For immediate release
October 24, 2006
Emily Lenzner



Transcript is below; Audio of Interview to be Available after 7:30pm ET at

Washington, D.C.; October 24, 2006 – National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said today in an interview with Robert Siegel that the progress in Iraq has been slower than what experts estimated it would be.  He also said that he expects the violence to continue for some time -- and that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's government needs to do more and move faster toward stemming the sectarian violence there.

A rush transcript of the interview, which is airing today on NPR’s All Things Considered, is below.  All excerpts must be credited to NPR’s All Things ConsideredAudio of the interview will be available after 7:30pm ET at along with an additional excerpt from the interview.  For local stations and times for All Things Considered, please visit


ROBERT SIEGEL: I'd like to begin first by asking something that they write, that "Americans can only look back in wonder on the days when the Bush administration believed that success would turn Iraq into a stable, wealthy democracy - a model to strike fear into the regions autocrats while inspiring a new generation of democrats." Have you personally and has the administration marked down the expectations of the war in Iraq?

STEPHEN HADLEY: I don't think so, and I think the President, I think it is certainly the goal of the President. I think the interesting thing is that it continues to be the goal of the Iraqi people. They have, after all, established probably the most democratic constitution in the Arab world. You have a situation where Sunni, Shia and Kurds are trying to share power and put together a government of national unity that is virtually unprecedented in the Arab world. They are taking on some of the most difficult decisions about how to operationalize that, how to deal with the sharing of oil, how to deal with federalism so the communities have some autonomy. These are very difficult issues. It's going to take a long time to get there. But I think the interesting thing is that the Iraqi people continue to set those as a goal for themselves.

SIEGEL: When you say a long time, are you thinking about decades to achieve these aims that the US went to war for in Iraq?

HADLEY: Well, look, somebody once said, and the president has noted the fact that democracy is always a work in progress. What was it that we wanted to do with the Iraqi people? We wanted to get them on a start in moving towards a democracy that would be an authentic Iraqi democracy that would have the support of its people and would have institutions that could carry that forward. We're not there until they complete the architecture of democracy. That’s, you know, that’s always a work in progress. But the question was: can we get them started on that path? And they clearly want to continue down that path.

SIEGEL: Getting them started is the aim right now?

HADLEY: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SIEGEL: Three and a half years ago, did you really think that at this point we would only be talking about getting them started? Weren't there hopes for greater progress towards stability and democracy at that time?

HADLEY: I think its going slower than we would have liked and slower than Iraqis would have liked. And everybody talks about long poles in the tent - I think actually the long pole in the tent has been political maturation and the beginning of politics within Iraq. I think we underestimated the extent to which nearly four decades of Saddam Hussein rule, playing ethnic groups against one another, systematically executing elites, forcing them out of the country left a really bereft politics. And if you look at various the evolution governments, going from the governing board to where we are now, there has been enormous progress. There are real politics; there are leaders who actually have a call on various groups in Iraq. But it’s taken a long time.

SIEGEL: But in addition to the real politics there’s also been real violence taking place; real sectarian violence.

HADLEY: And those are related. Those are related. Obviously, I think as Ambassador Khalilzad once said, particularly the Sunni and the Shia have really not accepted themselves as real partners in a unified Iraq. That process still is ongoing. And I think that until that basic political bargain is made, and then has some traction down into the grassroots, you're going to see the violence continue.

SIEGEL: Another point from a New York Times editorial today. The Times editorialist writes, "Mr. Bush can take the step of firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. There is no chance of switching strategy as long as he is in control of the Pentagon. The administration's plans have gone woefully wrong. And while the President is unlikely to admit that, he can send a message by removing Mr. Rumsfeld." Let me put the other side to you: by not removing Mr. Rumsfeld, is the president saying that things have not gone wrong and that the Pentagon has planned well and managed the situation well in Iraq?

HADLEY: Well look, the President has said on a number of occasions that there have been things where we have had to change how we're carrying out our overall strategy and overall policy, which is to try and get Iraq on this evolution that we talked about. There have been things we've had to do differently and there will continue to be things we will have to do differently and adjustments we have to make. But you know, I've been reading a lot of these editorials for the last two days, and what strikes me is there is a sameness about them. And I don't say that by anyway critical, but if you get to people and say "Well, what is the way forward?" they say basically three things. We need a political bargain among the various constituent groups that involve a lot of autonomy but also has a central army a central government and uses oil to bind the economy together; theme throughout. Second, Iraqis need to do better on their security forces and taking more responsibility. And third, the international community needs to step up and do more. That's a thematic that runs through all of these. I say it is also a thematic that is central to the president's policy.

SIEGEL: To administration policy?

HADLEY: The point is here that there is no bolt, out-of-the-blue dramatic departure. The elements of what we need to do and what Iraqis need to do are clear. The problem and the challenge is the actual execution.

SIEGEL: Back to the Times editorial, they use a word that may not be part of the administration's approach. They say, "The United States should begin its own negotiations with the Iraqi leadership about a time table in withdrawing American troops; making clear that America's willingness to stay longer will depend on the Iraqi's willingness to make real compromises." Are we telling the Iraqis now, within X number of years the US is on the way out unless you make good and come up with those political agreements you've been working towards?

HADLEY: You know, you don't need a timetable to be able and willing to say to the Iraqis, "Look, if this is going to work and succeed, you have to step up and make some very difficult choices."

SIEGEL: But is Prime Minister Malaki actually making the tough decisions that need to be made?

HADLEY: They are beginning to. I think they have to do more and they've got to do faster. And i think that if you talked with Prime Minister Maliki he would say to you the same thing.

SIEGEL: Do you assume, that by the time this administration leaves the White House, that there will be stability and security in Baghdad and throughout Iraq?

HADLEY: I think what you can expect is that we will have governmental institutions that are democratic, a compact that has been reached between the three major communities, that they have greater economic prosperity and stability. Is there going to be peace? Is it going to be the end of any violence? Of course not. This violence is going to go on for a long time. We know that about terrorism, we know that about...

SIEGEL: But it will be seven years after, after the entry into Iraq.

HADLEY: I think you're probably still going to see levels of violence. You know, it takes a long time for these things to get completely out of the system.

SIEGEL: Well Steve Hadley, thank you very much for talking with us.

HADLEY: Thank you.