyone's success to parents, I think.
RICE: That's right. I think you're very, very fortunate if you had great parents and -- and if you didn't, as many kids don't, then there has to be some adult who is going to advocate for that child. No -- no child navigates this world alone.
MORGAN: Condoleezza Rice rose to the highest level of American politics, but a lot has changed in the two years, from the Tea Party to the crosshairs politics. What does she think of the new landscape?
MORGAN: There's been a big debate, Dr. Rice, in the country since what happened to Representative Giffords and, obviously, you yourself have been in high office. You've been presumably on the receiving end of similar threats. There wasn't a threat there but you've had threats like that. You've had to live in the fear of potential assassination.
What were your thoughts about what happened and what do you think about the overall debate about aggressive political rhetoric being possibly an incendiary fuel to people who are perhaps a bit unstable.
RICE: Well, first of all, I -- I think we all want very much to have continuous prayers for Representative Giffords and for those who were harmed as well as for the families with those who have lost their lives. It's a terribly sad set of circumstances for the United States and it's one of those days that's going to live in all of our collective conscious.
I think it's probably best to take some time and step back and to know what horrible motivations and dark motivations there may have been for -- for this young man. And so I, myself, think it's not a good time to jump to conclusions about what the relationship may have been to -- but it's been a spirited debate, no doubt, and this set of events.
MORGAN: As -- as a principle, do you think it's wise for any politician, anyone in the world, not just America, to use imagery like crosshairs? To use the language of the gun in --in that kind of way?
RICE: Well, the fact is that our politics is pretty rough. It is. I -- I certainly --
MORGAN: But should it -- should it be that rough?
RICE: -- experienced it myself. Our politics has been rough for a long time. It didn't start two years ago. Our politics has been rough for a long time.
And frankly, people across the whole spectrum use colorful and sometimes language that might be considered incendiary.
MORGAN: But your administration was a past master in that kind of language. I mean, it's been pretty -- pretty rough.
RICE: Well, I -- well, we used pretty rough language for the people who committed the act of war against us on September 11th and I have no regrets for using very tough language about them. But all of that --
MORGAN: What about towards -- what about towards opponents?
RICE: Well, let me just say -- all of that said, I would like to see the politics cool down. I would like to see it -- us cool off as a country. I'd like us all to be more careful what we say about one another and give politicians time to solve some of these very difficult issues that we face.
MORGAN: How did you deal psychologically with the threats that came to you personally when you were in office, because you must have had a lot.
RICE: Well, I -- for the most part, you just try to ignore them. And you -- when you're in government, of course, you have protection and you have people who are looking out for your wellbeing, but you can't live in a state of fear. If you do, then yes, you're not going to do your job very well and you're going to give yourself high blood pressure, which probably isn't worth it.
So I -- I tried, for the most part, to -- to take precautions and I still do. I'm careful to take precautions. But I -- I never lived in fear that something was going to happen. You, you know, there -- there's a God and I think I trust in Him.
MORGAN: How's President Obama doing, do you think?
RICE: Well, I'm very fond of the president personally. I knew him when he was a senator in -- and when I was Secretary, he was on Senate Foreign Relations, so I got to know him.
MORGAN: You were a Democrat.
RICE: I was for --
MORGAN: Then you became a Republican.
RICE: I was -- I was a -- I was a Democrat who voted for Jimmy Carter.
MORGAN: Yes. You flirted on both sides of this divide. I mean, could you be tempted to vote --
RICE: Well I was -- I -- I -- let's -- it was 1976 when I was a Democrat, so let's not extend that too far.
MORGAN: But could you have been tempted, do you think, in other circumstances, to vote for President Obama?
RICE: Well, I think that he is a fine person and he's doing his best for this country and I was personally quite gratified that America elected a black president. And I went to the State Department press room that morning to say how -- what it said about our country. It said that our country is what it claims to be. And so, all of that was great.
I'm a committed Republican. I believe very strongly in individual liberty. I tend not to think much in terms of group politics. I really am a kind of small government person and I'm most certainly a fiscal conservative and strong on national defense.
But I think there's more commonality in the middle of our country than there might --
MORGAN: Given the way that President Obama is now talking about being more inclusive with the Republicans and getting America back on its feet -- it seems to me a bigger picture here than just the normal partisan nonsense that goes on in Washington which is getting America revived as a nation.
I mean, if he came to you, President Obama, as I would if I was him, and said, you know, what, Condoleezza, I need someone like you in my administration. Would you do it?
RICE: He doesn't need me in his administration. He has very fine people around him.
MORGAN: But if he did. Hypothetically?
RICE: I don't do hypothetical, Piers. We don't do anyone any good. But the fact is --
MORGAN: Actually, that can't be true.
RICE: It's true.
MORGAN: In office, you must do hypotheticals all the time.
RICE: Well, but you keep -- you keep them to yourself because the minute they turn out not to be true, you're in trouble.
Look, he has -- he has very fine people around him. I've had the chance to go. He nicely invited me to the White House when I was in Washington in October. We sat. We talked about the whole range of foreign policy issues. I was a supporter of -- of the START Treaty, for instance. And so, when I find it helpful to speak on these issues I will.
But I also --
MORGAN: Would you -- would you join the Tea Party?
RICE: Well, let me -- let me finish with the --
MORGAN: Assuming you're going to join him (INAUDIBLE)
RICE: Well just for one second -- because he is my president, too. It doesn't mean that I agree with everything. But I know what it's like to have people on the outside tripping on you when you're on the inside, because it's a lot easier out here than it is in there, and so I've kept my criticisms to myself.
Now, as for the Tea Party, I think we shouldn't be afraid of grassroots movements. These are, I think, overwhelmingly people who see a direction in the United States with which they disagree and they want to bring it to the attention of their leaders in Washington that the conversation in Washington and the conversation at their kitchen table isn't the same thing.
MORGAN: But do you think that the Sarah Palin phenomenon which has come about in the last year, which I've watched with fascination. From -- obviously I can't vote either way, so I -- I look at this and think how interesting, in the sense that when the Republicans come to do battle with the Democrats at the next election, I'm still trying to work out if she would be helpful or a hindrance to those chances.
Because if -- if your party gets split by her and the Tea Party, isn't that a big problem for you?
RICE: Well, there's a long logic chain there. First of all, she is an important and consequential figure in American politics. She was the governor of a state, and --
MORGAN: Could you win with her do you think?
RICE: I -- I have no -- I do international politics.
MORGAN: You have an idea.
RICE: I don't. I really don't, because I think the political landscape is going to unfold in ways that we may not even understand over the next couple of years. Two years is a lifetime in politics.
Now, the Republican Party will, I'm quite certain, put forward a very good candidate. I don't know who that will be. The Democrats will undoubtedly -- most likely put forth President Obama --
MORGAN: Just to --
RICE: -- and we will then have that debate.
MORGAN: -- you're not fearful of that candidate being Sarah Palin?
RICE: I -- I'm not fearful of the -- the candidates that are on the horizon.
RICE: I think there are a lot of very good people there. And when they go around the track a few times -- because the American political system is very good at weeding.
MORGAN: Well, when they go around the track and start weeding, they might of course come back to you.
RICE: No, they won't do that.
MORGAN: When we come back, is it sensible to declare a war that can never be won? I'll ask Condoleezza Rice if she regrets that phrase, "War on terror."
MORGAN: Can I ask you, do you regret the phrase, "War on terror?"
RICE: No. Because that's precisely what it was. Perhaps we should have said war on terrorist. But --
MORGAN: But you can't ever win a war on terror, can you?
RICE: Of course you can.
RICE: You can win this war against the extremist who did what they did to us on September 11th. You know, I'm a veteran, Piers, on another war that people didn't think you could win either -- the cold war. And actually with patience and the right set of -- set of policies that war was won.
MORGAN: Yes, but that war ended. And I suppose my point to you would be that a war on terror suggests if you declare war as an administration normally there's an end game. You know, there's a moment when you declare victory. And actually psychologically with your people, it's important there's an end game. And if there isn't, it gets messy. And for that reason I -- I thought it was an odd choice of phrase because -- and my brother is an Army colonel in the British Army, and has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's -- it's hard for the troops to know what they're fighting if it's called "War on terror." War on Iraq -- they understand it. Now they may not agree with it, but they understand the mission. A war on terror, you're never going to declare victory.
RICE: Well, what we're trying to do -- and now two successive administrations have tried to do -- is to defeat the extremist who across these networks are able to bring existential threats to our way of life. That can be defeated.
Will we defeat every effort -- every terrorist effort throughout history? No, of course not. Terrorism has been a tactic going all the way back into human history.
But we can certainly defeat that network of extremist most -- most clearly, al Qaeda.
MORGAN: But that's interesting you see. Because I would have said if you declared war on al Qaeda, that would have been a win-able war. Eventually you could have dismantled that organization, hopefully, in a way that you could declare victory.
RICE: Well, it was a little bit broader though than al Qaeda. And that was the point. Because those who use terror as a political weapon against the -- the existence really of a set of values, and therefore embodied for instance in a country like the United States, had to be defeated more broadly than al Qaeda.
But we've got an opportunity to defeat them, and then to lay the ground work for a more hopeful world in which they can't compete.
MORGAN: Are we winning the war in Afghanistan?
RICE: I do think we're winning the war in Afghanistan, but it's very, very slow. And we aren't in a position yet to declare that the winning -- the advances that we've made are irreversible. And I think that's what's concerning to everyone.
There's no doubt that the Taliban has been weakened I think by this latest set of efforts that the administration has undertaken.
MORGAN: But do you agree with this time table that President Obama has already put in motion now for withdrawing the troops? I mean, is there not an absolutely obvious problem here, which is the moment you set a time table, the Taliban -- they know their terrain, they disappear, they regroup, they wait?
RICE: Well I don't like time tables, to be quite frank. But what I heard the president say -- and it's now 2014, which is what he said to NATO. What I heard him say is that conditions on the ground and so on and so on.
I do think one could imagine that in the next several years you could have Afghan security forces that are largely capable of dealing with their own security situation, that you could have an Afghan government that is decent enough that it's not under constant existential threats from the Taliban.
MORGAN: Does it worry your, as somebody who in terms of personal probity has never been questioned, a woman of integrity, that you're doing business with President Karzai, who most people would say on the ground is, you know, borderline corrupt?
RICE: There's a lot of corruption in Afghanistan. There's no doubt about that.
MORGAN: Would that concern you?
RICE: Of course -- of course. And it was something that we worked hard at under and the Obama administration --
MORGAN: Well, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas goes the argument.
RICE: Well, but -- but let's not pretend that the number of corrupt governments in the world simply is confined to Afghanistan. The fact is this is a place that's had more than 30 years of civil war and war. It's not surprising that corruption is deeply imbedded. And you can't simply say, "All right. Well, there's corruption. Therefore we're not going to do anything in Afghanistan." That's not a policy answer either.
And so what you try to do is to press the Afghan government and the Afghan leaders to root out corruption. You try to give alternatives to corruption, like decent economic growth. And slowly but surely, you begin to unwind the corruption that is there.
MORGAN: And also, I mean, I want to move to -- to the wider picture here in terms of America's foreign policy, when it comes to Iran and North Korea for example. Explain to me the difference between the position on Iraq which, as I understand it from -- from you -- at the time, it was that Saddam Hussein was -- was developing weapons of mass destruction and would probably use them. That's why he had to be stopped by an invasion.
Why would America not, by that criteria, want to invade Iran and North Korea?
What's the difference? How do you choose?
RICE: Well, the same set of circumstances may not lead you to the same set of tools. And in the case of Iraq, you're talking about a -- an armistice basically -- a cease fire in 1991 --- that Saddam Hussein was systematically violating across the board, not just in seeking weapons of mass destruction, but also in shooting at our aircraft.
MORGAN: Oh, was he more -- was he more or less dangerous or trustworthy than --
RICE: Oh, I think you --
MORGAN: -- Ahmadinejad? RICE: Well I think he was certainly a very dangerous man. He had started two wars, throwing us in, for instance, in Kuwait. He had started the war against Iran. He had used weapons of mass destruction twice.
MORGAN: If you were -- if you were still a secretary of state, and Saddam Hussein was still alive, you can't tell me now knowing what we know about all these countries, that you wouldn't be kept awake more by North Korea and Iran than you would by Iraq, would you?
RICE: Oh, I would -- I would certainly -- kept -- well first of all, you don't have to make a choice. They're all pretty dangerous.
RICE: But I was very much kept awake by Saddam Hussein.
MORGAN: But the action against them has been very different.
RICE: The action against them has been very different. But Iran, for instance, is a country that I think is actually susceptible to sanctions, and to the kinds of activities that we're taking. It's a weakening government. It is a government that we have been able to isolate.
And because Iranians -- by the way, 70 percent of Iranians are under the age of 30. They're very outward looking people. They want to be a part of the world. They're not as isolated as Saddam Hussein's Iraq was.
What we know in Iraq was that the sanctions were failing. And so yes. I think you use different tactics -- different tools in different places.
But the thing to remember about Saddam Hussein is that this is somebody who was under a cease fire agreement, was systematically violating it, had violated dozens of --
MORGAN: OK. Well, actually we're going to come to him next. So I'm interested in your views. When I return, I'm going to ask Doctor Rice if she still stands by this statement about Saddam Hussein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: We know that he is acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that he has extreme animus against the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Doctor Rice, I want you to watch a piece of video, which is you just before the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: We know that he is acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that he has extreme animus against the United States. And what we will not wait for is that particular nexus of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction that is extremist -- extremism, and the technology to come together in a way that is harmful to the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I suppose the obvious question -- I mean, Colon Powell went further and said: "Here's the evidence. He's got this stuff and this is why we have to go to war." The -- the war was sold to the world really not just on the fact that Saddam was a bad guy, but because he had these weapons and would use them.
They didn't turn up. I mean, those weapons have never appeared. Do you regret now using the weapons of mass destruction as a pretext of war?
RICE: Piers, the fact is that what you know today can affect what you do tomorrow, but not what you did yesterday. And at that time, all of the intelligence said that he was acquiring weapons of mass destruction again. This is someone who had used them before. So this wasn't a theoretical possibility.
MORGAN: But the intelligence turned out to be wrong.
RICE: Yes, but --
MORGAN: You wouldn't dispute that?
RICE: Well, I don't dispute that he didn't have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. He certainly had enough front companies and was trying to acquire all kinds of pieces. But no, the threat was not the -- the weapons of mass destruction were not as mature in Iraq as we were led to believe, or as we believed.
MORGAN: Tell me, this -- I imagine that --
RICE: No, I don't regret that we went to war against him, because we could be sitting here today, Piers, having a discussion about the race for nuclear weapons between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Ahmadinejad's Iran.
MORGAN: With hindsight and the --
MORGAN: -- benefit of all the knowledge you now have, you wouldn't have gone to war using WMD as a pretext --
RICE: I think the mistake --
MORGAN: -- or would you?
RICE: No, I think the mistake -- and this was a mistake -- was to put a spotlight simply on the weapons of mass destruction. I remember saying to -- to some senators when I was briefing them, the Russians have 10,000 times more WMD than Iraq has. But I don't worry on a daily basis about that fact, because of the Russian government's relative respectability and responsibility in the international system.
You're absolutely right. It was Saddam Hussein who had caused wars in the Middle East, who was an implacable enemy of the United States, who was a cancer in the Middle East, who was likely to start war again, and who was, we believed, acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It was that picture as a totality that we probably should have talked more about.
MORGAN: Do you regret that Colon Powell was made to look so foolish with that now infamous press conference? That he was told to go and do this, and effectively sold the -- the reasons for this war on the evidence which actually turned out to be bogus?
RICE: Well, the reasons for this war, again, were that Saddam Hussein was a threat --
MORGAN: I get that. But do you -- do you regret that Colon Powell --
RICE: Colon Powell has said himself that he regrets that moment. And Colon Powell is one of my dear friends and he is a patriot. And so I take on face value that he regrets it. And so I regret it for him.
But it was not out of some desire to sell war. The fact is we would have done anything not to go to war against Saddam Hussein. We believed that he was acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and given who he was in the Middle East, that it was a threat that had to be dealt with.
Now I know that there are those who thought we could wait and wait and wait. After September 11th, we didn't believe that we could wait any longer.
But no, I believe that the total picture was actually a convincing one. The weapons of mass destruction in the hands of that particular person was particularly threatening.
MORGAN: Did it worry you that a number of Americans believe that there must be some link between Saddam and 9-11, because that was the first action you took, and would it not have been --
RICE: Well, no. The first action we took was Afghanistan.
MORGAN: Air strikes, but in terms of --
RICE: No. Not air strikes. We went to war in Afghanistan.
MORGAN: But not in the way you went to war in Iraq.
RICE: Well, you don't go to war in Afghanistan with 150,000 troops, unless you're the Russians.
MORGAN: But you're aware that there was a misconception by a number of Americans that Saddam must have been involved in 9-11?
RICE: Of course, and it was a reasonable question to ask after 9-11. He, after all, had tried to assassinate the President of the United States or the former President of the United States. It was a reasonable question to ask whether he might have had something to do with it.
But no, if you want to take the narrow interpretation and say, "Did he fund al Qaeda? Did he help al Qaeda launch that attack?" No.
If you look at the broader Middle East, however, and the chaos out of which al Qaeda came, I think you can make an argument that Saddam Hussein was very much a factor in that Middle East.
I do believe that an Iraq that is a multi confessional, multi ethic democracy in the middle of the Arab world, which has no multi ethnic, multi confessional democracies, which is not an enemy of the United States, which will not arm itself with weapons of mass destruction, and which will not invade it's neighbors -- that's a different Middle East. And given the centrality --
RICE: Yes, given the centrality of the --
MORGAN: That is a price worth paying, you think?
RICE: Given the centrality of the Middle East to American security and to the security of the free world, absolutely.
MORGAN: When we come back, Condoleezza Rice talks about her dream job, and more importantly, her dream man.
MORGAN: Condoleezza Rice, you are and remain one of the most eligible women in Washington. How have you avoided being snared in the marital trap?
RICE: Well, actually I live in California now. I've always said that I expected to grow up and get married like any nice Southern girl, but the fact is you don't get married in the abstract. You find someone that you'd like to be married to.
MORGAN: How close have you come?
RICE: I've come close.
MORGAN: How many times?
RICE: I'm not going there.
MORGAN: You nearly did. RICE: Not going there.
MORGAN: You didn't think you'd go there to start with.
RICE: I know. But -- but the fact is like, you know, I just never found anybody that I was going to spend my life with. But I think it's a wonderful thing, marriage, and you know, who knows? Maybe some day.
MORGAN: Do you hold out hope?
RICE: Sure. Why not?
MORGAN: Did you dream of a fairy tale wedding?
RICE: No. No. No. No. I think I'm well beyond the fairy tale wedding stage.
MORGAN: You're quite a catch; aren't you?
RICE: Well, thank you.
MORGAN: Are you romantic?
RICE: Of course.
MORGAN: In -- in what way? How does it manifest itself?
RICE: Well, I love romantic music and romantic movies and --
MORGAN: But if I was going to woo you --
MORGAN: -- which isn't, you know, completely crazy.
MORGAN: But if I was going to --
RICE: -- convince --
MORGAN: -- How -- how would I --
RICE: Convince me that you'll spend Sunday afternoon watching football.
MORGAN: Would you be -- I couldn't imagine you ever being a sort of subservient wife. I'd imagine you'd being quite tough.
RICE: No. No. I -- not tough, but I'm -- I believe in marriage of equals. My parents were, and that's how I would see it.
MORGAN: Are you -- are you high maintenance?
RICE: No, of course not. MORGAN: Well, what -- I mean --
RICE: I'm actually quite easy to get along with.
MORGAN: I mean you must --
RICE: -- and I even like to cook. I mean I'm really --
MORGAN: So if you were cooking me a meal, what -- what would you cook me as a special kind of --
RICE: I'd cook you fried chicken.
RICE: Southern fried chicken. I would cook chili, perhaps. Uh, corn bread -- I'm quite good at corn bread. Or perhaps because of my half-Creole grandmother, I'd cook you gumbo.
MORGAN: What's gumbo?
RICE: You don't know what gumbo is?
RICE: Go to New Orleans, they'll tell you.
RICE: Gumbo? Yes.
MORGAN: Is it meat, fish, or is it?
RICE: It's -- it's seafood and sausage in a very, very thick sauce.
RICE: Uh, Creole. It's Creole food from Louisiana.
MORGAN: So on this hypothetical date, I've had gumbo and I'd be watching which football team?
RICE: Uh, the Stanford Cardinals these days.
MORGAN: Uh, what else would we do? What would we do in the evening. Where would you like to go? How do you go out? How do you relax.
RICE: We'd -- we'd watch football all day.
MORGAN: Not all night as well? RICE: Yes.
RICE: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I can watch football for hours on end.
MORGAN: You sound like the dream woman. You make fried chicken, you watch football all day.
MORGAN: This is perfect.
RICE: Yes. I just haven't found the dream man, but, you know, we all keep trying.
MORGAN: What ambitions do you have left? See I just can't imagine you're not going to be back in high office.
RICE: Oh, I can.
RICE: I can imagine that. Of course.
MORGAN: Isn't there a little part of you that think -- you know, something -- we've had the first African American President. I can't be that, but I can be the first female president.
RICE: No. I don't really want to run for office.
MORGAN: Why? I mean you're still very young, you're fit.
RICE: Well, I'm young -- younger.
MORGAN: But amazing experience.
RICE: I'm not very young anymore. But I --
MORGAN: What are you 30?
RICE: Thank you.
RICE: We'll leave it at that .
The last thing that I can imagine myself -- well, maybe not the last thing, but I cannot imagine myself running for office. Not because politics is so tough, but uh, it's just not me. I'll do public service. I'm very involved in K-12 education; I'm very involved in, you know, trying to help the State of California, but --
MORGAN: Yes, but you were running the country? That's not going to get your juices flowing, is it? RICE: It's not going to get my juices flowing.
MORGAN: It's like being a big NFL player and then you get, you know -- you suddenly go and play little league somewhere. It's not all the same.
RICE: No. Playing -- oh, so you consider being a university professor little league; do you?
MORGAN: Compared to Secretary of State.
RICE: Compared to Secretary of State, it has a lot of things in common. Trying to persuade nineteen year olds is not all that different than trying to pursued some heads of state.
MORGAN: So look, ten years time, you can either be the first female president, or you can be happily married to a hunky NFL football player.
RICE: I'm well beyond --
MORGAN: If there are any guys I know who -- who watch football all day long --
RICE: -- Let's -- let's put it this way --
MORGAN: -- and eat fried chicken.
RICE: I'm -- I'm well beyond the age at which I'm about to be married to an NFL football player, but I am -- very much love what I do. I love being a university profession. I know that's hard to believe. I know it's hard for people in Washington to believe, because Washington is very much its own conversation.
But there is nothing better than being in a classroom with really, really brilliant students, and opening up new worlds to them in the way that a profession opened up new worlds to me. That's what I love doing.
MORGAN: What's -- what's been the greatest moment of your life? The moment you'd relive again if you got the chance?
RICE: Playing with Yo-Yo Ma.
RICE: Yes. Yes. Because it all came full circle for me. I was supposed to be a great concert pianist. About sophomore year in college, end of sophomore year college, I realized I just wasn't quite good enough, and so I made this complete other career. I love international politics. I learned Russian. And now I'm National Security Advisor.
And the greatest cellist of our age calls me and says, "Would you like to play with me?" And I think, you know, I really made a good decision in changing my major, because if I stayed in music I would never have played with Yo-Yo Ma. And it was a wonderful, wonderful moment.
MORGAN: Condoleezza Rice, thank you so much.
RICE: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Tomorrow night, Ricky Gervais' first TV interview since his Golden Globes scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKY GERVAIS, COMEDIAN: They hired me for a job, and if they didn't want me, they shouldn't have hired me. It's not my job to worry about what think of me. That's a job for a politician. OK?
I don't care what people think of me. I care if I've done a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Ricky Gervais, tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern on PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERVAIS: I want to do this show every day, so I can come on and go, let me explain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)