Powell: Interim Iraq Gov't 'Going to Succeed'

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Aug. 4, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for being here.


HUME: I want to ask you about something that the president's opponent said the other day, because it bears on the work you do.

"I know what we need to do in Iraq. I know what we need to do. It's what we should have done in the first place. We need to reach out to other countries. We need to be willing to share responsibility, share reconstruction. Arab states have as much interest in not having a failed Iraq as we do, but they're not there today. The European countries have as much interest in not having a failed Iraq as we do, but they're not there today. And the fact is, it will take new leadership, fresh start."

And so on.

Your reaction?

POWELL: Thirty-one countries are there. Thirty-one countries, to include most of the NATO members, have put troops on the ground in Iraq. It's a fact, not speculation. There is a coalition there.

The old countries are participating in other ways. Prime Minister Allawi just completed -- prime minister of Iraqi interim government just completed a tour of his neighborhood. And everyone who was there, got their support.

Now they all agree it's not in the best interest for those neighboring countries to have troops in Iraq, for a variety of historical and other reasons. But everyone wants to see this successful. And everyone is contributing in ways that they can.

And we're going to continue to solicit additional help. We've had donors' conferences. Millions of dollars available. The reconstruction money is starting to settle.

I was in Iraq last week, and I saw how the ambassador, our ambassador, Ambassador Negroponte, is working with the new interim government. The interim government is dedicated, committed. They want to build a solid democracy for their 25 million people, and they're going to succeed in doing that.

HUME: The slogan of the Democratic ticket this year is "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World." As someone who is heavily responsible for whatever respect we may have in the world, what is your response to that?

POWELL: Why should I respond to a political statement?

HUME: Well, let me put it this way...

POWELL: We are respected. I've just come from being out in the world. I was in Poland, where I was privileged to speak with 10,000 Poles on the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising. They invited the American secretary of state to be there. We received -- Poland is in the coalition in Iraq.

I was in Hungary, where I spoke to a number of groups in Hungary and spoke to all of the Hungarian ambassadors to thank them. For what? For being a part of the coalition Hungarian troops in Iraq.

It's difficult for them to be there. Public opinion is not that supportive. They know it's the right thing. It's the right thing to be part of the coalition and be respected in the coalition.

And so I can't get involved in commenting on a -- the various political slogans in a political year. I'm the secretary of state.

HUME: Could you, perhaps, comment on the idea that seems to be held in a number of quarters that the Iraq war has cost us in terms of the regard with which this country is held in the world.

POWELL: The Iraq war has generated considerable anti-American feeling in Europe and in the Arab world. There are a number of nations who said, though, don't do this. There are other ways to settle it.

But you know, the president has to do what the president has to do to protect the country. And he believed the country was threatened, and he believed it serves our interests. And that's what President Bush did.

Now we are facing a difficult insurgency in Iraq. We're organizing ourselves with the new Iraqi government to deal with this. The new Iraqi government is showing up for work every day, facing assassination attempts. Amazing people, and more people are stepping forward.

As policemen are killed defending their cities and towns, more policemen are showing up to be recruited and to perform their function.

So we'll put this insurgency down, and then the world will see what the United States have done. In Iraq and Afghanistan, 55 million people would not be free, had it not been for the leadership of President Bush, if it had not been for his determination to deal with the spread of terrorism and the nexus, potential nexus in Iraq between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

And both of these nations are headed toward elections. And yes, there are difficulties ahead, but these elections are going to take place and there will be, for the first time in their modern history or any history where they will have freely elected governments. That's something we should be proud of, looking forward to.

HUME: Two years ago, the president issued a challenge to the United Nations, at the United Nations, to -- to prove, if it could, that it was still relevant in the world, that its resolutions meant something. Two years down the road, how well, in your judgment, have the U.N. met that challenge?

POWELL: In this particular instance, we didn't think they met the challenge. We passed Resolution 1441 in November of 2002, and we subsequently were not able to generate support for another vote. We knew there was insufficient authority at hand for that resolution, and we acted. And we took out this regime.

Now in the last year or so, I have worked on, I think it's four or five -- I don't I can get that count for you -- resolutions dealing with Iraq before the United Nations. And every one of them was passed unanimously: 1483, 1500, 1511, 1546.

HUME: OK. That's a better memory than I have, Mr. Secretary. Let me...

POWELL: Assuming I'm right, Brit. The point here is that they're all approved unanimously. Why? Because all the members of the Security Council do not want to see Iraq as a failure for the United States or for the international community.

All the members of the international coalition recognize that it is in our interest now, not to review the history of last year's disagreement, or to use it for political purposes this year, but to do everything we can to help the Iraqi people build a democracy.

I mean, look, NATO just last week approved the dispatch of the training mission to Iraq to help the Iraqi people train their police and military forces. France and Germany, opponents of our conflict last year, are part of that NATO consensus to get going on this training.

HUME: I want to ask you about Sudan. You, probably as much as any world leader, have done all you could to draw attention to the humanitarian calamity that has been happening there. We're looking at a government that, at a minimum, I think, it's fair to say, has tolerated that.

And yet the U.N. was not able to bring itself to use the word "sanctions" in a resolution dealing with Sudan. What to say about an international organization that won't do that?

POWELL: Well, you know, the U.N. is not one single organization. It is an organization of sovereign nations, and specifically the Security Council, each nation brings its own sovereign interest to that.

Our job when we put forward the resolution is to write the resolution in such ways -- such a way that it gets the maximum amount of votes. We had originally put sanctions in the resolution, and some people thought it was premature to think about sanctions.

So we substituted another word right out of the U.N. charter called "measures." And if you look up what "measures" mean, it includes sanctions. And so we didn't give up on the point of principle. We made it easier for some nations to say yes when they might have abstained.

Therefore, we got 13-0 with two abstentions vote.

HUME: I just want to ask you one final thing about the U.N. and the path we took there. People ranging from Richard Holbrooke on one side to James A. Baker on the Republican side said at the time that we went to the U.N. on Iraq that we would get credit in the world for trying even if in the end we didn't get all we wanted.

You tried, the president tried. In the end, as you pointed out, we didn't get all the resolutions we wanted. If you look at the response in the world and the criticism we've taken and the political divisions at home, and the emphasis that came to be placed on weapons of mass destruction as a result of the debate in the U.N., was it worth it?

POWELL: Yes. Of those six resolutions that we were considering, we took five to a vote, 1441, the other four, as I mentioned, all passed unanimously. The famous second resolution was not going to be passed because the French said they would veto it. The Russians said they would veto. So we pulled it down. We didn't ask for a vote on it.

Now the fact of the matter here is that Saddam was a tyrant, was a dictator. He's gone. One of the things that he has done in the past, invisible for the world to see, he destroyed his infrastructure. He filled graves. He had rape rooms. He suppressed the Shia in the south.

All of that is going to be seen now. And the world can see what we actually accomplished.

That regime is gone and now what the world is going to see is a free nation emerging that will take on the burden of the fight against this insurgency. Iraqis want to put this insurgency down. They will. And so yes, I think it was worth it.

HUME: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.

POWELL: Thank you, Brit.