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Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 16, 2003

Q:  How can we promote democracy in North Korea?


Rumsfeld:  People in North Korea have to decide what system of government they want.  Anyone who looks at the world can see that the countries that have freer political systems and freer economic systems are the countries that are successful for their people.  And the countries that do not end up having not providing the kind of prosperity for their people that they could have if they would have freer systems.


Q:  Do you really believe that North Korea can give up their WMD program in exchange for security guarantee and economic aid?


Rumsfeld:  Those are issues that remain ahead.  The President is on a diplomatic track with North Korea, and my understanding is that in the period ahead there may very well be some six-party talk, and time will tell.


Q:  North Korean refugee issue.  Senators like Luger and congressmen insist that the United States should allow North Korea refugees in the territory of the United States?  What is your opinion of that?


RUMSFELD:  That is an issue for the department of state.  The department of defense does not get involved with that.


Q:  As you may know, protests are waiting for you in Seoul.  Have you worried about anti-American sentiments in South Korea?


RUMSFELD:  First of all I do not have knowledge of your statement.  There frequently are countries -- some people who disagree with their government, and in a free system people can do that. 


Q:  Mr. Richard Lawless asked South Korea to send to Iraq around 5,000 combatant troops.  Now South Korean government almost decided the number -- 3,000 -- but the issue of combatant and noncombatant is not clear.  So, the position of the two governments is different.  Is South Korean position acceptable to you?


RUMSFELD:  I don’t know that Mr. Lawless did what you said.  I don’t know that.  I just don’t know.  He may be right.  He may be wrong.  The department of state has been asking countries for assistance – encouraging countries to provide assistance – various (inaudible) -- troops, financial assistance and the like.  We’ve got wonderful support from around the world with some 33 countries now with forces on the ground in Iraq, and a number of countries that are contributing – have pledged large sums of money.  That is encouraging.  As I’ve said before, it’s entirely up to any other country – any sovereign country -- to decide what they want to do.  And that’s their privilege and right.


Q:  If South Korean government decides any plan of sending troops, will you accept it?


RUMSFELD:  It’s obviously up to every country in the world to decide how they want to participate.


Q:  You said recently why United States forces in South Korea can’t be readily available for other regions besides Korean peninsula.  What would be the regional role of USFK?


RUMSFELD:  I don’t think I said what you said I said.


Q:  According to AP report you said so.


RUMSFELD:  That doesn’t make it so.  I think what I said was worldwide the United States forces haven’t in the last century tended to have been organized for static defense and deterrence.  That the challenges of the 21st century require us to have agility and the ability to move more rapidly, and that’s one of the factors that we’re taking into account as we review our force posture in the world.


Q:  What is military and weapons for human beings?  Why do we need military and weapons?


RUMSFELD:  Who’s we?


Q:  Human beings.  It’s a kind of philosophy question.


RUMSFELD:  I see, okay.  Well, throughout the history of the world we find that human beings are imperfect, and that there are individuals, there are countries, there are organizations that for a variety of reasons decide they want to try to impose their will on their neighbor to the extent people don’t want to have somebody else’s will imposed on them.  They want to be free to decide their own lives, their own country’s circumstance.  They recognize that being weak is provocative.  It entices people into doing things they otherwise wouldn’t do.  So, throughout history people have decided that it’s important to make the kind of investments that enable them to have capabilities which will dissuade other countries from attempting to impose their will on them, and those capabilities are in some cases military weapons.  In some cases it’s other things, but that’s been true throughout the history of human beings.


Q:  If the United States forces become lighter, stronger, more effective by your transformation plan, I think China might be more alert and feel competition with the United States.  What is your comment on that?


RUMSFELD:  No, the United States is not an aggressive country.  We are a country that has a role in the Pacific – we had for (inaudible) decades.  China lives in the region.  We have an evolving relationship with the People’s Republic of China that the President has put on a constructive path and as a matter of fact, we’ve hosted Chinese leaders in the United States.


Q:  In order to improve the relationship with South Korea and the United States, what are your suggestions?


RUMSFELD:  Well we’ve had a good relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea.  I think that the security arrangements we’ve had in that country have contributed to the peace on the peninsula.  They have enabled South Korea to develop a thriving economy, and that’s been a good thing for the people of the Republic of Korea and a good thing for Northeast Asia.


Q:  If you were reborn again – I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation or not – but if you do, what kind of life do you want to live again?


RUMSFELD:   Is that a serious question?


Q:  Yes.


RUMSFELD:  What kind of answer would you expect?


Q:  It depends on you.


RUMSFELD:  I feel fortunate that for major portions of my life I’ve been able to serve in government and contribute as a public servant and I hope I’ve made constructive contributions.  I wouldn’t want to change that.



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