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19 February 1998

TRANSCRIPT: ALBRIGHT INTERVIEW ON NBC-TV FEBRUARY 19

(Says Americans support Clinton policy on Iraq) (1940)



Nashville, Tennessee -- The people of the United States will support
the use of military force in Iraq if diplomacy fails, Secretary of
State Albright said in an interview on NBC-TV.


During an appearance on "The Today Show" February 19, Albright
emphasized that the United States must help enforce the U.N. Security
Council resolutions that require Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to allow
U.N. inspectors "unfettered and unconditional access" to suspected
chemical and biological weapons sites.


"We would like to solve this peacefully," Albright said. "But if we
cannot, we will be using force; and the American people will be behind
us, and I think that they understand that."


Albright was asked about her appearance at an international town
meeting February 18 at Ohio State University, which was frequently
interrupted by protesters.


There were only a few protesters, Albright said. "There were more
people that asked questions and directed their thoughts about the fact
that we ought to send in ground forces." She said she found it
interesting that "there are more Americans who really would like us to
go in and finish off Saddam Hussein."


The problem with any military effort that would remove Saddam Hussein,
Albright said, is that the United States would have to end up being an
occupying force. "Americans don't want to do that," she said. "But
after the substantial (military) strike, I think we have a much better
chance of having the inspectors go back in or make sure that these
weapons are not reconstituted by being willing to do another strike."


Following is the transcript:



(begin transcript)



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman



February 19, 1998



INTERVIEW OF SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

ON NBC-TV "THE TODAY SHOW"

WITH MATT LAUER



MR. LAUER: On "Close Up" this morning -- the showdown with Iraq. As UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan heads to Baghdad in a last-ditch
diplomatic effort to end the standoff, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright is traveling around the United States making the
administration's case for a possible strike against Saddam Hussein.
Madame Secretary, good morning to you, good to see you.


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Good morning, Matt, nice to see you.



MR. LAUER: Thank you. To put it bluntly, you were heckled yesterday.
What was your reaction to the reception you received?


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, actually, I thought it was a very
interesting meeting. There were a couple of dozen hecklers. But for
the most part, there were some very serious people in the audience who
had serious questions that we tried to answer. And we'll continue to
do so.


MR. LAUER: That's true. You did have people who stood up and expressed
their concern over military action against Iraq. Did you walk away
from the meeting, Madame Secretary, with a different point of view, a
different perspective on the situation?


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Absolutely not. I think that we know what we have
to do, and that is help enforce the UN Security Council resolutions,
which demand that Saddam Hussein abide by those resolutions, and get
rid of his weapons of mass destruction, and allow the inspectors to
have unfettered and unconditional access. That's what we have to do.


Matt, we would like to solve this peacefully. But if we cannot, we
will be using force; and the American people will be behind us, and I
think that they understand that.


MR. LAUER: I'm just curious. Do you think yesterday's session helped
or hurt your case? I mean, back in the early 1990s, Madame Secretary,
you used to appear on this show as an analyst for foreign affairs with
William Hyland. And you'd come on and talk about the Administration's
reaction to foreign affairs. If you were analyzing yesterday's
performance by you and your colleagues, how would you rate it?


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I thought our performance was great. But I think
that the issue here is that there were people who disagree. I would
probably say that there were a few dozen hecklers who disagreed. But
what I would have said, actually, is that there were more people that
asked questions and directed their thoughts about the fact that we
ought to send in ground forces.


That's what I found interesting that there are more Americans who
really would like us to go in and finish off Saddam Hussein. That was
the message that I got from that meeting.


MR. LAUER: And you lead me right into my next question, because one
man you heard from yesterday was a retired serviceman named Mike
McCall, whose son died during the Vietnam War. Here's what he said.


(Audio clip.)



Madame Secretary, Secretary of Defense William Cohen attempted to
answer that question yesterday. Why don't you give it a shot for me
today.


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we had a half-a-million troops there in
1991. And the decision was that they could not take out Saddam
Hussein. And I don't think, frankly, that if we got into it, that the
American people would want us to send in huge numbers of forces. So we
are doing what must be done.


First of all, we would like to have a diplomatic, peaceful solution
and have him give unfettered access to these places, so that we could
tell what is happening with his weapons of mass destruction. But
otherwise, the purpose of a very substantial strike will be to
substantially reduce his weapons of mass destruction threat and his
threat to the neighbors. We think that is an appropriate goal, and our
goal and we've said this, Matt may not seem really decisive; but what
we're trying to do here is contain Saddam Hussein. We've managed to do
that for seven years. This has been a successful policy. Whenever he
puts his head up, we push him back.


MR. LAUER: Let me bring in the man who asked that question in Columbus
yesterday, Madame Secretary. Mike McCall, good morning to you.


MR. MCCALL:  Good morning, sir, how are you?



MR. LAUER: Oh, thank you, I'm fine. It was a bit impersonal and
somewhat raucous in that room yesterday, so let me give you a chance
to ask a question one-on-one to the Secretary of State.


MR. MCCALL:  Good morning, Madame, how are you?



SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Good morning, good to see you again.



MR. MCCALL: Thank you, kind of early in the morning. My question is,
actually, more of a statement. I'm not a warmonger; I don't want to
see a war; and I don't think there was any man in that room that was
in uniform yesterday, if I'd have asked the question, who wants a war,
who would have stood up.


My thought was, if we send in troops after a saturated bombing run and
get this thing neutralized to where the troops could almost walk in
there in parade formation as more or less of a police force to support
the inspectors that come in; get those weapons; destroy them and then
turn around to Saddam Hussein and say, "Hey, run your country now, run
it like a human being, take care of your people, we'll buy your oil,
we'll give you money for your oil, and make this country for your
people." I don't want to hurt those people.


MR. LAUER:  Let me ask the Secretary of State, is that feasible?



SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, let me say how much I admire
the gentleman who asked the question; I did yesterday; he is clearly a
great patriot.


I think the problem with the idea is that we would have to end up
being an occupying force. The Americans don't want to do that. I don't
think the American people would want us to do that. But after the
substantial strike, I think we have a much better chance of having the
inspectors go back in or make sure that these weapons are not
reconstituted by being willing to do another strike.


This is a very serious problem. None of us are saying that there are
easy solutions to it, but we have to contain Saddam Hussein. And, as
I've said many times, we are prepared to deal, ready to deal with a
post-Saddam regime.
But I appreciate what he's saying, because I think he's a very brave
American and a patriotic American who understands why we have to do
this.


MR. LAUER: Mike, let me ask you to stand by, and let me ask a couple
more questions to Madeleine Albright.


Madame Secretary, your trip to the Middle East several weeks ago was
not as successful as I think you would have liked, in building a
coalition against Saddam Hussein at this point certainly not as
successful as the coalition in 1991. Have you spoken to President Bush
or former Secretary of State Baker and asked for any advice on gaining
support from the Arab world?


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think my trip actually went pretty
well, because this is a very different situation from '91, when there
was a cross-border invasion of one Arab country into another. And
frankly, I got a lot more support than is publicly visible, because
these people live in the region.


MR. LAUER: So they're saying one thing in public, and saying something
else to you in private?


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, yes. And we feel comfortable that should we
have to use military force, that they will be very cooperative.


And as a matter of fact, I did talk to both former President Bush and
former Secretary of State Baker; and they both agreed that we have a
much more complicated situation than they had on their hands. And they
were very supportive, and I especially enjoyed well, I enjoyed talking
to both of them, because they do have some very good points.


MR. LAUER: Will you speak for me, Madame Secretary, to the parents of
American men and women who may soon be asked to go into harm's way,
and who get the feeling that many countries in the rest of the world
are standing by silently while their children are once again being
asked to clean up a mess for the rest of the world?


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that there are, a couple of dozen
countries that are with us on this that are providing a variety of
equipment, support and are willing to be with us. So there is a
misunderstanding about saying that there is no coalition; there is.
And the truth is that in the Gulf War, we did most of the work, too.
There's no question that we, with the British and French, did a large
proportion of the work.


Let me say that we are doing everything possible so that American men
and women in uniform do not have to go out there again. It is the
threat of the use of force and our line-up there that is going to put
force behind the diplomacy. But if we have to use force, it is because
we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we
see further than other countries into the future, and we see the
danger here to all of us. I know that the American men and women in
uniform are always prepared to sacrifice for freedom, democracy and
the American way of life.


MR. LAUER: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Thank you so much
again.


SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Thank you.



(end transcript)