Sunday, September 24, 2006

Condi on 60 Minutes

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was featured in the first segment of tonight's season première of CBS News 60 Minutes, in an interview with Katie Couric. She spoke about her personal experience with racism and terrorism, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the early 1960's, but she went on to talk about Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and other foreign policy issues of the present day.

Read more...Katie Couric asked if Condi regrets using her personal credibility to sell the Iraq War, given the fact that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Do I wish the intelligence had been better? Absolutely. I have wished every day since we learned. The idea that somehow because the intelligence was wrong, we were misleading the American people, I really resent that. I really resent it. I resent it, because the administration was using the best available intelligence. And so everybody thought that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He'd used them, for goodness' sake.
Well, Ms. Rice, I don't care whether or not you resent the accusation, the fact remains that it is true. The Bush Administration was clearly not using the best available intelligence. They were taking the word of sources with code names like "Curveball"; that alone should have tipped them off that the intel was less than reliable. The experts on biological and chemical weapons will tell you that they have a very limited shelf life — any such WMD's that Saddam had left over from the first Gulf War would have been utterly useless (or worse) by 2003. There is no question that Saddam wanted to have the capability to make more, but he didn't have that capacity in 2003 and couldn't just snap his fingers and will it into being. He also didn't have any active nuclear weapons program, and that would have taken years to bring to fruition, to bring about the "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud," to borrow a phrase I heard somewhere. The Bush Administration cherry-picked the intelligence to support the case it had already decided to press: the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy, in the words of the Downing Street Memo. Saying that you resent the idea that you were deliberately misleading the American people is a bit like Duke Cunningham resenting being called corrupt.

On the subject of democratization, though, Condi betrays her delusions and those of the administration she represents.
Secretary Rice: I'm a true believer in the process of democratization as a way to overcome old wounds. And I believe that if we don't do that, then people who have had their differences, people who have resolved their differences by violence or by repression, are never going to find a way to live peacefully together.

Katie Couric: Is it really priority number one in terms of philosophically and pragmatically for the United States to be spreading democracy around the world?

Rice: Well, first of all, the United States is not spreading democracy. The United States is standing with those who want a democratic future.
No, actually, Ms. Rice, the United States is spreading democracy at the point of a gun. "Spreading democracy" is President Bush's last desperate grasp at a justification for the invasion of Iraq. We aren't "standing with those who want a democratic future," we made the unilateral decision to bring democracy, and indeed to impose it by force.

Ms. Rice rejects the notion that the U.S. is a bully, imposing its values on the world:
Rice: What's wrong with assistance so that people can have their full and complete right to the very liberties and freedoms that we enjoy?

Couric: To quote my daughter, "Who made us the boss of them?"

Rice: Well, it's not the matter of being the boss of them. It's speaking for people who are voiceless.
Again, no, Ms. Rice, it most emphatically is a matter of being the boss of them. George W. Bush didn't consult the Iraqi people when he decided that it was time for them to have democracy. The movement for democracy did not come from within Iraq, but entirely from Washington. We decided that thousands of Iraqis should die or be maimed in the pursuit of democracy. We decided that their infrastructure should be crippled for years. We decided that their democracy was worth our engaging in torture even beyond the levels that Saddam inflicted on his people. How is that "speaking for people who are voiceless"? It's dictating to them, which ain't exactly the same thing, and that is why America and the world are less safe as a result of the policies of the Bush Administration.

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Quotes are excerpted from the transcript on the CBS News web site, used under the Fair Use provisions of 17 USC 107.