In a wide-ranging interview with Newsweek that will hit newsstands Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued to rattle the Administration saber at Syria, downplaying the importance of capturing Osama bin Laden, while drawing a parallel between al Qaeda and Marxist theory, RAW STORY has learned.
Rice on Syria:
"Syrians aren't just facing a problem with the United States on Iraq. The Syrians have been quite a problem on Lebanon and the international community is focused very much on what Lebanese generals who clearly had ties to Syria knew about the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri. The Syrians also have to be held to account for how difficult they're making Mahmoud Abbas' life by continuing to support Palestinian Islamic Jihad. So part of the answer is that this is not between the United States and Syria; this is between Syria and three different populations that are trying to make their lives better..."
When asked, "Tell us about Osama bin Laden and how important you think his personal capture would be. How thrilled are you going to be if you all leave office in '09 and he's still in a cave and the President's in Crawford?" the Secretary of State declared:
"Well, look, I would like nothing better to get the phone call that says we captured Osama bin Laden. I mean, in a sense, I think it’s, you know, it's a kind of issue of closure about-I was at the September 11 commemoration on Sunday and the one thing that did occur to me as I was talking to families as they came through is that, you know, I wish that there were more closure for what happened to us because what happened was that that launched a long war against terrorism, it launched a war to root out something that had been growing for a long time, and we're more at the beginning of that than at the end of it. And so I think in that sense it’s very important. And perhaps in terms of a kind of spiritual presence, philosophical presence in their movement, maybe it has—it probably has—but in terms of the operation itself, I've always argued, and I argued from the very beginning, and in fact, the fact that the President argues, reflected in his September 20 speech, we decided in that speech he'd only mention bin Laden once because nobody wanted to give the impression that this was about a single person."
Rice offered her own theory on why Iraq has become - as the CIA have described it - "the most important training ground for terrorism."
"The argument that I find rather bizarre is that somehow we created more of them by going after it, when, in fact, I think what had happened was that they had not been challenged. You know, they were—they essentially had not been challenged, not in a major way, even though this movement has been growing for some time. And now they’re being challenged."
The Newsweek reporter countered, "Sorry, but isn't the argument actually that Iraq gave a larger theater for and cause for that theology to play itself out?" Rice said the argument wasn't about Iraq.
"Yeah, that's the argument except that's not their argument. Their argument is that it's about Iraq, it's about Afghanistan, it’s about the U.S. presence in the Middle East, it's about the infidels, you know, being near the holy sites of Mecca. This is not about Iraq. That's a spurious argument. And I’ve always felt that way."
Rice, a scholar of Soviet politics, also raised Marx in the context of al Qaeda.
"No, but I do listen to what they say is fueling their movement. Just like I used to read Karl Marx, I listen to what fuels their movement. And what fuels their movement is a clash, from their point of view, of civilization as we see it with the civilization that they wanted to build. What they do see, interestingly, is that Iraq is a central battle in that clash, which tells me that we’re exactly right that Iraq has to be won in that sense."
Originally published on Saturday September 17, 2005.