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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availablity Bangladesh Meetings

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 05, 2004

Rumsfeld: -- not as such. We talked a good deal about the fact that Bangladesh is one of the, probably among the countries that has the highest number of peacekeeping forces around the world. They're at any given time in four or five different locations and almost always under UN auspices, and have done a consistently good job in peacekeeping. And the fact that the United States recognizes the increasing role for peacekeepers in the world and the importance of it, it recently, as I recall, opened a peacekeeping training center here. We believe that what they're doing is a very good thing for the world and encourage them in that. 

Q: Given that history would you like to see peacekeeping troops from Bangladesh in Pakistan if they want to send them? 

Rumsfeld: Charlie, you know me. I think it's up to each country to decide what it is they'd like to do and I'm sure that each country is perfectly capable of making those decisions. 

Q: [Inaudible]? Have they closed that out as a possibility?

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to speak for the government of Bangladesh. 

Q: Well would you like to see them there, sir?  

Rumsfeld: What I like to see is countries do that which they feel comfortable doing. 

Q: Do you plan on asking them, sir, to send peacekeeping troops? 

Rumsfeld: If I answer that question and say yes, obviously then it would suggest that I've asked them, which I haven't. And if I said no, it would be implied that we didn't want them. In either case it would be unfortunate. Therefore I will say exactly what I said previously, that I think countries ought to do that which they're comfortable doing. I have a lot of respect for the peacekeeping role that this country has played in a number of places, including Sierra Leone and Haiti and other countries. 

Q: Did you discuss their possible involvement, participation in Afghanistan? Military or humanitarian, either way? 

Rumsfeld: We talked about -- I guess the answer to that is no. We talked about Afghanistan, we talked about Iraq and the circumstance in the global war on terror, but I was not here to do what the questions here seem to be suggesting. 

Q: Mr. Secretary, [inaudible] in Europe look back on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day if you can share with us what are some of the important lessons learned that you still apply today? 

Rumsfeld: I suppose one is perseverance. If one thinks of the difficulty of that task, the Normandy invasion and anyone who goes there and looks at the graveyard and the headstones, the crosses, and stars of David, the loss of life was substantial. The difficultly of the task was, all one has to do is look at that point [de falk] and the challenges that were posed, and the difficulty of that task and the courage of those people. 

It's an amazing thing when you think back to that period and the way the allies came together and accomplished something that was impressive and then had the perseverance to continue it, to continue it over a period of years, to continue it despite the loss of substantial numbers of lives, and to then continue it in a way that enabled a fascist dictatorship to eventually become a democratic country. That's a tough transition and it didn't happen quickly, it didn't happen easily. In the post-war period there continued to be difficulties and rough patches and losses of lives, and it's a great accomplishment. 

I was able to participate in the dedication of the World War II Memorial the other day, and had hoped to try to get to the Normandy ceremony on the 60th Anniversary but found it was just too difficult to do this conference and that as well. 

Q: Mr. Secretary, you drew this contrast yesterday as well on the carrier, or rather you made this comparison to World War II. Are you drawing a lesson to perseverance for Iraq from this? 

Rumsfeld: I think that, I don't know that I want to draw a direct parallel at all, but if you go back and think about the countries that have gone from, along a path towards a representative, democratic system, the United States did and it took a long time and it was tough. There were riots and there were demonstrations and there was a loss of life and there were false starts, if you will. If you think of the path that Japan took and the numbers of years that took to go from where they were to what they are today, a free, democratic vibrant economy.  

If you think of South Korea and the difficulty of that task. It didn't happen in a year, it didn't happen in five years. It is a path that free people ultimately have to walk along and there are potholes in the road and there are stumbles. So too with Germany. 

Now if something's worth doing it's worth persevering. What we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're doing with 24 hour news, seven days a week, with a focus on every single thing that isn't perfect. On every single thing that doesn't compare favorably with those countries that have already traversed that difficult path. I think that's a standard that is a difficult one for people to accept. I think it's possible people can be thrown off course because of discouragement and despair and concern that maybe it isn't possible. Well people felt maybe it wasn't possible for those countries to get from where they were to where they are today, and yet there were people who said it is possible and they were willing to persevere and they were steadfast and they did decide that the goal was something that was sufficiently valuable that it was worth the commitment, it was worth the investment, it was worth the time, it was worth the criticisms along the way. It was worth trying, failing, picking yourself up and getting back at it. It isn't predictable and I suspect it won't be in Afghanistan perfectly predicable, I suspect it won't be in Iraq. 

But if one looks out five years or some period of time and thinks of the fact that there will be, in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, 50 million people who will be living in a freer system. Not like ours, not like any other country particularly. It will be an Afghan solution in Afghanistan; it will be an Iraqi solution in Iraq, as it should be. But you'll have some 50 million people, we hope, we pray, living in peace with each other, respectful of each other, where women have an opportunity to participate, where the different religious and ethnic groups are respected, where they're at peace with their neighbors, and where they're contributing from an economic standpoint to the regions and neighboring countries in that region and become an example. 

Think of the example that Japan has been in that part of the world. Think of the economic miracle that the Republic of Korea has been, and from something quite different. 

Q: Mr. Secretary, regarding the Chalabi issue just very briefly, you said on the way over you weren't aware whether there was an investigation or whether Pentagon officials, civilian persons, had been questioned. Have you checked -- 

Rumsfeld: I haven't. 

Q: So you don't know. 

Rumsfeld: The Department of Justice announces investigations, not the Department of Defense, and all I say is what I said before. As you well know, when there was an instance where a highly classified matter was disclosed to the press in the Department of Defense we initiated and requested that there be an investigation. I think it's important that people manage classified information in a way that's respectful of the fact that lives can be lost and the interests of our country can be harmed. So I initiated that one. 

In this instance to the extent something occurred that shouldn't have, then I am all for any investigations that might or might not occur and for the finding of fact and appropriate actions taken on findings of fact. 

Q: But you know if there is an investigation -- 

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to get into it. If I start saying I know there is or isn't -- it's not for me to decide and I don't track it from a daily standpoint. 

Q: But it's your department. 

Rumsfeld: Of course it's my department, but it's also the Department of Justice that engages, that I requested in the case of a classified document that was compromised, and in this instance it would be the Department of Justice that would make any announcement that would be appropriate. 

Q: Have you requested any such investigation in this case on the Chalabi -- 

Rumsfeld: I have not been in communication with the Department of Justice on this subject. 

Q: I wanted to ask you about -- 

Q: You said before that you'd like to see more troops from Muslim countries in Iraq. Are you optimistic that with the transition on June 30th that more Muslim countries -- for example, Bangladesh -- will be willing to provide troops for the effort? 

Rumsfeld: You must not have been here when we discussed that earlier. 

Q: We're speaking generally. Not specifically whether you've asked the Bangladeshis. 

Rumsfeld: Our focus, we have 33 countries in Iraq at the present time that are participating in one way or another. Our focus is to train the Iraqis and equip the Iraqis and establish an Iraqi chain of command and pass sovereignty soon to the Iraqi individuals who the United Nations representative, Mr. Brahimi, and the Iraqi people have announced. 

Would it be nice if other countries, if the UN Resolution that we hope will pass and expect will pass, led other countries to want to make some sort of a commitment? Whether a financial commitment or some sort of assistance of some kind? Sure. We'd like to see as many countries as possible invested in the success of Iraq. We think that's a good, healthy thing. 

The real task ahead of us, however, is to get the Iraqis trained, get the Iraqis equipped, get the Iraqis organized in a manner that enables them to assume responsibility for the security of that country. That's the target, that's the goal. And I believe we're making good progress on that and I think probably for the third or fourth time we will probably ramp up the effort in terms of the numbers and the investment and the training and the equipment in a way that will, to the extent possible, accelerate it. On the other hand it's going to be the sovereign government of Iraq that's going to have to make those kinds of decisions as to how they want to do it, where the emphasis ought to go. 

But I see that as the solution to Iraq, is to have the Iraqi people take that responsibility, just as I do in Afghanistan. 

Q: Thank you, sir. 

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