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Rumsfeld Defends U.S. Position in Iraq

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

FORT IRWIN, Calif., Aug. 30, 2005 – The U.S. is not losing the war in Iraq, but is doing important work to encourage democracy and freedom in a country that has known nothing but vicious dictatorship for years, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said here Aug. 29.

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld answers questions and spends time with troops from the Army's 4th Infantry Division and 11th Cavalry Regiment during a town hall meeting at Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 29. Photo by Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Speaking to a large crowd of soldiers and family members at the Army's premier training center for desert warfare, Rumsfeld boldly defended U.S. efforts in Iraq, saying the media often shows only the negative news, because that's what grabs interest. People need to be reminded of what America is and what it isn't, he said.

"America is not what's wrong with the world," he said. "It's the terrorists, the beheaders, the hostage-takers, the assassins."

America was forced to go on the offensive against terrorists, because it is impossible to defend against every kind of threat the terrorists can pose, Rumsfeld said. In this way, U.S. servicemembers are protecting the freedoms of every American, he said.

"They are engaging terrorists where they live for the simple reason that we do not have to deal with them where Americans live," he said.

This is not a war against the Muslim faith, Rumsfeld said, but a war against a very small minority of violent extremists who want to "hijack" that religion. The insurgents are determined to spread violence around the world, so the only defense against them is democracy and freedom, he said.

"What we have to do is preserve our way of life," he said. "We have to preserve the free way of life for ourselves, and we have to do what we can for other folks."

What separates Americans from terrorists is that Americans know and appreciate the cost of war, and they feel every loss of life and wounded servicemember in their hearts, Rumsfeld said.

"We value human life," he said. "We're proud that we value human life, and we do not consider that a weakness. We consider it a strength."

Every war has had critics who say it's the wrong place, wrong time or wrong fight, Rumsfeld said, but in every instance, those people have been wrong. The U.S. does not go to war lightly, and the fight against terrorists is one that this country will see through, he said.

"People who want to toss in the towel were wrong yesterday, they're wrong today, and they'll be wrong tomorrow," he said.

After speaking to the Fort Irwin soldiers, including 32 Purple Heart recipients and a brigade of the 4th Infantry Division that will deploy to Iraq in December, Rumsfeld met with the families of several soldiers who died in combat.

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Donald H. Rumsfeld

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