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Use of Force in Iraq Was Justified, Rumsfeld Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2004 – War is "a ugly, tough business," but sometimes it's necessary to resort to war to achieve important goals, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on PBS' "Newshour With Jim Lehrer" Aug. 17.

And the use of U.S. military force to depose former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a worthy endeavor, Rumsfeld told host Jim Lehrer.

Some people, Rumsfeld acknowledged, may believe that military force should never be used to solve the world's problems. However, he observed, "history suggests the contrary." Basically, "there are things that are worth fighting for," he explained, noting there are also "situations where the risk of not using force is greater than the risk of using force."

Hussein and his minions had repressed Iraq, a country of 25 million people, for decades, Rumsfeld observed. The former dictator, the secretary noted, had terrorized the Iraqi population by having people pushed off buildings and chopping off heads and hands.

History shows Hussein started the costly 1980-88 Iraq war against Iran and later also invaded Kuwait. He also drained Iraq's resources to build personal palaces and to bankroll a lavish lifestyle for his followers, while most Iraqis went without.

Today, the dictator is in jail and "schools are open, the clinics are open, the hospitals are working," Rumsfeld pointed out.

Iraqi athletes are at the Olympics in Athens now competing without fear of government reprisals if they don't do well, he said.

Post-Saddam Iraq now boasts a symphony orchestra, Rumsfeld remarked, while Iraqis "are getting ready for elections" slated to be held in December or January.

Iraqis now "have a sovereign government," Rumsfeld observed, along with 200,000 security forces.

U.S. public opinion on whether the U.S. military campaign in Iraq was worth the costs can be expected to fluctuate up or down, Rumsfeld noted, "depending on what the circumstances being reported by the media are."

Today's 24-7 news cycles can depict "gripping scenes of things taking place (in Iraq)," he explained, often with "a clear emphasis on the negative, not the positive."

The U.S. goal in Iraq is to have a nation "at peace with its neighbors, that is not repressing its people, that's respectful of the different religions and groups in the country." Such an outcome in Iraq, he said, "would be a wonderful thing for that region and just a tremendous accomplishment."

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Biographies:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

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