MR. HARB: Thank you for
your time, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank
you very much.
MR. HARB: Do you want
to start with a message for the --
SECRETARY POWELL: Well,
first of all, let me say how very pleased I am to be on this
program, and especially for the first time to have an opportunity
to speak directly to the Iraqi people and to let them know how
proud we are to be their partners now in this post-liberation
period where they are free. And they will find that the coalition
forces that are there are there to help them, to help them build
new lives, to rebuild the infrastructure of their country, to
put in place new ministries that will serve them, to make sure
that their oil wealth is used by them, for them.
And so this is a great, great effort that we are
embarked upon now, and General Franks and General Garner are
committed to the task of helping the Iraqi people put in place
a democratic government that will now serve the people and not
serve a dictator.
MR. HARB: Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, today, the Iraqi armed forces are either destroyed
or neutralized. The Baath Party is out of power, at least for
the time being. The leadership of that party is either on the
run or maybe some of them are under ground or something, or in
custody. What is next for the Iraqis?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think
what we have to do now is to stabilize the country and provide
security for the people, and that's what coalition forces will
be doing with free Iraqi fighters and police forces that are
slowly being rebuilt, without the old regime being on top of
these police forces.
And as we do this rebuilding of institutions -- security
institutions, police institutions, the various ministries of
government -- we will also be developing new leadership within
Iraq. The meetings that we'll be holding around the country under
the direction of Ambassador Khalilzad, the President's Special
Envoy, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker from the State Department
will be for the purpose of letting each region identify its own
leaders, as well as integrating those who had been in external
opposition and are now returning to the country to help in the
So the Baath Party evil leadership, all of those
are responsible for the devastation of Iraq over the last 20
years. They're all gone and they will be replaced by leaders
who have been selected by the people of Iraq, not by the United
States and not by anyone else. The Iraqi people now are free
to choose their own leaders. And we will help them in the process
of creating a democratic system.
MR. HARB: Some critics
in the Arab region, or to some extent sometimes in Washington,
are saying that Washington in not interested in really true democracy
in Iraq, but rather a system that is moderate, similar to the
neighboring countries' ruling system. How would you respond to
SECRETARY POWELL: It's
simply an incorrect charge. If you see what we have been doing,
we have been in touch with leaders throughout Iraq. General Garner
is going to be spending the next several weeks meeting with different
groups of leaders, whether they are engineers or doctors and
educators, to get their ideas. Ambassador Khalilzad and Ambassador
Crocker will be holding political meetings on a regional basis,
not for the purpose of going into a meeting with 50 leaders and
saying, "You're the leader, you're in charge," but to allow those
50 leaders, or 100, or however many people gather, to discuss
among themselves the hopes and aspirations they have for Iraq;
and then from that group, people start saying, "I trust this
man and I want him to be one of the leaders of the new interim
And from that interim Iraqi authority, the coalition
will help develop it, help put it in place, and we will slowly
give authority to it as it demonstrates its ability to handle
that authority. And it will ultimately grow into a full government,
and when that day comes and the full government is up and functioning
with all of its institutions intact, the United States will say, "Well,
we've finished our job here, it's time to go home."
MR. HARB: It sounds like
a process that part of the world is not familiar with in terms
of selecting its leaders. Are you under any pressure from the
neighboring countries to ease down a little bit of this democratic
SECRETARY POWELL: No,
no. We've made it clear to the neighboring countries that this
is what it's all about. And there is experience. I mean, Turkey
is a Muslim country that has a democratic system. Pakistan, after
years of difficulty, is now on a firm footing and a path to a
democratic system with a new prime minister and a new parliament.
And so just because one is in an Arab country or one is practicing
the Muslim faith, to suggest that therefore you are denied the
benefits of democracy, I think is a false -- it's a false choice.
Democracy can coexist with any faith.
MR. HARB: Today, Iraq
doesn't have representation at the United Nations or in any international
arena. And as you know, a lot of border disputes between Iraq
and some of its neighbor countries. Are you willing to push for
a resolution at the United Nations or even make a commitment
that the territorial integrity of Iraq is preserved by the coalition
SECRETARY POWELL: We
have made that clear from the very beginning. The President has
said in almost every statement he's ever given on the subject
that our goal is to make sure there is one Iraq, not three Iraqs,
not four Iraqs, and preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq
as we know Iraq today. And whether or not this gets put into
a resolution or not, we will see as we move forward. But it certainly
is a strong principle that we are following.
MR. HARB: Some of the
footage that we are seeing from Iraq looks a little bit like
the early days of the Iranian Revolution. Are you concerned about
the Iranian -- growing Iranian influence in Iraq?
SECRETARY POWELL: We
are watching it and we have expressed to the Iranians our concern
that while people are expressing their views among the Shiite
community in the southern part of the country especially, and
we know that there's some movement in from Iran, we would not
like to see Iran try to get undue influence and essentially start
inserting its own agenda onto Iraq. Iraq must be for Iraqis,
not Iranians. That's what territorial integrity means.
MR. HARB: Would you oppose
a Shia leader in Iraq?
SECRETARY POWELL: It's
up the Iraqi people. It's not up to the United States. We expect
that the kind of government that we would like to see, and we
believe the Iraqi people would like to see, would allow any one
of the various groups in Iraq to compete in the open place of
democracy and become elected the president or the prime minister
of a new Iraq.
MR. HARB: Thank you,
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank