Colin Powell’s speech to the UN Security Council

Susan E. Rice
Susan E. Rice Former Brookings Expert, Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow - School of International Service, American University

February 6, 2003

…(Soundbite of Colin Powell’s speech)

TAVIS SMILEY: That was Secretary of State Colin Powell making America’s case yesterday for military action against Iraq. In this much-anticipated speech, Powell presented extensive intelligence materials that he said proved Iraq’s persistent defiance of United Nations resolutions demanding disarmament.

Though the Bush administration has repeatedly indicated a willingness to strike without further UN authorization, Powell’s presentation aimed to justify this policy to an international audience. The question is: Did it succeed?

With us now to discuss it is Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank in Virginia. Also with us again is Susan Rice, a senior fellow of foreign policy at The Brookings Institution and a former adviser to President Clinton. Glad to have you both back on…

Susan, do you think that Powell proved that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction? And if he did, is that going to justify a war?

SUSAN RICE: Well, I think he has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that. But whether he’s made the case for war, I think, is more complicated. He certainly made the case that if the United Nations fails to act, then they will have essentially set aside their own resolutions and begun to make themselves irrelevant. But I think the problem is that many American people are not convinced that going to war against Iraq will actually make us in the United States safer. I think they fear reprisals and attacks. I think they think that our homeland is not yet secure and that with developments in the Middle East and al-Qaeda still very much on the loose, there are many, I think, who fear that going to war against Iraq may, in fact, in the short term, make us less secure, rather than more secure.

Complete Interview (Real Player)