Secretary Rumsfeld Speech to The Greater Phoenix Leadership, Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, AZ
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you very much. I thank you very much. I’m not a poet. [Laughter] I’m not even close to a poet. There’s some character who took my press briefings and tried to turn them into poetry and failed. [Laughter] Thank you, folks. It’s very nice to be with you. We’re in an August afternoon in Phoenix and I’m delighted to see so many folks here. And I thank each of you for coming. I appreciate your being here. Bill, thank you for those words, and Mr. Mayor, a pleasure to see you. Mr. President, Mr. Speaker and my friends from Congress here. It’s always good to see you, and Congressman Flake and Congressman Heintz and Mrs. Heintz. I also was pleased to see Mrs. Stump. I don’t know where she’s sitting, but – there you are. Good to see you. And so many distinguished guests and public officials and members of the armed services.
I thought what I’d do is to take a few minutes to talk about some of the issues we’ve been hearing about and reading about and then comment on the global war on terror and then respond to questions, which I look forward to.
Last week, the president announced that we are making progress in our efforts to reposition U.S. military forces and capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The world has certainly changed markedly since the end of the Soviet Union. But military deployments and arrangements really have not changed very much. They’ve been reduced, but they’re pretty much in place where they were when the Cold War ended.
During the Cold War, it was assumed that our forces stationed abroad would defend from static positions. This, of course, is no longer the case, and we know that. Today the enemies we face are fighting form small cells located in almost every corner of the world. And the task today is to stay on the offensive against them. We cannot know precisely where our forces may have to operate. We used to know. We used to be looking for a tank invasion from the Soviet Union across the North German plain and that’s why we had so many forces in Northern Europe. So our forces today have to be flexible and they have to be agile and they have to be light and they have to be rapidly deployable, usable, not fixed, and capable of going almost anywhere in the world on short notice.
If you think about it for a number of years now or even before September 11th the DoD has been working on concepts to guide our security presence around the world. And we know that adjusting our footprint or our force posture is an essential component of our strategy. These proposed changes are designed to allow us to deploy capable forces rapidly anywhere in the world on short notice, to push more military capability forward while shifting some 60 to 70,000 service members and roughly 100,000 of their dependants from foreign bases to U.S. bases, creating a lighter footprint abroad, which allows us to focus on speed, precision and technically advanced capabilities, rather than simply on mass and sheer numbers, which are really increasingly formulations of the last century.
It’s awfully hard for people to change and adjust to that. We’ve developed over my lifetime the idea that more is better and so we talk about numbers of things, ships, guns, tanks, planes, people – ignoring the reality that if you have, for example, a 10 dumb bombs and you have a smart bomb that can do what 10 dumbs can do and you reduce from 10 dumb bombs to five smart bombs, you have not reduced your capability. In fact, you’ve dramatically increased your capabilities. But getting people to think that way is not an easy thing. We’ve also, looking at our posture to help us build new relationships in the world, we’ve developed a number of new relationships, if you think about it, since 9/11 – Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Yemen – so many countries that we have been working with, this global coalition against terror is now something like 85 or 90 nations, probably the largest coalition in the history of mankind. And our adjustments should make it easier for the United States to work with our allies and friends on military operations to train, to operate, exercise together to complement doctrine and tactics and to exploit the new technologies with them. Our new arrangements also have the added advantage of improving the lives of U.S. military families. Deployments in a number of cases will be shorter and they’ll be rotational for training and exercises often lasting weeks or months, rather than years. Military families will find somewhat more stability, fewer permanent changes of station, and as a result, less disruption in the lives of spouses and children in schools.
In a political year, I suppose it’s inevitable that these important proposals which we’ve been working on for some three years now, would lead to a discussion and that’s a good thing. Some of the concerns expressed, no doubt, are well intentioned and useful. We’ve spent the last two years talking to our friends and allies and to members of Congress and working through these issues, proposals of such magnitude deserve examination and they deserve debate and discussion. And let there be no doubt, these are significant changes and they will affect our country’s force posture for many decades to come.
At the same time, I think most reasonable observers recognize that our existing force arrangements are relics of a time long passed. We still have two heavy divisions in Germany to defend against a Soviet tank attack. Those two divisions did not help prevent September 11th. They did not prevent the hijackers from organizing and planning their attacks in Hamburg, Germany, for that matter. We’ve stationed thousands of U.S. troops on the border with North Korea to defend South Korea. South Korea today is a nation that is no longer impoverished. After 50 years, they are not defenseless and thanks, in major part, to the stability our alliance has provided, South Korea today is a thriving nation with a robust democracy with a vibrant economy and a modern army of some 600,000. Our commitment to that country and to peace on that peninsula remains as strong as ever and it will be going forward. In fact, our relationship with Korea is, I think, an excellent example of what changes to our global posture really can accomplish.
For some time now, we’ve been investing in substantial sums, taxpayers’ dollars, billions of dollars in improved military capabilities that are appropriate for the situation on the Korean Peninsula. We’re increasing our naval and airpower in the region and we’re moving more precision weapons and increased firepower to South Korea. At the same time, we would be relocating our forces away from the demilitarized zone and where they were located in very vulnerable garrisons and cities near that zone and we’ll be shifting them southward into two hubs – an air hub and a sea hub – well beyond the range of North Korean artillery.
Today we have the means and the intent to strengthen our deterrent power and our defensive capability while decreasing our overall footprint, and we’re doing so, and it would be unwise not to do so. While current arrangements may be comfortable for people and familiar, both in our country and in foreign countries, our current arrangements are -- let’s face it, they’re obsolete. And we need to deal wit the world as it is, not the way it used to be, or even the way we’d like it to be. We have to deal with it as it is. Changes have to be made. They will not be made precipitously, but they will be made. And indeed, it’s a plan that will be rolled out over probably as many as four, five, six, seven, eight years. We’re in a fortunate position that we don’t have to be a supplicant. You can go to these countries and work our arrangements and make sure that we have the right Status of Forces Agreements and access and cross-servicing agreement, and that the neighboring countries are willing to adjust to our needs to move our forces as required by the United States. As we visit with countries, we’ll determine which is best by way of new arrangements, and then proceed to work out those details. As a result, there’ll be no major announcement beyond what the president has announced. Rather, there will be a series of announcements that evolve as each piece of this is worked out. And we are certainly continuing to consult with Congress and with our friends and allies, as we move forward to meet our responsibility to serve the American people.
Let me make a couple of comments about missile defense. Meeting the new reality of this century also drives our approach to missile defense. In the past few weeks, up in Alaska, the first interceptor was put into the ground. By the end of this year, we expect to have a limited operational capability against incoming ballistic missiles. This represents, in my view, a victory for hope and vision over skepticism. More than 20 years ago, I was in the White House when President Reagan gathered a group of individuals and made his announcement and gave his vision for a missile defense system. Now that’s long time ago. And today, roughly two dozen countries, including some of the world’s most dangerous regimes, possess ballistic missiles and they are energetically working to increase the range and destructive capability of those missiles. A number of these states are estimated by the U.S. intelligence community to have nuclear, biological and chemical programs.
North Korea, for example, is working to develop and deploy missiles capable of reaching not just their neighbors, such as Japan, but our country as well. The same can be said of Iran. More countries are developing and sharing information, and I think it is notable to think what just recently happened with respect to Libya where they made an admission that dramatically demonstrated this point. Fortunately, their announcement was that they wish to just discontinue those programs and have been working with the United States and the United Kingdom to do so.
History has taught us that weakness is provocative. And the longer the delays in deploying even a limited defense against these kinds of facts, the greater the likelihood of an attempted or threatened strike. Additionally, without any defense against missiles, terrorists and rogue regimes could use the threat of an attack to try to intimidate America and/or our allies. As enemies continue to adapt and evolve, so must our capabilities. That’s why the president directed us to pursue an innovative approach to the development and the deployment of missile defenses. Rather than waiting years, sometimes decades for a fixed and final architecture, as has been the norm with the many weapons systems, we will be deploying an initial set of capabilities that will evolve over time as technologies evolve over time.
The way ahead will have its share of ups and downs – we know that. Any development of a new technology, leading-edge technologies, has ups and downs, successes and what people call failures. I was in the pharmaceutical business and invested heavily in research and development. And folks did not just simply get up one morning to discover an important new therapy for people. They went out and they tried things that worked and that didn’t work. And each thing that didn’t work was part of that learning process and so, too, in weapons and defense systems capabilities. All cutting-edge endeavors include trial and error, but we will continue to benefit from leadership that combines vision with resolve and to simply learn from each of the so-called failures.
Let me also say a word or two about the national debate taking place with respect to the so-called reforms of the intelligence community. The 9/11 Commission has provided a useful service in my view, by surfacing some important issues and challenges and some problems. These are the decisions that the United States Congress and the executive branch, the president, are ultimately going to have to decide. Indeed, the president has already implemented a number of the commission’s recommendations. And I spent Monday with him where he spent the better part of the day reviewing a number of additional thoughts and suggestions that have come up. It seems to me that this is the proper approach. Whether it’s a government and a bureaucracy as large as ours and with the ramifications of change so enormous. It is true, you can carefully think about these issues and think them through carefully before implementing things. We are at war, and we need to get it right. We need to make the changes we need to make, but the old saying is the truth and that is that, to he who tears down what is falls the responsibility of putting in place something better. And it isn’t the kind of thing that we want to be making many mistakes about.
Last, let me make a comment a bit on Iraq and Afghanistan. I recently returned from Afghanistan a couple weeks ago. I must say that each time I go there, I am just struck by the changes, by the improvements, by the energy you see in the streets, the activities. And I know there are some folks there’s some folks here who’ve spent some time in Iraq and Afghanistan and the thank-you needless to say, for being willing to do that. But if you drive through portions of Afghanistan, you’ll see construction is well along on the major highways which connect the major cities of that country, and which are so critically important to their economy.
The Afghan security forces are being trained and equipped and have and have acquitted themselves quite well and in several recent activities. I visited an election center on this last trip and saw a room not quite this big filled with computers and young folks, Afghans, busily working on the election and the registration process. Here’s a country that has suffered terribly under Soviet occupation, has had years of drought, had a ghastly civil war and had suffered under the repression of the Taliban regime and has no real experience with democracy as such, as we think of it. And people were estimating they might get three or four million people to register for this first election, which is coming up. In fact, there are now over 10 million that have registered. And I’m told that something in excess of 40 percent of them are women. And needless to say, the Taliban didn’t even let women walk around unaccompanied by men, and they didn’t let them go out uncovered and they didn’t let them wear colored shoes and they didn’t let any of them fly kites and the idea of getting women to – willing to go out and register to vote is a striking accomplishment. The Afghans are clearly enthusiastic about these first early steps towards democracy. In Iraq, the economy is growing, the currency has been reasonably steady. We all know that people are being killed and wounded and many, many are Iraqis are being killed every week. The stock market is open, however. They fielded an Olympic soccer team. We’ve gone from zero to something like 220,000 Iraqi security forces of which 110,000 are properly trained and equipped and functioning. I’ve spent some time on the phone this morning with Gen. Casey and Gen. Abizaid, our senior military commanders there and they are impressed that they have a reasonably large number of experienced Iraqi forces that are in the Najaf area and are attempting to sort through that difficult situation with the holy shrines of the Shia faith.
Now most of the media attention this week has been on the fighting in Najaf, but it’s interesting that this month we also had the Constituent Assembly council, a group conference that met elected people to serve. And in the words of at least one newspaper, it is putting Iraq on the road to a constitutional democracy. Progress is mixed. It’s good with the bad. And we all recognize that. People have been killed and wounded. And it isn’t easy to build a free country when terrorists are determined to try to attack every sign of success – every activity. They systematically try and assassinate a government leader or a mayor, city council members, police chiefs. They are attempting to dissuade people from joining the Iraqi Security forces, that the Iraqi security forces have people standing in line to become policemen, national guard, and regular army, border patrol, site protection and facilities protections people.
Everyone that looks at it and sees this mixture of what’s taking place to do it. And clearly, the difficult and the bad is struck by just how hard it is to go from where they were – a vicious dictatorship – to something approximating a freer economic system, a free political system. And Afghanistan and Iraq are becoming free nations that differ in almost every respect from the terror regimes that they replaced. They are countries that will be assisting in the global war on terror. And to serve as examples to discredit, it gives credit to extremist ideology. And I would think to the extent they’re successful, and I believe that each of those countries has a terrific crack at being successful. The effect on that region will be enormous. It is a region that needs models, it needs examples. And for all the enemies’ cunning and ruthlessness, I think that those of us in this country and in the case of Afghanistan, some 26 other nations that are helping -- in the case of Iraq, some 32 countries that are offering assistance -- we have an enormous advantage and that is that the great sweep of human desire is for freedom. And that is on our side, let there be no doubt. So we pray for their success and for the success of our soldiers and men and women, volunteers all, who are risking their lives to help those folks. Fifty million people between the two countries, have a crack at being free people. And their noble work of people in uniform will bring a more peaceful planet and a more secure nation for those of us here at home. And with that, I thank you and will be happy to respond to questions.
Now, do you have microphones? Look at that. Why does somebody stick their hand up and the mic will start wandering over and then we won’t have to – look at this – see all kinds of hands. Terrific. Yes, sir.
Q: Can you comment on the stability of the government of Pakistan?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, sir. We are – those of us in the world engaged in the global struggle against extremists are so fortunate that President Musharraf and his team are in power in Pakistan. He has, without question, one of the most difficult tasks of any governmental leader that I can think of. And he lives in a tough part of the world. He has an element within his country that obviously has tried to assassinate him on several occasions recently.
He’s a courageous leader and a thoughtful leader and he is a superb partner in this global war on terror. He had troubles along his borders with Afghanistan. The Pakistan government has been aggressive in helping us deal with the al Qaeda and put pressure on them. He has tribal areas that run along that border and just as we have in our country special rules in tribal areas. So, too, there the pattern has been that the Pakistani military stayed out. And of course, it was being used as a haven for both the Taliban and the al Qaeda. And he has changed fast. He’s moved forces in there and he has been working the problem. And I just am so – all of us in the United States government are so grateful that he’s there and he is being successful in putting pressure on the terrorists. The more pressure that is put on the terrorists in countries like Afghanistan and others, the more difficult it is for them to recruit, the more difficult it’s going to be for them to raise money, the more difficult it is for them to move money, the more difficult it is to move from place to place, to communicate with each other. Everything’s harder if we have the countries that are willing to step up, and it does require people to step up. It requires physical courage and political courage. He’s got large numbers of people in Pakistan who don’t like what he’s doing and are against it. And sometimes in our country – and Mr. Mayor, you know that – president of the senate -- when someone’s against you, they run against you, they vote against you or they talk against you – that’s one thing. In that part of the world, they don’t just do that; they go after you. And it is a different circumstance. So I have a lot of confidence in him and the work they’re doing and, as one citizen of this country and I’m grateful that he’s a part of the coalition. Question.
Q: What are we doing in our country to protect our borders along Mexico and Canada where most of the terrorists have come through? I travel across the southern part of this state and into Texas. I mean, it’s scary to see what I see as I’m out there and about, visiting and traveling, how easy it is to come into this country without being checked you know.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It’s true all over the world that borders are a problem. They’re porous – we have trouble in our country. We know that all of us can see our borders are relatively porous, not just north and south but so, too, from the oceans. And the Department of Defense is not involved in the subject of this – border guards. Now that is the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard are the ones responsible or that. So I’m not an expert. I am an expert about the problems of borders – the Syrian borders of Iraq and the Iranian border of Iraq. And I know a lot about that -- a lot more than I do about your borders here. And so, too, in Afghanistan, they border with Pakistan and the border with Iran. And everyone – our country and what we’re doing in those two countries – we have to do a cost-benefit ratio. To try to seal a border is a monumental task. It’s a terribly expensive task. It has – and you are constantly asking yourself are you better off trying to do that or something else? And so those calculations are made by the Department of Homeland Security and by the state and local government in states that have borders. And of course, they’re also made by the Department of Defense with respect to our situations around the world.
The terrorists are smart. They’re not dumb. They’re clever. And they prefer to stay alive, although there are certainly suicide bombers who don’t prefer to stay alive. But to the extent we are successful, and go to school on them and arrange ourselves to put maximum pressure on them, they then go to school on us. And it’s a dynamic constantly changing situation. And to the extent you do a better job on borders, you raise the price, raised the cost of them and then you deal with that. On the other hand, the then turn to another direction and take advantage because the terrorists can attack any place, using any technique, and it’s physically impossible to defend everywhere at every moment against every technique.
I was President Reagan’s Middle East envoy back in the early ‘80s after the Marines were killed – 241 of them in the Beirut Barracks. And of course, it was a truck bomb going into the barracks and killing all the Marines. And very soon, you began to see these barricades, the concrete barriers like it’s around all buildings. Fair enough, so the terrorists saw that and they saw they couldn’t get a truck through, so they’re started lobbing rocket-propelled-grenades at buildings over the barriers. So the next thing, you go down to Corniche in Beirut and you look and they draped wire mesh over buildings to bounce these rocket-propelled grenades off. So the terrorists saw that and what did they do? They started hitting soft targets. People going to and from work, people at home. And those asymmetrical attacks have an infinite number of opportunities and places that they can attack or times they can attack or techniques they getting used to attack. So defense really becomes a vastly – a more expensive way to do it and less certain way to do it than offense. And that is why you simply have to find those terrorist networks and root them out where they are and deal with the countries that provide the haven for the terrorists. And that is the only way that we can have success. The second part of that equation is that you have to do defense, to be sure, or else it’s easy for them. But we have to do the offense.
And the other thing we have to do is we have to look at the intake. What’s going on in this world that people are successfully training other people to believe that it’s in their interest to go out and kill innocent men, women and children. How do we develop a confidence in ourselves that to be sure, we’re defending the American people, which is our job and we’ve got to do that, and then take every step to do that, and particularly, as these weapons get more powerful. But we also have to reach out and engage the world on this subject and see that we get people within countries like Pakistan, within countries like Saudi Arabia, trying to squeeze down the finances that are going into the training schools and training camps. And try to reduce the attractiveness of the people to come into that business of killing innocent men, women and children. It isn’t enough simply to be successful in rooting them out because more come in. And so our task is big. This is not something that’s going to be over in a year or two or three. This is a lot more like the Cold War that took 40 or 50 years than it is the World War II, where there’ll be some final signing ceremony on the U.S.S. Missouri. This is a tough, tough task that we have got ahead of us, but we can do it. Questions, yes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I just want to thank you for the work you’re doing and the commitment that you have made public service. We really appreciate you being here. [Applause] Thank you. Two quick questions. Would you talk a little bit about North Korea and China and the impact that China potentially has on this whole equation, and also talk a little bit about Iran and some of the comments that we’ve read recently about what’s going on there? Thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, sir. North Korea is a – it’s a tragedy. If you think about it, here’s a country the same size as South Korea, same people and 50 years after the war, South Korea is booming. It’s an economic miracle, it’s successful. The people are free. And in North Korea, the – above the demilitarized zone, if you look down from a satellite at night, it’s black, with a pinprick of light in Pyongyang, the capital, and south of the DMZ, it’s just brilliant light.
They’ve just lowered their – within the last year or two, they lowered the height to get in the North Korean military down to the 4’10” for adults because of starvation. Under 100 pounds and you get in the North Korean military now. They’ve got concentration camps with tens of thousands of people from several locations. People that have tried to get out are killed. Not unlike East Germany and when we see people trying to get across the wall in Berlin.
The government is busy as probably the principal proliferator of ballistic missile technology. They’re good at it. They have developed long-range ballistic missiles and they’ve been helping a lot of other countries develop them. They’re on the terrorist list. They’ve engaged in terrorist acts. They are involved with the drug trade, basically the prescription drug trade -- illegal. They’re involved with counterfeiting. All in all, not your first choice as a neighbor. The people are terribly repressed. They’re a danger. They’re a danger in two ways. They’re a danger to the South Koreans and they’re also a danger as a proliferator. I do not know of certain knowledge what their nuclear capability is, or their chemical or biological capability. We know they’ve announced – they claim they have nuclear weapons. We know our intelligence community has assessed that they probably have two or three nuclear weapons. And they are now – they change their story periodically and therefore are not really reliable as a gauge as to what they’ve got in mind. We are trying – the United States with Russia and Japan, South Korea and China – attempting to engage in talks with them to see if it might not be possible for them to adjust their behavior. And begin behaving in a way that is less threatening to the rest of the world. How that will work remains to be seen.
I will say this – the partnership between the United States and South Korea is solid. The military capability of our combined countries in that part of the world is healthy. This program that we have in place under a superb commander, Gen. Leon LaPorte has been looked at by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It’s been looked at by the former combatant commanders in charge of Korea and to a person, they are convinced that what we are doing is a good thing and it will not weaken the deterrent. It will not create an instability and, indeed, it will in fact, improve our military capabilities to deal with any conceivable threats in that part of the world.
Iran – I just can’t believe. When you think of that country -- intelligent people, educated people, an interesting history and they’re being governed by a small handful of clerics in a manner that is notably different from all their neighbors – most of their neighbors anyway -- and they know it. It isn’t like North Korea where they control every single thing. People in Iran see television and they hear radio. People can go off the borders and come in. People from our country go into Iran and see these people. They know that they’re being denied the opportunity for that country, because of its behavior with respect to nuclear development, they are being denied interaction with the rest of the world to their detriment. And when one thinks of how fast that country switched from the Shah of Iran to the Ayatollahs, one has to think that at some point in the future it might switch again. And I don’t know what their behavior is going to be with respect to the International Atomic Energy Commission [sic], but it’s been uneven and bumpy thus far. And you have to hope that the international community will behave in a responsible way and create sufficient pressure on that government. Again, a terrorist state that’s actively involved with funding and assisting terrorists, there are al Qaeda leadership in Iran today. Iran is a country that is a principal sponsor of Hezbollah, along with Syria, where they send weapons and terrorists down through Damascus into Beirut and then into Israel. So it’s a country that is off to the side with the international community and the hope is that the international community will behave in a way that will persuade them that that is not in their interest.
The one thing we know is that the problem of proliferation is a serious one. In fact, every month that goes by, as these weapons get more lethal, more dangerous, it is a more serious problem. We also know that there isn’t any way in the world that one country can do much about proliferation. It is one of those things that, by definition, requires the cooperation of a lot of countries to work together to see that we behave in this planet in a rational way so that we create lots of disincentives for people can engage in those kinds of trafficking of weapons of mass destruction or missile technology. Lots of disincentives, and a lot of incentives for those countries to behave in a way that they are a part of the civilized world. It is – I am hopeful about Iran. And you might see – particularly the young people and women -- whose behavior is particularly restricted in Iran, serve as a force over time to help put that country on a path that makes more sense to the civilized world. Question – way in back. I’m getting the hook. [Laughter] We’ll make it the next to the last question.
Q: Thank you. In an environment, where every imperfection in the war on terror and the war against Iraq is a major story, in an election environment particularly and in the world’s greatest democracy, how do you sustain a long-term political will necessary to fight the kind of war on terror that you’re talking about where the good news is rarely heard. The progress that you’ve spoken of only comes out in forums like this? How do we do that long-term?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, that is just a critical central core question for our society. There is absolutely no way in the world that we can be military defeated in Afghanistan or Iraq, or even in the global war on terror, and I say militarily defeated. The only conceivable way that we could lose and [Inaudible] think of who wins -- is because of a calculation over time that the cost and the pain in dollars and in human lives is too great and it’s not worth it. And if that balance shifted to that point, it would say to the world that there isn’t a willingness to sustain that level of effort. [Inaudible] you [Inaudible] terrorism, were we to do that.
Vietnam war, 58,000 dead. Those are large numbers and they’re heartbreaking and anyone who goes out to the field in Iraq to Afghanistan, or goes to Walter Reid Hospital and Bethesda Hospital as I do. You just cannot help but think of the lives not lived, think of the wounded whose lives will be lived totally differently and not ask yourself about the cost. And then if you look down from a satellite on Korea and see what’s happening today, the cost in human life today in North Korea, and the energy and the vitality and the success and the opportunities of the people in South Korea, make it worthwhile. And your question goes to democracy – in a dictatorship, the leadership can do what the want. In a democracy, you have to lead not by command, but by persuasion. And we simply have to find the words to make sure that the people in our country and the people in our coalition and those countries understand that it is worth it, that freedom is important and that it is true that each generation needs to make that sacrifice that we talk about on Memorial Day and that time – over time and when one looks back, you nod and say, well, my goodness, yes, that was worth it. Of course, it was. But at the time, when you see, as you point out, day after day after day, the drumbeat of negative stories about this and Afghanistan, that in Iraq and the impressions people have which are not balanced. And no historical context. When you think of what went on in Japan, how many years that took to build a democracy that became a bulwark for freedom in the Cold War. In Germany, to turn that fascist regime into a democracy – amazing accomplishments.
Thomas Jefferson, I think, said about our country, trying to struggle from where we were to a democratic system and it took us how many years? We didn’t have a constitution between 1776 and 1789, I guess. And he said, “One ought not expect to be transported towards democracy on a featherbed.” And that’s true. It is tough. And what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan today is tough. And it’s a bumpy road and it is not a smooth path. And what we need is – and where do I come out in your question? I come out with we’re going to make it. And why do I say that? I say it because our system works. The American people have a good center of gravity. They’ve got some kind of an inner gyroscope that resets itself. They can be blown by the wind and all overwhelming amount of bad news and be swayed. But down deep inside, the people of this country get it. They know that there are things that are worth fighting for. They know that that the values they believe in are worth defending. And they are smart enough and wise enough over time to have the will to sustain that effort. I’ve got a lot of confidence in them myself. We’ll make this the last question. Yes, sir.
Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, my name is Barry Wong. I just wanted you to know my brother’s served in the Navy Seabees in Iraq from San Diego. But I just want to make a statement, Mr. Secretary, that…
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, no. This is for questions.
Q: Oh, questions. OK. It’s a question, then.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Just put a question mark there.
Q: OK. I’ll put a question mark there. I’m a lawyer. I can do that. But I want to applaud you for the realignment and I work with the Luke Air Force Base Fifth and the Sixth fighter wing and I just want to let you know that Luke Air Force Base is important to this community, that as you go through the base realignments that you keep the Luke Air Force Base in mind, because we love them. The business community loves them, and we want to keep Luke Air Force Base. And we want to add another mission to the joint strike fighter. We would love to have him here.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Give him the hook! [Laughter]
Q: And Mr. Secretary, isn’t it true that you’re interested in base realignment and interested in saving bases like Luke Air Force Base? [Laughter] [Applause]
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you. [Laughter] Folks, if you see somebody, you know, at an airport, or a restaurant or somewhere walking around in uniform, tell them “Thank you.” [Applause]
UNKNOWN: Thank you all for being here. Thank you.