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Rice: No More Cheat and Retreat; Foresees a Democratic Post-Saddam Iraq

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2003 - Iraq's latest offers to allow more U-2 reconnaissance flights and to allo, Feb. 9, 2003 – a little bit in order to release the pressure," Rice said on CBS Face the Nation.

Anything that gives Saddam Hussein the idea that he's going to get more time, she said, diminishes "what small chance there might still be that he will completely disarm voluntarily."

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 did not say Iraq had a final chance to be inspected or a final chance to live up to its obligations, Rice said. The resolution "said nothing about making a little progress, or doing a little bit here or a little bit there.

For 12 years, Iraq has committed "serial abuse" of U.N. resolutions, she stressed Resolution 1441 gave Saddam Hussein his last chance to comply. "It challenged the Iraqis to comply. It challenged the Iraqis to disarm."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's Feb. 5 presentation to the Security Council showed that Iraq has not accounted for its chemical and biological weapons and that Iraqi officials have been actively deceiving the inspectors, she said.

"It's very hard to imagine the circumstances under which inspections are going to succeed in this totalitarian and closed society," Rice noted. In the past, she said, Saddam Hussein has come forward in the past with an "11th hour conversion" to release the pressure, but the goal here is to disarm Iraq, not just to continue the inspections.

"At this point, he is in very grave danger of triggering the serious consequences that the United Nations said he would undergo if he failed to comply with 1441," Rice said.

Asked what U.S. officials envision for a post-war Iraq, Rice said the United States has no interest in removing one dictator and replacing it with another.

"The Iraqi people deserve better than that," she said. "We are in 2003. We have had democratic revolutions all over the world. People have a right to certain nonnegotiable demands of human dignity, as the president has said.

"They have a right to choose those who are going to govern them," she continued. "They have a right to educate their children freely. They have a right to assemble and to have a free press. These are the values that we have to stand up for."

Yet, this would be a long-term process in a land that has been oppressed by Saddam Hussein's regime for many, many years, she noted. Early on, the U.S. goal would be to make certain that the Iraqi people have humanitarian assistance - food and health care.

U.S. officials would hope that, devoid of Hussein's influence, there would be a civil bureaucracy capable of administering the country. "And then you would hope to be in a position to put the Iraqi people on a path toward democracy," Rice said.

"It is extremely important that the Iraqi people understand that America has always stood not just for power and stability, but also for values," she stressed. "And this is a chance for the Iraqi people to liberate themselves of oppression.

U.S. military and coalition partners will have to play a role in Iraq in the early stages "to be certain that the country holds together," Rice said.

"We are committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq," she said. "We have to make certain that sectarian violence doesn't take place. But we would hope that very early on you could begin to identify Iraqi leadership from within the country and from without - people who, underneath this terrible totalitarian government, still have the respect of people and could help to lead it."

U.S. officials don't know how long it will take for Iraq to re-establish self-government, she said, but the United States must be prepared to stay the course.

The United States, Rice said, "must remain committed to a period of time in order to create the conditions for an Iraq that is stable, at peace with its neighbors, disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction, and on the road to democratic development."

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