John D. McKinnon
The Wall Street Journal (Interview)
January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The Journal's John McKinnon sat down with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley at his office in the West Wing. They talked about the situation in Gaza, the U.S. relationship with Russia, Iraq and more in an interview previewing a valedictory speech Mr. Hadley plans to deliver Wednesday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

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The Wall Street Journal: Talk a little about the challenges, as well as the opportunities, that the next administration is going to face.

Mr. Hadley: Well, there are a number of challenges out there, as the President reminds us, with each challenge there is an opportunity and the trick is to find it. But I think one of the things that is obviously they're going to have to focus heavily on is the Pakistan situation. Pakistan is an old ally of the United States. It is in our interests to see this democratically elected government succeed, because it is important for Pakistan's future as a country to be able to stabilize this democracy and build a prosperous economy and a better life for its people. So we want that for the people of Pakistan because we care about their future.

It is also the case that that future is threatened by Taliban, al Qaeda and other militants who started out focused on Afghanistan or Kashmir, but in many ways are increasingly turning their attention on Pakistan, itself, and you've seen the level of violence in the settled areas of Pakistan go up.

So they are -- the extremist threat is a serious threat to Pakistan. And of course the presence of those elements in the northern areas -- which the government at this point has only, in some sense, historically had only tenuous control -- means that it's both a threat that can look to Pakistan, but it's also a threat that looks into Afghanistan. And that of course threatens the project that we have there with the Afghan people to build a democracy in Afghanistan.

So in some sense we need to help the Pakistani people deal with the extremist threat to Pakistan because it's important for the future of Pakistan. It's also true that we're going to have to deal with that problem of the border areas, or we will never be able to be successful in Afghanistan. And that terrorism by the attacks in Bombay reminds us that that terrorism can reach beyond Pakistan, Afghanistan to India, and complicates the relationship between Pakistan and India, which is a relationship -- again, both very strong and good allies of the United States, that is a relationship we want to go well; that is also a place where in the last 30 years they've gone to war three times.

Neither country wants to be backed into a situation where hostilities are resumed, and both countries have made it clear that's something they want to avoid. So the terrorism threat is also a threat to that relationship.

It's hard to think of more equities that we have at stake at this point in time in war on terror than we have in trying to help Pakistan deal with the terrorism problem that threatens it, threatens Afghanistan, and potentially threatens the relationship between Pakistan and India. And is threatened now, as we've seen, from Bombay -- India, itself.

So that's a biggie, I think, is front and center.

Second --

WSJ: Do you have any specific recommendation for how the next administration follows through on that concern?

Mr. Hadley: I think they will sort it out. I think the way is pretty clear. One is Pakistan has to take up, step up, has to take responsibility for what -- there is some evidence, increasing evidence, terrorism that may have originated from its territory. They obviously have to take responsibility in two respects. One, they need to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the actual incident in Bombay. And secondly they need to deal with the problem of Taliban, al Qaeda and other militant groups, like the LET that are operating within their territory. And they've got to take action against those things -- not as a favor to anybody else, but because those elements threaten the stability of Pakistan. And the government has been very forthright about that. They understand that those groups now threaten Pakistan's future. And it's for that reason that they need to step up, and they said they need to step up, and deal with these crimes.

So I think first is steps that Pakistan needs to take. And secondly, I think Pakistan and India need to find a way to cooperate in getting to the bottom of what happened in Bombay. We were obviously prepared to assist that.

WSJ: Do you feel that that's not really -- the U.S. offer has not been --

Mr. Hadley: I think they're not at the point yet where India and Pakistan has found a way that they could particularly publicly be cooperating with one another -- and it's because of the challenging politics they have -- a new government in Pakistan and a government in India that is facing elections here in the next several months. So I think the political complications are understandable. We think it is important for them to find a way to work together to solve this problem of what has happened in Bombay and to try and ensure that there isn't a repetition of that kind of terrorism.

And thirdly, of course, we have to recognize that overlaying all of this is an economic challenge that Pakistan feels. They have been hit hard by the problems in the global economy. We've been supportive of them and getting an IMF agreement that can be a framework for getting them through this difficult period of time. But we have an interest and I think the new administration will see this very clearly. Vice President-Elect Biden has talked about the importance of being a strong friend to Pakistan and providing it necessary assistance, and I think that is an element of this solution, as well.

So I think these are things that the new administration understands and that they will be following through on.

WSJ: Do you think that the increase in troop levels and in military presence in Afghanistan is going to alleviate that situation much in the tribal regions in Pakistan?

Mr. Hadley: Look, we're going to have to work on this problem on both sides of the border. And I think Pakistan and Afghanistan increasingly understand that. You have had -- I think we've seen publicly now two, maybe even three, meetings between President Zardari of Pakistan and President Karzai of Afghanistan, that's a good thing.

We are seeing increasing trilateral military cooperation between Pakistanis, Afghans and American forces in the border region. That's very important.

So this is a problem that is on both sides of that border -- which as you know is somewhat ill-defined and has tribal relations that span the border. So it is a problem that is on both sides of the border and it's really going to require both countries, working with the United States and other coalition forces and NATO forces, to solve it.

WSJ: I was also struck by some of the opportunities that you singled out and really the optimism that you see in a couple of areas, in particular the Israel-Palestine situation. How quickly do you think progress could be made? And obviously also there's a question of whether the current situation in Gaza is going to be a hindrance to that.

Mr. Hadley: Obviously, the situation in Gaza is a challenge. We're concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. I think the Israelis are also concerned about it. We have raised it with them. And I think you are seeing action on their part to try and address the humanitarian concerns, that is an important thing to do.

I think it's also interesting how much of the international community understands that while we all want to have a return to a cease-fire, it needs to be a different kind of cease-fire -- one that is enduring and that would be respected. And thirdly, if we achieve that cease-fire -- and I think at some point we will -- I think it will be clear to everyone that Hamas continues not to serve the interest of the Palestinian people of Gaza, but continues to bring them misery and violence. And I think that is probably a good lesson for the Palestinian people to see.

There are then a couple hurdles, so once we get over the hurdle of Gaza, there then is the issue of getting a democratically elected government in place in Israel; there is the issue of elections in the Palestinian Authority. All have to be sorted out.

I think what makes me hopeful is the following things: One, we're trying to work on building a Palestinian state from both the top down and the bottom up. The top down are the negotiations that will define the perimeters or the borders of that state and resolve issues such as refugees and the like. And that's what the negotiations are about. But a state -- and this is one of the things the President understood -- a state is about more than borders. A state is also about institutions of governance and economic livelihood that are constructive in that state. And the President is the first person who said, yes, we need to talk about borders, but we also need to be talking about, and building those institutions.

And secondly, the thing that he was, I think, very visionary about is he said we not only need a Palestinian state, we need a democratic Palestinian state. We need a state of which the Palestinian people can be proud, and a state that offers the best possibility of a better future for their people. So the President's view is, yes, we need to have negotiations to define the borders of the state and resolve the outstanding issues, but we also need to be -- that's the top down -- but we also need to be working bottom up to start building the institutions of a democratic state. And that -- both security institutions, governmental institutions, services and economic.

And that's what's going on, and that's what's Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, is doing right now. There are security forces that are going to Jordan, are being trained in Jordan -- we've talked about that publicly -- are going back now and taking up positions on the West Bank. They've been in Jenin. They have been deployed to Hebron. They are beginning to take responsibility for security, which is all to the good. Secondly, Salam Fayyad is presiding over a reformist cabinet. They are beginning to see economic growth in the West Bank. They are approaching it with market principles and with a strong dose of anticorruption.

So I'm hopeful because the Palestinians themselves, even while they are under occupation from the Israelis, are building today the institutions of a democratic Palestinian state. So I'm hopeful for two reasons: One, because bottom up, that is ongoing even today. Secondly, top down, when we can get Gaza behind us and get the elections behind us, there has been a bilateral negotiating process started in the Annapolis Conference in November of 2007, given international legitimacy in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540 [sic], just here last month, and it is --

White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe: 1850.

Mr. Hadley: -- 1850. I flipped the digits, sorry -- 1850. And it is supported by the international community and Arab states in the region. And what's really most important about it, it is a direct negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians. And you know it's making progress because it doesn't leak. And they are making progress on difficult issues. And we are not trying to do it for them; we are certainly there as facilitators, but we are not trying to negotiate for them, and we are not trying to impose an approach upon them. We are encouraging them to find a path to peace themselves. That is the right way to do it.

I think too many times in the past, America has said, let us design the peace. This President has said we are going to encourage, we're going to facilitate, but the parties have to find it themselves. And that's what the parties want, and that's what the parties are actually doing.

And so the opportunity for the new administration is to accept the framework of 1850, not try to reinvent the wheel, encourage Salam Fayyad in his efforts to build the democratic institutions of the Palestinian state from the bottom up; and when the politics are sorted out, encourage the two parties bilaterally to get together and resume their confidential bilateral negotiating process. Facilitate that process, to be sure, but put the responsibility on the parties to find their way to peace. And we are hopeful, based on what we've seen, that both of these projects can succeed.

WSJ: Both of these projects being --

Mr. Hadley: The bottom up, construction of Palestinian institutions, and the top down, of the Israelis and Palestinians bilaterally negotiating a peace.

WSJ: Could you focus on Gaza for a second, and talk first about how you see, and maybe when you see, a cease-fire occurring, and what the terms of it will look like; and then, B, how Gaza becomes a part of -- eventually becomes a part of this broader process?

Mr. Hadley: Right. I think -- no, I can't make a prediction about the time, but you can begin to see the elements that need to be in place. One is Hamas has got to stop launching rockets into Israel. And secondly, there has to be some way of giving reassurance to Israel that the smuggling of arms, largely through the tunnels from Egypt into Gaza, will stop, because we can't have a situation where there is a cease-fire, but arms continue to flow in to replace the rockets that have been expended, because that's a prescription for resumption of hostilities at some point in the future.

Thirdly, there needs to be, obviously, a way to address the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza in the short term. And finally, there needs to be a way of finding how to get an international presence and a Palestinian Authority presence at the crossing points so that goods can flow into Gaza in a way that gives Israelis and other neighbors, including Egypt, some reassurance that goods flowing in are not accompanied by arms -- but that goods can flow in, and so that the economy of Gaza can get going again, because that's really what needs to happen.

So if you look at it, that's kind of -- those are elements of what you can begin to see how you construct the elements of an enduring cease-fire that is respected by the parties. And that's what we are -- Condi is in New York right now trying to put together.

Over the longer term, I think the solution really is one the President has talked about. If this process I have described earlier can resume so that the Palestinian people both on the West Bank and Gaza can see these democratic institutions of a Palestinian state taking hold in the West Bank, can see that economic activity returns and that life is getting better on the West Bank, and this Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process can come to the outline of a Palestinian state -- at that point, in the same way that an Israel Prime Minister will have to take that agreement to the Israeli people, President Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, is going to have to take that agreement to the Palestinian people -- and not only on West Bank, but also on Gaza.

And at that point, the people of Gaza will be able to choose: Do you want the kind of life you've had under Hamas over the last two years, or do you want to be part of a hopeful future as part of a independent Palestinian state with democratic institutions that can offer the prospect for a better life for your children? The President of the United States' view is, if you give people that choice, they will vote for the emerging Palestinian state. And they will -- in the same way they voted Hamas into office, they will vote Hamas out of office, unless Hamas will make a strategic decision to become a party for peace rather than a party for terror and violence. So far they've been unwilling to make that decision.

WSJ: You have no indications that they're seriously considering any other --

Mr. Hadley: No.

WSJ: -- course at this point?

Mr. Hadley: And it's hard to see, given the amount of rocketing that they're doing into Israel right now.

WSJ: Just out of curiosity, would that referendum be run by the Palestinian Authority, by the international authority --

Mr. Hadley: Good question. I think we're going to have -- that's one of the questions that's going to have to be addressed. There's an issue of how is it going to be handled, because I believe in the next year there are elections that are scheduled in the Palestinian Territories.

So those issues are going to have to be sorted out, and that's one of the both challenges and opportunities for the new team to work that out.

WSJ: Do you think there's a reasonable chance that something -- some agreement could be reached that could be taken to voters within the next year?

Mr. Hadley: It's all going to depend. We thought there was a reasonable chance to get it done this last year, and regrettably, a lot of political developments got in the way of that, which was unfortunate. But I hate to put timetables -- it really is going to depend heavily on events. But you could see it. You can see how it could come about.

WSJ: Is the U.S. coordinating with Turkey, in particular, as a way of trying to figure out what Hamas and its various international supporters are thinking and feeling?

Mr. Hadley: I wouldn't say coordinating with Turkey, but we have -- I think one of the things I talk about in that speech is how improved the relationship is with Turkey, from some of the dark days in 2003 associated with the Iraq war. And it is a very positive relationship, and I think it's a much strengthened relationship. And they are an important player in this region as you know and as we've talked about over the years. And Turkey is trying to play a constructive role in the negotiations within the region on this and a number of other issues. And so we are certainly in contact with them. The President, as you know, talks to President Gul and has met with Prime Minister Erdogan on a number of occasions.

So this is a good relationship. They are one of the people with whom we talk and coordinate our diplomacy, and are talking with them on this issue, on Gaza, as well. And I think I best leave it just at that.

WSJ: I also wanted to ask you a bit more about Russia and the issues that surround Russia. Your speech didn't contain a lot of references to the situations in Georgia or Ukraine. And I wondered if that meant that you see limited opportunities, or maybe significant challenges for the next administration.

Mr. Hadley: I think that actually I did address it. I know we talked about it in terms of the positive developments of a Europe whole, free and at a peace, as I did talk about the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the hopeful -- the hope that those engendered, as those two countries move in a more democratic direction.

I think one of the other things that's pretty clear in there is we did talk about how Russia is going to have to understand that the path to being a player in the 21st century is going to require them not to resort to the tactics of the 19th century, in terms of trying to coerce or intimidate their neighbors or try to manipulate oil supply -- energy supplies and the like. That's the kind of 19th-century behavior that really has no place in the 21st century that we're trying to build a Europe whole, free and at peace, and a broadly defined Europe whole, free and at peace.

So that is really a message to Russia, and this is the message that we tried to send in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Georgia, that they would not be able to achieve their tactical objectives, they were not able to overturn the government or get rid of President Saakashvili, the democratically elected president of the country. Second, we tried to make clear that there would be consequences, not because of anything we would do but because of how the international community would respond, that Russia would threaten some of their strategic objectives, in terms of better cooperation, not necessarily with us but with Europe, for example. And I think one of the consequences of that was that it did have an impact on the relationship between Russia and Europe.

And of course the third thing we've tried to do is to reassure other countries that this kind of behavior is just not acceptable in 21st-century Europe. And my hope is that, and our hope is, that Russia understands that message and recognizes that they have more to gain from participating in the institutions of this 21st-century world -- political, economic and diplomatic -- than settling scores that come out of their history. That's the sort of 19th-century approach that needs to be put behind them.

And I guess the other thing I would say -- and it's in the speech -- is, so far as our own relationship with Russia, we continue and have identified areas where we can work together. At the same time, both Russia, in their dealings with the United States, and the United States in their dealings with Russia, have been very clear about where we disagree. We would like closer relations with Russia, but as, again that speech makes clear, our closest relations with countries tend to be with countries that share our values, that are building democratic institutions that respect the human rights and civil rights of their people and of their neighbors.

And until the day that Russia really is to the point where it fully shares our democratic values -- and, I would say, the democratic values of the rest of Europe -- I think that puts a limit on the upside on the potential for an ever-closer partnership between Russia and the United States and Russia and Europe. And that's one of the reasons why we think it is -- and have talked about how it's important how Russia evolves internally. It's not only an issue for the Russian people about what kind of Russia they want, but it also will define the relationship that Russia has with the United States and with Europe, because obviously our closest relationships are with democratic states that share our values and that respect their people and their neighbors.

WSJ: Given all that, what's your reaction to the developments of the last couple of days where they basically reduced gas shipments now to Ukraine and also through-shipments to Europe.

Mr. Hadley: I thought that was pretty interesting because they initially said that was something that they would not do, and that the Ukrainians had said they would not do. And now it appears from the press reports that the Russians are consciously cutting back the flow of gas through the pipeline to Europe. It raises all kinds of questions about Russia as a reliable supplier, and the issue for the Europeans of the dependency on Russian gas, and the importance of both diversifying the source of their gas and also the roots or pipelines by which the gas comes to Europe.

And we think that the invasion of Georgia, the dispute over Ukrainian gas of two years ago, now played out again now, should be a wake-up call to Europe about the need to diversify. And there are a number of ways to do that. They can do it by plugging in all the various states of Europe into the electrical grid within Europe so that there are alternative sources of power.

And then secondly, there need to be routes by which gas can come from sources outside of Russia by routes that do not go through Russia, simply because diversification is an element of energy security and avoids a situation where one is dependent on essentially a monopoly supplier. And we all know about monopolies. We've seen them. They lead to higher prices and degradation of services and the risk of pressure and coercion. And so nobody wants to be in a situation of having to depend on a monopolist. And therefore, they need to accept the lesson and diversify.

WSJ: So you think the lesson for Europeans is simply to continue down the path of diversification, except maybe go faster?

Mr. Hadley: I wish I thought they were headed down the path of diversification. I think they need to get on the path of diversification in a much more serious way. Nabucco pipeline is an example of an alternative source that had been tied up for years and is not -- and the countries need to understand the importance and the urgency of the problem and to act accordingly.

WSJ: And do you want to make any observations about what choices the incoming administration will have on that?

Mr. Hadley: Well, look, I think actually some good work was done at the end of the Clinton administration on this whole subject of diversification. I think regrettably the current Governor of New Mexico and the initial designee for Commerce Secretary, Bill Richardson, was very active on this issue during the last few days of -- two years of the Clinton administration. I think they will understand the importance of this. I'm quite confident that they will.

WSJ: Is there anything that you're in communication with your counterparts in Europe on concerning this set of issues, the issues surrounding the Ukrainian gas?

Mr. Hadley: We've talked a lot about it.

WSJ: I mean, in the last few days?

Mr. Hadley: Not in the last few days.

WSJ: I'm wondering if there's any response being formulated.

Mr. Hadley: Well, you know, our view is at this point, in a way, if -- there are some disputes where it's useful for the United States to be visibly involved and they can help solve the problem. There are other disputes where if the United States is visibly involved, it can compound the problem. And I think this is an issue where it has been useful for the Europeans, who, after all, are the consumers of the gas, to be engaged with the Russians on this subject, and they are through their -- in formal diplomacy. They have made it very clear to both Ukraine and Russia that this is an issue that needs to be solved because it's affecting their people.

WSJ: Okay.

Mr. Hadley: And I think that is probably the right framework. Obviously we are involved. We are concerned about it. We are involved, as you might expect, through diplomatic channels, but I think in terms of a public role it is much better for the Europeans to be in a public dialogue with the Russians.

WSJ: Is it reasonable to think that it will be resolved fairly quickly, and that it's essentially a commercial dispute over pricing?

Mr. Hadley: Well, you know, the problem is -- I think it is a commercial -- it certainly has -- a commercial dispute over pricing is an element of this problem. Obviously whenever you have something between Russia and Ukraine, there are overlays of history and culture and the politics in some ways. My own -- everybody -- you know, the irony of that relationship is that Europe is dependent to a great degree -- I think something like 25 percent -- on Russian gas and for Russia as a supplier, but Russia is also dependent on Europe as a customer because it's got to sell it -- will want to sell it somewhere. So there are commercial pressures to get the commercial aspects of it resolved. And we hope that it will.

WSJ: Could you offer any thought about when that might occur?

Mr. Hadley: Don't know.

WSJ: Couple days, couple weeks?

Mr. Hadley: I don't know.

WSJ: Is it possible for you to say whether the incoming administration is likely to diverge much from your policy in any area? And if so, where would that be?

Mr. Hadley: I think that's really for them, and I don't want to try and -- I don't really want to speculate about that. I tell you, what we have tried to do, and think the country wants us to do, is to be very forthcoming with the new administration about the problems and opportunities before them: what we've tried to do in terms of policies, and what kinds of tools and instruments we've left for them to use as they solve this problem, and to be pretty candid with them, in our conversations with them of what the challenges they face are.

They know the challenges. These are very -- pretty sophisticated people who have been around for a long time, and we had wanted to basically try to be as forthcoming as we can on background and tools and assistance so that when they take over the reins on the 20th of January, they are as ready as they possibly can be.

And at that point, they will make their decisions about what policies they want to keep, what policies they want to change, and what pace they want to deal with it, and what is the order in which they want to take these things on. And I wouldn't want to try to -- what is it, not second-guess them -- but I wouldn't try and anticipate their choices. I don't think that's helpful.

WSJ: You set up a set of -- I think what you refer to as "false choices" in the speech.

Mr. Hadley: I do.

WSJ: Which of those do you think is the most -- is the riskiest for the U.S., if it chooses the false choice? In other words, is it realism as opposed to idealism? ... Which is the one that worries you the most?

Mr. Hadley: I think it is very important for any U.S. administration to be clear that America stands on the side of freedom and democracy and respect for individual rights. And I say it, but I also say that recognizing that with various degrees of emphasis, every -- most administrations really have had that as an element of their policies. It was not something that was discovered by this president -- though this president has put it probably more centrally to his presidency than any president in recent memory.

But it's -- we're fated to do it, because we are a country founded not on a common language or a common ethnic background. We were founded on a set of principles, and on an idea and a set of principles. And liberty and freedom were at the core of those principles. That's why people came to this country to settle it was because of freedom. And we formed our Constitution around -- and our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution around that premise of liberty and freedom and democracy.

And so because of our founding, we had been fated to be an advocate in the world for those values. And we've gone to war in the world to preserve those values -- in two world wars, and other conflicts as well. So it is part of our heritage. It is part of our foreign policy. And I think it is important though, again, that it be a central element of our foreign policy, particularly in the period in which we are still engaged in this ideological struggle with forces that have a different vision, a different understanding of -- a different view of human nature, and a different understanding of what society should look like.

And I think it is -- and a willingness to impose their vision on other people. And I think because of that, it is particularly important that promotion of freedom and democracy be central to the foreign policy of any administration.

WSJ: And what would be the consequence of sort of stepping back from that, the advocacy -- what's the practical risk?

Mr. Hadley: I think if we are going to -- well, I think one of the practical risks is we go back, or that we allow the perpetuation and stagnation in the Middle East of an area where people are not free. And the lesson of 9/11 is that in regions which are viewed as to somehow be an exception -- you know, there was a view I think that there was kind of a Middle East exception to the general progress of freedom and democracy around the world, that somehow freedom and democracy were not appropriate to the Middle East, or the people in the Middle East somehow were not either interested in or capable of freedom.

I think the president believes, and I agree with him, that that was a great fallacy. And it allowed us by sort of paying inadequate attention to the advance of freedom and democracy in the Middle East, it made the Middle East a congenial place for the proponents of terror to recruit. And it saw its expression on 9/11. And I think the biggest mistake is that if we don't understand that -- as the president said so many times -- our safety at home, in some sense, is dependent on the advance of freedom abroad, that in the long-term solution to this problem of terrorism is the progress of freedom and democracy throughout the world, and particularly in places like the Middle East, so people have a hopeful vision for a better life, rather than despair.

And I think if we don't continue on that road, we will not in the long run defeat the terrorist threat, which still remains the principal challenge that we have here in this dawn of the 21st century.

Mr. Johndroe: We're going to have to wrap it up.

WSJ: That's fine. Just a couple detail things. In the section on Iraq, I thought that you opened the possibility up that the next administration might not follow the status of forces agreement and the strategic framework agreement. Maybe I was just misreading that. Is there any real possibility that those agreements are going to be subject to change?

Mr. Hadley: No, the statements I've heard from the administration is that they have been pretty supportive of those agreements. And all I'm really trying to say is that those agreements really provide the framework for the way ahead that would allow us to bring to a close successfully our military engagement, and also maintain a robust relationship between the United States and Iraq, even after our military engagement has wound down. Because I think it is in the interest of Iraq and the United States for us to have a long-term relationship that has political, economic and security dimensions in the same way that we have positive and constructive relations with a number of countries in that region and beyond.

So what we -- what we've said many times, and I think you and I talked about it -- the president set a goal almost two years ago. As a result of the surge, we want to put Iraq in the place whereby as it is -- we transition this issue to the new administration, there is a way forward that allows us to successfully complete the mission there. And that's what I think the president has been able to do. And that way forward is enshrined in those two agreements.

And so my hope is that the new administration will treat those agreements not as just any other couple of agreements, but really as the roadmap to go forward in the way I described, to successfully complete our active military engagement and to craft a long-term relationship between the United States and Iraq that will serve the interest of both countries.

WSJ: But again, you don't sense any substantial deviation, their intent to deviate in any substantial way?

Mr. Hadley: Well, there will be an issue that they will need to address, which is the pace of the drawdowns of U.S. forces, and the extent to which they are going to pace them in accordance with the recommendations of the military commanders and the developments on the ground. And there is a schedule that is in that agreement, and it is our best guess based on conditions what looks to us to be the appropriate -- and to the Iraqis -- to be the appropriate drawdown and turnover of security responsibilities to the Iraqis. We think it's the right one.

There will be a question, of course, given some of the comments made in the campaigns, about whether to have a more accelerated schedule based on political considerations. And we would hope that the new administration would listen to their military commanders, would use the framework of that agreement, and would make any reductions a reflection of progress that's been made on the ground, in terms of reducing violence and Iraqi security forces being able to step forward and take responsibility.

WSJ: And just to recap, you identified Pakistan as really the biggest immediate problem facing --

Mr. Hadley: I think that's probably right.

WSJ: Even a bigger problem than Afghanistan?

Mr. Hadley: I think you can't really solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan. And that's why I think Pakistan is at the center. Solving Pakistan won't solve all of Afghanistan. But you won't get where you need to be in Afghanistan if you haven't solved that problem of the border areas with Pakistan.


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