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Bush on Hamas Election Win, Iran Nukes

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Bush on Hamas Election Win, Iran Nukes

Bush on Hamas Election Win, Iran Nukes

Bush on Hamas Election Win, Iran Nukes

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Alex Chadwick speaks with NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams about the Bush administration's response to the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Also discussed: the drive to canonize the late civil rights crusader and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

NPR Senior Correspondent and regular DAY TO DAY contributor Juan Williams joins us now, and Juan, I understand you have been speaking with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice all week long. What is she saying about the Hamas win?

JUAN WILLIAMS reporting:

Well, Madeline, some of it's off the record, but clearly, the administration is concerned, surprised, surprised I think also by the extent of the Hamas victory, and the idea is that they wanted to make it clear, and I think they have been sending out signals to members of the quartet already that there is no such thing as a government that comes in with a terrorist agenda and comes in with guns armed for some of sort of attack.

So the question is how quickly might Hamas disarm and also making it clear that there are steps to be taken to try to encourage Hamas to renounce it pledge that Israel should not exist and to get them in to be part of the ongoing two-party, you know, two-state peace accord that the administration had laid out long ago.

BRAND: But clearly they're going to be, they're gonna have to be a lot more flexible than just saying, we will not negotiate with terrorists.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think the initial step, and the initial step that they want to communicate is just that, that they are not willing to do business with terrorists and that a lot of the money that had been coming from the United States via, in terms of aid was $400 million that the US gave the Palestinian authority last year. Much of that money would stop, and Jimmy Carter, the former US President who was in the Middle East this week said that it's by law the US would have to cut off funds, but they could look for other ways to do it, so that the Palestinian people would not be deprived even as pressure was put on Hamas.

BRAND: Now, all this is happening as the Bush administration is working through it with what it wants to do with Iran and Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the Secretary of State was working on that all week. What's going on there?

WILLIAMS: That's a far more difficult situation, and again, I think that's going to come up in Secretary Rice's visit with the quartet, which is of course, the US, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

Her feeling is that first and foremost that it be clear to Iran that the military option is not off the table, that it's very clear that the United States is willing to take steps, if necessary, to go into Iran, and I think, politically, at home, that's clearly not very saleable, not happy news, but that's a message the administration wants out there.

The second step is that they want it to be clear that the Russians have a real option here, and that Russia is not being a friend to Iran but a friend of those who want Iran to disarm by suggesting that they could go in and take over any kind of peaceful development of nuclear energy for power reasons as opposed to for military purposes.

CHADWICK: Juan, another item completely, if we may. Today the Episcopal Diocese of Washington considers a resolution to make Thurgood Marshall, the crusading civil rights attorney, the first African-American Supreme Court justice, to make him a saint. You wrote a biography of Thurgood Marshall. Would he want to be considered a saint?

WILLIAMS: I think he'd get a big laugh out of it, Alex. I think the idea that he was there with the likes of Martin Luther, as well as Martin Luther King, I think would amuse him. He would never have considered himself a saint. He was a man who could take a drink, and his behavior sometimes even crossed the line.

But, you know, I, there's a miracle involved with Thurgood Marshall, which is the miracle of race relations in this country as we look over to the Middle East this week and you see all the hatred, the bloodshed, etc. You know, this was a non-violent social protest that led to tremendous change, so I think there. Whether or not it warrants sainthood and will put him in Heaven, only God can say.

CHADWICK: You didn't ever spend an evening with Mr. Marshall pursuing his saintly ways?

(Soundbite of laughter)

WILLIAMS: Indeed. Not only could he have a drink, he could be a cranky old guy, so I don't know. Maybe all of that is just forgotten in Heaven, Alex. Let's both of us pray for that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHADWICK: NPR Senior Correspondent and regular DAY TO DAY contributor Juan Williams. Juan, thank you again.

WILLIAMS: My pleasure, Alex.

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