QUESTION: Mr Armitage, it’s Greg Cusack from Bell Potter Securities. Just on that North Korean question. Do you regard their focus on nuclear weaponry more of a political means to blackmail or something more sinister?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Well, I don’t know that I can get inside the head of Kim Jong-Il, but I don’t think that any of us should look at anything other than the threat it represents, and the threat to me is several-fold. The real threat is not so much the use of a weapon, which I think is possible, but it is the proliferation of technology or fissile material that clearly is a need for cash in North Korea for a number of reasons well known to this audience. And fissile material to rogue states or transnational actors would be a tempting possibility. This is the real and the major concern that we have about North Korea. We wish North Korea no ill will. We have differences with them over their conventional force posture, certainly over their human rights and their disregard for the rights and livelihoods and lives of their people. But as I say, we wish them no ill will but we have a real concern-- I believe shared here-- that proliferation of not only technology, but fissile material, is a line we don’t want to see crossed.
QUESTION: Mr Armitage, Trevor Rowe. If you subscribe to the proposition, sir, that most terrorists seem to emerge from either a situation where they’re disenfranchised or from countries that are poor in terms of standard of living where there’s poor education or little hope or opportunity, is it feasible that we globally should be looking at some form of Marshall Plan? And in fact is a Marshall Plan indeed feasible, or what’s your thoughts in terms of dealing with the root cause, as I see it, of terrorism?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I disagree with your view of the root cause. Clearly disenfranchisement, political or economic are a breeding ground. We saw that most specifically in Morocco. But if you look at the Saudis-- the 15 Saudis who attacked the World Trade Center-- you do not see the same sort of economic problems. You do see some political disenfranchisement. If you look at the leadership of Al Qaeda, whether it’s Osama bin Laden or Dr Zawahiri, you find that people came from actually privileged positions. So I think it’s a lot more complicated and the ideology is not simply that it’s bred in slums, though certainly people who have no hope can become willing foot soldiers.
Regarding a Marshall program, I guess I would say in principle sure, that’s a great idea. The United States has historic levels of monies these days going into including $15 billion in an HIV/AIDS program for primarily Africa but also for Haiti and Guyana and the Russian Federation once they really come to grips with the totality of their problem. We are the leading donor and we not only are the leading donor around the world, we look and try to lead others to join us in their own programs in various countries. So I don’t know that I could go so far as to call it a Marshall Plan but the general proposition of raising the level of the general public good is one that George W. Bush would heartily subscribe to.
CHAIR: We’ve got time for just two more, I think.
QUESTION: Mr Armitage, can you say a few words about progress being made on the roadmap, the Palestinian-Israeli thing, because surely that must be one of the most dangerous spots in the world.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Yes, there are a lot of unfortunately I think a lot of dangerous spots in the world. India-Pakistan comes to mind with Kashmir. You saw it in Jakarta just a couple of days ago. God knows we have our hands full of challenges. The Middle East peace process, we feel that there’s an interlocutor in Abu Mazen who does instill assurance of confidence in our Israeli friends. And although Mr Sharon is a tough nut to crack, he will do what he says he’ll do. We’re convinced that he is a man of his word and we’ve just begun the first steps on that road to peace. The two suicide bombings of yesterday-- responsibility has been claimed by Hamas-- are a real hiccup. I won’t call it a roadblock but it’s something we have to get over. To get over it we’re going to need much more aggressive activities. Mr Dahlan and his security apparatus in the Palestinian Authority to not only have a hudna, a so-called cease fire, because that’s only temporary, but a dismantlement of terrorists who threaten innocent civilians.