International Support Gaining in Iraq, Rice Says
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2004 The key to winning the war in Iraq is to support the Iraqis as they take on responsibility for their own future, and the international community is increasingly doing just that, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said today.
Rice told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" talk show this morning that the international community is stepping up to the plate to be a part of "an opportunity to build a different kind of Iraq as a lynchpin for a much different Middle East."
A wide range of activities -- some new and some ongoing -- show this international commitment, she said, particularly "the 30 countries on the ground with us putting their people in harm's way."
Other demonstrations of support include NATO's establishment of a training academy in Iraq for leadership training and Japan's upcoming donor's conference "to hold people accountable for what they have pledged to the Iraqis." Also promising, Rice said, is support for Iraq demonstrated by the Group of Eight industrialized nations, or G8, leaders at their summit last summer.
"This is an international effort, and there is a lot of international support," Rice said.
The national security advisor acknowledged that "not everybody likes the fact that we and others in the coalition believed that it was time to go to war" against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"But sometimes you have do with what is right. You cannot wait for unanimous consent," she said. "If you waited for unanimous consent, you would never do anything in the international community."
Rice stood firmly by her conviction that the war against what she called "that thorn in the side of any effort to build a different kind of Middle East" was necessary. "I stand by the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein and remove this threat to American security that threatens the Middle East," she said. "I stand by, to this day, the correctness of the decision."
Dismissing questions about questionable intelligence assessments about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Rice insisted Saddam Hussein had an interest and proven intent to pursue his nuclear weapons program. All indications show that Iraq would have had nuclear weapons by the end of the decade, she said.
"A policymaker cannot afford to be wrong on the short side, underestimating the ability of a tyrant like Saddam Hussein who had expertise and who had weapons of mass destruction and had used them in the past and who kept a very strong intent to keep those programs in place," she said. "And anyone who believes that the world was a better place with a false sense of stability with this dictator in power than we are now isn't making a good judgment."
Rice called the war in Iraq an important part of the global war on terrorism. "Iraq is not a diversion, but is in fact a central front on the war on terrorism," she said.
"There is a reason that (terrorist leader Abu Musab) al-Zarqawi and other terrorists are in Iraq and fighting so desperately," she said. "They are fighting because they know that when there is a free and secure and democratizing Iraq in the center of the Middle East, that their ideology of hatred is going to be defeated."
While pointing out solid progress in bringing down the al Qaeda terrorist network, Rice said, "it's not enough to deal with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden" in winning the war on terror.
"You have to change the circumstances that produce al Qaeda," she said. "And that is what a free Iraq will do."