Interview with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
Text of the Deputy Secretary's December 20 farewell interview with Charlie Rose.
Interview With Charlie Rose on PBS
Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
December 10, 2004
(10:30 a.m. EST)
MR. ROSE: Tell me what you think are the five most important foreign policy challenges for this country.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The global war on terrorism, obviously is -- it trumps it all; the peaceful rising of China -- not in any particular order -- the peaceful rising in China; the maintenance of stability in South Asia; a solution to the problem of Iran and North Korea nuclear, they're of a type; and the challenge presented by HIV/AIDS.
MR. ROSE: All right, let me talk about each of those. Start with the challenge presented by Iran and North Korea. Where are we, and what ought we do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, where we are in two different places, in North Korea, we have five like-minded friends and allies who share the view that there should be a denuclearized peninsula of Korea. That's a pretty good basis on which to try to find a diplomatic solution in North Korea.
And Iran, it's slightly different and more complicated. We have a suspension in their nuclear program brokered by the EU-3, and I think they were able to broker this because of a very strong position of the United States that we were very skeptical and cynical about the Iranians' ability to observe a true freeze to their program. I don't believe in the long run the Iranians will be dissuaded from this program and we're going to have to consider all our options with our friends and allies.
MR. ROSE: You don't believe in the short-term, or the long-term, they'll be dissuaded?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: In the longer term. We have a suspension now, and that's a good thing. And it gives the Iranian leadership some time to think about whether they truly want to be part of the community of nations, or whether they're going to try to pursue a program in defiance of the will of the international community.
MR. ROSE: Suppose you were an Iranian leader --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah.
MR. ROSE: -- and you looked around the region and the people that have nuclear weapons, and you were looking at the national interests of Iran. Would you want nuclear weapons?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. I think if you'd take a lesson from Colonel Qadhafi, who determined pretty quickly -- and he said it in his own words much better than I -- that the attempt to pursue weapons of mass destruction actually brought him a lot more headaches than it brought him any benefits.
But let me make a point about Iran. I served there during the time of the Shah, among other things. I was an advisor to their special forces. I believe that Iranians, who are perfectly congenial and wonderful one on one, in a group are quite ethnocentric, nationalistic and, indeed, hegemonistic. And I believe that the --
MR. ROSE: Hegemonistic in terms of the region, or in terms of --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: In terms of the region.
MR. ROSE: So, meaning what might they want?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Meaning they think they're still at the time of Xerxes and Persepolis. I think it's not for nothing they call it the Persian Gulf and not the Arabian Gulf. So I think that they, they have a great -- in the minds of the Iranian leadership -- a great desire to be a much bigger player in the region.
MR. ROSE: And is the reform movement, in your judgment, on the up or down?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think the reform movement is misnamed. I think there are some who wanted a little more breathing room in their own life, but if you assume the reform movement is one that would eschew nuclear weapons and does not hold the same dreams of glory for Iran, I think you'd be wrong.
MR. ROSE: If you look at what we can do, I mean, is it a place where the last resort is the exercise of force?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: That's irresponsible --
MR. ROSE: In what way?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: To talk about the uses of -- we would generally say, "Listen. All options are on the table." And obviously, nations will do what they feel is in their interest. We will. Our friends in Europe will; and so will the Iranians, for that matter. I think it's much more productive to talk about trying to find a diplomatic solution while there still is some possibility of that.
MR. ROSE: What role are they playing in international terrorism?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well it's -- again, it's complicated. We know that they have al-Qaida, who they probably have under surveillance. Some, they have under arrest. We sure would like to have access to --
MR. ROSE: Some, former leaders?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Some, former leaders.
MR. ROSE: Would they even acknowledge that to you?
MR. ROSE: No. They acknowledge -- we've talked to them about this and they don't acknowledge it. In terms of Iraq, they're playing a very dangerous game. They're using money, primarily, and in some cases, weapons, to try to subvert the south, the southern part -- the Shia part of Iraq. They're trying to buy influence. I think ultimately they will fail in this, but they’re playing a very dangerous game.
MR. ROSE: Well, in trying to buy influence, I mean, they've got someone --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Trying to buy clerics, you know.
MR. ROSE: But Sistani, the Ayatollah, who has a relationship to Iran, I mean, don't --can they buy him?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No.
MR. ROSE: Or is he independent of them?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, they cannot. He is an Iranian, originally.
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But he is a man who, from my observation, has a great deal of common sense and a real vision of what he wants for an Iraq; and it's not an Iranian-style theocracy.
MR. ROSE: But tell me what Iran wants in Iraq.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I think Iran wants to have an Iraq that certainly is no threat to them, but moreover, aids them in their ability to become the, sort of the -- what would you say? World center for Shia.
MR. ROSE: The election in Iraq will take place on January 30th?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It sure will.
MR. ROSE: Nothing can derail it as far as you can see?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: As far as I can see. And having been with our President when he spoke to Sheikh Ghazi, the president of the Interim Government and --
MR. ROSE: Who was just on this program Monday.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I can assure you that what he said is we're going to have elections and that it's the moral and legal obligation of the Interim Government of Iran*. The same thing the prime minister said.
MR. ROSE: And he's a Sunni and a leader of his own tribe.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: He's a Sunni who has -- is a leader of the Shammar tribe; but that tribe is also Sunni-Shia, just by the way.
MR. ROSE: Right. It's both. Let me raise the question of the election in terms of the insurgency.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sure.
MR. ROSE: Is that -- is the insurgency gaining ground? Or, since Fallujah, is it losing ground?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Since Fallujah it's been forced to ground to a greater degree than was the case before. They've lost one certain bed of support for them. And it was a logistics hub; it was a propaganda hub; it was a medical hub. It was everything for them. They've lost that, so things have become slightly more difficult.
But on the other hand, they are really stepping up their program of intimidation through assassinations, and terrible assassinations, public assassinations, to try to keep the Iraqi populace sitting on the fence.
MR. ROSE: And they will not succeed?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We're dedicating ourselves to that proposition. That's why we amassed 100-and-some -- 150,000 Americans and 30-some-thousand coalition troops to persevere.
MR. ROSE: You've been on record for a long time as saying that you don't go into Iraq without a lot of troops. Is the troop level satisfactory for you?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I haven't been on record that way. What has been on the record is from my boss --
MR. ROSE: Well, people have reported that you've said that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: My boss, who has been known to have something called "The Powell Doctrine," which, among other things --
MR. ROSE: Yes, of course, that's right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: -- that you go in with overwhelming force.
And surely what happened -- the lightning speed of the war showed that we had overwhelming force at the time. Whether it was sufficient for the insurgency, clearly it wasn't, we've upped the number of troops. But you have to depend on troop commanders. And the President has said -- he said it publicly as well as privately -- that "If our troop commanders determine they need more troops, I'll provide them." And that's where we are. And I haven't seen them call for more.
MR. ROSE: When one of the troops -- when a soldier questioned Secretary Rumsfeld about armor --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Mm-hmm.
MR. ROSE: You are -- if I know anything about you, it is your love of the military, and the contribution you have made and what it means to your life, and your service in Vietnam.
What's going on there? Soldiers are saying, "We don't have enough armor."
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It's beyond my understanding.
One can only trust that having that publicly raised, the troop commanders will move Heaven and earth to make sure their troops have whatever is available to protect them as well as to support them.
MR. ROSE: Were you surprised?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I -- listen, you can't b.s. a troop. You can the press, but you can't the troop. And I wasn't surprised at a troop standing up and asking a very direct question. I wasn't surprised at all. I was surprised by the fact that apparently, all the Humvees and the trucks weren't up-armored. But I wasn't surprised at the fact of a trooper asking a question like that.
MR. ROSE: Because it's life and death for him.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, because you can't fool the troop. And listen, having led men in combat, they're going to tell you what's on their mind and good on 'em.
MR. ROSE: Do you think things will change?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Are you kidding? After that publicly?
MR. ROSE: Yeah.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah.I saw the President say that they're going to get what they need. And I understand a direct order when I hear it.
MR. ROSE: Did you have reservations about Iraq?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Not about the need to take down Saddam Hussein. To the extent I had any questions, it was only about the timing, but not about the proposition.
MR. ROSE: You might have preferred a delay for a while to let inspections continue?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I was one who thought that there would be weapons of mass destruction, like everyone else --
MR. ROSE: That puts you in the majority.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yes, I'm in a lot of company, and good company, I might add. But the proposition itself was one that I found eminently sensible and necessary.
MR. ROSE: To overthrow Saddam?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Absolutely.
MR. ROSE: It would not have happened any other way other than an American?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we'd waited 12 years and an unknown number of UN sanctions. And the fact was that ourselves and British were flying Northern and Southern Watch, and every day they were getting shot at. It was only a matter of time before one of those Iraqis found a target. But we were risking lives for 12 years to try to uphold the international will. And so I think one can understand, and particularly after 9/11, why a president would say, I'm not going to wait. I'm not going to let these clouds gather.
MR. ROSE: Do you think --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And he, by the way, fully understanding he would be held fully accountable for it; and he was on November 2nd.
MR. ROSE: Did diplomacy fail us in terms of making it more of a multilateral effort?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I'm one of those who thought that most of the world saluted the diplomacy of the United States when we got a unanimous resolution, I think it was 1441, that gave Saddam Hussein one last chance.
So I would say if anything failed us, it was partners failed to live up to their end of the bargain. Because that Resolution 1441 made it very clear that if Saddam Hussein did not live up to his end of the bargain, it meant war. And every one of our friends on the Security Council voted for that, understanding that to be the case. And yet, when push came to shove, they were nowhere to be found, many of them.
MR. ROSE: And what damage has that done to the transatlantic relationship?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, that has caused some damage. But I'm pleased to see Secretary Powell is in Europe now working mightily to mend it.
The President will soon be traveling to Europe. He's announced that and he's said as his first overseas trip he's going to try to mend it. And I think that's a good thing and I think it will be very much appreciated by our European partners.
MR. ROSE: We move to the Middle East. Are you hopeful now that after Arafat and a Palestinian election on January 9th that things might get on track in a way that they were not possible before?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, it certainly wasn't possible with Chairman Arafat. But I know now that we do have an opportunity; the Palestinians have an opportunity to elect someone who can -- I don't mean to be biblical -- but lead them out of the wilderness, and perhaps lead them to the vision the President has laid out, two states living side by side in peace and security.
So I'm -- I wouldn't say I'm optimistic. I'm hopeful that we're at that point. We'll wait until January 9th. And I would note, the President has made it very clear: He's got political capital and he's going to use it if the Palestinians can come up with a leadership that is worthy of the people.
MR. ROSE: He said that what he had realized, too, that the essential sine qua non is Palestinian democracy more so than any other issue
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The thought behind that is a democracy is not going to be planting bombs in Israel. A democracy is not going to be blowing up buses of school children in Israel. And if we can get a democracy there, there will be a viable partner with Israel to actually seek peace.
MR. ROSE: Do you think in the end it'll be some variation of the terms negotiated by President Clinton and Ehud Barak and Arafat at Camp David and Taba? Is that where it’s going to end up?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You know, it's a new ballgame, and I don't know where it's going to end up. I know that -- I know how we're going to get there. It'll be the roadmap. But I'm not going to prejudge a discussion that has to be held between Palestinians and Israelis before we even know who the Palestinians are.
MR. ROSE: It is also said that when foreign countries call for the United States to play a more active role, what they mean is to pressure Israel more.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Mm-hmm.
MR. ROSE: Is that what's necessary?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sometimes that may be necessary. But I'll tell you something about Israel, and I think you'd already know this, Mr. Rose, and that is that public pressure on Israel is not what's going to work. Private reasoning does.
MR. ROSE: What's the dialogue there?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: How do you mean?
MR. ROSE: In other words, what is the reasoning that has to take place? Do you -- Israel has to do this in order to get, receive this?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think -- from Israel's point of view, their presence in the occupied territories provides them some sort of buffer, and it's going to take a lot of development of confidence on the part of Israel before I think they fully remove themselves and live next door to a state with whom they've had such rocky and -- or people with whom they've had such a difficult and rocky relationship.
The first step, I think, is getting a leadership, which reflects the aspirations of the Palestinian people. And I think it's -- if you've noticed the Palestinian newspapers of the last several months, before the death of Chairman Arafat, actually, they were becoming very critical of the PA leadership, and things were building. People were saying things like the Intifadah was a failure -- Palestinians saying it, 4,000 lives sacrificed for nothing. So things have changed a lot in the Palestinian community, and I think for the better.
MR. ROSE: If you look at the Middle -- if you look at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and if you look at the war in Iraq, have those two conflicts that fail -- those two conflicts that were important and at center stage of the challenges for the world, have they made the battle against terrorism more difficult or less difficult? What we did in Iraq and the failure to get the Palestinian issue settled or made properly?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, let me start at the beginning. I mean, though the war on terrorism started in a real way, probably in 1993, actually with the World Trade Center --
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We didn't, perhaps, recognize it, as we should've.
MR. ROSE: And it may have been linked in some ways in terms of people.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. But it started a lot sooner than we think it started. Most of us think it was 9/11, but 9/11 is a -- because of the horror that was inflicted upon us -- a pretty good start date.
And I would note that al-Qaida found it difficult ever to mention the word, "Palestinian." It was only latterly that Usama bin Laden and Zawahiri are able to espouse anything about the so-called Palestinian cause.
MR. ROSE: It became a rhetorical device later.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Later. It wasn't part of their raison d’etre. It wasn't a part of their reason for attacking us at all. So we've got to remove that.
Having said that, it's a very neuralgic issue throughout the Middle East and it's a very -- it's something that enemies of the United States and enemies of democracy can stand up and rail against, and always have a sympathetic local ear. So to that extent it fueled, somewhat, terrorism. But it is not central. It is not central. What is central in the war on terrorism is the battle that's going on within Islam for enlightened moderation and those who just espouse hate and death.
MR. ROSE: Well, interestingly, for the first time, I saw a piece in The Washington Post today, which you may have seen on the front page of The Washington Post about some dialogue now taking place among parties who are looking at some of the things and beginning to criticize within Islam.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Islam is one of the great religions of the world. And every Muslim will tell you that we're all people of the book, whether you're Christian, Jew or Muslim. It's a pretty good basis on which to have a religion, it seems to me.
MR. ROSE: Yeah.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But there -- and I don't know that you'd call it a war -- there certainly is a struggle for the heart and soul of Islam.
MR. ROSE: And that's a -- that is crucial to the settlement, to coming to terms with terrorism and everything else.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, absolutely. And you see in different countries different approaches to the struggle. In Pakistan, President Musharraf talks about enlightened moderation. In Jordan, King Abdullah talks about moderation in terms of Islam. So I think both the leaderships and the communities all throughout the Middle East are having this struggle in a greater or lesser way.
MR. ROSE: When you look at accomplishments of you and Secretary Powell, the State Department, the Administration in foreign policy, many people will cite China as the best example. I'm not asking you to evaluate your own success, but if you look at China from the time you had the -- almost early on in the Administration to where we are today, tell me where we are today and how we, as a nation, ought to respond to the bilateral relationship with a China that's growing fast, the fastest growing economy, all of that -- a country that clearly wants to be an important member of the world's community.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Wait a minute. Clearly is important and a member.
MR. ROSE: It is a member, but it wants to play a larger role, obviously.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, and we should welcome a larger role. God knows the problems of the international community are large enough. Where we are right now after starting with a collision of aircraft four years ago is where Chinese leaders and U.S. leaders say, the best relationship we've ever had with China. And the peaceful rising of China is probably going to be the most momentous happening, probably, in the first half of this century for sure.
MR. ROSE: The peaceful rising of China is the most momentous --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Will be the most momentous in the first half of this century. They are so big. And not just in terms of land size or population, but they're so big in terms of the energy they require, the raw materials they require, their reach, what they'll do as they take a correct place on the world stage that I think it will be momentous.
MR. ROSE: The power of theirmarket, the power of their buying power.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Indeed. And the power of their growing middle class, who wants to purchase and has the ability, now, to purchase from the outside world.
MR. ROSE: Do you think they'll move towards a democracy of some sort?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that the tide of history is -- always leads that way, and people given their own choice will move that way. They chose to do, however, their change in society in the reverse way that the Russians did.
MR. ROSE: Well, speaking of the Russians -- go ahead.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: They would say, the Chinese would say, "Look, we got it right. We're going to open up our markets, open up our economy, raise the general living standard and slowly expand the personal freedoms."
MR. ROSE: Does this have to be, if China gains, U.S. loses? Does it have to be a zero-sum game?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. It's not a zero-sum game. The way we're all interconnected in the international economic community means that a rising tide will lift all boats.
MR. ROSE: So India grows, China grows, and it will do nothing but good for the United States if it's handled well?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, no. I think there -- it forces us, I think, all of us, to think together about the problems we all face that could inhibit us all, such as the environment, such as resources and fuel, such as the need to get alternate sources of fuel. It makes us all think about these things together, and, over time, all come together with our technology, et cetera, to better the general public good.
MR. ROSE: Where is the -- landmines -- in terms of China's rise and the United States? What has to --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I would say Taiwan. Taiwan is one. It's probably the biggest.
MR. ROSE: We will defend China from Taiwan if they attack?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I'm, you know, to make a statement like that is not quite appropriate. We have the requirement with the Taiwan Relations Act to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack; we are not required to defend. And these are questions that actually reside with the U.S. Congress, who has to declare an act of war.
But I think we have to manage this question appropriately. We all agree that there is but one China, and Taiwan is part of China. We are guided in our own relationship with China by three communiqués, which have been negotiated by successive Administrations, and the Taiwan Relations Act. And successive Administrations since the time of normalization in 1979 have been able to carry forth, develop relations with China and maintain good relations with the people of Taiwan.
We'll have to continue that way. It's not easy.
MR. ROSE: Is Putin going the wrong direction?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I don't think any of us know which direction he's really going, or why; and that's the question. We -- some of the things that we see, trying to get and amass more central power, raise these questions. Some of the activities against the oligarchs, whether they're done fully with the transparency of law, raise questions. And I don't think any of us --
MR. ROSE: Undemocratic questions?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, questions about the direction of Russia.
MR. ROSE: Or authoritarian issues.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Now, Mr. Putin and his colleagues will say, there's no question. Democracy is here to stay; the people of Russia expect it, et cetera. But I think there are some questions about the direction.
MR. ROSE: And so what do we do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we -- Secretary Powell has had discussions most recently this week with Sergey Lavrov.
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Very direct discussions surrounding Ukraine and some activities in Georgia -- things of that nature. The good news is we have a relationship with Russia where the Secretary can sit down with his colleague and talk about very difficult issues that bother us. And, by the way, the Russians have difficult issues about our behavior that bother them. And they're able to sit down and talk about it and come out of there smiling.
MR. ROSE: Let me read you something you said at your --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oops.
MR. ROSE: (Laughter) -- confirmation. You said, "In my view, in the exercise of American leadership in the world, to the extent that our behavior reflects arrogance and a heightened sense of position, our claim on leadership will become, in spite of our military prowess, the thinnest of pretensions. To the extent that our behavior reflects a sense of duty, informed and supported by allies and friends around the globe, American leadership will be the central reality of the international system for as far as the eye can see."
Has America's, the reality of America, been damaged in the last four years in its position in the world?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, first of all, I totally and completely still embrace those words, four years later. I believe them in my heart. Second, we were damaged terribly. We were damaged on September 11th by people who wantonly attacked us. To the extent the United States had to stand up and take a leadership role and do tough things, I think, temporarily, this inconvenienced and discombobulated many of our allies. But I still believe to act with humility, to act with grace, knowing that you have the most powerful nation in the world in every aspect of your being, whether it's military, which is obvious, or economic, or for that matter, the power of our ideas or the power of our technology allows us, I think, to act with a certain amount of humility and grace.
MR. ROSE: Question. Have we done that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Sometimes we are not perceived as doing that because we have taken steps, which we felt were necessary for our security, which is the first duty of every president. It's the primary duty to support and defend. And that has caused us a certain amount of discombobulation.
MR. ROSE: Is that, is it --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But you will notice, you will notice the President went to Canada. He seems to have worked that out pretty well. He's announced he's going to Europe.
We realize that sometimes, acting in our own self-defense has caused these dislocations with some of our friends, and we're working hard to get it back.
MR. ROSE: But it -- working hard to get it back. So in other words, let the word go forth that the United States recognizes this dislocation that took place because of actions taken, and the United States will do what it can -- will initiate what it can with Canada, with Europe --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: With Asia.
MR. ROSE: -- as the highest priority at the beginning of this Administration?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It's -- the President has stated it. But let me be clear. There are no apologies for our actions. The President is going to do what he is elected to do, and that is to support and defend the Constitution and the people. So we recognize that those actions, though not apologizing, did cause what I would call dislocations, and we're trying to fix it.
MR. ROSE: And always, when there's dislocations, it's not just a one-way street, I assume you would say?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: That's the point Secretary Powell made in Europe yesterday. They've got to come a ways towards us, too.
MR. ROSE: Are they doing anything?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Some are. Some are less -- when I say some are, look, the neuralgia of Iraq is, I think, pretty much behind us.
MR. ROSE: The?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The neuralgia of Iraq is pretty much behind us in the international community. Nobody wants the United States to fail, nobody.
MR. ROSE: It's clear to you --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It's clear to me.
MR. ROSE: -- that no one, not even those who wish us badly, do not wish us to fail in Iraq?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No.
MR. ROSE: The French don't want us to fail in there? And they are doing what they can, other than sending troops?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, they're not going to send troops, but --
MR. ROSE: Well, I understand that they --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: -- look what they did on the debt relief barrier for Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: 80 percent of their debt.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Pretty good to forgive 80 percent. The Germans did the same thing. People who, with a -- prime neuralgic partners of ours, they've stepped up now on Iraq. This is a good thing. Look what NATO is doing now. They're training Iraqis in Iraq. So we had some dislocations. I'd be a fool not to acknowledge it. But we've moved on, and I think the Europeans are moving on.
MR. ROSE: It seems to me -- and the reason I asked those five questions at the top, and we've elaborated and explored them -- that there's a lot of challenges. And why don't you and Secretary Powell, who are proud of your accomplishments -- China and India-Pakistan, and lots of other areas, want to go forward and complete what you have initiated?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: First, it's my view that the President had something to do with those successes along the way.
MR. ROSE: Of course he did.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But I think it's like anything else. There's a time to carry arms and there's a time to stack arms. And I think it's time for us to stack arms.
MR. ROSE: You're saying it's time for you and Secretary Powell to move forward?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Mm-hmm.
MR. ROSE: Or it's time for the country to --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, no. I'm saying it's -- for the Secretary and I to move forward, to move on and stack arms, as it were.
MR. ROSE: Yeah.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: For the country, these challenges will remain. And we think we're on a pretty good road. Dr. Rice will succeed Secretary Powell.
MR. ROSE: Will that mean a dramatic change in the direction of American foreign policy in any way you can imagine?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I don't think there'll be dramatic changes. We don't have big lurches in a society like ours where you have to --
MR. ROSE: How about in --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: -- where you have to report to the Congress, the people's representatives, so constantly. That's what keeps big lurches and swings from happening. How about what? (Laughter.)
MR. ROSE: (Laughter.) I'm speechless.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: (Laughter.) Let the word go forth.
MR. ROSE: (Laughter.) For the first time. All right. But --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I am so proud. This is my proudest moment. And it better show up on the broadcast. (Laughter.)
MR. ROSE: I promise you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Okay.
MR. ROSE: I promise you it will.
Bob Woodward wrote a book, which I'm sure you read. "The Path --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: -- I did the Washington read on it. You can bet that. (Laughter.)
MR. ROSE: You went to the back to see where you were? (Laughter.)
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. (Laughter.)
MR. ROSE: Well, I mean, what comes out is that you say the following things: You talk in terms of your own -- or you're attributed to saying about yourself, one, that you are a social liberal; your life reflects that; your views reflect that; and that you're a conservative on economic matters --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, in foreign policy and --
MR. ROSE: And fiscal conservatism and foreign policy.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Mm-hmm.
MR. ROSE: We keep getting these reports of this great battle, this ongoing battle between you and Secretary Powell and the place that you served so well, the Department of Defense, and Secretary Rumsfeld. For one time, tell the nature of the conflict.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: First of all, now let me make a point. I used to be considered in the right wing of my party. And I stayed right where I was and now I'm considered to be the left wing of my party. (Laughter.) And I didn't move.
MR. ROSE: (Laughter.) You're way over there.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And I didn't move. And I don't know what happened. I didn't move. I never moved.
MR. ROSE: Well, the perception is that you and Secretary Rumsfeld, for example, are not in the same place. Is that true or not?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I was talking about me and the party. Now we're talking about --
MR. ROSE: Okay, you and the party. (Laughter.)
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Now to your question.
MR. ROSE: But, I mean, are you where John McCain is, pretty much?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I think pretty much.
MR. ROSE: That's what I thought, yeah.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I'd be pleased if he would include me in his boat, and Chuck Hagel.
MR. ROSE: Exactly.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. Have we had battles? Absolutely. And you'd better be happy we have, as a citizen. If everybody sat around and sang "Kumbayah," and held hands and marched in the same direction, then you wouldn't get good government and you wouldn't get good decisions. So do we have battles with the Pentagon? You bet'cha. And does the President like it? You bet'cha.
MR. ROSE: He does?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You bet he does.
MR. ROSE: So he wanted his -- the best that he had going loggerheads so that he would get the best opinion?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: That is our very strong view, and I think that if you asked him, he'd say the same thing.
MR. ROSE: Who won? Did America win because of the conflict? Or did Secretary Rumsfeld win most of the battles?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think if you look at the accomplishments of the Administration you'll see that the President and Secretary Powell did quite well.
MR. ROSE: (Laughter.) Meaning that they were on one side and Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney were on the other side?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. I wouldn't say that because every issue has a different alignment of people. Bureaucracies are not static. People don't always have the same view from one day to another because some of the outside pressures change, or some of the -- or some of the dynamics change. So we may fight like cats and dogs on an issue today with the Pentagon; and that's a good thing. It's a good thing because you get everything out on the table. And tomorrow, we may be in complete agreement on a different aspect of the same problem. It's not -- it's a very dynamic process.
MR. ROSE: Okay. I don't have a point of view on this. I'm agnostic. I'm trying to understand it.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, I do have a point of view on it.
MR. ROSE: I know you do.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I'm trying to put it out there. There's nothing wrong with a good fight. Okay?
MR. ROSE: Therefore, you're saying to me that -- I have a great relish for these fights because in the end, we're going to find truth and find the best decision. And so therefore, don't ever, anybody out there, misunderstand that Rich Armitage and Colin Powell enjoyed the battle -- the battlefield of ideas?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We love it.
MR. ROSE: We love it. And until we didn't feel like --
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Look. If you put it on it like a tennis match, sometimes you score, sometimes you don't. But at the end of the day, all the athletes go back in the training room and they're all exhausted from the struggle. And they get up the next day and do it again because we all feel we're serving the nation. We all do the very best we can. And the best way we can is not to tell the President what we think he wants to hear, but what we think about a problem. That's why he hired us.
MR. ROSE: And you're saying this President was very much -- was curious and wanted to know from each of his people -- what is it you think?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Right.
MR. ROSE: I want to hear your opinion. If you have an objection to this, I want you to tell me?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, let me be clear. He knew before he hired the Secretary and before he hired me what our views were.
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: He had talked to me several times. I had traveled with him. He knew where I was on social issues. He knew where I was on foreign policy issues. And the same is -- it's even truer for the Secretary, who's so much more out there publicly.
He knew what he was getting. He wanted it, and he got it. And I think you ought to ask him. But I think he's been pleased that we gave it to him straight.
MR. ROSE: I promise you I will.
Have you changed your ideas because you have been in the center as you have? I mean, you're the most powerful Secretary -- Deputy Secretary of Defense -- of State, ever. I can't think of anybody even close because of the unique relationship and respect of the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, and you're not even going to deny that.
Having said that, have you changed? What's the most important thing you've learned, and -- in terms of this business of America and the world in the last four years, being at the center?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Wow, that's great.
I think what I've learned is that foreign policy making is much more a personal thing through personal relationships with people overseas as it is with the sort of wide -- the great ideas that spring from a nation.
I've seen time and time again that personal relationships are what sway people and bring people to your side. And I didn't realize how much that was the case. I'd always think, the power of ideas. Those are helpful and they're good, but it's personal relationships. Look at the relationship with Jose Marie Aznar and President Bush, the relationship that Secretary Powell has had with Jack Straw, the relationship -- the personal relationships of Tony Blair and the President. How --
MR. ROSE: The relationship with you and Musharraf. You know it's true.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I would be honored. It's been very helpful. These make the difference. It's remarkable to me how much that is so.
MR. ROSE: That's an interesting observation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You know, it would make me, if I were ever serving in government again, even redouble. I mean, I enjoy foreigners. I enjoy dealing with them. But it would make me even redouble my efforts realizing how important it is. It would be good policy, it's good common sense, and it's the right thing to do. It's good politics
MR. ROSE: Are you hopeful about the future?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. I think things are changing a lot, particularly in the Middle East. I have noted that in every country in the Middle East there are the winds of change blowing. Now, they may not be gale force, but they are there.
My boss is in Rabat tonight working on something called The Forum for the Future, which is about economic transparency in the Middle East, education in the Middle East -- including for women, anticorruption in the Middle East. So these are things that are coming from within the various countries, whether it's Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, even, who's going to hold municipal elections. Now there's a first.
So there's a lot of change going on. It makes me hopeful.
MR. ROSE: Secretary Armitage, thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, Mr. Rose.
MR. ROSE: A pleasure to have you on the program.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The pleasure was mine.
MR. ROSE: We look forward to doing it soon again.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We'll do it.
MR. ROSE: Thank you.
Released on December 20, 2004
Published: Thursday, January 06, 2005