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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout following appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 06, 2005

            Press:  Mr. Secretary?


            Rumsfeld:  Greetings.


            Press:  Mr. Secretary, timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.  Do you think it's wise to talk about that?  If not, why?


            Rumsfeld:  I have no problem if people talk about it because the more you talk about it the more anyone in our history knows that setting an arbitrary timetable based on a calendar, as opposed to based on conditions, is going to be proven wrong.


            Press:  Mr. Secretary, what do you need to do to bring an end to the insurgency in Iraq?


            Rumsfeld:  The question implies that it's something the United States can do [inaudible].  The reality is, Iraq belongs to Iraqis and it will be the Iraqi people [Inaudible].  It's their country.  They're going to have to fashion political and economic and security solutions that will fit that country.  Needless to say, we want to help put them on that path and they're on that path.  We want to create an environment where it's possible for them to do that.  We're trying to do that and having some good success. And anyone watching the elections has to be enormously encouraged.  But it's up to the Iraqis.  They're going to have to grab ahold of that country and do it.


            Press:  Mr. Secretary, are there --


            Rumsfeld:  Let me have some other people.


            Press:  Okay.


            Press:  Mr. Secretary, why shouldn't there be a public discussion or decision about withdrawing troops from Iraq in the next six to nine months?


            Rumsfeld:  There is a public discussion.  Who said we shouldn't?


            Press:  Well do you think that it should be more, do you think other people should be allowed to kind of give their opinion and kind of follow through with it?


            Rumsfeld:  Everybody is giving their opinion.  It's a free country.  We have a wonderful country.  We have senators and congressmen and people saying things, writing columns, everyone's got a different opinion.  If anyone looks at history, they will know that setting an arbitrary timetable based on the calendar is not a very prudent thing to do because you end up being demonstrated to have been unwise.


            Press:  So I guess [inaudible] it shouldn't be just a six to nine month statement.  It shouldn't be --


            Rumsfeld:  It’s condition based.  In other words, people have lost their lives over there -- Iraqis, Americans, coalition. And they've sacrificed to get from where they were, a vicious dictatorship, to a country that is now liberated, that's on the path towards a democratic system.  They've elected a constituent assembly.  They're going to draft a constitution.  They're going to have a prime minister and a president.  They need a chance to make that work.  So our hope and prayer is that it will work and that we can be helpful in encouraging them to do that.  There's no way over time -- We don't want our forces anywhere where they're not wanted – We want them where they're wanted – and right now they're wanted there, they're needed there.  When they're not, we should move them out.


            Press:  Mr. Secretary, the budget will come to Capitol Hill tomorrow and your department is one of the few getting an increase.  Do you think ?  Do you think the Administration is being fiscally responsible by increasing your budget with all the needs that are still pending that a lot of departments aren't getting?  Are they being --


            Rumsfeld:  Yes… Thanks a lot folks.


            Press:  On Iran, Mr. Secretary, do you think they are sincere about giving up their nuclear program?


            Rumsfeld:  I haven't heard a word out of any Iranians suggesting they want to give them up so I don't know how you could say are they sincere.


            Press:  They halted their nuclear program activities.


            Rumsfeld:  I don't know how to answer that.  The President's spoken on this, Condi Rice has spoken. That's enough for me.

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