Delayed Progress Doesn't Reflect Failure in Iraq, Rumsfeld Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2005 Delays in drafting an Iraqi constitution are to be expected and do not indicate a problem in the political process there, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said here today.
In a Pentagon news briefing, Rumsfeld emphasized that the magnitude of the change taking place in Iraq naturally yields some delays, but that success is still on the horizon.
"Democracy has never been described as speedy, efficient or perfect," he said. "The constitution, to be successful, has to take into account the legitimate interests and fashion a balance in the federalism aspect of it and the other key things that they're worried about."
The different ethnic groups in Iraq are putting their faith in this constitution and its ability to keep the peace, so any draft that excluded one of the three groups -- the Sunni Arabs, the Shiites or the Kurds -- would be defeated, Rumsfeld said.
The three groups have been working together, and they all see the value of a free, unified Iraq, Rumsfeld said. While the constitution won't solve all the country's problems, it will be a major advance for the cause of democracy in Iraq, he said.
"Regrettably, completing the constitution is not likely to end all the violence in Iraq or solve all the country's problems," he said. "But it will represent one more important step towards cementing a new way of life for Iraqis -- one ruled by ballot boxes rather than by death squads."
Rumsfeld dismissed views that the effort in Iraq is doomed, citing the terrorists themselves as examples of progress. "It's worth noting that the enemy does not appear to share that view," he said. "On the contrary, terrorists like (Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi are indicating concern about the lack of support from the Iraqi people."
The reasons for decreasing support for terrorists are clear, Rumsfeld said. The terrorists are not a strong nationalist movement; they have lost their safe havens in Iraq; their most prominent leaders are not Iraqis; and their massacres of innocent people have outraged the Iraqi public, he said.
Rumsfeld also expressed optimism about the American people's support for the war, saying he believes they will make the right decision about this important issue. "Those being tossed about by the winds of concern should recall that Americans are a tough lot and will see their commitments through," he said.
The alternative to continuing the fight in Iraq would be to turn that country over to terrorists who wish to spread destruction all over the world, Rumsfeld said.
"That would be to turn to darkness," he said.