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Regional Media Interviews with Secretary Rumsfeld

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 15, 2003

INTERVIEW WITH NHK

 

NHK:  Thank you Mr. Secretary.  The first question is Iraqi security situation and given the latest terrorist attack against Italian peacekeepers, to what extent are you concerned that Saddam Hussein remnants are still retaining support from Iraqi people? 

 

RUMSFELD:  No, we find that that's not the case.  The overwhelming majority of the 23 million Iraqi people is very much in favor of the coalition and relieved that the Saddam Hussein regime is gone.  This is a regime that was a vicious dictatorship that cut off people's heads and hands and fingers; mass graves cover that country; tens of thousands of people were killed.  People would come at night -- police, and arrest them and take them to jail for no reason.  No, they're glad to be rid of them.  There are several thousand, how many I don't know, but certainly less than 10 thousand, out of 23 million, that are well financed; they stole a lot of money from the Iraqi people.  They have weapons, and there are foreign terrorists that are coming into the country through Syria and Iran.  There's a terrorist network called (inaudible).  So there are clearly people that are targeting the coalition, but the overwhelming majority of Iraqi people are very friendly. 

 

NHK:  But we have been told that the southern part of Iraq is relatively stable.  Do you get a sense of quagmire?

 

RUMSFELD:  Now there is a clever word, 'quagmire'.  I have heard that before.  No, there is no quagmire.  The truth is that 93 percent of the incidents that occur, occur in the central part of Iraq --  in Baghdad and just north, towards Tikrit.  The north, the south, the west is relatively peaceful.  Now, does that mean that there is no crime?  No.  There is crime in Tokyo; there is crime in most cities  -- in Chicago, where I am from.  There are people that get killed every day in major cities of the world.  But the large majority of the incidents occur right in the Baghdad and north area. 

 

NHK:  The second question is the Japanese Self-Defense Force.  Do you think the Japanese are too naïve if they think that there must be an antiseptic humanitarian operation without engaging in any combat situation in that country?

 

RUMSFELD:  Oh goodness.  It's entirely up to Japan to decide what their circumstance is and how they feel they can best assist.  The Japanese government and the people of Japan have been very cooperative in the global war on terror.  The government of Japan and the people of Japan have been very generous in terms of the major financial commitment to help the Iraqi reconstruction.  I and the United States has always believed that each country has to make a decision for themselves how best they can help. 

 

NHK:  Aren't you a bit frustrated if Japanese hesitate to send its troops there. 

 

RUMSFELD:  Do I look frustrated?  Not at all.  Not even slightly frustrated. 

 

NHK:  But it may send a wrong signal to the terrorists that the coalition is kind of shaken. 

 

RUMSFELD:  The coalition's not shaken.  We have 33 countries with forces on the ground in Iraq.  Think of that.  33 nations have forces on the ground in Iraq.  It is a very broad coalition.  It's doing very well.  The Iraqi forces make it a 34th country.  We now have a 131,000 Iraqis who are providing security for the Iraqi people -- 131,000 Iraqis, that's an enormous number.  And they are doing a good job.  They are engaging in joint patrols with the coalition forces, and each month the number of Iraqi security forces goes up.  So the total number of security forces in Iraqi has been going up steadily. 

 

NHK:     The next question is North Korea, the DPRK.  The President said that he may consider security arrangements, security assurance for the DPRK in exchange for them to abandon the nuclear program.  Now, does that mean the United States could recognize the legitimacy of that vicious dictatorship and their active development of the ballistic missile and other WMD programs.  Is that the case?

 

RUMSFELD:  There is, first of all, there is not a chance in the world that the United States of America would give any country in the world, any assurances that would in any way at all, affect the relationship between the United States and Japan.  Our security agreement is there, it's important to us; it's important to both of our countries.  We value it; I know the government of Japan values it.  Any suggestion like that is really out of the question.  What might happen is yet to be seen with respect to North Korea.  The six-party talks are due to start at some point.  The representatives of the six countries, from five of the six countries anyway, are talking, discussing how those talks might go.  At some point, it is very likely that there will be another of those six-party sessions.  Whether or not any assurances would be given, whether or not the government of North Korea would find its way clear to indicate with a great deal of certainty that they would follow a path that would be acceptable to the other five countries remains to be seen.  In the event they did, obviously, they would have to be some very careful verification process, so that you were certain that what they said they were doing, they in fact they were doing, because that turned out not to be the case with the so-called Agreed Framework. 

 

NHK:  But in this country, some people worry about, very much, about that if there is a security assurance, it may hamper the deterrence for North Korea. 

 

RUMSFELD:  No.  No, there is nothing that is going to happen.  I am confident.  I know this President Bush and I know the other countries involved.  Japan, is one of the countries, they wouldn't want to participate in something that was harmful to their interests.  It is clearly important that we recognize the kind of regime that exists in North Korea –  and you characterized it well.  Also, we recognize that any indication of a change in their behavior would have to be verified.  There would have to be ways of gaining absolute assurance that what they said they were doing, they were doing.  But there is no chance that anyone would want to reduce the deterrent factor against a regime that has clearly been rattling the sabers from time to time. 

 

NHK:  The last question is the easy part: the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance.  What future -- I know that you are a first-rate strategic thinker -- what future are you willing to see for U.S.-Japan relations to deal with different kind of threat of the 21st century? 

 

RUMSFELD:  Well, Japan is of course a terribly important country, an enormously important country in the world.  It has the second largest economy on the face of the earth.  It is a vibrant, healthy democracy.  It is a model for so many other countries in the world.  It has a growing and impressive security capability, which enables it to contribute to a more peaceful and stable region here.  I see the relationship between our two countries continuing to grow, continuing to deepen.  We have common values; we have common interests, we both share the same desire to see this be a peaceful part of the world.  My hope is that Japan, over the coming decades, will continue to contribute to the world in a way that is has been doing, but to an even increasing extent.  The threats of the 21st century are different.  We must worry about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons.  We have to worry about the proliferation of those technologies of ballistic missiles that have been spreading across the globe.  Over the coming two decades, we will very likely be seeing the need to recognize the risks of cyber attacks.  And our two countries have so much in common that I have no doubt that over the next decade or two we will see an even closer relationship for our benefit, each of our countries benefit, but also for the benefit of the world. 

 

NHK:  Mr. Secretary, we got constitutional sensitivity. 

 

RUMSFELD:  Of course, those are things that Japan will have to think about.  As we move from the 20th century into the 21st century, Japan will, I am sure, think through what role it wants to play and how it wants to play that role.  That is what a sovereign nation does, and I wish them well. 

 

NHK:  If I would have some bonus question, the alignment of the U.S. defense posture in this district.  What importance do you see the U.S. bases in Okinawa, which I guess you are going to tomorrow?

 

RUMSFELD:  I am.

 

NHK:  What importance do you see (inaudible).

 

RUMSFELD:  Of course, it is important.  Our basing assistance here has been important here in Japan and also in Okinawa, (inaudible) in Japan.  We have a good relationship; we have had for many years.  We've talked about that today and over the coming weeks and months we will be consulting with the Japanese government about some concepts as to how things might be adjusted to better fit the 21st century, those are ahead of us.  We haven't gotten firm plans or firm proposals at the present time. 

 

NHK:  But are you going to reduce the number of Marines or U.S. posture there?

 

RUMSFELD:  As I said, we don't have any firm proposals at the present time. 

 

NHK:  When will you do that?

 

RUMSFELD:  There will be talks over the coming weeks and months. 

 

NHK:  Oh, that will be next month?

 

RUMSFELD:  I haven't set any dates. 

 

NHK:  Thank you Mr. Secretary.

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH YOMIURI SHIMBUN


 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Today you had a meeting with the Defense Minister Ishiba. 

 

RUMSFELD:  Excellent meeting.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Excellent meeting?

 

RUMSFELD:  And I had meeting with the Foreign Minister

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Right.

 

RUMSFELD:  Before that.  And a meeting with the Prime Minister last evening.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  How did you enjoy the meeting with the Defense Minister?

 

RUMSFELD:  I enjoyed it a great deal.  He is very knowledgeable.  He is deeply interested in important national security issues, and we had a good long visit and exchange and discussion on issues that I think are important and that he thinks are important.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Okay, I remember you, in the press conference at the National Press Building mentioned our plans to dispatch the Japanese Self Defense Force sometime in December.  And today’s press briefing ….

 

RUMSFELD:  I don’t think I did.

 

MB:  No

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  You did.  That’s in the record, it was.

 

RUMSFELD:   I don’t think so.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  It was.

 

RUMSFELD:  Is it?  What did I say?

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  You said they are planning to dispatch the Self Defense Force sometime in December.  The first advance team, yes.

 

RUMSFELD:  I may have not said that for myself.  I may have said that they have said that.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Okay.  But, so it was not …

 

RUMSFELD:   Do you recall this?

 

MB:  I don’t, but I would be certain that it was probably just repeating what had been understood.

 

RUMSFELD:  Yea, if I said anything about it I was just acknowledging that someone’s question said that but I tend not to talk about what other countries are going to do.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Okay.

 

              RUMSFELD:   I am generally quite careful. 

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Were you ..?

 

RUMSFELD:  And you really did check the transcript to see if ,,,

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes sir. 

 

RUMSFELD:   … I said that.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes sir.

 

RUMSFELD:  Well, I would like to see that. 

 

MB:  We’ll check it.

 

RUMSFELD:  I’ll bet it was in the questions.

 

MB:  It was probably in the questions and answers time.

 

RUMSFELD:  I’ll bet it was in the question rather than in the answer.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Possibly.  I will check.  Anyway, that was -- was it to your disappointment that the Japanese government actually delayed the decision as to when to dispatch the forces?

 

RUMSFELD:  See, now there is the question that contains a statement of fact.  You are stating that they have delayed it.  I am not.  You are, right?  Okay.  I will repeat what I have said for two and a half years since September 11th of 2001.  In the global war on terror and in Afghanistan and in Iraq and other activities we have gone out to the world and we have said that to the U.N., to NATO to other organizations and said that here is what we see as the situation and to the extent other countries share that view, we would value their assistance in whatever way makes the most sense for them.  And I will let them characterize what they want to do, and I do let them characterize it, and I have a lot of respect for sovereign nations. They have to make those decisions for themselves.  Each country has a different history, has a different constitution, has a different perspective, comes from a different part of the world, and I understand that and I respect that. 

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Okay.  I understand that the United States and Britain and other countries are pouring a lot of effort in maintaining the security situation within Iraq. 

 

RUMSFELD:   Well, let me comment on that.  There are 33 countries that have forces on the ground in Iraq.  Actually thirty-four, counting Iraq.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes, sir.

 

RUMSFELD:   Iraq now has 131,000 security forces.  And we have got any number of countries, thirty-three, thirty-four countries that are assisting there.  And that is a very broad coalition. 

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Now, what is the idea in improving the security situation in Iraq.

 

RUMSFELD:  Well, what has to be done, I believe, first of all, there are a lot of different views about that, because it is a complicated, difficult issue.  I believe that very likely, three things, may be even four things, have to happen.  And they have to happen almost together.  One is to improve the central services, the essential services, and they are improving.  Electricity is improving; water is improving; the oil revenues are up; schools are open; hospitals are open; and that’s a good thing.

 

A second thing that has to happen is the political process has to go forward.  The Iraqi people have now elected town councils in, or governors, in every portion of that country.  So there is – every single Iraqi citizen is now living somewhere either in a governant or in a city or a province that is governed by Iraqis.  That is a good thing.  The Governing Council nationally has appointed ministers, and the ministers are now assuming more and more responsibility.  And I believe that the Iraqi people have to see that Iraqis are participating in governing their country.  I think that to get them wanting to be supportive of their country, they have to see that as opposed to having people from another country basically deciding everything. 

 

A third thing that has to happen is that the security forces have got to grow to a level that they can capture or kill people that are running around killing innocent men, women and children, who are mostly Iraqis.  If you look at who is being killed, the overwhelming majority are the Iraqi people, by the terrorists. 

 

The fourth thing that has to happen is, and I don’t know how to do this to be honest, there has to be some way that the truth can be told about what is taking place in that country.  There are so many things that are untrue that are being reported by irresponsible journalists and irresponsible television stations, particularly like Al Jazeera and Al Arabia, that are leaving the Iraqi people with a totally imbalanced picture of what is happening in their country.  And they are leaving the people in the region with an imbalanced picture of what is happening in the country.  That is unfortunate.  So those four things all have to go forward together, I believe, if we are going to see a marked improvement.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Okay.  I would like to come to Asia.

 

RUMSFELD:  Have you met Ambassador Baker?

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes, Ambassador Baker.

 

AMBASSADOR BAKER:  Good, how are you?

 

RUMSFELD:  And Mrs. Baker?  Nancy?

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Nice to meet you.

 

RUMSFELD:  They are our host and hostess here this evening. 

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Right.  In the …

 

RUMSFELD:  So you have an audience here.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes.  In your process of reviewing the forward presence of the U.S. military bases in Asia and Pacific region, what is the basic concept under – what is your concept of the security environment in this region, sir. 

 

RUMSFELD:  That is a good question.  When I came into office the President asked me to look at the entire world and see how we are arranged and how we might better be arranged for the 21st century.  We did what was called a Quadrennial Defense Review and out of that review came a conviction on the part of the people involved that this part of the world is going, in the 21st century, going to continue to be important on an increasing basis.  The force posture or the engagement of our country with the world has to be significant in this part of the world.  We are a Pacific nation and this is a, well, how to put it, you asked what is the difference?  The difference really is -- in the 20th century we basically had a static defense posture in the world.  We did in Europe.  The Soviet Union was the threat.  We really did in the Korean Peninsula.  North Korea was the threat, and that was really not true with respect to Japan.  Japan -- we clearly were interested in the defense of Japan, but also the peace and stability in the region, so as we reviewed our circumstance we came to the conclusion that we needed to kind of move from a static defense to a circumstance where we had greater agility, where we can move faster.  The kinds of threats that exist in the world today are increasingly lethal, and you are not likely to be facing large armies, navies or air forces; you are less likely than in the last century.  You are more likely to be facing terrorist threats, ungoverned areas, problems that come up fast and need to be dealt with quickly, and so we are attempting to figure out ways that we could be more agile as a force and deal with things more rapidly.  We are now at the stage where we have concepts and we are starting to talk to our friends and allies around the world.  My guess is that we’ll at some point develop conviction in proposals, which we have not yet, and then very likely we would have to go to our congress and get funded for the military construction and the types of things that that requires, and get agreements from the countries we deal with, and then the next step would be to do it, and that would take the period of a decade to make those kinds of adjustments and get ourselves set for the period ahead.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  I see.  Now the Japanese government has decided to introduce missile defense system, sea based and ground based.  What is your idea of defending the U.S. bases in this country. 

 

RUMSFELD:  Well.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  From missile threats.

 

RUMSFELD:  Sure.  It is a problem.  You have a neighbor there that has rattled the ballistic missile sabers from time to time and indeed fired ballistic missiles over this country.  We think that the administration here as the government of Japan has made a very good decision to go to the Diet and propose funding for missile defense.  The time, of course, between the launching of the missile and its arrival is a matter of minutes,

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes sir.

 

RUMSFELD:   . . . and not days or years or months.  You don’t have a leisurely period to get arranged for it.  And I think the investments that we are making and the types of cooperation we can engage in with Japan will enable both of us to do a better job of defending our interests.  Needless to say, Japan and to the extent U.S. forces are in Japan, U.S. forces as well.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  With respect to North Korea, diplomatic dialogue is going on.  But previously I understand that while I was in Washington listening to your work, you were one of the persons who said that nothing is off the table.  Do you still keep that idea sir?

 

RUMSFELD:   It is not from me.  I don’t do foreign policy.  But that is basically what the President has said, and what Secretary Powell has said and they have made a conscious decision to engage in a diplomatic approach with North Korea, which I think is the right thing to do.  They have, again I think very properly, decided that it is not the kind of thing that we can do bilaterally.  It is the only really effective way of dealing with North Korea, it seems to me, is to have the nations of this region engage and in what I guess are being called six-party talks.  I would go so far as to say that I think the U.N. has an interest as well.  The whole world has to be concerned.  This region has to be concerned about North Korea in this region.  But the world has to be concerned about North Korea in terms of proliferation of technologies of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technologies.  That is a problem that is not restricted to this region, and to the extent that they follow through and do the kinds of things with nuclear materials that they have been doing with ballistic missile technologies, it will change the world.  And so it is a problem for the world, it is a problem for the international community, as well as a problem for the six countries here and I am very supportive of what taking place.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  How hopeful are you, sir, that this problem can be resolved peacefully and diplomatically?

 

RUMSFELD: Oh goodness.  I don’t know that I would want to characterize my hopefulness.  I am an old man and I have been surprised lots of times in my life on things that turn out better or things that turn out not quite as well as I thought.  I think that when you are dealing with something as lethal as we are in this situation, one has to be measured and cautious and careful. 

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  I see.  You are going to Okinawa tomorrow.

 

RUMSFELD: I am.  I am looking forward to it.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Meeting with the governor.  What word do you have to the people . . .

 

RUMSFELD: I am also going to be meeting with some of our troops

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes.

 

RUMSFELD: . . . and looking at some of the facilities.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Yes.  But words do you have for the people and the soldiers?

 

RUMSFELD: Oh, listen, the soldiers are just wonderful.  These young men and women are all volunteers.  They are people who every instance decided that they wanted to help defend our country and defend freedom and contribute to a more peaceful world, and they are proud of what they do, they are well trained, they are well equipped, they are – I must say the ones I met today in Japan are also just delighted to be here.  They feel that they are treated so well and that the environment is so hospitable to them  -- the Japanese people and the friendships they have made; and they feel that this is a good duty assignment and they are pleased to be here. 

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  And to the people.

 

RUMSFELD: And to the people.  Absolutely.

 

MB:  Thank you very much.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN: Thank you very much.

 

RUMSFELD: Well thank you.

 

YOMIURI SHIMBUN:  Thank you Mr. Secretary.  Nice meeting you.

 

RUMSFELD: Its nice to see you.  I wish you well.  Lets get the transcript and see if he's right or I'm right.  (Laughter)

 

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