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Rumsfeld Uses American History as Iraqi Lesson

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2003 – As Independence Day approaches, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld compared what the United States went through after the American Revolution to the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That both countries are going through turmoil should be expected, the secretary said. "The transition to democracy is never easy," he said during a Pentagon press briefing today.

Following the American Revolution, the United States were not really united. The Colonies went through an economic depression, Rumsfeld noted, with rampant inflation and no stable currency.

"Discontent led to uprisings, with mobs attacking courthouses and government buildings," Rumsfeld continued. Right after the Treaty of Paris in 1783, demobilized American soldiers surrounded the State House in Philadelphia where the Continental Congress met to demand back pay.

Congress fled and was forced to meet at other locations for the next four years, he observed. The Articles of Confederation the United States' first attempt at a governing charter failed. "It was eight years before we adopted our Constitution and inaugurated our first president," Rumsfeld said.

The same upheaval faces Afghans and Iraqis today, the secretary noted, but there are differences. "Coalition forces drove Iraq's terrorist leaders from power," he said. "But Saddam never surrendered: The remnants of the Baath Party and the Fedayeen death squads faded into the population and have reverted to a terrorist network."

Rumsfeld emphasized coalition forces are actively searching for Saddam Hussein, his two sons and other regime leaders. In typical "Rumsfeldian" understatement, he said the absence of closure "is unhelpful." On the one hand, he noted, there are Iraqis who benefited from the former regime who want Saddam back in power. And there is a far larger group of Iraqis afraid he might still return.

"They're not going to come back," Rumsfeld said. "That's for sure."

Coalition forces are aggressively dealing with these remnants in Iraq, just as they are dealing with the remnants of al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said. "Those battles will go on for some time," he stated.

"The liberation of Iraq is complete. The regime has been removed from power and will not be permitted to return. But our war with terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe continues. It will not be over any time soon."

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