AMANPOUR: A deadly morning in Baghdad today, as three bombs exploded in a sprawling market. The attack came as shoppers were preparing for the Muslim festival of Eid. And it comes just hours after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told his security forces to prepare for stepped-up violence.
The backdrop, of course, is the U.S. decision to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year. It's a decision that now has some concerned that Al Qaida will re-establish a foothold in the country, all questions for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She has a new memoir, "No Higher Honor." And I spoke with her earlier.
AMANPOUR: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us.
RICE: It's a pleasure to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So you write in your book, obviously, a lot about the Bush administration, the Bush years. You also talk about when you first met the current president, Barack Obama, during a hearing, and you say his questions were sharp, not rude, he actually seemed interested in my answers. And you say you were really impressed. And lot of people questioned whether he had what it took to be commander-in-chief of the lone superpower. Did he prove them wrong?
RICE: Obviously, I think Barack Obama has done a number of things right, particularly in the war on terror. And I think that President Obama has, indeed, carried the war on terror forward in a very effective way.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, then, about the most controversial of events of your tenure, and that was the Iraq war. For better or for worse, the United States is in it. President Obama has now decided to call an end and to bring all the troops out, portraying it actually as a triumph. Others are saying it was a defeat. Do you think it was right not to push and keep for -- I mean, at the very least, 10,000 U.S. troops to guarantee some kind of security, to train, and to be there for counterterrorism?
RICE: Frankly, I think it would help the regional balance to have a residual American presence there. We need to find a way to help the Iraqis sustain themselves through this period and to -- to deal with their somewhat meddlesome neighbor in Iran.
AMANPOUR: Of course, the administration says it's because the Iraqis wouldn't agree to immunity. But the real issue is that this administration insisted on it ceding to State Department and Pentagon lawyers' demand that they get this immunity ratified by the Iraqi parliament. You did not do that. You got the agreement without forcing it through the parliament. Why did they have to do that? Was it a mistake for President Obama to do that?
RICE: Well, Christiane, I'm really rather reluctant to criticize negotiations that I didn't participate in. But it would have clearly been better to have a residual force, from my point of view, and perhaps there was a way out of the immunity clause that wasn't taken.
AMANPOUR: So is there a risk now of everything that America paid unraveling?
RICE: Yes. What is at risk here is not just the sacrifice of the United States, which is considerable, but also a pillar of a new kind of democratic stability in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: And perhaps equally important, if not more, is Afghanistan. The Obama administration sources are telling me are likely to change their role, even before 2014, from a combat to a much lesser role, maybe advisory. Is that safe at this time? Is the Taliban anywhere near being defeated?