Elswick: Hello, Mr. Rumsfeld. How are you today?
Rumsfeld: I'm excellent. How are you?
Elswick: I'm doing great. I appreciate you giving us the time here on "The Dave Elswick Show" in Little Rock.
And let me just start off by asking you this question. It looks like the Sunnis, the Shi'a and the Kurds are wrestling over this whole federalism thing about their constitution. Are they going to be able to do this in the time that you all want to see it done, or is there going to be a couple of weeks delay?
Rumsfeld: Oh, time will tell, but my impression is they'll get it done. You know, frequently towards the very end there's a scramble. These are tough issues for them, but they understand the importance of it, and they have serious people working seriously. These are the kinds of debates and discussions that are critically important. On the other hand, they don't have to solve everything, if you think about it. They can get it 99 percent done and leave a few things to work out, or they could conceivably finish it and have it voted on and then, just as the United States has amended our Constitution with the Bill of Rights and then another 17 times, I think, one would think they'll -- they will very likely amend theirs over time.
Elswick: Well, you know what's really exciting about this, Mr. Secretary, is that they're actually able to do this. Two years ago that wouldn't have been the case, would it?
Rumsfeld: No, indeed. I mean, the thought that they've had an election January 30th and now they've fashioned a constitution and are close to having it ready, and then it will be voted on in October and then elections in December, that's just enormous progress.
Elswick: Yeah. It's enormous in the fact that this is great for Iraq, but it's also great for the Middle East. You've got to feel that you all have moved the dime off the square now and you've changed the status quo now.
Rumsfeld: Well, that's right. I mean, if you think of the contrast between the principles of freedom and democracy as an alternative to the grim vision of the terrorists and what encouragement that has to give the moderate Muslim leadership in that part of the world.
Elswick: Mr. Secretary, we've had a lot of Arkansans serve over in Iraq. Our Guard here was one of the largest contingents that went over and did a year. For those men and women who served over there, how important was their role to the overall, I guess, end game for Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well, they have just done a superb job. The Guard and the Reserve as well as the active force have stepped up and made a contribution that they will be able to look back in five or 10 or 15 years and talk to their children and their grandchildren and just feel enormous pride at what's been accomplished. The idea of having Afghanistan, a country that's elected its first popularly elected president in 5,000 years, and Iraq moving towards a democratic government, and the effect it's going to have in that entire region has to be just thrilling to feel that they were a part of that accomplishment.
Elswick: Yeah, I gotta scratch my head, Mr. Secretary, when I see people like Howard Dean -- and he was quoted in the news today of saying that the women in Iraq are going to be worse off now than they were under Saddam Hussein. Does this -- do you think this guy even puts anything into his head before he says it, or does it just pop out willy nilly?
Rumsfeld: You got me. I've never met the fellow, but if you think of the mass graves in Iraq and the tens and tens and tens of thousands -- indeed, hundreds of thousands -- of human beings, women and children and young men, that were piled up in those mass graves by Saddam Hussein, the viciousness of his repressive regime, no one who, you know, gives a careful thought to something could say a statement like that.
Elswick: I would agree wholeheartedly with that. Something we've talked about on my show quite often is people call in and say what's our timetable, Dave, for getting out of Iraq? And I said, timetable is simple. The president has laid it out. The secretary has laid it out, that we're going to have elections, they're going to write a constitution, they're going to have an election again to get their political parties all set up and get their form of government set up. And then when that happens, we're going to train their forces during the whole time, and when they're ready to take over their own defense, we're going to start stepping down. That sounds like a pretty good timetable to me, Mr. Secretary, and it seems like we're on a pretty good step to meet that timetable for some time next year to start seeing our men come home.
Rumsfeld: You're quite right. I mean, the fact is that the Iraqi security forces, of course, are growing each week. And because of the fact that the U.S. and coalition forces are in the country, the total forces have been growing, which is going to enable us and our coalition friends and partners to make some adjustments if the conditions on the ground permit it over the coming period. And I think the president's position has been exactly correct, and there's no question but that he'll stick to it.
Elswick: Well, and the other thing I think Americans and those who have opposed this have to understand -- and that I understood when I served in the military -- is that freedom is not necessarily free. A lot of people have shed their blood for freedom, not only in this country, but for freedom to flourish throughout the world. If it hadn't been for the American GI, freedom in Europe wouldn't never been attained or brought back. If it hadn't been for the American GI, the Pacific Rim wouldn't be free right now. This is our mandate, I would think, in the world. Would you agree?
Rumsfeld: Well, there's no question but that when countries around the world look at the United States, they think of freedom, they think of liberty, they think of democracy, they think of human rights, and that is what our country has stood for. And the fact that we have been successful, as you point out, in places like Europe and Japan and South Korea and other parts of the world in helping other countries create systems that are freer systems is something that we can all be very proud of.
Elswick: Yeah. And with that pride goes -- I understand you all are going to be having some form of celebration at the Pentagon. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's really a commemoration of September 11th and a tribute to the wonderful people whose lives were lost, but also a tribute to the young men and women in uniform from your state and other states who have contributed so much in the days -- it'll be now four years -- since September 11th, 2001, and in appreciation to them of their contributions. And there will be march that will take place to many of the important monuments here in Washington, D.C., as a tribute and a commemoration of that day.
Elswick: And I understand there's a website, AmericaSupportsYou.mil -- that's M-I-L -- AmericaSupportsYou.mil, where people can get more information on this.
Final question, Mr. Secretary. For the listeners here in Little Rock and throughout central Arkansas, times sometimes look bleak, sometimes things dark, but before it's all over we'll be victorious in Iraq, we will reach the goals that we've been trying to reach. What are some things you can tell my listeners about being steadfast in this time?
Rumsfeld: Well, you know, anyone who thinks back over the history of this wonderful country of ours to the Revolutionary War and how bleak that was, and the fact there were literally no victories for George Washington for month and month after month and people being killed in those battles -- think back to the Civil War and the terrible loss of life there, and World War I and World War II. In World War II, I was a young man, and of course we lost battle after battle after battle in the Pacific and couldn't win anything for a great period of time. And there always have been people who saw the glass as half-empty rather than half-full. But in the last analysis, in those conflicts -- in the Revolutionary War and in World War I and II and the Korean War -- we have, in fact, been steadfast, and we have, in fact, been able to prevail in the last analysis. And I have no doubt in my mind but that that'll be the case in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Elswick: Mr. Secretary, thanks for your time.
Again, AmericaSupportsYou.mil, the website to go to about the celebration that is coming up, the remembrance of what our military does and all the great things that they have done in the past, what we expect from them in the future.
And Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, thanks for your time.
Rumsfeld: You bet. Thanks so much. I enjoyed being with you again.
Elswick: All righty. Bye-bye now.
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