RUMSFELD: Thank you very much. (Applause continues.) Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate that. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, folks. Bob, thank you so much for those kind words. Kind of makes me sound like I can't hold a job. (Laughter.)
I remember when I was first elected to Congress. I was in bed one night, and I was reading a doctoral dissertation that someone had sent me from Chicago. And this fellow predicted that a congressional district would produce a reasonably predictable congressman, that my district was in the northern part of Cook County in Illinois, and it had the highest level of education, the highest level of annual earned income and the least unemployment of any district in America. And he went on to say that Rumsfeld is the exception that proves the rule. (Laughter.) "Rumsfeld is distinguished principally by his total lack of social, financial and political standing in the community." (Light laughter.)
I woke up my wife and said, "Listen to that, Joyce. Isn't that terrible?" And she said, "Yes, but go back to sleep, because it's tough to argue with." (Laughter.)
I'm delighted to be here, to be -- also to be out of Washington and have a chance to see some folks who get a little fresh perspective on the world. It's good to see some old friends here. Joe Cerrell, it's been a long time. So many folks from RAND Corporation are here, I see, and even the trustees.
The -- many years ago I lived in this state, down in Coronado. It was, I think, more than six decades ago, during World War II. My father was out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. And I think back to those years and how much I loved living in the state.
During those years and of course since those years, California has given our country tens of thousands of volunteer soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines. I meet with them all over the world. They are doing a truly superb job for our country and for the world.
I'd like to mention one Southern Californian with gritty drive and a Silver Star, seriously wounded in Iraq in combat that was so intense it was described as almost a hand grenade throwing contest. This man, Corporal Timothy Tardif, refused medical attention until the battle had been won. Later he was evacuated. He called his wife from the transit hospital in Germany, Landstuhl, and he said, "Honey, I could come home right now, but I feel I have responsibilities, and I'm going to go back to Iraq." Apparently, he borrowed a uniform, convinced a doctor to let him out of the hospital, got on a flight back to Iraq and went with his squad. And how fortunate we are to have people like that, troops like Tim Tardif, who have absolutely no quit in them. (Applause.)
And today, obviously, the news is not good, and we remember those who have fallen in the line of duty, including 21 Marines killed in the last few days in Iraq. Patriots, they were determined to stop the terrorists from reclaiming Iraq and from launching more attacks on our people.
Our nation needed them; our nation called on them in battle, and we mourn them now in death. Our country will honor them by completing the mission which -- for which they fought so hard and so nobly.
I was in Iraq and Central Asia last week, where I met with the troops; these amazing men and women in uniform who are serving our country with such courage and such professionalism. And despite the difficulties -- and there are difficulties, to be sure -- they're making solid progress in helping to set the conditions for Iraqis to successfully defend their young democracy.
And once Iraq is safely in the hands of the Iraqi people and a government that they elect, under a new constitution that they're now fashioning -- and which should be completed by August 15th -- our troops will be able to -- as the capability of the Iraqi security forces evolve, pass over responsibility to them, and then come home with the honor they will have earned.
It's been nearly four years since terrorists launched their attack on our country, killed some 3,000 innocent people. As we've seen, the enemies of civilized society remain deadly, even today. We saw it most recently in London last month.
While most of our people are determined to defend our country and our way of life, a few seem attracted to the seductive idea that we might be able to retreat behind convenient fictions that obscure the lethality and the intention of the enemy. I want to mention a few of those fictions, and then talk a bit about the way head in the global war on terror, the struggle between civilization and extremists, and then respond to some questions.
First, there has been comment in the press of late about whether or not we are even engaged in a war, in a war on terror, and whether our efforts might be better explained in some other manner. It's a fair question. But let there be no doubt, no mistake, we are a nation at war; a war against terrorist enemies that are seeking our surrender or retreat.
The president determined after September 11th that the United States no longer could try to deal with the violent extremists that were killing our people simply by traditional law enforcement approaches. The only way to defeat terrorism is to go after them where they are, not wait to be attacked. A terrorist can, of course, attack at any place at any time, using any conceivable technique. It is simply not possible to defend at every location, every minute of the day or night, against every conceivable terrorist technique. It can't be done.
Therefore, the only way to defeat terrorist is to go after them where they are, not to wait -- not to wait to be attacked.
And that's exactly what our global coalition has done, and what our troops are doing today in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere around the globe.
The president's strategy for winning the war on terror includes fashioning what is undoubtedly the largest coalition in the history of mankind. Some 90-plus nations today are working together, sharing intelligence, cooperating. In the near term, we're confronting terrorists, and capturing or killing them, and depriving them of their sanctuaries.
However, ultimately, success will depend on advancing the cause of freedom and democracy as an alternative to the grim vision of the terrorists. And in supporting those growing number of moderate voices in the Muslim world that are disputing the claim of the terrorists, that they represent the true vision of Islam. They do not.
This war of ideas is at the heart of the war on terror; a conflict between a totalitarian ideology of the extremists, and the now-tested vision of free societies. The fanaticism of these enemies can only be defeated if we successfully employ all elements of national power: military to be sure, but more diplomatic, financial, intelligence-sharing, and law enforcement. We need all elements of national power to win this war. But make no mistake, it is a war.
Some also ask, how should we define the enemy? While al Qaeda is one face of the terrorists, it's not the only face. The enemy is not one nation; it's not any one organization. It's a shifting network of violent and fanatical adherents to extremist ideologies, a movement that uses terrorism as their weapon of choice. They operate on six continents, and have cells and networks in friendly as well as hostile nation-states. They combine medieval views and modern tools and technologies. And they deny women a opportunity to participate in society. One has to ask, how could any society hope to succeed while denying half of its population the opportunity to participate?
We've now seen the future that they seek. They've made their intentions very clear. The cities they rule would be like Fallujah, Iraq, was last fall, where those who refused to collaborate with the terrorists in that city were beheaded and then tossed in the Euphrates River. We have heard their plans. As a cleric in Britain said to the world after last month's bombing in London, he said, quote, "I would like to see the Islamic flag fly, not only over 10 Downing Street, but over the whole world."
This is not a war between the West and the Muslim faith. There is a struggle within the Muslim faith between extremists and moderates. The targets of terrorists are more often than not other Muslims, such as the Iraqi children who last month were murdered as they were receiving some candy from an American soldier. Indeed, their victims have included thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq -- many killed simply because they had chosen to be free.
The liberated Iraqis and Afghans are today defying terrorist threats and condemning their violence. According to recent polls, an increasing number of Muslims are optimistic about the success of democracy in their own countries, and they're rejecting the tyranny offered by the terrorists.
Some people seem confused about the motivations and intentions of terrorists, and about our coalition's defense of the still-young democracies in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They seem to cling to the discredited theory that the recent attacks in London and elsewhere, for example, are really in retaliation for the war in Iraq or for the so-called occupation of Afghanistan. That is nonsense.
The United States and its allies did not provoke the terrorists; the terrorists attacked America. There was no war in Iraq or Afghanistan when America was attacked on September 11th, and there was no war in Iraq or Afghanistan when terrorists attacked Americans in the Beirut barracks in 1983 -- 18 -- 1983, in the Khobar Towers in 1996, or the African embassies in 1998, or when they attacked the USS Cole in the year 2000.
Some still argue that acquiescing to terrorist demands by retreating from Afghanistan or Iraq would put an end to future terrorist attacks. That is also nonsense. Terrorists do not seek a negotiated settlement with the West or with the moderate Muslim nations, and they're not appeased by concessions. A car bomb in Saudi Arabia killed 17 and wounded 80 after American troops were leaving Saudi Arabia. Indeed, al Qaeda likely began plotting the 9/11 attack during the height of the Middle East peace process in the 1990s.
Resolve, not retreat, is what's needed in this war. It is a test of wills. Courage, not concession, and freedom, not tyranny, must be the path that we forge, the future we insist on, and the legacy that America and her allies help nations build for themselves. Our coalition must win this test of wills, vowing that we will not surrender Iraq or Afghanistan to terrorists, that we do not apologize for our countries' meaning in the world, and that we will not betray the principles of freedom that at bedrock define our nation. These enemies would not be placated by a surrender, by an apology, or by a betrayal of our values, or of our free way of life. Indeed, I would submit that they would be emboldened.
So what, then, is the task ahead? Our global coalition will continue to target terrorist networks and their sanctuaries, and to support and help and strengthen free governments that willingly join in that fight. But we have to recognize that the challenges we face come not only from terrorist networks, suicide bombers. They also come from the schools that teach children -- the radical schools that teach children to be suicide bombers and to be terrorists -- and from the radical clerics who preach violence and demonize a free way of life.
Free nations are best able to counter the lies of terrorists that they use to attract suicide bombers in partnership with moderate Muslim leaders. We have to partner with them; they are the ones that are going to prevail in that struggle within that faith. These efforts are not without great difficulties, as we've seen so tragically this week and last. Although the Iraqi people remain determined to build a free society, the terrorists are desperate to try to stop them.
But despite their headline-grabbing violence, they're failing. Indeed, the lethal attacks on innocent Iraqi citizens appear to be hardening the Iraqi people's determination to defeat al Qaeda and the insurgents, and to succeed in building a free Iraq. More than 8 million Iraqis defied terrorists to vote in last January's elections. Many were walking defiantly past voting places and into voting places that had only minutes or hours before been attacked by the terrorists. And despite the harm that the extremists have inflicted on innocent Iraqis -- and it happens every single day -- consider the record of the extremists thus far.
They tried to occupy Fallujah and carve out a terrorist safe haven in Iraq and they failed. They launched a campaign of violence to stop the January election, and they failed. They tried to intimidate, every week, every month, and murder recruits going into the Iraqi security forces, to keep more from enlisting. And they are failing. They've tried to force the coalition to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, and with the single exception of Spain pulling out its forces from Iraq, they have failed. And they're desperate to stop the forward march of freedom in the Middle East and beyond, including Central Asia. And they're failing at that as well.
As the citizens of more countries seek to live as free people under free systems, the fanaticism that fuels hostility to such systems and encourages terrorist violence will suffer still further blows. This will be a tribute to moderate Muslim leaders. It will be a tribute to the millions of moderate Muslims who have courageously supported them. And it will be a tribute to our men and women in uniform, to be sure.
I have a pin on, a "America Supports You" pin. I've seen a number of them in the audience as we were visiting early -- earlier this afternoon. I thank all of you who have those pins for wearing them. What they stand for is America Supports You. It's a website called americasupportsyou.mil. There's a card at your place, I'm told, that you can look at and see the website.
What it is, is a compilation of all the things -- that we know of -- that are being done across our country to support the troops and to support their families. And you will be impressed and amazed at the creativity and the generosity and the energy that is being put into this important activity. I hope you'll go to the website. I hope you'll interest yourself in all the things that schools are doing, families, clubs, corporations, organizations of every conceivable type. It says a great deal about the hearts of the American people.
We are, as a country, needless to say, greatly in the debt of those who raise their hands and say, "Send me." Day in and day out across this globe, American men and women in uniform, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, are on the front line against -- fighting in this global war on terror. They're doing noble work. They are proud of what they are doing -- properly proud of what they're doing. And certainly our country is deeply in their debt.
May God bless them and their families, and may God bless our wonderful country. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
RUMSFELD: Now I'd be delighted to answer some questions.
MODERATOR: We have enough here that it should keep you entirely busy for your --
RUMSFELD: They don't look very well organized on your table top there. [Laughter].
QUESTION: On Monday's Hardball Chris Matthews said that there are two stories when he interviews troops in the field -- one for the camera and the other that questions your strategy. What is your comment on the need for more troops in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: The question of the number of troops in Iraq has been one that has been up for public discussion from the very outset. The President and I and the senior military leadership in the Pentagon spent weeks and weeks and weeks with General Tom Franks and his team going over the number of troops that he believed would be appropriate. It turned out that we supported his decision. In retrospect, I think it was the right decision.
The debate continues, and people now say should there be more or should there be fewer troops in Iraq? And it's a fair question. It's not an easy, simply subject. There's no book you go to that says for this situation that's the right way to do it. You have to worry your way through it all and take the advice, ultimately, of the people whose judgment you respect.
The number of troops in Iraq at the present time are 138,000 plus. They're down from a high, I believe, of 170,000. They are the number that the senior military leadership, General George Casey and General J. R. Vines and General John Abizaid have recommended be there.
The tension that they are wrestling with is the following: The more troops you have in that country, the more physical presence you have, the more force protection you have to have for those troops, the more support and combat support and combat service support you have to have for those troops, the more visible they are, and the more they seem to be an occupying force. Therefore, the more it feeds into the insurgents' argument that the United States and the coalition nations are in fact there as an occupying power, which we are not. We seek no one else's real estate, we're not interested in their oil, we are simply there to try to take that situation and put them on a path towards a freer system that's respectful of all the people in that country and is at peace with its neighbors.
If you have more people, you feed that argument. If you have too few people, the security is insufficient for the political and economic progress to take place. Success will only occur if there's progress on the political front so that the Iraqi people see that in fact it is their country, it is a sovereign nation, they are in control of it and they will as they draft this new constitution by August 15th, and then have a referendum nationally by October 15th, and then elect new government by December under that new constitution, people will feel they have a stake in that nation.
We are training the Iraqi security forces as fast as they can be trained. We are passing off pieces of real estate to the Iraqis as fast as they're capable of taking it over.
I don't have any problem. In life if you do something, somebody's not going to like it. And on the other hand, if you don't do anything -- If nobody's criticizing you I suppose it's because you're not doing anything.
I didn't hear the remark on MSNBC, but I know the debate. I wish there were a perfect answer to it, but all I can tell you is that the number of troops there are the number of troops that the senior military leadership are absolutely convinced is the right number. They're the number that the Iraqi government thinks is about the right number. They're the number that the President and I both agree is about the right number. And our goal is to be able to bring them down as the Iraqi security forces develop greater capability and as the political process goes forward so the Iraqi people help to suppress the insurgency.
QUESTION: The Defense Department is exceptional at warfighting and has a lot of people. The State Department is very good at diplomacy but has few people. What agency in our government has the people and the knowledge -- culture, economy, religion, political, language -- to do the nationbuilding that we need in Iraq.
RUMSFELD: The answer is that we don't have a cadre of people who are organized, trained and equipped and readily deployable to do the non-military functions that countries need help with. We never have had that kind of capability, we don't today.
Let me just say a word about nation building. The implication of the question is that it's possible for one nation to go in and build another nation. I'm a little cautious about that construct. I think people of their nation have to be the ones that build their nation, and I think the task of other countries is to try to create an environment where that's possible.
But the Iraqis are going to end up with an Iraqi constitution, not an American constitution. They're going to have an Iraqi election, not an American election. They're going to have an Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Agriculture that fits Iraq, not the United States. And all we can do it seems to me is to recognize that we have a chance -- Think of Afghanistan. We were attacked on September 11th. In October we put troops halfway around the world in a land-locked country and the front page of the New York Times said we're in a quagmire after we'd been there for three weeks. Above the fold. [Laughter].
Three or four weeks later Kabul fell. Today they have the first popularly elected President in the 5,000-year history of their country. On September 18th they're going to have a parliamentary election and provincial election. Did we build that nation? No. Did we help create an environment where it could be done? You bet. The soccer field instead of being used for beheadings is being used for soccer today in Kabul. The people are voting. They had eight million people vote in the last election and I'm told another 1.5 million have already registered for the September 18th election.
Is that country going to look like the United States? No. Is it going to look like Afghanistan used to look? No. It's going to look like an Afghanistan there in Central Asia that is going to be different than it has ever been, that is going to be respectful of all the people in that country and they are on a path that is representative and respectful of all the diverse ethnic and religious groups. We did not build that nation. That nation is getting built and it's getting built by Afghans and it's getting built by people because people like the United States were willing to go in there and throw the al-Qaida out and throw the Taliban out and give the responsible people of that country a chance to build their own country. It won't be easy, it's a tough business.
Democracy is not easy as we all know. Look how long it took us for our constitution -- 1776 to 1789. These things don't happen immediately, and we had a civil war thereafter. And our first constitution still had slavery and women couldn't vote. This isn't easy stuff. It's hard stuff.
We could benefit as a country with a larger cadre of people who could go in, for example, to Iraq today and help the Ministry of Finance develop the kinds of capabilities to function in the modern world. We don't have those people. We've gotten a lot of volunteers and we've sent a lot of people in, a lot of people have gone voluntarily at no pay. But we continue to be short in some of those Ministries, for example.
It's a good question and I don't know that I've got the majority view the way I answered it, but I've watched enough in these countries to have a strong sense that one of the dangers is that Americans will be Americans. If they see a ditch that needs to be dug, they'll go dig it. And the task is not to go dig every ditch for every other country in the world. The task is to create an environment and encourage them to dig the ditches and encourage them to help train the trainers to dig the ditches or build the ministries or provide border patrols, whatever it may be. Create an environment so that they can do it themselves and create that institutional capability so that they can sustain it thereafter.
QUESTION: Since it is obvious that the insurgency in Iraq is not all home-grown and that the infiltration of terrorists from border nations, especially Syria, is prolonging the conflict, what can be done that has not been done to prevent Syria from aiding and abetting the enemy?
RUMSFELD: Syria, as you point out in the question, has been notably unhelpful, indeed harmful, to the situation in Iraq. They've refused to give the Iraqi funds that are in Syria, in Damascus, back to the Iraqis. They have housed and permitted hospitality for the Ba'athists who fled the Saddam Hussein regime that are still functioning and operating out of there and undoubtedly financing some of the insurgency. There's a relatively steady flow of people across the border from Syria into Iraq who are part of the insurgency. Syria, of course, has been on the terrorist list for many many years. Syria has been in close cooperation with Iran and has funded the Hezbollah that have come down through Damascus into Beirut and then down towards Israel. They have a long record, a long pattern of doing that.
The United States and the world, obviously, has to create a better clarity in the minds of the leaders of Syria that what they're doing is harmful ultimately to themselves. They're going to have to live in that neighborhood and Iraq doesn't like what Syria's doing, and Iraq's going to be in that neighborhood for a very long time and it's a bigger country, a richer country, and it will be a more powerful country. It's not, in my view -- the Syrians are not behaving in a wise manner at the present time.
Other countries and the United States are simply going to have to continue to try to put pressure on them so that they understand the disadvantages that accrue to them by their behavior.
QUESTION: You earlier mentioned the New York Times. This questioner asks, is the press coverage of the war fair, and would you recommend embedding press with the troops again in the future? [Laughter].
RUMSFELD: Thank you for asking, mother. [Laughter]. Whoever you are.
Torie Clark was Assistant Secretary of Defense, came to General Myers and me and said I really think this is important that we from the very beginning embed reporters in every aspect of the Iraq war, the invasion and the conduct of the war. We talked about it a great deal. She persuaded Dick Myers and me that we would do it. It was a big roll of the dice. We did it. And I think it was a wonderful thing to have done. I think it was a big success.
What you had was a group of people who never served in the military, reporters, who a lot of them, they got to live day in and day out and see what wonderful young men and women these are, these soldiers are, sailors and marines and airmen.
The rest of their lives they will remember that experience. The rest of their lives they will have had that insight into how professional and how brave and how competent and how capable these young men and women are. The tasks they have where they get up every morning and have to call audibles. There's no one smart enough in Washington, D.C., or in the command center in Central Command to tell everyone what they should do when they get up every morning. These folks have a tough job. They have to simultaneously be warriors, be humanitarians, be diplomats, be builders, and helpers to the Iraqi people and they're doing it.
So the embedded reporters saw all of that and they'll be affected by that the rest of their lives. They'll have a body of knowledge they never would have had.
There was a problem with it because each one of those reporters would be with a single unit and they would see a slice of reality. They wouldn't see even 90 degrees of reality let alone 180 degrees everywhere in the country. It's a big country, the size of California. Twenty-eight million people. It's geographically about the same size as this state, I believe. But those reporters saw a slice of reality and reported it accurately. The American people then had the task of taking all of those disparate, varied slices of reality and integrating and synthesizing them and coming to some judgments about what was really going on.
Now the problem, you say is the reporting fair. You mean --
[Disruption from audience].
RUMSFELD: I suppose on a scale of good, fair and bad we could say they're fair.
But it's not for me to judge the press. I will say if you look at where they stand in the judgments and the views of the American people, the United States military is right up here and the press is way down there.
QUESTION: How much governmental and private corruption is interfering with the reconstruction in Iraq?
RUMSFELD: I would say a great deal. Why do I say that? Well, in much of the world that's a very serious problem. Corruption, the people here who have been in business and know the way the world works know that we're very fortunate in our country to have a relatively low level of corruption, and when one looks across the globe, and people who have to do business in other parts of the world recognize that there's a relatively high level of corruption in a number of parts of the world.
You get a disrupted situation like a war, and a post-war recovery, and it offers all kinds of opportunities for corruption. And corruption is so corrosive. It just makes everyone feel they don't want to be a part of that. Or on the other hand, they have no choice but to be a part of corruption.
And so is there corruption in that part of the world? You bet. Are the coalition countries that are working there trying to do everything possible to see that the generosity of coalition nations isn't wasted, to see that the resources of the Iraqi and Afghan people are not wasted? You bet they are. They're doing an awful lot to try to see it. But it exists and as more order is restored and more discipline and the ministries develop competence and cadres of people who are accountable to each other, the level of corruption clearly will go down.
QUESTION: How do you reconcile our relationship with Saudi Arabia, where on one hand we consider them an ally but on the other hand they are one of the world's great supporters of terrorism through the Madrasas and Wahabiism?
RUMSFELD: It's a hard question to answer. We have a situation in that country where without question Crown Prince Abdullah and as of yesterday King Abdullah, clearly recognizes the threat -- The principle threat from al-Qaida is not against the West. The principle threat is against moderate Muslim nations and that is their goal. The al-Qaida's goal is to reestablish a caliphate, to throw out the moderate leaders in every Muslim country, and the King understands that. Ever since the al-Qaida attacks in Saudi Arabia they have been very aggressive in trying to round up terrorists and see that they're put into prison.
It's also true that the extremist philosophy and people, not the Saudi Arabian government but people in Saudi Arabia, have funded these Madrasa schools, some of which have been ones run by radical clerics and the ones that have trained terrorists. And the money has come not just from Saudi Arabia, from other countries as well. And that is a problem. It's a problem they understand, it's a problem we understand, and my sense is that the leadership in Saudi Arabia recognizes that that is as much a threat to them as it is to anyone else in the society, in the world -- civilized society in the world, and are working to assist and cooperate with us and the other members of the coalition to try to stop it.
QUESTION: Of the 1800-plus men and women who have been killed since the beginning of the war, can you tell us how many are active duty regulars versus the number of guardsmen and reservists? And how were the Guard troops trained before they deployed?
RUMSFELD: It would be, I think you said 1800-plus. As of yesterday the actual number that have been killed in action in the country is 1366. There have been another 400 that had non-hostile deaths. That is to say an automobile accident or something that was not war-related even though they were in the area of responsibility. It's a lot of people. I cannot off the top of my head give you the number as between active duty, Guard and Reserve.
The largest numbers are clearly from the active duty force because they're the largest numbers of people there.
The training of people, the other part of the question, varies dramatically from skill set to skill set. The Guard and the Reserve have, I was in the Reserves for, I don't know, 10-15 years and you would train one weekend a month and then you would go for two weeks active duty for training and develop a level of proficiency in whatever it was you did. I happened to be a Navy pilot. That was at a certain level.
It obviously is not the same level that you have if you're on active duty and you're doing it every day. On the other hand, the people in the Guard and Reserve in large measure had served previously on active duty so they had come up to a certain level of capability and competence.
The one thing I would add in this regard is that the armed forces of the United States were organized and trained and equipped for the 20th Century, not the 21st Century. The skill sets that existed were, in many instances, not the ones that the world needs today. They were skill sets more appropriate to the Cold War, to major combat between big armies, big navies and big air forces, and insufficient numbers of people and skill sets like civil affairs and military police and the kinds of security, foot soldier type activities that are very much in demand today.
We've been rebalancing those skill sets, both within the active force and with the Guard and Reserve and also as between the Guard and Reserve, the reserve components and the active components. We're making very good progress on it. It will probably take another year to two years to get them balanced in a way that we think will have the capabilities we need.
But the short answer is the training varies, runs across the full spectrum and it depends on the individual circumstance.
QUESTION: There are now more reports of prisoner abuse in Iraq. The death of General Moash, for example. Who and what are Scorpion Squads, and what are we doing about them?
RUMSFELD: What kind of squads?
RUMSFELD: I don't know. [Laughter].
The question is an interesting one because it says there are new reports. The truth is there have been practically no new reports. What we're seeing is first the reports which uniformly, almost uniformly, were put out not by investigative reporters and not by congressional investigations, but put out by the United States Army, military, at the Central Command, announced it themselves and said we have had allegations of improper conduct against detainees and here's what they've been and we are now conducting an investigation against the people who the allegations have been leveled against.
Then what you get down the road is you get e-mails where people are talking back and forth and then that gets released and it sounds like it's new allegations. The ones that were in the paper I believe you're talking about today, I was just told about this morning, and I'm told that they are the direct result of trials. First, you have alleged misconduct. Then you end up with a trial at some point and the person is prosecuted. Then over time there's a hearing and people make the charges. The defense lawyer says this, and the prosecutor says that. What you're seeing in the press today, it's my understanding, is simply a report that's coming out of the trials that resulted from the discoveries made by military personnel, initiated their investigations, asked for a court martial, the court martials go forward, and then there's a trial, and at that point they keep reporting it and it sounds to the American people and the world as though it's the fourth time they've seen this type of thing, and it's actually the same thing that's been reported previously.
QUESTION: Should the European community fail to convince Iran to halt its enrichment program, and should the UN sanctions fail, what should the U.S. do to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions?
RUMSFELD: The United States should do exactly what the President and the Congress decide it should do. [Laughter].
It certainly looks that that country is on a path where they're quite determined to have nuclear weapons. The Europeans and the United States and the rest of the world have to make a judgment about what kind of a world that's going to be given the fact that they're on the terrorist list and that they're sponsoring terrorism continuously, that they're causing difficulties for Afghanistan, they're causing difficulties for -- We mentioned Syria earlier, but there's no question but that Iran is a problem for Iraq as well in terms of their developing a reasonably representative system.
The last thing the Iranians want is to see Iraq succeed as a democracy, as a representative system, as a moderate state. It's exactly in conflict with the situation in Iran, which has a small handful of clerics who run the country.
But the one thing we have to know as a country is that we as a nation can do a lot. But there's an awful lot we can't do alone and we simply have to recognize that when it comes to something like proliferation of dangerous weapons -- biological, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, advanced technologies for the delivery of these weapons -- the only way those technologies can be restricted is with the tremendous cooperation of other countries working together.
You cannot manage to interdict, for example, something on land, sea or air without the cooperation of a lot of countries, and that is why the President's initiative on the counter proliferation initiative which is now, has dozens of countries involved in it and more every month, I think is an enormously important activity and one that offers promise for at least reducing the flow of those terrible technologies and weapons to a great extent if not perfectly.
QUESTION: Before Mr. Eckhart comes back to close the program we're going to have time for just one last question. There are several here on China. Let me, if I can try and put them together.
Could you comment on where the balance lies between interests of national commerce and national security, obviously looking at the now non-acquiral of Unical by CNOOC? Also, could you comment on what the U.S. is prepared to do if Taiwan were to be invaded particularly in light of comments over the last couple of weeks by some of the PLA senior members?
RUMSFELD: Let me just take a minute or two and first deal with the Taiwan piece of it.
The relationship between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China and the United States has been set and has been relatively clear and relatively well understood and relatively stable for a good many years now. In fact there's legislation, the Taiwan Act prescribes what the United States will or will not do. And the essence of it is that whatever is done between those two entities, it will be done peacefully.
Now with respect to the People's Republic of China generally, it's complicated. This is a big country. It's a country that's economy is growing at a good clip, double digits. Its defense investment is going up in double digits. They are deploying in -- We issued a report, we're required by law each year to issue a report on their defense capabilities. So to the best of our knowledge that's been published and we can see what they're doing, and they obviously are moving from a continent power to a regional power and have interests in expanding beyond that.
Now where is it all going to end? I don't know. Maybe I'm basically just an optimistic, hopeful person, but as I see it, it could be something like this: to be highly successful in the economic side you've got to have a relatively free economic system. That means you're going to have businessmen and tourists and people crawling all over your country, and people are going to be coming in and out with cell phones and with computers and with all kinds of things.
Over time, if you want to maintain that success you're going to have to be tolerant of a degree of freedom of expression, a degree of freedom of interaction with the rest of the world. And if you want to continue to grow you're going to have to conduct yourself -- and if you want to have the Olympics -- you're going to have to conduct yourself in a way that doesn't make you a pariah nation, a state that people don't want to be involved in.
Money is power. Money does not want to go to a place that is inhospitable to investment and return.
On the other hand they've got a communist political system that is not open, it's closed. It is a repressive system. It restricts freedom of religion, it restricts freedom of the press, it restricts a great many of the kinds of freedoms that all of us are so blessed to enjoy.
Now as you go down this road, there's going to be a tension. There's going to be a tension between the demands of a freer economic system if they want success. And if you want to perpetuate the kind of regime that exists, you're going to have to maintain a relatively closed political system.
So the question is, which is going to give? Well, on the one hand if the economic system gives and it becomes less successful and much slower growth rate, then obviously the People's Republic of China will be much less of a threat to the world.
To the extent the political system is what gives, and they have to open it up because they no longer can control it and they can't stop satellite television or they can't stop computers or e-mails or all the ways that people can learn things and interact and educate themselves as to what's going on in the rest of the world, tourists, all of these things, if that gives, then obviously the economic system will continue to grow.
It seems to me our task in the world, and the nations of the free world is to hope and to interact with the People's Republic of China in a way that encourages that it's the free economic system that affects the closed-ness in the political system. And try to work with them in ways that the world demonstrates to the People's Republic of China that their future is a much brighter one to the extent that they move towards that more open economic system and political system rather than the opposite.
Thank you very much, folks.