On a special holiday edition of "This Week," former Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed Iraq, the current debate on domestic spying and life after the State Department. Following is a transcript of his interview wtih George Stephanopoulos.
Stephanopoulos: Mr. Secretary, Merry Christmas.
Powell: Same to you, George, and to your family.
Stephanopoulos: Thank you. How are you spending Christmas this year?
Powell: I'm going to be home with all of my children assembled and my grandchildren, to include a brand-new granddaughter.
Stephanopoulos: Brand-new granddaughter? How old?
Powell: Six weeks.
Stephanopoulos: Terrific. You know, you had to spend two Christmases away from home during Vietnam. What do you say to the young military families who are now going through that for the first time?
Powell: Be thankful that you are married to someone or you have a loved one who is this caring about America and this concerned about our need to preserve our security and also provide an opportunity for freedom and democracy for someone else. So be proud of the service that your loved one is performing. Think of him or her and know that every effort will be made to bring them home safely.
The reunion makes up, usually, for the separation.
Yes, I was away for more than two Christmases in the course of my military career. But that's what we ask of those who enter service -- military service, diplomatic service. Service to the nation is an important value that we have in our society, and we should be so proud of the young men and women who are willing to do this, who are willing to step away.
Some of them are not so young, and they've done it for many years -- career officers, career noncommissioned officers, career diplomats. I have to add diplomats, because that's what I was ...
Stephanopoulos: You are one.
Powell: ... privileged to do for the last four years, and I am one now. And they often serve under conditions of danger and separation from family. And their children serve as well.
Stephanopoulos: Is it harder for the folks back home?
Powell: I think it is because there's the uncertainty and there's the danger, and you're not quite sure where your loved one is or what the level of danger is at a particular moment. And your loved one tries not to make you completely aware of the danger they might be in. They want to comfort those at home, at the same time those at home want to comfort those who are away.
So it's a difficult time -- holiday periods -- for those who are away from their families.
Stephanopoulos: Most Americans, now, are of course serving in Iraq and are just coming off what looks like successful elections. More than 10 million Iraqis voted. Yet it does seem, from the early results, that the voting is falling along ethnic lines: Kurds voting for Kurds, Shiites voting for Shiites, Sunnis voting for Sunnis.
Are you worried at all that this election might actually harden the ethnic divisions and increase the prospects for civil war?
Powell: I think it is something we all have to be worried about. But as you say, it was a historic event. Ten million people came out. They came out in the face of bombs, in the face of guns, in the face of resistance, and said, "We want to choose who our leaders will be." And so it was a significant achievement for the Iraqi people and for our policy.