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10/15/03 - RICE AND POWELL ON IRAQ - 2003-10-16

Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a threat not only to the United States but to the Middle East region, says U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice:

“He [Saddam Hussein] was [provided] a haven and [was] a supporter of terrorism around the world, and he had launched wars, used weapons of mass destruction. He was a threat.”

Now Saddam Hussein is gone, and there is no place for terrorist groups in a free Iraq. A secure and democratic Iraq could also inspire political changes elsewhere in the Middle East, says Condoleezza Rice:

“It is well understood that we cannot continue to see the status quo in the Middle East if we are going to be secure, if Europe is going to be secure. And I think people are rallying around that point of view.”

Iraq now has the chance to develop into a vibrant democracy with a thriving market economy. But it is a process that can’t be rushed. As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made clear, a transfer of power can only take place when the Iraqis are prepared to “discharge that authority in a very, very responsible way”:

“We have to build up an Iraqi army. We have to rebuild their infrastructure. We have to rebuild their ministries. We have to rebuild their police forces. And we have to make sure that they have a constitution, let them write a constitution, let them have elections based on that constitution.”

The reconstruction of Iraq is not easy, and the collective efforts of the international community are needed. But as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said, the effort is “very much worth it. Much as the reconstruction of Europe was worth it to our long-term security, the construction of Iraq is worth it to our long-term security. And we’re going to stay the course.”