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Excerpts From Rice's Testimony

Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A06

Excerpts from Condoleezza Rice's testimony yesterday at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on her nomination to be secretary of state.

A 'Time for Diplomacy'

September 11, 2001, was a defining moment for our nation and for the world. Under the vision and leadership of President Bush, our nation has risen to meet the challenges of our time: fighting tyranny and terror, and securing the blessings of freedom and prosperity for a new generation. The work that America and our allies have undertaken, and the sacrifices we have made, have been difficult and necessary and right.

Now is the time to build on these achievements to make the world safer, and to make the world more free. We must use . . . diplomacy to help create a balance of power in the world that favors freedom. And the time for diplomacy is now."

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Saddam Hussein was a threat, yes, because he was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And, yes, we thought that he was -- that he had stockpiles, which he did not have. We had problems with the intelligence. We are all, as a collective polity of the United States, trying to deal with ways to get better intelligence.

But it wasn't just weapons of mass destruction. He was also a place -- his territory was a place where terrorists were welcomed, where he paid suicide bombers to bomb Israel, where he had used Scuds against Israel in the past, and so we knew what his intentions were in the region, where he had attacked his neighbors before and, in fact, tried to annex Kuwait, where we'd gone to war against him twice in the past.

It was the total picture, Senator, not just weapons of mass destruction, that caused us to decide that post-September 11th, it was finally time to deal with Saddam Hussein.

Iraq Strategy

What we need is a success strategy, not . . . an exit strategy. And that's a very good way to talk about it. The success here is going to be that Iraqis are in charge of their own future and recognize that it is really up to them to make that future, one that is inclusive of all of the divisions that have bedeviled Iraq, that we've given them the capability to defend themselves, principally from internal insurgency, but also to give them the ability that their neighbors will understand that Iraq is a stable place, that it is a unified Iraq. One of the obligations, . . . that we undertook when we decided to change the regime in Iraq was that we'd be concerned about the territorial integrity of Iraq. And we have to keep that obligation.

And finally, that they are beginning the process towards the stabilization of the their economy so that the economy could support those first two: a political process and a military . . . [security] process. I can't give a timeline, but I think we will know when the Iraqis are able to have in place institutions, no matter how fragile and no matter how young, where they're actually beginning to try to solve their own problems within those institutions.

Now, they're not going to solve them perfectly. They're not probably going to solve them the way that we might necessarily. But you see, step by step over the last year or so, the Iraqis taking more and more responsibility for solving their own political problems. . . . On the security side, I think it's going to be somewhat clearer. They may need the help of multinational forces for a while, but ultimately, Iraqis have to be willing to defend and fight for their own freedom.

Middle East Peace

Much has changed since June 24, 2002, when President Bush outlined a new approach for America in the quest for peace in the Middle East and spoke the truth about what would be required to end this conflict. Now we have reached a moment of opportunity, and we must seize it.

We take great encouragement from the elections just held in the Palestinian territories . . . America seeks justice and dignity and a viable, independent and democratic state for the Palestinian people. We seek security and peace for the state of Israel. Israel must do its part to improve the conditions under which Palestinians live and to build a better future. Arab states must join to help and deny any help or solace to those who take the path of violence. I look forward to personally working with Palestinian and Israeli leaders and bringing American diplomacy to bear on this difficult but crucial issue. Peace can only come if all parties choose to do the difficult work.

North Korea

North Korea is a very dangerous power and one that has been intent on seeking weapons of mass destruction, and particularly nuclear weapons. . . . And we do have, as you mentioned, a very active diplomacy now through the six-party talks, which brings all of the neighborhood together to say to the North Koreans: "You do not have a choice. If you intend to a be part of the international system, you have got to give up your nuclear weapons programs." And that's an important innovation, because it speaks, in part, to the broader question of how we manage a problem like North Korea in the neighborhood. It is not something that the United States wants to have to do unilaterally. It's something that we're much better off doing with South Korea, with Japan, with Russia, and most especially with China, which is playing an important role in the six-party talks, and it needs to continue to play an active role. . . .

There is another path, and we've made clear to the North Korean regime that the president of the United States has said, and that the United States has no intention to attack North Korea, to invade North Korea, that multilateral security assurances would be available to North Korea, to which the United States would be party, if North Korea is prepared to give up its nuclear weapons program, verifiably and irreversibly.

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