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Reconstruction in Iraq Vital in Winning War on Terror

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2003 – The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, dictate that the war on terror needs to be fought on the offense -- and rebuilding Iraq is part of that, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told a national television audience Sept. 28.

"After Sept. 11, we look at threats differently," she told NBC "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert. "We look at dealing with threats before they materialize."

Rice warned against speculation or premature conclusions about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. She said former weapons inspector David Kay is in the "very careful process of determining the status of those weapons and precisely what became of them."

Rice said Kay and his team are interviewing hundreds of people, going through miles and miles of documentation and collecting physical evidence. "He will put together a complete picture of the status of Saddam Hussein's weapons program, of how he intended to use them," she said. "It's far too early to talk about the conclusions of David Kay's report."

The premise of the war, she continued, was that Saddam was a threat. "Clearly this was someone who had used weapons of mass destruction (before,) so had he been allowed to be unchecked he might have used them again."

This was the logic that led the Clinton administration to conduct air strikes in 1998 and the premise that led to 12 years of United Nations sanctions against Iraq, said Rice.

"(We) went to war over a threat from a bloody tyrant in the most volatile region of the world," said Rice. "(In 1998) the Clinton administration launched air strikes for that very reason, citing the fact that if he were allowed to keep weapons of mass destruction, he would be a great threat; and there was no reason to believe this got better."

The security adviser said Saddam was an international outlaw for 12 years. "(We) forget he fought a war in 1991, lost the war and signed on for a series of obligations that were supposed to keep him contained," she added. "He then systematically started to wriggle out of them, ignore them and defy them."

The world is a safer place now that Saddam is no longer in power, said Rice. "It's a great achievement of the United States and coalition forces," she added. "Iraq will be stable and prosper, and it will be an historic change in the circumstances in the Middle East."

The goal now, she said, is to put into place a stable, prosperous democratic Iraq. Rebuilding Iraq is a "hard job," she continued, but it "will pay off many, many times in terms of security for the American people."

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