SECRETARY RICE: Well, the compelling forcing mechanism is that this government is not going to survive its own people if it doesn't take control of the situation in Baghdad. That's effectively what they came and told us. And I think they obviously understand too, as the President said, that, you know, the United States is not going to get involved in a plan in Baghdad that they're not living up to this obligations. And this unfolds over a period of time and so there's a quid pro quo here. We are prepared to do the augmentation and surge if they're prepared to really live up to their obligations. And so I think there's plenty of self-forcing mechanisms.
Sometimes people want us to say, "And if they don't." Well, you look at the circumstances and you decide the reasons for what did or did not happen. But what we are clear on is this plan isn't going to work unless they actually are living up to particularly the obligations concerning no political interference and, you know, rules of engagement and that sort of thing. So I think there's plenty of forcing mechanism here. And at the time you look and you say, well, what is in our national interest, but you don't stay committed to a plan that's not going to work if they're not living up to their obligations.
Q: And can you talk a little bit about what the time frame might be for how long we're prepared to wait or prepared to give the government to make it work?
A: Well, I think this will unfold I think in the next few months you're going to know whether or not this is working. They bring their forces in starting February 1st. They bring in another set of forces February 15th. And I think from then on you'll have a good sense of how this is unfolding. So it's not as if there is a date, at six months we'll know and then we have to do something dramatic. This is going to happen over a period of time. So you've got time to adjust. You've got time to go to them and say you're not getting it done. It's not as if there's a cutoff point because that's not how it's going to unfold.
Q: One more. And that is, if this government can't make it happen and doesn't come through that way, is there do you see other partners in Iraq with whom we could work with who might be able to make it happen?
A: Well, this is the elected government. I think you work with this government. I think Iraqis will have to decide whether their government is this government is functioning. But that's not, I think, for us to decide.
What I will say is that we are not just working at the level of Baghdad. One reason for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams is so that you can work local and provincial leadership as well and give the policies a chance to work at the local and provincial levels, not just at the national level, you know, building the governance from the bottom up. So, for instance, the successes that I think we're starting to have in Anbar are largely because local leaders have taken control of the situation, local sheikhs. They don't want al-Qaeda there. They're training their own young men. They sent 1,100 of them off to Jordan to train to come back. They call them the sons of Anbar. So you can increase the multiple points for success because you don't want a single point for success in any case.
Q: And on that topic, you'll be seeing the leaders of the Gulf states the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians. Are you asking them to do more to help with these Sunni tribes out in the hinterlands, to try to get them into a process, if not into the Green Zone Maliki process, into some
A: Yes, and they are. They to be fair to them, they've been pretty involved in the kind of Sunni outreach for almost a year now. But we'd like to see them be more active on the diplomatic front, more missions there. they need to consider debt relief, the two big ones Saudi and Kuwait need to consider debt relief. They need to sign on to the international compact so that which is really the framework, because that actually has a set of quid pro quos. You know, if the Iraqis will do these things, then the international community will provide this set of this much support.
Q: This is an interesting moment to be Secretary of State.
A: No better moment. (Laughter.)
Q: Well, you're going obviously on a big trip now and it looks like you're working on Iraq, also that some of the focus of what you're heading into here is about Israel-Palestine. Can you talk a little bit about why now, why this is an opportunity? Because I guess it's hard for people to see
A: Well, sure. Well, I will first of all, I will focus a lot on Iraq because the especially with the GCC+2, they need to focus on it. And so we'll spend a lot of time focusing on it.
But I think that there's a this alignment is changing in the Middle East and it's changing in large part because there is a recognition that things are really splitting extremist on one side and I'll call them responsible because they're not all reformers on the other side. And that makes it pretty clear that the Palestinians have to choose and that for Mahmoud Abbas he's made his choice.
And I was very interested. We had a meeting of the Security Council at the time of the UNGA on the Middle East, and we all dreaded this. We thought, oh, my goodness, can you imagine the speeches about 242 and so forth, speeches about occupation and so forth. It didn't happen. It was the Arabs I think recognizing that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in their interest, recognizing it probably comes from frankly the sense that extremism is growing and Iran is very much backing that extremism. And so it tends to isolate them from the Hamases and the Hizballahs of the world much more thoroughly than they had been isolated before.
So the other thing is that you had Prime Minister Olmert reaching out to the Palestinians in the speech that he made. You've had Mahmoud Abbas clearly saying that a Palestinian government has to recognize Israel and be, as he calls it, internationally acceptable. They're circling each other and the question is, is this therefore a time to accelerate work on the roadmap, accelerate it in a way that doesn't just focus on today's issues movement and security, movement and access as important as those are, but starts to understand what the political horizon might be for this Palestinian state and, you know, can you really start to move in a way that gives you a chance to establish a Palestinian state.
Q: Well, both these leaders have are not in the strongest political positions in their own constituencies to get something done right now, so why do you think that they're how do you translate an abstract belief that both of them have an existential need to make peace to something tangible, and how do you get the moderate Arabs to also produce something tangible?
A: Yeah, I think also a desire. I don't think it's just a need. I think there's actually a desire.
What I've got to do is I've got to go talk to people and see where they are on these issues. And when I've sort of been reading the looking back on efforts before, there's a if you're not careful and you kind of prematurely launch people face to face and say, all right, go try to get to a solution here, it has a very high risk of failure, I think. I think if you spend some time talking to people, seeing what their interests are, seeing how far they do think they can and want to go, how do they see the changed environment, how do they see the roadmap and the Arab initiative and how do they see the road ahead to the President's two-state solution, you really do need some true consultation time and that's what I'm going to try to do.
Q: You said you also said a minute ago accelerate the roadmap. Did you is there some more detail to what you mean by that or is
A: It's just to really push ahead and push through, right.
Q: All right, OK. I just wanted to make sure that was no
A: Right. No, no.
Q: OK, good. So this you would say that this is actually, for better or worse, the time to go? This is tell me what's a maybe this should have been done earlier, but you think this is should it have been done before and
A: I think this is certainly the time to see if the opening that I think may be there is indeed there.
A: I know people think earlier, but it's not as if nothing has happened on the Israeli-Palestinian issue for the last six years. I mean, let's remember where we started. We started in we came into office after the just after the failure of Camp David, the second intifada had been launched and Ariel Sharon had been elected Prime Minister. I think nobody thought