Remarks to Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program, Speech: US State Department
Monday, April 24,2006 00:00
By Loy Henderson Auditorium

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Good afternoon to all of you. I am Karen Hughes, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. My office oversees all of our exchange programs, such as the one that you’ve been participating in. And I happen to believe that our exchange programs have been America’s single most effective public diplomacy tool over the last 50 years because people get to come here and see for themselves. And so I hope you’ve enjoyed your experience in visiting our country.

I want to thank Assistant Secretary Dina Powell and all her staff at Educational and Cultural Affairs, as well as the Aspen Institute and our partner in universities for creating this brand new program and for hosting it so effectively at a very quick timetable. Looking around this room, I’m very inspired by the diversity that I see here. Yet I know you all have one very important thing in common and that that is you are a critical part of helping to inform the public in your home country and therefore you play a very important part in helping shape public understanding and public opinion of the actions of those of us in government.

I hope you’ve enjoyed, as I said, visiting America and studying at some of our finest journalism and communications schools and that your time here has give you a greater insight into our country and our people and our values. I heard you’ve had some very lively and thought-provoking discussions, including a great symposium here yesterday and that’s important because Americans view our ability to question and debate and disagree and discuss in a very lively and free flowing way as one of our most important rights.

In putting together this program, we decided to save the very best for last. We wanted to offer you an opportunity to hear directly from and to ask questions of our country’s leading foreign policy official. So it’s now my privilege to introduce and welcome our Secretary of State and my friend, Condoleezza Rice. (Applause.)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. I’d like to thank Under Secretary Hughes, my good friend. We go all the way back to the earliest days of the Administration. And I was very pleased to convince Karen to come back from Texas and to lead our public diplomacy efforts. And the inauguration of this program, which I was able to announce last November, is just one example of the really innovative programs, Karen, that you and Dina and others in public diplomacy are putting forward. And so thank you for your work.

I’m really delighted to spend a few minutes with you, answering questions. And I mostly want to answer questions, so I just want to say a few words about why we think this is such an important program. We have long thought that if the United States could engage people to people, whether it is journalists to journalists or university student to university student or business person to business person, that that was really a very firm foundation for friendship among peoples and also a very firm foundation for American support for democracy around the world.

This is a time when men and women across the world, in places in the world where there has never been a democracy, that men and women are securing their democratic rights and insisting on their democratic rights. It’s therefore a very exciting time, whether you talk about elections in Afghanistan or Iraq or today in Haiti or whether you talk about the right of women in Kuwait now to vote or the very active new journalists that are growing up across the world. This is a very exciting time for those who believe in liberty and believe that every human being should have the right to say what they wish, to worship as they please, to educate their children both boys and girls, to be able to be free from the arbitrary rule of the state. These are the keys of democracy.

And I just want to say that democracy takes many different forms around the world. It takes different forms that are consistent with religious and cultural traditions. American democracy is not like Japanese democracy. Japanese democracy is not like Brazilian democracy. And none of those will be like the democracies that will rise up in the Middle East. But the important point is that in all of those democracies, the essential fact is that those who are governed have the right to choose those who govern them and those who are governed have the right to hold those accountable who govern them. And there is no more important institution in making certain that citizens can hold their leaders responsible and accountable than a free press. And that is why it is so important that you are here.

Our Founding Fathers in the United States understood right away the importance of a free press, that without a free press to report on the activities of government, to ask questions of officials, to be a place where citizens can express themselves, democracy simply can’t work. And so you are doing some of the most important work of democracy in working as journalists in a free press. And in that tradition and in that practice, I think that what I’ll do now is what I do with our press corps very often -- I see some of them there who will witness that I do this -- which is I’ll take your questions about whatever is on your mind and you can report it back.

So Joe, if you’ll help us to find the questioners.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Each of you’ve been invited to have one representative from your group. And if you could approach the microphones in the back, we can begin.

Thank you.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY RICE: I can’t hear her. I’m sorry. Can you say again? I can’t hear. I can’t hear you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. You were right. There are very different developments in each of the countries of the former Soviet Union and of Eastern Europe, but I would say that on balance, with perhaps one exception, which I would say is Belarus, those developments have been positive.

And yes, the United States is active in all of the countries and we’re trying to do the same thing in most of those countries. The first is to help those countries to develop strong, nongovernmental organizations and civil society. Because just as a free press is at the foundation of democracy, so are groups that represent the free association of citizens together to represent their interests. So you can have nongovernmental organizations about the environment, nongovernmental organizations about women’s rights, and so we are supporting the development of nongovernmental organizations.

Secondly, we are supporting the development of institutions like the free press, like political parties, that in a more formal sense are the foundation and the institutions that support democratic development.

Third, we seek to hold accountable governments before the international community that they, too, are governing democratically, that they are supporting human rights, that they are allowing people to exercise their rights. That’s why when you hold elections in a place like Belarus that are elections that no one thought was free and fair, it’s important that the international community speak out about the fact that those elections were not free and fair. It’s why when, in Uzbekistan you have a situation like at Andijan, the international community needs to speak out about that.

So we understand that in some countries like your own, like Moldova, there are difficult issues and conflicts still to be resolved. But of course, the democratic process needs to proceed even as we are continuing to try to work on the so-called frozen conflicts also around the region.

So those are the three points that I would make to you: support for nongovernmental organizations; support for the institutions of democracy; and finally, the holding governments accountable. We also are glad to have fine young representatives come to the United States and have Americans go to those countries because we think that that also creates a good interchange between our citizens, which is as important as the interchange between our officials.

QUESTION: (In French.))

SECRETARY RICE: You are absolutely right that democracies also have to be able to deliver for their people, and so the United States recognizes that our development policies and our foreign assistance need to go hand in hand with our policies on democratic development. The United States has tripled official development assistance to Africa and doubled official development assistance to Latin America in this Administration. Our official development assistance is more than 50 percent higher than it was at the beginning of this Administration. So I think that shows our commitment to development and poverty alleviation.

Now, we have a program that links more directly our belief in governing justly and development. It’s called the Millennium Challenge Corporation, for which a number of countries have qualified. And that is that countries that are still poor but where -- poor economically but where there’s democratic government, governments that wish to fight corruption, governments that are governing democratically, that are investing in their people, we want to be partners with those countries so that our dollars, spent wisely, will really create circumstances in which these countries can begin to attract foreign investment and trade.

So we have a very active development agenda. It is extremely important that we remember that democracies have to deliver for their people. They have to deliver education, they have to deliver healthcare and they have to deliver jobs. And so we’ve been very active both on building political democracy but also on building the economic foundation for prosperity as well.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Dr. Rice. I’m representing South Asia. Now, you’ve been pursuing a two-point agenda in your foreign policy of fighting the global war against terror and of restoring democratic -- democracy in nations where you feel that the institution has been violated. This morning, the King of Nepal has announced that he is, you know, giving away power to the people of Nepal, something which he has done several times in the last one year. Now what do you make of it and would you welcome the King’s move? And if you do, would you be able to welcome a similar move if Pakistan’s military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, had to step down tomorrow?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, on Nepal, we have been working very hard to help resolve a crisis there and actually have been working very closely with the Indian Government on this. We’ve been very closely associated and I know that Mr. Saran was there as an envoy just yesterday and our Ambassador has been working with his counterpart.

We welcome the idea, welcome the proposal that the king would now turn to the political parties to form a government, to select a prime minister, to hold elections. That’s extremely important. We were outspoken about the need for Nepal to return to a democratic path and we’ve been working very hard on that ever since the events of about a year ago. And so we’re working on that and we expect those promises to be kept. Any country should have -- the United States has supported democratic processes in all countries and we’ve been clear with Pakistan that they have elections in 2007. We expect those elections to be free and fair.

And let me just note that Pakistan has come quite a long way from the country that was, in many ways, almost overtaken by extremism when September 11th happened in 2001. When you look at where Pakistan was there, one of the few countries to recognize the Taliban, a country where there was significant extremism inside the country, we have also tried to help President Musharraf in the work that he has done to talk about a kind of enlightened moderation in Pakistani politics, and to lay the groundwork, then, for a democratic election in 2007. That’s something that we are encouraging and we’re going to continue to work with the Pakistanis on exactly that.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would say that the United States under President Bush has been completely for democratic regimes and has actually told both our friends -- told our friends as well that we expect them to move toward more democratic governance. There have been some positive developments in this regard; for instance, in Lebanon, where the United States has been very actively engaged with France and with others in getting Syria out so that Lebanon can move on its democratic path.

We have encouraged and supported the reforms in Morocco, in Jordan, in places where there is progress toward a more pluralistic, more democratic system. We have urged the Egyptians to keep going. Now, we’ve had disappointments in Egypt because after declaring the need for a presidential multiparty -- or multi-candidate presidential elections and then multiparty parliament elections, there is no doubt that the elections on the parliamentary side were disappointing, particularly the third round. And we’ve been outspoken about that.

In Saudi Arabia, we have -- we know that not every country begins in the same place, but I myself have stood next to the Saudi Foreign Minister and said that I think women in Saudi Arabia should have the right to vote. And so the United States has been quite outspoken.

Now, as to the Palestinians, it was the President who has talked about a Palestinian state and we said after the elections that the elections in Palestinian territories had been free and fair and we accept that. The only thing that the world is asking of Hamas is that it now govern in a way that is indeed in accordance with the aspirations of its people. And the aspirations of its people for a better life can only be met through peace. It is not possible, and Arab states like Egypt are telling Hamas exactly this, that it is not possible to have a peace process in which you refuse to recognize the right of the other party to exist, in which you will not renounce violence and in which you will not accept the roadmap, which is the internationally accepted way to a peaceful resolution.

For 60 years, the United States did not speak out for democratic development in the Middle East. But President Bush has spoken out for democratic development in the Middle East. We are continuing to speak out on it and we are telling our friends and our foes alike that we think people ought to have the right to express themselves, and once they’ve expressed themselves, those governments then need to govern democratically.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: You’ve learned the fine art that American journalists use of asking many questions, not just one. (Laughter.)

Let me start with yes, there are still dictatorships in the Middle East; yes, there are still authoritarian governments in the Middle East; and it’s our view that they have to change, that the only way that you can govern in the modern -- in modern times and fully be respectful of your people and get the creativity of your people is to govern democratically. And we’ve said that time and again.

We fully understand that it’s not going to happen overnight in every country. And we fully understand because of our own experience in the United States that democracy is not easy. But if you look at the places where the United States has had a more direct impact, we have supported elections and democratic processes in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, and we respect the choices of those people. We then want their governments to govern democratically and in a way that recognizes that you can’t have one foot in violence and one foot in politics.

As to Hamas, well, yes, they’ve gotten some pledges. But I would just note that the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority is not a very good one and the -- Hamas is going to need to govern in a way that it can have a cooperative relationship with Israel. The fact is that those economies are too intertwined to do otherwise.

If it’s the $50 million from Iran, I think the Palestinian budget is about $190 million a month. Just to give you a scale. I do think Hamas is going to have to find a way to make its peace with the international community.

Now, we cannot fund and will not fund a Palestinian government that does not recognize the Quartet principles: recognition of Israel’s right to exist and so forth. We are funding, however, very extensively humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people because we do not have an argument with the Palestinian people. So we are continuing to fund aid to refugees. We’re continuing to fund food assistance. We’re continuing to fund democracy assistance in the Palestinian territories. We’re funding some health and education assistance.

So it’s our view very strongly that we should continue to fund the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, but Hamas has got to make a choice. If it is going to govern, it is going to have to govern on internationally acceptable standards and that means that you renounce violence and terrorism. You don’t, after innocent people have been killed, say, "Well, that was legitimate." That isn’t, simply, the way that the world works.

Finally, the President’s been very clear that there’s been a lot of wild speculation, as he called it, about Iran. We are on a diplomatic course. We believe that if the world is really united in its response to Iran, that we will get Iran to change its ways. And I just want to make one point. We, again, have no argument with the Iranian people. We also have no argument that if Iran wants civil nuclear power, Iran should have civil nuclear power. But Iran has to have that civil nuclear power without having access to the technologies that can allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon, because the world does not trust Iran with that technology, given the 18 years of covering up what they were doing at Natanz, the facility for reprocessing and enriching.

But I want to be very clear; we have no desire to isolate the Iranian people. Iran is a great culture. The Iranian people are great people. We want more Iranian students, more Iranian athletes, more Iranian musicians to come to the United States, to come to Europe. This is a problem that the Iranian regime has with the international system, not the Iranian people.

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President has been very clear on what he thinks a comprehensive and sound immigration policy looks like. You should remember the President was the governor of Texas and so, he knows the immigration issue very, very well and had worked on this issue with Mexican colleagues and governors for his entire time as governor, so he didn’t come to this new. He came with very strong views. And they are -- he has made very clear that first of all, we do have to respect the borders and the laws of the United States. It can’t just be the case that to immigrate illegally is somehow considered proper. It isn’t. You have to -- people ought to respect our laws and respect our borders and we’ve, therefore, improved our border security which, by the way, improves our security against other kinds of issues too, like arms smuggling and the like. And we are trying to cooperate with the Mexican Government on those issues and I think Mexico understands its responsibility on that side.

The President has also said, though, that he recognizes, as he puts it, that family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande, that people seeking a better life have come to this country to feed their families. They have contributed to the American economy. They need to be treated humanely. They shouldn’t have to live in the shadows. And so he has proposed that there be a temporary worker program that would allow people who have work that Americans will not do to find a way to stay in the country legally.

Now that does not mean that we have an amnesty for everyone in the country, because that would mean that people who came illegally, violating the laws, really have kind of gone to the head of the line of people who came legally and stood in line for a long time to be able to get into the United States. But we want a comprehensive immigration policy that protects our borders and is humane. And so I think you will see that the President will look at any legislation that comes to him in terms of those criteria. And we’ll work with the Congress, but he has a very strong view that we both need to protect our borders and we need to recognize that we need to treat people who are here benefiting our economy humanely.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m representing the East Asia and the Pacific group. It’s made up of 14 very different countries so we’ve tried to pose a question that will be pertinent to most of the countries in that group.

There’s a feeling that since the Bush Administration came to power that it has created more conflict and that it doesn’t understand the local context of many different countries in our region. What specifically will the U.S. Government do to show there are mutual benefits in U.S. foreign policy to countries in our part of the world?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. Let me first comment on the issue that the view is that we’ve created more conflict. There is no doubt that there was a threat that had been growing for some time, the terrorist extremist threat that had been growing for some time, that had been launching attacks here and there, that suddenly exploded on September 11th in a way that mobilized the United States to try and literally fight the war on terror with all of our national means. That is absolutely true, that before 2001 we were not -- we did not ignore the terrorist threat after our embassy was bombed in Kenya and Tanzania or after the Cole was bombed or after -- or blown up. But we didn’t mobilize ourselves to deal with that threat.

As we have mobilized to deal with that threat, it is true that we are confronting a threat. And in confronting that threat, in a sense, they are fighting back. And so the sense that there is more conflict in the world, I think is more that we are finally actually taking on this threat which was underneath and hidden and bombing innocents here and bombing innocents there.

But let’s remember what that threat looks like. This is an extremist force that blows up a nightclub in Bali, killing many Indonesians and Australians; that blows up a Palestinian wedding party in Jordan; that takes hostage a school in Beslan and kills hundreds of Russian children; that blows up a subway in London and therefore kills innocent people just trying to get to work, or a subway in Madrid, just innocent people trying to get to work; or that flies airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on a fine September day. That’s the threat.

These are not people who are doing this and cause collateral damage. These are people who are actually intending to kill civilians -- a wedding party, a nightclub, a metro stop, the World Trade Building -- intending to kill innocent civilians. And so they have to be fought.

Now, the conditions may vary and that’s why we have local partners in the fight on terrorism. So when we are trying to help with what has happened in Indonesia, it is through cooperation, intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation with Indonesia or cooperation in -- counterterrorism cooperation with Singapore. It’s not as if the United States comes in to Indonesia or into London or into Afghanistan and says we’ll do it our way. We have local partners who really do guide the way that we fight the counterterrorism fight.

But we are all in this together and the reason that I gave you this long list of places around the world -- and I could keep going -- where the terrorists have struck is that they’re not just striking at the interests of the United States. So if we’ve stirred up conflict, they didn’t just go after us; they’re going after each and every one of you as well.

And so I would ask that we think about this, as I think our partners do, as a joint effort to fight against an extremist threat that wishes to change the way of life of free and peaceful people around the world. And in doing that, we do have local partners who fully understand their local circumstances and we provide training and intelligence and sometimes equipment so that the front lines are really being manned by police forces and intelligence forces and in some cases military by those countries.

MODERATOR: Our last question.

QUESTION: I am representing African countries who use the English language, the language of interaction (inaudible) in the United States.

My question: It seems to us that the United States Government relies more on military options than on diplomatic options in terms of solving several conflicts around the world, and that against that backdrop Africa seems to be -- Africa seems (inaudible) in certain areas, that for certain country interventions, the example of AIDS and malaria. What would you say to Africans who want to see the United States be more proactive in peace building, in building livelihoods, which usually are the backyard of most of the conflicts we have today in Africa? And that leads us to a conclusion which you might want to (inaudible) want to suggest that because of diplomatic civility the United States doesn’t quite intervene in some African countries because certain European countries have sort of depressed those areas (inaudible) because of their colonial past.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would say that it is not an accurate representation of American policy that we rely more on military force than on diplomacy. You can count on one hand the major American military interventions in recent times. And by the way, in most of those cases it has been to stop the considerable death and destruction of innocent people by dictators or to root out terrorists.

For instance, in Afghanistan I don’t think anybody would argue that Afghanistan was better off under the Taliban. I just don’t think anybody would argue that. But you weren’t going to get rid of the Taliban without military intervention. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Now, as to Africa, as I said, American official development assistance under President Bush has increased three times. It was flat for 20 years and the President has increased it three times. So we are spending three times more on official development assistance in Africa than at any time in American history. Secondly, as to AIDS and malaria, it is the President that launched -- who launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is $15 billion of American taxpayers’ money over five years to try and alleviate the scourge of AIDS. That’s unheard of in the international community. Third, it’s the United States that has the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which has made it possible for thousands and thousands and thousands, probably millions of Africans to have jobs as a result of access to American markets for African goods.

Fourth, it’s the United States that led the debt relief effort, the HIPIC effort, for highly impoverished countries to completely relieve their debt. Fifth, when it comes to conflict, issues of conflict, the United States has been very actively involved in the Great Lakes region. I’ve personally been involved in the Great Lakes region, in helping to now bring about the circumstances in which we’re about to have an election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which nobody would have thought possible, I think, three years ago when we faced the circumstances there with Ugandan forces coming in from one side and Rwandan forces from another, the DROC in very difficult straits.

Now they’re about to have an election with a relatively -- a good possibility for a relatively stable future. It’s the United States that intervened and ended the more than 20-year civil war between North and South in Sudan with the intervention of Jack Danforth getting a comprehensive peace agreement between North and South and now trying to help implement that peace agreement and now trying to deal with the situation in Darfur that we are working with the African Union and others through the Abuja accords. But it is the United States, again, that is leading the effort to get a UN blue-hatted force into Darfur.

Finally, I went to the inauguration of the President of Liberia just recently. Again, it was the United States that put Marines at the airport and at the seaport that got Charles Taylor -- together with the African Union -- out of Liberia. So we’ve had a very, very long and strong focus on Africa. We have stronger relations with the African Union, I think, than any administration in American history. We’ve worked with ECOWAS in places like Liberia. We spend an awful lot of time trying to help diffuse the conflicts that are there in Africa and by no means do we cede the ground to others because they may have had historical relations with countries.

But of course, in places like Sierra Leone or Cote d’Ivoire, we do work with other countries like France or Great Britain to try to resolve those conflicts. But I think if you look at the record, this has been one of the most active American administrations on Africa in recent memory.

Thank you very much. Oh, we have one more, sorry. Okay, yes.

QUESTION: This will be in English, actually, and it will be a little bit controversial to the other questions, because I was -- we were planning to ask you, the military operations that U.S. has committed for Turkey. I am representing the Turkish-speaking community and U.S. was committing to support Turkey in terms of PKK terrorism, especially in northern Iraq. But Turkey repeatedly asked to support in terms of terrorism, fighting against terrorism, and about a military -- possible, probable military action against PKK, which U.S. didn’t do so far, at least for Turkey’s (inaudible).

And in the recent times Turkey has invited Hamas leaders and it was quite controversial for U.S. So if we should really expect anything in terms of fighting against terrorism in terms of PKK terror in the near future? And what message will you convey to Ankara during your visit in coming weeks? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, I look forward to going to Ankara. We have a very strong and long-time strategic relationship with Turkey and Turkey is a country that’s undergoing a lot of change. It’ll be a very good time to be there. On the PKK, we’ve been very clear that PKK is a terrorist organization. We’ve also been very clear that we do not want the territory of northern Iraq to be used for PKK or other terrorist operations against Turkey. We have engaged Iraqis in this effort, as well as we have a trilateral mechanism, security mechanism between the United States, Turkey, and Iraq to try and deal with the terrorist threat there.

It’s true that Iraq is still a place in which there is considerable instability and it’s difficult to deal with all of the threats simultaneously, but we remain committed to the pledge that Iraq’s territory should not be used as a platform for terrorism. We share information and intelligence and try to help, to the degree we can, with the PKK. As to the broader relationship with Turkey, though, and what Turkey does in terms of its policies, Turkey is a sovereign country. We asked only one thing, that when Turkey met with Hamas, that there be a strong message to Hamas that they need to accept the conditions, the requirements of the Quartet, of the international community, and I believe that that message was indeed delivered.

Thank you very much. Thank you.