Condi Channels Chimpy

From Holden:

Condi gave us the full gamut of tapdancing around Iraq — Freedom Isn’t Free!, We Mourn Every Loss!, Purple Fingers!, It’s Hard! (twice), Just Like WWII!, and Saddam Was a Bad Guy! — yesterday in China.

Q To follow up on that, what Congressman Murtha also said is that the war in Iraq, as you described it, he said is not as advertised, and he said, your policy is flawed and wrapped in illusion. And you know he’s very close with the military. So what do you make of that, the fact that he thinks —

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Dana, I’ve been with our military in Iraq, I’ve been with our military in Afghanistan, we were with our military in South Korea yesterday. I’ve never seen greater commitment and energy and dedication to a mission that they respect and believe in. And when you’re with the military in Iraq, as I just was, they understand that this is a hard struggle. Look, we understand that it is very difficult to see casualties of Americans that we have witnessed — we mourn every loss — but we also understand, and I think Americans understand, that nothing of value is really ever won without sacrifice.

And if you go to Iraq and you’re on the ground, you see the emergence of a political system that is quite remarkable, given that these people are coming out of tyranny. They’re building political compromise and political cooperation on a foundation of the ruins now of tyranny. And that’s hard. I expect that you will see again a reaffirmation of the commitment of the Iraqi people to their own political future when they vote in December. Let’s remember that they were threatened by terrorists in January; they voted 8.5 million strong. They were threatened again for the referendum; they voted 10 million strong. And I suspect they’ll vote again.

It’s hard — it is hard to replace tyranny and coercion and conflict with political compromise. But that’s what they are trying to do. And I would just note that if we look back historically, when you’re in the middle of it, it always looks very, very difficult. I’m sure that there were people who never thought that you were going to have a democratic Germany, or a democratic Japan. I am quite certain that there are many who never thought it possible to have a democratic South Korea in the way that we — in the place that we have just left.

It’s hard, but things that one day seem impossible, later on in our history seem inevitable. And I would just suggest that people step back and look at the historical changes that are taking place in the Middle East, recognize that it’s not as if the Middle East was somehow a stable, thriving, prosperous and free place before Iraq was liberated. And it’s certainly not that Iraq was no threat to its neighbors, where it was no threat to its own people, where it was a good citizen in the international system.

I think we sometimes forget what Saddam Hussein was like. We went to war in 1991 because he tried to annex his neighbor, Kuwait — or, actually, annexed his neighbor, Kuwait. We used force against him in 1998 because he threw out inspectors and the concerns of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein’s regime was a force of instability in the world’s most volatile region. When we look at today’s difficult course, I hope we remember what it was — what it was like before the liberation of Iraq.