Secretary Rumsfeld Television/Radio Interview with WGN, & ldquo; US Farm Report” with Max Armstrong
Q: Hello, everyone. Welcome to this week’s U.S. Farm Report. It’s great to be here with you. Orion Samuelson and I will be coming to you from the Florida Mercantile Exchange in a few minutes. But we’re privileged to have with us the secretary of defense of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for being us here.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you so much. It’s good to be in Chicago.
Q: Well, we noted that when we were at the Mercantile Exchange that the Visitor Center is closed there and it’s closed at the Chicago Board of Trade – reminders of this battle that we’re fighting around the globe. How are we doing, in your mind, in this war against terrorism?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it’s a tough one. It’s a struggle against extremists, and the extremists use terrorism as their weapon of choice. We see what they’ve done in chopping off people’s heads and killing innocent men, women and children. They are determined to impose their view of the world on others. And of course, that strikes right at what we are – a free people -- free to do and say and live as we wish. So what we have to do is put the pressure on them and that’s what’s happening. We’ve got a very broad coalition – 80, 90 countries now – and it’s sharing intelligence, making it more difficult for terrorists to move around the world, to raise money, to recruit, to transfer money, to communicate. And the more pressure we put on them, the less likely they are to be successful.
Q: Many of these nations around the world of the past that have been either political or economic basket cases [inaudible] we’ve helped them along, we’ve developed them into, eventually, pretty good trading partners. Do you see that someday down the road with Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I do. I think Iraq’s got a real crack at becoming a successful free system. And of course, they have a great deal going for them. They have water, they have oil, they have an intelligent population and reasonably well-educated population. So they’ve got every chance in the world to build a free system there. Obviously, they don’t have much experience with freedom. They’ve been living under a very repressive dictatorship, but they’re making solid progress.
Q: Food for [inaudible] people, having a well-fed populace is important, is it not, in that goal toward democracy?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Indeed, it is.
Q: I have a letter here in my jacket from a soldier. He was just about 20 miles north of Baghdad when he wrote that letter a couple weeks ago and he was encouraging me to tell the folks back home to use more domestically produced fuel: ethanol, bio-diesel – far better than buying oil from the Middle East, he said. Oil still is an important reason to be involved in that part of the world, isn’t it, as we look at crude oil prices where they are now?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it is. I’ve always been a believer in having our country be less dependent on foreign oil. But the fact is that as we sit here today, as you suggest, our country and much of the industrialized world has a degree of dependency on Middle Eastern oil.
Q: Thank you for you comments, Secretary Rumsfeld. We appreciate it. Want to come back to you for some additional comments momentarily here on U.S. Farm Report. It’s good to visit with you.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joining us here on this week’s broadcast.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming along to be with us here.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you so much.
Q: We can’t help but think of all of the communities across America where people now are concerned about their folks in the military, small towns, rural communities and big cities alike. Some, what, two million Americans involved in our military, and some of them in harm’s way now.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, indeed. Counting the Reserves, selected Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve, we have about two and a half million. And we’re such a fortunate country that so many young men and women put their hands up and say “send me” and are volunteering. They’re all volunteers. It’s a wonderful thing.
Q: The nature for some of those Reservists and some of the folks in the Guard, the nature of the business has changed since they enrolled. Do you anticipate in the future with the conflicts that we are facing here around the world any difficulty in getting re-enlistment?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, no, I don’t. I say that for two reasons. First of all, at the present time, we’ve been able to increase the incentives for service in the military fairly substantially in the last three years. Second, the recruiting and retention goals are being met. We’re at about 101 percent of our targets in most cases. And third, to the extent that we need additional people, we’ve got a large population – what is it, 275 million or something, 280 million today – and we only need about 2 ½ million men and women in the active force and the Reserves – about 1.4 million in the active force. And we have the capability in this country to adjust the incentives in a way that we can attract the skill sets we need and we’ve been doing it. We don’t need to go back to a draft. I just can’t believe some people are suggesting we should go back to a draft. I think that’s a terrible idea.
Q: The negative headlines we saw earlier this summer about the acts of a few seem to taint the entire Armed Services of the minds of some. How would you respond?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, that would be so unfair. It was heartbreaking to think that, obviously, that some people were mistreated and abused. And what was gratifying was that the abuses were reported by the military. They were prosecuted by the military. They were announced to the world that they were being prosecuted and investigated. And the world will have a chance to see how a democracy responds to something like that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you. We appreciate your time on U.S. Farm Report.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
Q: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joining us here.