Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld with the Lars Larson Show on KXL Radio, Portland, Oregon
LARSON: It's a great pleasure to welcome - I've been to the Pentagon where he has his office, now he's in my office - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Secretary, thanks for taking the time today.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be with you again.
LARSON: I understand that you had to attend a funeral today for Caspar Weinberger.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I did indeed. He was really a patriot and a dedicated, fine public servant. The service was an impressive one. Colin Powell spoke and some others. I was pleased to be able to be there.
LARSON: We're glad to have you on the phone today, because I'd like to get first of all your thoughts on how the war is going in Iraq and the war against terrorism more broadly around the globe.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: On the broader question of the war against terrorism, we're having excellent success in the sense that we have a lot of pressure from 80 or 85 countries on the terrorist networks around the world. It's harder for them to communicate; to cross borders; to raise money; to move weapons - and it's not to say that they're not capable of conducting an attack somewhere in the world as we've seen from time to time - but life is more difficult for them and that's important.
In Iraq, of course, the key issue today is the question of when the government's going to be formed. Secretary Rice has just been out there with Foreign Secretary Straw of the United Kingdom meeting with the current senior Iraqi officials and impressing upon them the importance of their grabbing a hold of their country and responding to the message that was sent by 10 or 11 million Iraqis who went out and voted, and see that they put together a government that is going to govern from the center, that's inclusive, and that is competent. And that fact will have a very, we believe, will have a very helpful effect on the level of violence in the country.
LARSON: Mr. Secretary, why has it been so hard for the Iraqis to pull together a government, or are we merely being impatient?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I think probably both are true. We do tend to be impatient as people and I think probably with good reason. But if you think about it, our elections take place in the first week of November and we don't see the new government until January 20th. Then it takes months thereafter to have the Senate confirm presidential appointees for the various ministries. So in the case of democracy it was never designed to be efficient, it was designed to be representative and inclusive and responsive to the American people in the case of our democracy. I think what you're seeing over there is that basic problem with democracies, that they are not efficient, they're representative and inclusive, and better than any form of government that's ever been tried, but they're not efficient.
I'd go one step further. You've got a group of people in Iraq who for decades have no experience with democracy. They have no experience in politicking and negotiating and doing these things. And needless to say there isn't any reason that we should expect Iraq's free system, free political system, free economic system…should look like ours anyway. They're going to have Iraqi solutions just like the Afghans have had Afghan solutions and frankly the other democracies around the world have their own systems. India does, Japan does. So we ought not to be looking for a cookie cutter replica of our or any other system in the world.
LARSON: Mr. Secretary, I wanted to ask you when we hear about these reports that in some Baghdad neighborhoods they wake up in the morning and find people out in the street who have had their throats cut or they've been killed in one fashion or another. How much of that is terrorism and how much of that is the local population figuring out who the terrorists are and then going out and doing what the French Underground did or anyone else has done when their country's been invaded by bad guys, going out and doing them in?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it's probably a mixture of those two things plus crime. You think of the number of people, homicides that occur in the United States every week. So it's a mixture of all three of those things; common criminals, sectarian violence and terrorists, and terrorist activities that are designed to incite sectarian violence. And, it is a part of the world that has been violent in the past, is likely to be violent in the future. But the wonderful thing about it is the Iraqi security forces now number some 241,000 people and they're trained and equipped and they're out providing an enormous fraction of the security in that country right now.
LARSON: Mr. Secretary, can you tell me about America Supports You?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I'd be delighted to. You know, we have such truly wonderful young men and women serving our country. Every one's a volunteer. They raised their hands. They said send me. I want to serve my country. I want to defend our freedom. And what they're doing around the world to put pressure on terrorists is making our country safer and the American people safer. And, we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, those that have fallen in battle, those that are wounded, and certainly those that are serving out there today; and also their families.
The America Supports You web site, its AmericaSupportsYou.mil shows a lot of the things that people are doing in our country to support the troops and to support their families. Whether it's a school group or a corporation or a club or various cities, and it shows the wonderful compassion of the American people and what a caring country we have, and God bless them for it.
So I hope people will go to that web site, the AmericaSupportsYou.mil, take a look at what people are doing, their friends and neighbors and associates, and see if there isn't something they'd like to do.
LARSON: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. It's always a pleasure to get a chance to visit with you for a few minutes. Be well.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.