April 9, 2002
Eagle Photo/Dave McDermand
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice addresses the crowd at Rudder Auditorium on Monday afternoon.
Rice on oil embargo: Iraqis cant eat oil
By JOHN LeBAS
Eagle Staff Writer
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, promoting the Bush administrations policies while on the Texas A&M University campus Monday, said that Saddam Husseins threatened oil embargo would probably hurt Iraq more than the United States.
We probably ought to remind them theyre going to have a hard time eating their oil, said Rice, who was met with resounding applause from the full house of 2,500 at Rudder Auditorium.
Rices speech on terrorism and the Middle East came one day after British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke at the university and issued a stern warning that Iraq should allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country.
Rice stressed that Bush has not decided an attack on Iraq is imminent. But she also said he is considering all options for eliminating Saddam as a threat.
The world must assume the Iraqi dictator has something to hide after three years of refusing to allow UN weapons inspection teams in the country, she said. He will continue trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and so his regime must be undermined, she said.
The status quo is simply not acceptable, she said.
Former President George Bush and Barbara Bush were among the dignitaries who attended Rices speech, which was sponsored by the Bush Library Foundation as part of the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs.
The audience often broke into applause during a question-and-answer session, which followed 30 minutes of prepared remarks. But several questioners challenged the Bush administrations policies on terrorism and the Middle East.
Rice defended the presidents demand last week that Israel pull back from the West Bank in its latest anti-terrorism campaign.
He has also said to the Arab states and Palestinians: Step up, she said.
Rice was asked if the administration is setting a double standard, since Bush has repeatedly said the United States has a right to defend itself against terrorism.
She said Israel has the same right, but that its recent offensive against Palestinian militants could permanently damage hopes for peace.
Peace in the Middle East will require all parties to make difficult decisions, she said. She said the Arab world must accept that Israel has a right to exist and can be a peaceful neighbor to an independent Palestinian state.
She said Israel must take other steps besides military action to combat terrorism, including freezing terrorists assets, sharing intelligence and coordinating law enforcement efforts. The United States war on terrorism has utilized all those strategies, she said.
At the same time, she acknowledged that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks taught the United States that it must retain a strong military even as the face of conflict has changed since World War II.
Power matters, she said. Military power matters. It matters in national security, and it matters in the pursuit of peace.
Later, Rice dismissed claims that the U.S. is not committed to reducing its nuclear arsenal because it is disabling missiles but not destroying warheads.
She said that, contrary to popular belief, the U.S. and Russia have never signed an arms control agreement that dictated the destruction of warheads. Rather, reduction talks have focused on disabling pads and launchers.
If its not operationally deployed, its not usable, she said.
She said shes confident the two countries will find common ground on arms reduction, and said the two nations enjoy a new relationship that could actually not be better. To back up her assertion, she said she spent much of the past two weeks dealing with a dispute over chicken imports to Russia.
It says something about the nature of the relationship when trade disputes are taking up a lot of the time, she said.
She also said she was heartened that Russia quickly offered to support the United States after terrorists attacked the country last year.
Rice recalled how the morning of Sept. 11 unfolded for her.
When al-Qaida terrorists slammed the first airliner into a World Trade Center tower, she thought it was an accident. When the second plane hit, she realized it was terrorism.
She learned a third plane crashed into the Pentagon before being ushered into a protective bunker with Vice President Dick Cheney and other leaders.
In the months since, making the country safe against terrorists has become a priority for the Bush administration, but the battle extends to all parts of the world, Rice said.
The best defense is a good offense, she said to a round of applause. And we are going to take the fight to the terrorists wherever they live.
John LeBas e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org