CHICAGO – Even assuming Iraq forms a national government, there will be no sudden stop to violence such as the V-E Day that formally marked the end of World War II in Europe, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.
Speaking to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Rice said peace would come gradually to Iraq, which the United States invaded more than three years ago. Efforts by Iraqi leaders to form a national unity government have been stalled.
"Americans must be prepared for violence to continue in Iraq, even after a government is formed. There will be no Iraqi equivalent of V-E Day or V-J Day," Rice said, referring to the days of Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan in 1945.
"Rather, peace will be secured as more and more Iraqis recognize that the democratic process is open to them and that politics, not violence, is the best way to achieve their interests and redress their grievances," she said. "This is how democracy will conquer terrorism, but it will do so gradually."
Under U.S. pressure, Iraqi leaders said they would convene parliament on Thursday in hopes of jump-starting the formation of a new unity government, though Shiite officials indicated they might not attend the session. Efforts to forge a government have been stalled for months over the choice of a prime minister, even as violence between the country's sects has intensified.
Earlier in the day, President Bush said failure in Iraq "is not an option."
Rice said she and Bush understand Americans' concerns over the delay over forming a government — and added that Iraqi citizens are beginning to voice their frustrations, too.
"Recently, in newspaper articles, in satirical cartoons, even in Internet blogs, Iraqis — men and women — have been saying things about their leaders that literally would have gotten them killed in the old Iraq," she said. "They are urging their leaders to put the good of the nation above the narrow interests of one individual or one political party."
On another trouble spot, Rice said she is optimistic that diplomacy will succeed with Iran over its nuclear program, calling it a country whose people enjoy their connections with the outside world. She contrasted Iran with North Korea — the subject of stalled negotiations urging it to give up its nuclear program — or Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
"I believe we can make the diplomacy work. Long before we get to the point that we have to contemplate diplomacy failing, I think we have options at our disposal," she said.
Bush said Tuesday that "all options are on the table" to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons but that he will continue to focus on diplomacy. The U.N. Security Council has issued an April 28 deadline for Iran to stop uranium enrichment, but council members Russia and China have been resisting imposing forceful sanctions on Tehran, a key trade partner for both nations.
"You know that there are states that have been saying if we don't get meaningful measures inside the Security Council, perhaps a coalition of the willing will think about other financial or political measures that could be taken," she said.
Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes such as generating energy, but the Bush administration has accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons.
Rice also discussed a plan — which she promoted before Congress this month — to share nuclear technology with India for its civilian program. She said she's often asked whether such a plan creates a double standard regarding U.S. nuclear policy on North Korea and Iran.
"Absolutely there's a double standard. And Iran and North Korea created it by cheating on their obligations to the (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), by being nontransparent, closed societies where everybody worries what they're doing.
"You have a democracy in India that is trying to move closer to the nonproliferation regime, and we ought to support that."