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 Home > News & Policies > February 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 1, 2002

National Security Advisor Speaks at Conference
Remarks by the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to the Conservative Political Action Conference
Marriott Crystal Gateway
Arlington, Virginia

11:50 A.M. EST

DR. RICE: Well, thank you very much for that warm reception and for that terrific introduction, and I really appreciate. It's a great honor to speak to this group today. I'd very much like to thank David Keene, the Chairman of CPAC, and the leaders of the 70 co-sponsoring organizations for having me here to say a few words to you about the campaign on which we are engaged here in the United States of America, in Afghanistan, in every country in the world. This is truly a global campaign.

Organizations such as CPAC fill an invaluable role in our society. You are an incubator of ideas and a wellspring of energy that sustains the causes that we care about. And today, as free men and women who come together to foster change through honest debate, you represent the best in America, and it reminds us of the values for which we are fighting. You embody -- as America embodies -- the principles that are worth fighting to defend: Liberty, democracy, and pluralism.

I know that later this afternoon, you're going to talk to a panel about seismic shifts caused by September 11th. And those shifts were very much in evidence when the President addressed the state of our Union on Tuesday night.

Imagine for a moment that someone had sat you down on September 10th, placed a tape in your VCR and told you that, here's what the President's next State of the Union Address is going to sound like. Each of us placed in those circumstances would have reacted in two ways, both at the same time. As we heard him, and as we viewed the window through which we had just climbed, our stomachs would have churned with the knowledge that our nation and the world had suffered such a great catastrophe. And behind our veil of ignorance, we would have been driven and, in fact, reluctant at the same time to ask the questions, who and what and where and particularly why September 11th.

But second, our hearts would have been filled with enormous pride, knowing that a great nation once again had set its sights on great causes, that our defense of liberty is unabashed and unafraid and morally clear.

On September 10th, we could not have known that America would prove itself so stalwart in the face of such a great challenge. We could not have known that there could be so many countless acts of selflessness and outpouring to ease the suffering of our fellow citizens, and a renewed appreciation of the duties, the responsibilities and the privileges of citizenship. And we could barely have imagined the seismic shifts that were about to occur in international politics.

One of the most important and one of the most immediate shifts has been a renewed appreciation of American national power. Specifically, the importance of a powerful military used responsibly in the service of our values.

If you go back just a little while, there was a lot of speculation that the future of the American armed forces actually lay largely in so-called operations other than war, in policing civil and ethnic conflicts and in humanitarian missions. Well, I don't hear anybody saying that any more. (Applause.)

The fact is that there are real threats out there. Freedom still faces ruthless enemies. And America and its allies have to deter and, if necessary, defeat them.

Our military has done extraordinary things in the past four months. It has shown its power and its precision. It has fought an enemy unlike any we have faced in our history, and we've helped liberate a nation. It has really been extraordinary to witness from the inside, as those of you who have been watching from without have seen, what this military can do.

When we woke up on September 12th and began planning our response, I can tell you that the American military didn't exactly have an operational plan on the shelf, a template that said "Afghanistan Campaign." We especially didn't have a template on the shelf that said, your ground forces are going to be on horseback -- (laughter) -- your 19th century ground forces with your 21st century air power.

And the President was making clear to those who were planning the campaign every day that he wanted the use of American military force to be meaningful and effective. He was not going to use pinpricks to deal with the circumstances in which we found ourselves. (Applause.)

He understood immediately that only the decisive use of American military power maintains our credibility. But he also told people that we weren't going to respond rashly or do something just for the sake of doing something.

In a very short time frame, we did have a campaign plan for Afghanistan. It was a plan that was daring in conception and difficult in execution. It was truly outside the box, and eventually it was successful. It was successful because the way was paved by strong diplomacy. It was successful because we had a President who was determined and focused and patient. It was successful because we had a commander-in-chief who let his military do the job. (Applause.)

And it was successful because our military forces are the strongest and best equipped and most professional in the history of the world. (Applause.)

Tuesday night, the world saw the President resolve to ensure that our forces remain without peer. He will ask in his budget for an additional $48 billion for our armed forces, the single largest increase since Ronald Reagan was President. And, as President Bush said Tuesday night, while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our nation, we will pay it. (Applause.)

As a result of our resolve, the Taliban regime has been routed and all that remains of it is remnant. Afghanistan is no longer a terrorist-sponsored state but, rather, a state that is trying to make its way to a better future for its people.

But al Qaeda is far from finished. It operates in dozens of countries around the world and it threatens many more. And the President has made clear that we and our allies will not rest until the threat from al Qaeda and the network itself is no more. (Applause.)

We will pursue its members by every means at our disposal. We will disrupt its plans, destroy its bases, arrest its members, break up its cells and choke off its finances. And our enemy is not just al Qaeda, but every terrorist group of global reach. This is not just our struggle; it is the struggle of the civilized world.

The United States has made clear to leaders on every continent that there is no such thing as a good terrorist and a bad terrorist. You cannot condemn al Qaeda and hug Hamas. (Applause.)

The United States draws no distinction between the terrorists and the regimes that feed, train, supply and harbor them. Simply put, harboring terrorists isn't a very good business to be in right now. (Applause.)

Now, many nations are trying hard to do the right thing, to improve their border security, to enforce their laws, to improve their ability to track terrorists in their movements and finances. And the United States is actively helping countries to improve their immune systems against terrorism.

On the other hand, there are some who, shall we say, are not moving with alacrity to shut down terror within their borders. They have been put on notice.

The President also put the world on notice on Tuesday night, that our nation will do everything in its power to deny the world's most dangerous powers the world's most dangerous weapons. It is a stubborn and extremely troubling fact that the list of states that sponsor terror and the lists that are seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction happens to overlap substantially. And we know that if an al Qaeda type organization were to come into possession of a weapon of mass destruction, they would have no hesitation to use it.

In his State of the Union, the President was crystal clear about the growing danger posed by such states as North Korea, Iran and Iraq that pursue weapons of mass destruction. The President is calling on the world, on our friends and our allies, to join us in preventing these regimes from developing and deploying these weapons, either directly or through stateless terrorist surrogates. This is a serious matter and it requires a serious response.

North Korea is now the world's number one merchant for ballistic missiles, open for business with anyone, no matter how malign the buyer's intentions.

The United States has offered a roadmap for reciprocal steps that would enable North Korea to take a better course. We've had no serious response from Pyongyang.

Iraq continues to threaten its neighbors, the neighborhood, and its own people, and it continues to flaunt obligations that it undertook in 1991. And that can mean only one thing: It remains a dangerous regime, and it remains a regime determined to acquire these terrible weapons.

And Iran. Iran's direct support of regional and global terrorism and its aggressive efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction belie any good intentions it displayed in the days after the world's worst terrorist attacks in history.

All of these nations have a choice to make -- to abandon the course they now pursue. Unfortunately, these terrible regimes have shown no inclination to do so. But the United States and the world have only one choice, and that is to act with determination and resolve.

As the President said, we must not and we will not wait on events while dangers gather, and we will use every tool at our disposal to meet this grave global threat. We will work to strengthen nonproliferation regimes and export controls. We will use our new and budding relationship with Russia to redouble our efforts to prevent the leakage of dangerous materials and technologies. And we will move ahead with a missile defense system that can do the job, unconstrained by the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. (Applause.)

This President is determined and committed to protecting America, our forces, our allies and our friends from terror that comes packaged atop a missile. And the United States is unequivocal in its resolve to do what we must to insure ourselves. As the President said, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

But even as we address today's multiple challenges, even as we recognize that the war on terrorism is one that will have to be fought for a long time to come, we can look ahead to tremendous opportunities that are before us. We want to leave this world not just safer, but better. We are committed to a world of greater trade, of greater democracy and greater human rights for all the world's people wherever they live. September 11th makes this commitment more important, not less. Because, ladies and gentlemen, you know that America stands for something real. It stands for rights that are inalienable and truths that are self-evident. It stands for compassion and hope.

September 11th reintroduced America to a part of itself that some had forgotten or that some thought we no longer had. And we will carry this better part of ourselves out into the wider world.

We are a generous people. President Bush and the United States of America are committed to channeling our noble energies into an effort to encourage development and education and opportunity throughout the world, including the Muslim world. On every continent, in every land, this President, the education President at home, wants to press the goal of education for all abroad. Because there is one remarkable thing about education. It allows you to remake yourself into something new. It opens up to you the full range of possibilities of what you can be.

You know, I am, of course, a professor at Stanford University. And I can tell you that one of the most heartening things about being a professor in a great university is the students that you meet. You look out at your student body and you recognize that at this elite university, there may be one student who's a fourth generation Stanford legatee, but sitting right next to that student is a kid whose parents might be migrant farm workers, or a kid from rural America who is the first to go to school in his or her family. And you think, that's what this country is about, it's a belief that it really doesn't matter where you came from; it matters where you're going.

Terrorism, the kind of hatred and the kind of hopelessness that gets foisted on people around the world, cannot stand in a world in which people have that kind of hope. And that's why education in practical skills, rather than education in hatred is so important to peace and stability in the long run.

We are moving quickly, with places like Pakistan, to help them improve their educational systems. We have a teacher training initiative with Central America to improve the state of teaching in those countries. And we are putting millions of dollars into textbooks and into teacher training for new schools in Afghanistan where, for the first time in years, young girls will have that opportunity as well. (Applause.)

America is a remarkable country. One that finds its unity of purpose not in common blood but in common values. It is a country that rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and tries to bring opportunity through education for all. But in our hour of need, we found a country that has been renewed in those values and a country that looked to honor and family and to faith to get us through. There is a lot to do ahead of us. But renewed in who we are, renewed in our common purpose and our values, we will succeed. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

I'm told that I can take a couple questions from the members of the organization -- this is not a press conference.

Q You mentioned Russia briefly in your presentation. I had an opportunity to spend time in Russia, Moscow State University, and had an opportunity to meet with a lot of the Russian people. And I just wanted to find out the type of relationship that we have now with Russia following 9/11, how you see that going in the near future. And if you could also talk about Russia's actions in Chechnya? Do you think that needs to be reexamined in light of the attack on our -- in New York City? Because they perceive that as an attack on their own soil and they wanted to go out and root out terrorism in Chechnya.

DR. RICE: Thank you very much. Yes, of course.

First of all, all the way back at Ljubljana, which is when President Putin and President Bush met for the first time, President Bush said that he wanted to seek a new relationship with Russia that was more in line with the post Cold War era, and in line with a Russia that is in transition to better times for its people.

One reason that we were so concerned that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and nuclear arms control not be somehow at the center of the relationship, that was at the center of the relationship with the Soviet Union. This is a different relationship with Russia. It is one that is evolving and I think evolving in very positive ways.

There could be nothing better than a Russia that is at peace with its neighbors, that is moving toward democratic development, that is developing markets that can take full advantage of an extremely creative population. We want to see those things happen and we have been aggressive in pressing our economic relations with Russia and with others to try to help Russia fulfill that tremendous potential.

We will have our differences. Russia is a big power, the United States is a big power, and it's not as if everything will be wiped away right immediately.

For instance, on Chechnya, we clearly have differences with the Russian government about Chechnya. We've said to them that we fully agree that the Chechen leadership should not involve itself with terrorist elements in that region, and there are terrorist elements in that region. But that not every Chechen is a terrorist and that the Chechens' legitimate aspirations for political solution should be pursued by the Russians. And we have been very actively pressing the Russian government to move on the political front with Chechnya.

But we have gotten very good cooperation from Russia in terms of support for the war on terrorism. They understand that this is a global campaign, and they've been extremely helpful. I think it can only help our relationship to show us that we have this common security problem and to continue to work.

Russia has a long way to go. We've been concerned about issues of press freedom in Russia. We've made that known to the government, and we'll continue to make that known. But on the whole, on the whole, the transition that is taking place in Russia and U.S.-Russian relations appear to be moving largely in the right direction.

Q -- I would just like to hear your prognosis of how we are going to get that trade promotion authority this session so that we can move forward, and your prospects for a free trade area of the Americas.

DR. RICE: Absolutely. Thank you very much for the question.

Let me say there may be no more important thing that we can do for countries that are struggling to find prosperity for their people than to open trade relations to them. The President said the other night -- and he's determined -- the House has acted, the Senate needs to act. We need trade promotion authority.

This is not just an economic issue, although it will be good for Americans and will bring jobs for Americans, and that cannot -- I can't say that strongly enough. The highest, best jobs come with opening trade. It is also a tool for democracy.

One of the first meetings that the President attended abroad was the Summit of the Americas, in which it was remarkable to hear every country there, many of them -- many of these leaders who had been either jailed or in the opposition, in the '80s when you had military governments in a lot of these places, say we have crushing problems in our countries. People like Lagos of Chile or Fox of Mexico saying we have crushing problems in our country. But the answer to that is more trade, more democracy and a good relationship with the United States.

We have to deliver on the promise of trade so that these countries can bring themselves and their people out of poverty. It is a better way to bring them out of poverty, frankly, than all the development assistance we could possibly give. We do development assistance. It's extremely important. Institution building is important. But trade is ultimately.

And so the ATPA, the Free Trade Agreement for the Americas, we're pressing very hard. I think the prospects are good on the international front. But the President needs that one tool of trade promotion authority in order to be taken seriously in these discussions.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:20 P.M. EST