Today's date:





Condoleezza Rice is National Security Advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush. She was at the White House when she spoke with Global Viewpoint editor Nathan Gardels on Sept. 5.

NATHAN GARDELS: The ''Bush Doctrine'' that has emerged since 9/11 last year argues that since the threats of the future are not so much big power conflicts as terrorism, the development of mass destruction weapons must be stopped (ital) before (unital) they become operational and can fall into the hands of terrorists -- even if it means regime change as in the case of Iraq. In other words, preemption or ''forward deterrence.''

What is to prevent this doctrine from being universally applicable by other states, for example, India against Pakistan?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The concept of not waiting to be attacked goes back a long way in history. It isn't new in that sense. But it is also the case that preemption or ''anticipatory defense'' ought to be used sparingly. It isn't a blanket policy.

There are certain kinds of regimes that, if they acquire weapons of mass destruction, we must consider a danger because we know their history. The history here is extremely important. Anticipatory defense should not be used as a cover for aggression. It really should be a rare occurrence.

There are threats amenable to being dealt with in other ways, whether through diplomacy, or even coercive diplomacy, or, in the case of India and Pakistan, the involvement of the United States and Great Britain in helping to resolve the conflict.

But there are a few cases that may get beyond other means.
Then, you have to reserve the right to use force.

Finally, there is a difference between preemption of capabilities and regime change. They are not the same. You may more often, as the United States has done in the past, preempt capability. But preempting for regime change ought to be a very rare occurrence.

GARDELS: Then is it up to any given power to decide on its own when preemptive action is justifiable? Ought the United Nations be involved?

RICE: The United States is going to maintain a right to self-defense. But let me be clear: We are not going to militarily preempt every time we see a threat. There are other options. But when it gets to the place where a lot has been tried, and it looks dangerous, then you have to act.

GARDELS: Which leads us to Iraq: What is so urgent now that the policy of containing Saddam is no longer sufficient?

RICE: I would start exactly there. The policy of containment has been fraying and disappearing for a number of years. The cornerstone of containment was a disarmament regime with weapons inspections that would certify to the world that Iraq was no longer actively pursuing or maintaining weapons of mass destruction. That has not been in place for four years. So, it is a little hard to talk about containment when the cornerstone has not been in place for so long.

We also know that the other cornerstone of containment -- the sanctions regime -- has been frustrated and cheated upon. Saddam Hussein is using illicit oil revenues to fund his activities.

Containment simply isn't there with Iraq.

GARDELS: Is your fear that Saddam will use the weapons against the United States or that they will fall into the hands of, or be given to, terrorists?

RICE: We have to be concerned about both. I've heard the argument that ''if we don't bother him, he won't bother us.'' Well, there is nothing in his history to suggest this is a status quo regime. He's attacked his neighbors twice. He's gassed his own people. He's tried to assassinate a former president of the United States. He's paid $25,000 to suicide bombers, one of whom walked into Hebrew University and killed five Americans. I just don't buy the argument that if we leave him alone, he leaves us alone.

So whether he uses his weapons against us or someone else does is a distinction without a difference.

GARDELS: Will the United States go back to the United Nations for one last shot at inspections? And, if so, do you have any faith inspections can be effective?

RICE: The president is talking now (starting Sept. 6) with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. We need to assess the situation, and he needs to hear people's views about how best to deal with what has been a decade of defiance by Saddam Hussein.

The absence of U.N. resolutions is not the problem. Let us be realistic here. There have been lots of resolutions and demands of Saddam Hussein to comply, and he hasn't done it. So, we can see whether or not it matters to go back to the United Nations. But let us not deceive ourselves that he doesn't know what to do.

He continues to defy. And in continuing to defy, the problem gets worse. So, in response to ''why now?'' I would ask instead, ''why later?'' given his history.

GARDELS: So going back to the U.N. Security Council for a new resolution is not out of the question?

RICE: We shouldn't rule out anything at this point. I just want to emphasize that the absence of resolutions has not been the problem.

GARDELS: But you feel you need the Permanent Five blessing as a last shot to go forward?
RICE: The ''blessing'' here was the disarmament regime set in place in 1991 with which Saddam has not complied. But we'll see. We'll see what makes sense going forward.

We've always said that weapons inspections are not an end in themselves. This is supposed to be a disarmament regime. They may be useful in some part. But we must remember the history here: Saddam Hussein has managed to frustrate and conceal things from the inspectors. And he ultimately threw them out. He negotiates with the United Nations as if he won the war.

GARDELS: Some Arab and European leaders argue that the focus on Iraq is a diversion from the war on terrorism launched after 9/11. But Henry Kissinger, for example, argues that dealing with Iraq is a ''precondition'' for the war on terrorism. Not to act, he says, is to indicate a lack of will on the part of the United States and the West to protect itself in the face of this Iraqi accumulation of weapons. That will only encourage terrorism, in his view.

Is that the proper way to see Iraq in the context of the terror war?

RICE: This is certainly an important point. When you have an international outlaw who has so thoroughly defied the international system and the constraints put on him after he lost the Gulf War, what does that say about your willingness to act? After all, we know that willingness to act is the basis for being able to deter bad behavior -- if it is deterrable. We may question whether Saddam is deterrable, but that is another matter. Terrorists and regimes of this kind may well not be ''deterrable.''

In many ways North Korea is closer operationally to a threat because it has ballistic missiles and, some say, a few nuclear bombs already. But now North Koreans are talking to the South Koreans and Kim Jong Il plans to meet Japanese Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi.

Are they opening up precisely because they feel the heat of the credible threat of military action against Iraq?

RICE: I do believe it has helped that the president of the United States has spoken in clear terms and acted upon the terrorist threat the world faces. It has gotten the attention of some regimes that constitute that threat.

We'll see where the North Korean regime goes. It is a major problem, not only for what it is acquiring itself, but the fact that it has become the merchant of ballistic missile technology around the world. It is a regime whose ambitions, fortunately, are not like those of Saddam Hussein. But it is still a threat.

GARDELS: What about the other ''axis'' in the ''axis of evil'' -- Iran? In a couple of years, its Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr will come on line with the capacity to produce fuels it can use for a nuclear weapon. What does the United States intend to do about that?

RICE: We are in very close consultation with the Russians. We simply don't see how the Russians can have any national interest in seeing the Iranians get a nuclear weapon. Bushehr is a reactor we think should never have been built. If it is completed, it will be extremely important that it be seriously safeguarded. The Russians are going to have to take some responsibility for what they are bringing into being here.

GARDELS: Otherwise, Iran and Bushehr might be the next case of U.S. preemptive policy?

RICE: As I said, military preemption ought to be something contemplated very rarely, when there is no other way to achieve the security goal. At this point, there are other ways to deal with proliferation in many places besides military action. We are exploring these alternatives -- there are non-proliferation efforts by many powers, there are efforts to interdict and make sure things never happen. And, of course, there are efforts to control the flow of fissile materials and our efforts with the Russians at cooperative threat reduction.

There are lots of ways to deal with these issues. We can try to deny weapons materials to hostile states. However, there may come a time when those efforts fail. And in the case of certain types of regimes, there may come a time when there is no other option than military preemption.

(c) 2002, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.
For immediate release (Distributed 9/6/02)