(Remarks at the Eisenhower National Security Conference. Participating were Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; Army Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, chief of staff, U.S. Army; and Dr. Janne E. Nolan, adjunct professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University.)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Army Chief of Chaplains, Major General David Hicks. Please use the microphones located on the floor. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome tonight’s Master Ceremonies, Dr. Janne E. Nolan.
Nolan: Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to be here to once again introduce General Schoomaker and to say welcome to all of you. Those of you who were here during this very, very interesting day and those of you how have just joined us. Again it is a huge tribute the U.S. Army to have put together this marvelous eclectic, very forward-looking and very original set of presentations that we heard today.
If you look at the list of participants for tomorrow as well you see the sponsorship of the U.S. Army and it’s co-sponsors with a serious vision for the future security of this country. For those of us who live in the civilian world mostly and operate out of places that are academic and think tanks and you look at the kind of organization that’s been brought to bear just this evening and all you can say is, wow. Thank you for including us.
General Schoomaker is known to I think most of you and as I introduced him this morning he is a great leader, a great visionary, we are all very lucky to have him back in Washington I think perhaps the only person who doesn’t share that view maybe his wife who I’m sure supports him fully but was also part of private life, what a great thing to have him back. Please join me in welcoming him to introduce Secretary Rumsfeld.
Schoomaker: Well good evening everyone. It is my great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld.
He is a distinguished public servant, a steadfast patriot who has dedicated his adult life to the service of this great nation. A graduate of Princeton University, Secretary Rumsfeld has a wealth of experience gained over half a century in service in both the public and private sectors.
He served the nation as a Naval Aviator, a Congressman, a Counselor to the President, Ambassador to NATO, White House Chief of Staff and he was our youngest Secretary of Defense the first time he held this position. In the private sector he served as the Chief Executive Officer of two Fortune 500 companies, as our 21st Secretary of Defense he has used his experience and talent to confront an array of national security challenges.
He directed the actions of the Defense Department in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2000, he led us through two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and he continues to lead us in the global war on terror.
He has led the most profound change in the Department of Defense since it was organized in the late 1940’s from a new National Security strategy to a joint CONOPS to restructuring missile defense to a new global posture and a new investment strategy. These changes are remarkable and far-reaching, to lead change of this magnitude takes vision, perseverance and courage and our Secretary of Defense embodies all these key attributes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome our Secretary of Defense the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you all and good evening and General Pete Schoomaker thank you so much for your willingness to come back and serve your country. Some people said that it was an unusual selection to have somebody come back in after being gone, I said that’s not unusual at all in fact I thought it was terrific idea so we really appreciate it Pete and we’re so pleased you’re willing to take on these big responsibilities.
General Sullivan ladies and gentlemen it is a pleasure to be here, it’s appropriate that this conference be co-hosted by the United States Army and that it bear the name of one of the Army’s greatest leaders Dwight David Eisenhower. As we all know in the last Century he led the Allied Forces that liberated Europe from tyranny and terror, today in the 21st Century the Armed Forces he once led are now doing the dangerous work of liberation this time in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It’s a little embarrassing but I’ve been around so long that I had the benefit of having former President Dwight Eisenhower help me in my first campaign for Congress back in 1962 and I tell you as a 29 year old running for Congress for the first time having someone like former President Eisenhower come in and give you a boost it was an impressive and memorable thing.
I recently had the opportunity to visit with several of the Army’s Divisions now in Iraq, I met the troops of the 4th ID whose forces went under Eisenhower’s command were among the first to assault the Normandy coast and the first American troops to enter Paris. This year a half Century later they were the first Coalition Forces to enter Tikrit and Kirkuk. In Mosul I visited the 101st Airborne, same Division that in World War II fought it’s way from Normandy to Hitler’s mountain hideout the Eagle Nest and in Iraq the 101st stormed another regime hideout the Mosul mansion where Uday and Qusay Hussein had taken refuge and dealt with those two dangerous individuals. In Baghdad I met with the troops of the 1st Armored Division, a Division that defeated Rommel’s Africa Corp. in the deserts of North Africa. Today in Iraq this Division is once again dealing with deadly adversaries working to bring freedom to a long oppressed people. These Army Divisions that help bring freedom and democracy to Europe half a Century ago are now helping the Iraqi people get on a path for democracy and self government along side their comrades from the Air Force the Navy the Marine and the Coast Guard and I should add along side the troops from 32 separate Coalition countries.
It is I know some of you folks here certainly General Schoomaker and others have had the opportunity to visit these troops they’re doing so many things that are so innovative and so constructive and so different from each other. This facts on the grounds in different portions of that country vary dramatically and these leaders and they’re terrific troops are fitting in and adopting approaches that are distinctive are innovative are unique so too are our Coalition Forces and it is a truly impressive thing to see. So much of what’s been done they have contributed to in a fundamental way.
By now all of you are familiar with the innovative war plan that General Tom Franks and his superb team of Joint War Fighters, General McKiernan and General Mosley and Admiral Keating, General Daly put together to defeat the Iraqi regime. Less familiar is the equally innovative and impressive plan to win the peace so I want to discuss the strategy being employed to secure the peace in Iraq an in Afghanistan, the philosophy behind our approach, why it’s different and indeed it is different from some of the so-called nation building efforts of the past and why this new approach we believe is important not just for Iraq an Afghanistan but potentially for international efforts to help struggling nations recover.
My goodness gracious.
Twenty-five years ago when I was Secretary of Defense we use have the Barrigan Brothers come in and dig graves in our front yard so I guess everything changes and nothing changes.
I’m sure you’ve heard suggestions that the Iraq plan is flawed that the U.S. is going it alone, that the U.S. didn’t anticipate the level of resistance the Coalition would face and that the U.S. failed to send enough forces to do the job. I’m speaking of course about the suggestions that were offered two weeks into the Iraq war when some prognosticators were declaring that Operation Iraq Freedom was a failure, the Coalition Forces then took Baghdad in 21 days. Today we’re again suggestions this time declaring that the post-war effort is on the brink of failure that it will take longer than 21 days but I believe that when all said and done the Iraq plan to win the peace will in fact succeed just as the war plan to win the war succeeded.
Why did some predict failure in the first days and weeks of the Iraq war? One reason I suspect is that General Franks’ plan was different and it was unfamiliar to the people who were commenting and because it didn’t fit into the template of general expectations many assumed at the first set-back that the underlying strategy had been flawed, it wasn’t. In the post-war effort in Iraq today once again what the Coalition is doing is different, it’s unfamiliar to many so when the Coalition faces the inevitable setbacks and it will, the assumptions being widely expressed is that the underlying strategy is failing. Now I don’t believe that’s the case nor does our Combatant Commanders General John Abizaid nor does Ambassador Jerry Bremer the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority and nor do General Dick Myers or Pete Pace the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they all believe that we are on the track.
Today in Iraq we’re operating on the guiding principle that has brought success to our effort in Afghanistan. Iraq and Afghanistan belong to the Iraqi and to the Afghan people. The United States does not aspire to own those countries or to occupy them or to run them. During the war in Afghanistan this philosophy shaped how we approached the military campaign instead of sending a massive invasion force we adopted a strategy of teaming with local Afghan forces that oppose the Taliban and after the major fighting ended we did not flood Afghanistan with Americans despite the many who urged us to do so. Instead we worked with the Afghans to establish an interim government and an Afghan National Army. You may remember that the Soviet Union had 300,000 troops in Afghanistan and lost so the numbers of forces it seems to me do not necessarily determine and outcome.
In Iraq no force of Iraqi fighters could have toppled Saddam Hussein without significant numbers of Coalition forces, though in the North Special Operations Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters not only tied down Saddam Hussein’s northern units but also captured Mosul and helped to unravel the northern front with dispatch. Even so, we did not flood the country with a half million U.S. troops we kept our footprint modest liberating Iraq with something slightly over 100,000 forces in the country and when major combat ended we began working immediately to enlist Iraqis to take responsibility for governance and security of their own country and we’ve made solid progress. Within two months all major Iraqi cities and most towns had municipal councils, this something that took 8 months to accomplish in post-war Germany and I should add that a great many of those councils -- representative councils were encouraged by the Army Forces and the Marine Forces on the ground in that country and the Coalition Forces through their fine work. Within 4 months the Iraqi Governing Council had been appointed and a cabinet had been named something that took 14 months in post-war Germany, in just two months an independent Iraqi central bank was established and a new currency announced, accomplishments that took 3 years in post-war Germany. Within three months we have begun training a new Iraqi Army and within two months a new Iraqi police force was conducting joint patrols with Coalition forces. By contrast it took 14 months to establish a police in Germany and 10 years to begin training a German Army, all this and more has taken place in Iraq in less than 5 months. I know of no comparable experience in history whether post-war Germany, post-war Japan, Kosovo and Bosnia I know of no example where things have moved as rapidly.
Now why is enlisting Iraqis in security and governance early so important? My view is it’s important because it is their country we are not in Iraq to engage in nation building our mission is to help the Iraqi so that they can build their own nation. It’s something that a people have to do for themselves, it cannot be handed to a people and I think it’s an important distinction. The foreign presence in any country is in my view unnatural, it’s a lot like a broken bone, if a broken bone is not set properly in a relatively short period of time the tendons and the muscle and the skin grow around the break and the break become natural and eventually the body adjust to what is an abnormal situation. If one then tries to refix it to extract it to mend that break after it’s already healed wrong there’s a problem. And this is what’s happened in some past nation building exercises in my view, well intentioned foreigners arrive on the scene, look at the problem, say let’s go fix it for them and despite good intensions there can be unintended adverse side affects.
When foreigners come in with their international solutions to local problems it can create a dependency. For example East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia yet the capital is now one of the most expensive cities in Asia, local restaurants are out of reach for most the Timorees and cater to international workers who are paid probably something like 200 times the local average local wage. At the cities main supermarket prices are reportedly on a power with London and New York or take Kosovo a driver shuttling international workers around the capital earns 10 times the salary of the University professor, 4 years after the war the United Nations still run Kosovo by executive fiat. Decisions made by the elected local parliament are invalid without the signature of a U.N. Administrator and still to this day Kosovo ministers have U.N. overseers with the power to approve or disapprove their decisions. Now that’s just a different approach I’m not saying that maybe okay for Kosovo but my interest is to see if we can’t do it in a somewhat different way. Our objective is to encourage Iraqi independence by giving Iraqis more and more responsibility over time for the security and governance of their country.
Long-term stability will come not from the presence of foreign forces ours or any other countries but from the development of functioning local institutions and the sooner the Iraqis can take responsible for their affairs the sooner U.S. and Coalition Forces can leave. That is why the President has asked for $20 billion dollars to help the Iraqis get on a path to self government and self reliance, he’s requested $15 billion to speed repairs to Iraq’s starved and dilapidated infrastructure so Iraq can begin generating income through oil production and foreign investments. He’s requested another $5 billion dollars to help the Iraqis assume the responsibility for the security of their own country. So the goal is not for the U.S. to rebuild Iraq rather it’s to help the Iraqis get on a path where they can pay to rebuild their own country. The money the President is requesting is a critical element in the Coalition’s exit strategy because the sooner we help Iraqis to defend their own people the faster foreign forces can leave their country and they can get about the task of fashioning truly Iraqi solutions to their future.
This is not to underestimate the challenges in Iraq today, foreign terrorist and Ba’athist remnants and criminals are doing a variety of things to try to stop the Iraqi people’s transition to democracy and we can expect that they’ll continue to attack our successes and that the brave Iraqis who work will us will be attacked as well but Coalition forces are dealing with the threat. The work is difficult, costly and dangerous but it’s worth the risk and it’s worth the cost because if the Coalition succeeds we will deal terrorism a powerful blow. A democratic Iraq, in the heart of the Middle East, would be a defeat for the ideology of terror that is seeking to take control of that area of the world but to help Iraqis succeed we need to proceed with some humility. American Forces and Coalition Forces can do remarkable things but they cannot provide permanent stability or create an Iraqi democracy that in a last analysis has to be up to the Iraqi people, it will take patience but if we are steadfast Iraq could become a model for a successful transition from tyranny to democracy and self-reliance.
A few months ago that statement would have seemed fanciful to many, if you think about it it’s been less than 5 months since the end of major combat operations in that country and yet today given the progress taking place and the support from 32 countries on the ground and additional countries providing financial assistance and humanitarian aid that goal seems at least possible but only if we help the Iraqis build their nation instead of trying to do it for them and if we have the wisdom to know the difference. Thank you very much.
Now, I’m told there are some microphones and I see one there and one over here and maybe there are some others. If people would like to go stand up by the microphone and ask a question I’d be delighted to try to respond to some question I’d be delighted to try to respond to some questions and if they’re too tough I’ll get Pete Schoomaker up here to answer them.
Q: Thank you, Secretary Rumsfeld, first of all for coming. My name is Don Courtney. I’m a student at American University. Now recently President Bush met with Prime Minister Schroeder to mend relations and to discuss post-war Iraq.
Rumsfeld: You’re going to have to talk slowly there’s an echo that makes it hard for me to follow your words.
Q: Got you.
It’s been reported that President Bush and Schroeder agreed to mend relations and get on with the rebuilding of Iraq can you lend a little bit of insight into the agreement they made be it troops or financially that Germany will help us and the significance of that agreement?
Rumsfeld: I cannot I have not seen the President since he got back from New York and met with Mr. Schroeder, I plan to see him tomorrow morning about 8 or 9 o’clock and if you check in with me later why maybe I can give you some insight.
I would say this about the Federal Republic of Germany they have very recently taken over responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan. If I’m not mistaken it’s the first time that German forces have assumed military responsibility outside of the Federal Republic since World War II and it is a big responsibility, I met with the German General they’re tackling the job in a very orderly way and discussing at the present time ways that NATO may expand their responsibility in Afghanistan which we believe would be a good thing and we’re delighted they’re doing what they’re doing there.
Yes, sir, no I’m going to go over here. Yes, ma’am.
Q: Can you hear me? My name is Laura (Inaudible.). I work in Congress in the House of Representatives and my question for you is I’ve been noticing with the discussion of the supplemental on the Hill that whether or not people agreed with the Iraq war it’s become obvious that our budget for foreign affairs in general and defense is out of balance and our interagency planning process is inadequate for not only the prevention of state failure but for interventions and for post-conflict challenges. My question is do we need a reform initiative equivalent to Goldwater-Nichols for our civilian policy agencies and what can we learn from the military’s experience with jointness?
Rumsfeld: The last part of the question what can we learn about what?
Q: What can we learn about jointness, working jointly from the military’s experience since Goldwater-Nichols?
Rumsfeld: Let me first take the jointness and then I’ll come back to the Goldwater-Nichols for the government as a whole. We’ve learned a lot about jointness I think that the historians some of whom are in this room will very likely look at the Iraq war and conclude that in earlier conflicts this individual services, land, sea, and air, tended to work very hard to de-conflict but did not get the true benefit of jointness and the leverage and the lethality and the power that that provided and in this Iraq war my guess is that historians will look at that and say there more than ever before they did in fact achieve a leverage through jointness because of the unique personalities and the time they had to think about it and work together and their recognition that they could in fact achieve a great deal more by forgetting whether or not some capability came from land, sea or air it didn’t matter they wanted to have the ability to put power on a target and they worked exceedingly well together so I think that one of the lessons learned out of this is that there’s an enormous advantage to having truly joint war fighting capability. We’re taking those people with the exception of General Franks who unfortunately made a decision to retire which it was certainly was his right but we would have loved to keep him around, we’re taking the people who are involved in that war fight at the next level down and engaging them in various key spots in the Department of Defense so that they can bring that joint war fighting knowledge and experience and indeed I would say conviction which is so important.
You’re other question or the part of your question is an important one and I would say this I’m not an expert on the rest of the government but I know that the Department of Defense still is organized in way that is a bit related to the industrial age rather than the 21st Century and all of us know that, all of us see that, all of us recognize that we’ve got to see the procedures and the processes we use are modernized and shortened, abbreviated, because if we’re going to be agile and capable of responding in days or weeks instead of months or years we’re going to have to fix these systems in our department.
The point you raised is every bit as valid for the government as a whole. The problems we face in the world are not problems that come and fit neatly into one department or agency, they’re problems that inevitably require the involvement and engagement of more than one department or agency and we end up spending incredible amounts of time that just kind of suck the life out of you at the end of the day spending 4, 5, 6 hours in interagency meetings and the reason is, is because the organization of the government fit the last Century instead of this Century and frankly the organization of the Congress it’s a mirror and the jurisdictions of the committees and the subcommittees clearly set the something that people are comfortable with and know about. But let me give you an example. We’ve got wonderful people in the Department of Treasury trying to deal with the finances of terrorist, we’ve got great people in the Department of Justice working on it, we’ve got terrific people in Homeland Security and in the Department of Defense and in every department, the Department of State working -- trying to put pressure on terrorist networks trying to find ways that we can share intelligence and capture or kill people who are determined to go out and kill innocent men, women or children. While that’s all going on there are a number of locations in the world where new terrorist are being trained, people are not being taught math or science or language or something that would enable them to contribute to the world and make a livelihood for themselves they’re being taught how to kill people and being told that that’s a good thing to do. Now do you suppose we’re capturing or killing or incarcerating more than are being made in that process? No one knows. Are we winning the battle of ideas in the world? Are the things that we can contribute to the folks in that part of the world that are fearful that they’re religion have been hijacked by a small minority and turned into a terrorist force? Are we doing the kinds of things that can reduce the intake in that process that can reduce the flow of funds to the small number of Madrasa(?) schools that are training people to kill?
Here’s this country of ours that’s got the best advertising the best marketing the best communication of any country on the face of the earth, enormous skill sets and we’re not doing a very good job at that. Why is that? There are a lot of reasons there’s our organization which I personally think we need to address and ask how can we better bring together all the skills that exists, we’ve got laws that inhibits certain types of things, we have traditions that we have to be careful about and sensitivities but by the same token we’ve got a problem in the world and the battle of ideas is taking place out there and we need to engage it in a much more thoughtful, innovative, constructive way than we’re doing it or we’re going to find that while we’re working the problem over here more people are growing up over there. So we’ve got to do something for the government in that field, it’s not easy goodness knows, it’s not easy to make the kinds of changes that General Schoomaker listed that we’re working on the Department of Defense but it’s worth doing.
Q: First of all, Mr. Secretary, I’d like to thank you for coming. My name is R.J. Cloon. I’m from the American University. I was just wondering if you could please comment on the moral of the troops in Iraq right now?
Rumsfeld: Well I guess it’s been three or four weeks since I’ve been there but General Schoomaker been there, I’ve talked to John Abizaid today and he is -- our military leadership is persuaded that the moral of the troops there is high. I see the troops that are wounded at Walter Reed and Bethesda and at Brooke’s Army Hospital and I know from those recent visits in the last weeks that their moral is high, as badly wounded as some of them are. I am convinced that they know why they’re there, they know that the global war on terror is important, they believe in what they’re doing and they’re proud of what they’re doing. They also have to be rewarded by feeling the response they’re getting from the Iraqi people the work they’re doing. For every incident you read in the newspaper about a attack on Iraqis or on us around Coalition Forces there a probably a hundred, two hundred instances where our forces are assisting people with schools or soccer teams or forming city councils or training policemen or training the Army or training different aspects of the security forces. We’ve gone from zero Iraqis providing for their own security to 56,000 Iraqis in 4 ½ months with another 14,000 recruits that are in training and within a matter of weeks will make it 70,000 Iraqis providing for their own security. So when you hear people running around wringing their hands saying there’s no plan, there’s plan, we don’t know what we’re doing, the sky is falling how in the world do you go from zero to 56,000 Iraqis trained, armed, equipped and out contributing to the security of the Iraqi people. Our goals is not to add more American troops our goal is to keep increasing the number of Iraqis involved in their own security so that they can take over that responsibility. Thank you.
Q: Good evening Mr. Secretary; Larry Porter, U.S. Army. My question is, are there concerns about Syrian or Iranian influence and if they are how are they being addressed?
Rumsfeld: There is concern; we’re getting cooperation from most of Iraq’s neighbors Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey. We’ve scooped up I don’t know something between 200, 250 foreign fighters who’ve come across the border into the country and when you look at their nationality a very large fraction more than half are Syrians and another cluster are Lebanese which Syria occupies. So we are concerned about that border and we’re not getting the kind of cooperation that we would hope to get. The situation in Iran a large number of Ansar al-Islam terrorist moved from Iran back into Iraq and are there now and are undoubtedly involved in a attacks that are taking place so we’re working on it, we’re talking to those folks and allowing as how we have a minimum of high regard for what they’re doing and we’ll just have to see how it all works out.
Q: Evening Mr. Secretary, Lieutenant Conrad (Inaudible.), U.S. Coast Guard. I wanted to also thank you for coming out tonight. I wanted to thank you and the Bush Administration as well for the excellent job you’re doing and for your guidance.
Rumsfeld: Thank you Sir.
Q: Quick comment and question. My wife and I talk about how our country as a whole we feel need to embark on a better advertising campaign and I think that you kind of hit on that a little bit already so that was kind of my suggestion and I would use the example that you put out, I believe you said, we have 32 countries involved with us in Iraq is that correct?
Rumsfeld: With troops and we have some additional countries helping financially and with humanitarian assistance.
Q: Until I heard that I probably could have named about 3 myself and I guess I would suggest that would be a great piece of media along with everything else you’ve shared with us tonight to help us at home and those abroad see what’s truly going on and my quick question for you is could you give us a few of the names of some of those countries because I’m really quite interested?
Rumsfeld: I can. I’m going to have to sift out the ones that are public and the ones that are not public but the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Honduras, El Salvador, I believe Mongolia, there are 32 of them and they’re from all parts of the world. I’m not surprised you weren’t aware of that. I am absolutely dumbfounded that the people keep saying you shouldn’t go it alone. The President of the United States after September 11th put together a Coalition of 90 nations in the global war on terror possibly one of the biggest Coalitions in the history of mankind. He has put together from starting from day one of the Iraq war a Coalition now that’s up to 32 with troops in that country and people say, why are you going it alone, why don’t you turn it over to the U.N. or why don’t you turn it over to NATO, I’ll tell you there are not a lot of volunteers and it’s easy for someone to say that but Colin Powell has gone out to something in excess of 75 countries to get additional countries to participate and a lot of countries have participated. I’ve heard people be dismissive, they say oh another country was Latvia, someone the other day say Latvia you know like that, doggone it those people showed political courage, those people showed personal courage to send their troops there and almost all the troops that are in there are volunteers like our are and I’m grateful for that and as a proportion of their population some of those countries are making contributions of troops that are truly significant and I think it’s important for us to be appreciative of what those countries are doing.
I’m sorry I didn’t realize there was a mic there, my apologies.
Q: That’s all right. Nick Phase of BBC. You’re the author of the most famous and notorious remark for Europeans at least that when you divided Europe into old Europe and new Europe. I wonder since some months have passed if you’d like to say if you stick by this remark or if you’d like to modify it or you’d like to retract it?
Rumsfeld: None of the above.
What I will do is tell you how it happened. I was at the Foreign Press Club one day just good old Don minding my own business, I went over there and they started asking me a whole bunch of questions and one question after another was Europe is against you, Europe this, Europe’s not doing that, Europe is not cooperating in the U.N., Europe -- and I started listening the European countries that were supporting us and there was an overwhelming majority of the European countries that were supporting us, France wasn’t, Germany wasn’t, Belgium wasn’t but country after country after country was supporting us and I was getting a little tired of people casting their questions with the premise being that France, Belgium and Germany constituted all of Europe. Now I was Ambassador of NATO back in 1973 and 74 -- I see Arnold (Inaudible.) sitting over here somewhere I think, were are you Arnold? There you are, you were over in Belgium and Switzerland during those days. My recollection is NATO had 15 countries at the time in it, today it’s got 19 with go into 26 invitees, most of those countries that won their freedom very recently and they value it very highly and out of my mouth in response to this repeated statement that Europe is against you I allowed as how Europe wasn’t against us, that the overwhelming majority of the countries in Europe were supportive and friendly and helpful and I was mentally thinking about the NATO I knew, the old NATO at 15 and the new NATO at 26, which is a different NATO. The center of gravity of NATO has shifted, it’s moved towards the east and out of my mouth instead of saying old NATO and new NATO I said what you said and I’ve never said it since. (Laughter.) Sir.
Q: Nick Berry Foreign Policy Forum. If you’ll indulge me Mr. Secretary with more humor. You seem to think that the media must ask you bad questions because you tend to ask yourself your own questions.
Rumsfeld: I do. I like them better. (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you very much.
Rumsfeld: Yes, sir.
Q: Mr. Secretary, David Georgie. You spoke earlier about the war of ideas and with the 20/20 vision of hindsight what preconception, assumption belief would you now change that you held say prior to the action in Iraq? And what action would take pro-actively to enhance our stature in the world in this war of ideas?
Rumsfeld: You know there’s certain thing a country can do alone and there are a lot of things a country can’t do alone. One of things a country can’t do alone is deal with the problem of proliferation, it just doesn’t work to try to think you can do it yourself we simply have to have cooperation to deal with that problem. That means that the linkages that our nation or any other nation has with other nations are enormously important and we are sensitive to that, the President is, Secretary Powell is and they spend a great deal of time worrying about that and thinking through how they can engage people.
The problem that we’ve gone through is there was a conviction on the part of the President and Prime Minister Blair and other countries that what was done in Iraq had to be done and there was a conviction on the part of some countries that it should not be done. The U.N. passed a resolution a few countries opposed an additional resolution. The Coalition went forward. It created the issues that we’re now seeing and I think that what one has to do is exactly what the President and all of his Administration are doing and that is recognize that we have to continue to try an engage the international community and the projects we believe are important and task we believe are critical to a stable and peaceful world. I don’t know that I can -- that I would go back and try to second guess the decisions that were made by the President. I think he was right and I believe that he will demonstrated to have been right by history.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, I’m Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel William Lee and honored to see you this evening, sir. If I might make one note, the last time I saw you was September 17th when you took time to come out during shift while I was at the north parking lot at the Wash site and somebody said look up it’s the SecDef and I thought what and you were there early in the morning, if a measure of a man what he says but what he does I might forget that and so thanks for letting me ask you a quick question.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Q: I’m usually the State Area Command Chaplain for the Maryland Guard this year I’m privileged to be at the Kennedy Center doing a year of research as a National Security fellow. When you mentioned the Muslim world or at least from your read on Iraq as of people who feel that they’re faith has been hijacked by a small radical element. How successful do you feel we are at bringing local faith leaders or indigenous religious people to the table as part of our stability operations planning and implementation? As a way to perhaps close that door of suspicion about us being if you will a western occupying country rather than a people there to help them and to build their own country?
Rumsfeld: I think that if one looks worldwide we would have to say we’re not -- we do not have a very good approach to that worldwide, if one looks in Iraq I would give very high marks to General Petraeus and General Odierno and General Dempsey and the Marine leadership as well as Jerry Bremer, I think they’re spending a good deal of time, they recognize the importance of faith in that country and they recognize the role that’s played and believed that through their actions and their activities they can gain greater support for the kind of Iraq that would be a country that is at peace with neighbors and respectful of all the diverse elements and religions and ethnic groups in the country.
I’m told that I’m going to get the hook in a few minutes. Why don’t I take these two and these two and then I will let you have your dessert or whatever it is that comes next. Yes, sir.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for coming out, my name is Capt. James Saddler. I’m currently a site student here in Washington, D.C. and as a husband and a father of four, you hear a lot these days about over stretch and the ability of our Army to meet all of the demands in this new global war on terrorism. I’d like your thoughts, sir, on your thought on the concept of over stretch especially with Congress talking about more divisions, the need for more troops. What are your concerns about over stretch and are we able to do what we can with what we have knowing that transformation is a priority?
Rumsfeld: The Joint Chiefs of Staff have done a number of tabletop exercises and analysis that indicate to me and to the President that we have the capability to fulfill our strategy the way it’s written. Second, there is no question but that there is stress on the force, we’re in a major spike in activity in Iraq with 130,000 troops there that is not the norm. Third, we have been imperfect in drawing down forces in other countries, we need to do it better, faster, smarter and to do that you’ve got to see that the civil side is built up and that those countries do what we’re talking about trying to do in Iraq see that they have the civil side developed and the police and the security capability so that we can in fact continue to draw down forces, it’s working pretty well in Bosnia, those forces probably will continue to be drawn down, Kosovo is still at a higher level, we still have troops in the Sinai that have been there 22 years, not a lot but some, we have footprint that better fits the last Century than the current Century and we’re addressing that. What we have to do is make sure we recognize that the single most important thing we’ve got in the Department of Defense are the people and we have to make sure we manage that force -- the total force the active component and the reserve component in a way that’s respectful of them and to do that you’ve got to be very sensitive about the risk of back to back deployment for active service, you’ve got to be very careful about short call up periods for the reserve, you’ve got to be -- give them as much certainty as possible, you have to use volunteers to the extent as possible and you have to in addition it seems to me undertake a project which Pete and other folks in the Department and I spend a lot of time talking about today about rebalancing the Guard and the Reserve with the Active Force. We have a number of skill sets that are only in the Reserves the result of that of course is you end up calling those people up over and over and over again and you simply can’t do that. If they wanted to be on active duty they’d be on active duty and it’s not fair to their families, it’s not fair to their employers so we have to fix that and we’re working on it. Yes.
Q: Good evening, Mr. Secretary. Brooke Weese from the Medill School of Journalism.
Rumsfeld: In Evanston?
Q: Yes, but we have an office in D.C.
Rumsfeld: Ahh, that’s too bad you should be there, back in my hometown.
Q: Since the end of combat operations how do you feel the soldiers in psychological operations and civil affairs are doing with getting U.S. policy to the Iraqi people and how is the press with bringing it back to the American people?
Rumsfeld: I would give the folks in civil affairs a A+ and I wish we had 4 or 5 times as many as we have and I wish we had many more on active duty than we have -- we have so many of them in the reserve force. Now that said, the ones in the reserve force tend to be people who are doing things that particularly equip them to do civil affairs and you don’t want to have it all on the active force because the value you get by bringing those folks in from time to time is significant but I would certainly give them an A+. What was the second part?
Q: How is the press doing with bring the information back?
Rumsfeld: I thought that’s what it was. (Laughter.)
Ahhh, we’re going to be back to that earlier question in the center aisle that caused such a stir about old NATO and new NATO.
I continue to hope it will be better. (Laugher.) I am so young and optimistic that I have conviction that it will get better and I think we ought to try to help them get better every chance we have. Question.
Q: Good evening, Mr. Secretary, my name is Major Mark Recardi. I’m with the Colorado National Guard. One point and one question, I just returned from Afghanistan and I wanted to thank you for giving me an opportunity to in a small part change a nation. I will tell you from the ground point of view that the soldier moral there is excellent, the Afghan people welcomed us and we did change a nation and we have you to thank for that and the President obviously.
Rumsfeld: Well thank you for what you’ve done and -- (Applause.)
Something like 46 million people have been liberated in the last 2 years and that isn’t nothing that is, something important.
Q: My question, sir, dovetails on the previous question. Is there a plan to transform or increase the size of the National Guard so that we can address both our state and our federal mission with the amount of overseas deployments that we’re currently seeing, thanks Sir?
Rumsfeld: Thank you. The answer to that is that there are people who are thinking about that at least it has not come to my level that there is a demonstrated shortage of people to contribute to the homeland security task as well as the normal rotations that we may be likely to see with respect to the regular force. I was asked a lot of questions by the press recently about whether or not given the Hurricane and the fact that some Guard Forces were serving, and we counted up the number of Guard Forces that exists in the United States that were not activated in that moment and it was obvious that it was a large, large, large number so at least at the moment we have not seen a competition or a conflict between the needs. On the other hand, you can’t look at the active force without looking at the Guard and Reserve because they’re so intimately connected. And as a result the study that the Senior Officials in the Department are engaged in are in fact looking at that as well as the balance.
Next to the last question. And there’s the last.
Q: Good evening, Mr. Secretary, my name is Becky Bowman. I’m also with the Medill School of Journalism here in D.C.
Q: And I want to thank you for letting me ask you a question this evening. I understand that members of Congress have been making their way group by group to Iraq to get a first hand look at the country and to visit with troops there and visit with the Iraqi civilians.
Rumsfeld: With my encouragement, we’re hoping the more of them that go there the more they’ll see what’s actually taking place and come back and talk to their constituents and give them a straight talk about it.
Q: I understand that this had quite a impact on the Democrats especially who have become critical of the media since their return from their trips. How critical do you think it is for the U.S. people that members of Congress make their way over there in larger numbers?
Rumsfeld: I think it’s important, I think it’s important that people not just people from the Congress but others, they’re a lot of knowledgeable people around who are experts and to the extent they are physically and they talk to people, not just in Baghdad where a lot of people go and just stay but out. It’s very different in the north, it’s different in the south, it’s different in the west the central area of Baghdad and in that central area is where most of the difficulties are, obviously it’s a city of 6 million people.
I was with a President of a country the other day that have 6 million people and he said by actual count last year they had 3500 homicides, assassinations and murders in a country of 6 million people. Baghdad is about 5 ½ 6 million people. Here’s a country with 3500, I don’t know what the number is for the United States and of course I’m sufficiently prudent that I wouldn’t ask. (Laughter.) But I do think it’s important for members of the House and the Senate, they serve such an important function of representing, they’re the human link between their people and their government, they have to vote on these matters and over and over again the ones that go over come back with an impression that is distinctly different from what they have as an impression. I think part of it’s because of 24-hour news, we see the same thing over and over and over again, you think it happened 15 times and if it’s something bad then something bad happened 15 times in the 24-hour cycle. Goodness knows it’s not going to be something good that’s going to get repeated 24 times in a 24-hours. Yes Sir.
Q: Good evening, Secretary Rumsfeld. First I’d like to thank you for coming and taking my question this evening. My name is David Hulihan. I’m representing American University this evening. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your perspective about the soft power and it’s role that Mr. Nye discussed with us earlier today?
Rumsfeld: I wasn’t here to hear Mr. Nye. I know who he is and he’s a thoughtful person but -- what was his subject?
Q: He discussed like a difference between a hard and soft power, I was interested -- I was kind of wondering what you thought about the role of soft power being the Secretary of Defense?
Rumsfeld: I don’t know what it means. I learned to say I don’t know when I was very young. What is the difference between soft power and hard power?
Q: I’m afraid of slightly over simplifying but he discussed hard power as more military and forceful power and soft power being more political influenced and cultural.
Rumsfeld: Oh they’re linked I mean the last choice in the world is to have to use military power to have to use kinetics you don’t want to do that, you want to do everything humanly possible through persuasion and diplomacy and economic activity and coalition building to try -- I mean think what President Bush went through, there were 17 U.N. resolutions on Iraq and Saddam Hussein defied them, he then went to the U.N., there was patience and then before he did anything with the Coalition he gave one last chance for Saddam Hussein to respond to the United Nations or leave so, it is your absolute last choice. And on the other hand simply passing resolutions, 17 resolutions didn’t do it so if -- there needs to be some times a consequence and we were hopeful that we could through the build up of forces over a period of some 5 or 6 months affect diplomacy favorably that is to say support diplomacy and not have to use force. That was what the design was and that was the hope and indeed the prayer.
So I think that it’s not easy to separate the two, I think that your last choice always is the use of force and we need to always try to find ways to be persuasive and help countries and people who wish ill of others or intend to invade their neighbors find ways to persuade them short of the use of force if it’s humanly possible. Thank you all nice to see you.