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Transcript: Rice's Speech on Transatlantic Ties

They have talked about reaching out to the Sunnis. They have talked about reaching out to the Kurds.

I think that you will see them come to terms with the fact that there are different religious traditions, different political traditions, different ethnic groups in Iraq that all now will have to be in a unified Iraq.

I was heartened by some of the statements of some of the Shia that they understand that a theocratic government or a clerical government would be unacceptable to the vast majority of the Iraqi people.

RICE: And so they will find a proper role for Islam in their future. Many societies have done that and have done it still with democratic institutions in place.

What we must understand is there is no inherent conflict between Islam and democracy. These two can exist side by side, as they do, for instance, in Turkey.

And I'm quite sure that whatever role Islam comes to play will be one that is tolerant of other religious traditions, that recognizes that there are many other groups in Iraq who do not wish to see anything approaching a theocratic state. The Iraqis have no tradition of it, and I expect that they will come to a conclusion that will surprise us all in how well they do it.

It will be hard. And let me assure you, there will come a time when they are negotiating and discussing, when we are going to wonder if it's all going to break down and will they get there. That's just the political process. After all, there were times in our own political process in 1789 that a few of our founders threatened to walk out of the Constitutional Convention.

So I think the Iraqis will get past this period and they will create a democratic and unified Iraq.

QUESTION: My question is the following: What is the American position on the form multilateralism should adopt in the future?

For instance, does the United States consider it more appropriate to act through regional or ad hoc coalitions, such as the Caucus of Democracy Madeleine Albright launched in Poland, than to use the United Nations means of actions?

RICE: Thank you very much.

We have to use all the means at our disposal. The United States is a founding member of the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be strong and active and effective.

RICE: And we have taken many issues to the United Nations.

For instance, the United Nations was instrumental in -- incredibly important in providing the resolution that now allows us to bring attention to what is happening in Lebanon in terms of Syria.

The United Nations has been critical in providing the mandate for the coalition forces that are now in Iraq as a part of a multinational force there to support the Iraqi people.

The United Nations -- and I must say that Mr. Valenzuela and Mrs. Perelli of the United Nations did a wonderful job in assisting the Iraqis in their election. They were very active in Afghanistan.

So on and on and on, the United Nations is both an important decision-making body and an important means for carrying out those decisions.

There are also other important fora. Sometimes we can do things through NATO. Sometimes we can do things through the OSCE.

And increasingly it is a good thing when ad hoc coalitions of countries get together on a regional basis because they have some particular interest. I'll give you three quick examples.

One is the United States and Russia, China, South Korea, Japan are engaged with North Korea in the six-party talks because those are the regional neighbors who most want to be sure that there is not a nuclear armed Korean Peninsula.

That's an example of an ad hoc arrangement for a regional problem. A problem, by the way, that could have very big international implications where the neighborhood is trying to manage it.

A second example is that at the very beginning of the tsunami, when the tsunami hit, the United States, Japan, India and Australia, which had navies in the area, formed a core group so that we could use those naval assets to make sure that at the very beginning aid was getting to the affected areas of the tsunami.

RICE: And a third example is a very large coalition, ad hoc group, called the Proliferation Security Initiative, to which France belongs, which is an effort to interdict dangerous cargoes related to weapons of mass destruction, using our international laws, using our national laws.

So we have great respect for and want to use the United Nations and the Security Council, but there are times when other mechanisms are equally important. I think we will need to be judged by how effective we are, not just by the forms that we use.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'm the president of the French Council of Muslims, and I'd like to understand, as a citizen, myself, of a democratic country -- and here we have a lot of political people from the left and the right, political people whom I like and know because they speak the truth -- is there one single Arab country in the world which really deserves to be defended by President Bush?

RICE: Let's talk about the Arab people.

The Arab people deserve a better future than is currently in front of them.

This is a part of the world in which the status quo is not going to be acceptable. You have large populations that are not receiving proper education.

As the report to the United Nations by Arab intellectuals noted, you have 22 countries that have a GDP that is not the size of Spain. This is just not acceptable for the Arab cultures that were in many ways part of a cradle of civilization. How can this be?

And so, the freedom deficit, the absence of freedom, has had very dramatic negative effects in this part of the world and, unfortunately, we in the West for too long turned a blind eye to that freedom deficit.

RICE: When the president spoke at White Hall in London, he talked about 60 years of trying to buy stability at the expense of freedom and getting neither.

And what we have gotten instead is a level of hopelessness that has produced an ideology of hatred so virulent, so thorough that people flew airplanes into American buildings on a fine September morning, blew up a train station in Madrid. People in another part of the world, from another tradition, but the same ideology of hatred that took helpless children hostage in Russia.

This can't be the future of the Middle East. And so both our security and our moral conscious tell us that this is a part of the world that can no longer be isolated from the prosperity and human dignity that freedom brings.

And so it is not what President Bush defends.

And certainly I want to be very clear, as I said earlier, this is not an issue of military power. This is an issue of the power of ideas, the power of being able to support people in those societies who are just tired of being denied their freedom.

And so, this is a great goal, not just for the United States, but for all of us who are fortunate enough to live on the right side of freedom. Because in each and every case, for all of us, somebody cared enough about human dignity and human liberty to make a stand in our past. Our ancestors did and that's why we all enjoy the liberty and freedom that we do.

And sometime in the past, others stood up for us so that we could defeat tyranny and we could live in freedom. And we simply have to do the same thing for the people of the Middle East who are seeking a different future.


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