United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Empower America 10th Anniversary Dinner Remarks

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 30, 2003

            Rumsfeld:  Thank you thank you very much.  Thank you I appreciate that.


            Well, this is a delight! Joyce and I are so pleased to be here.


            Organizations come and go they start and they end only a few last a decade and very few not only last a decade but make the kinds of contributions that this organization has and I must say that Floyd and all of those that support this organization -- congratulations to you. You’re doing a good thing and I share your enthusiasm for what they have accomplished in the past and what these folks are accomplishing today.


            Ted Forstmann, thank you for that introduction.   Part of it was true.  The part about the laundry was not true and it’s the kind of thing that will rumble around for decade and I’ll have to live with it notwithstanding the fact that I would never do something like that.


            You know when you’re working with people, you learn about people.  You learn the good, the bad and the ugly and you learn particularly when things are tough. When things are tough you see some people disappear, they’re not there.  Some other folks you can kind of sense calibrating things and fashioning excuses and then there are few people who when things get really tough step right into the fire, take over and deal with it in a central way that makes them very vulnerable.


            When Gulfstream got in trouble Ted Forstmann did not disappear. He did not fashion excuses. He stepped in and took over the Chief Executive post and bought that fine company out of the dump and forward, so I must say it’s been a pleasure for me and a privilege to work with you and to benefit from the fine leadership you’ve provided Forstmann Little and as well as to Empower America.


            Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick and Bill Bennett and Vin Weber it is always a pleasure to be with you.


            I was delighted when you folks asked me participate in the Board so many years ago.  Many people here in this room were present at the creation of this organization and it was a delight for me to be a part of it, and it’s also been a delight -- Jack and Jeane and Bill and Vin -- to see the success you’ve had and the contributions you have made.


            I understand, I know I saw Jennifer Dunn here I can’t see other Members of Congress -- I think that both Houses were voting -- but I had breakfast with Jennifer here and she came back from a delegation that was in Iraq.  I think there were six or eight that were there and came back and had the experience that a great many people have had.  They found that there was difference between what they’d been reading about and hearing about on television, and what they actually saw first hand, and gave an excellent report, and then reported it to the press what they had found and we thank you for that Jennifer and other Members of the House and Senate who may be here.


            J.T. Taylor, and my friend, Joe Fogg sitting there.  And Dave Hanna, Members of the Board, its good to be with all of you.


            It is a tribute to the power of ideas that, after the administration of President Ronald Reagan and President Bush, that the men and women who lead this picked up the torch and provided ideas but you did a great deal more than simply providing idea you -- and people need more than simply ideas.  For ideas to have real power, they need plans and strategies you need to put them into practice, and certainly Empower America has done that. 


            I had an Uncle named Lou Surrette who was a Professor of Speech at Northwestern University and wrote this textbook on public speaking.  Unfortunately, he passed away before I ever ran for Congress but he was a terrific person, and he taught a course called ‘Persuasion.’  And he use to say that persuasion is a two-edge sword -- reason and emotion. Plunge it deep. And persuasion is both of those things.  Reason can be persuasive but it’s emotion that can energize people and drive them to take those ideas and those thoughts and make something important of them.


            I think about the work that each of you have done.  Jack has been amazing in his energy and determination traveling all across this country and the world talking about his ideas and his convictions and with determination and persuasiveness.


            Bill Bennett your project “Americans for Victory Over Terrorism” is certainly helping to crystallize the issue for the American people through the power of your intellect and as does your book: “Why We Fight:  Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism.”  These are important contributions and we thank you as well.


            And Jeane and Vin I benefit continuously from your thoughts and your writings and your advice, both public and private, and I thank you.


            All of you, each of you and the organization are making important contributions to the national dialogue on critical public issues.


            And I guess it was Winston Churchill who was once asked to name the most desirable qualification for a politician.  And he said: “the ability to foretell what’s going to happen tomorrow and next week and next month and next year.   And then to have the ability afterward to explain why it didn’t happen.”  {Laughter}.


            When President Bush asked me to become Secretary of Defense, I could never have foretold what would be coming in the following two in half plus years.  But when you think about what our country has accomplished in those two years since the attacks of September 11th:  46 million people have been liberated, liberated from tyranny and dictatorships.  Thousands of terrorists determined to do us harm have been captured or killed  -- including two-thirds of known al Qaeda senior operatives – most of them involved well as most of the people involved in September 11th attack here in the United States and some 43 of Iraq’s 55 most wanted have been captured or killed.


            I think our country has a great deal to be proud of  – and certainly the men and women in uniform who have done such a superb job have a great deal to be proud of.  {Applause}.   


            You know from the press in the past few months, two or three months, you’d think the situation was really terrible.     Indeed, I feel a little like Tip O’Neill during the first year of the Reagan administration.  You remember The Reagan tax cuts that Jack Kemp and so many others helped push through -- had just rolled through Congress like an Infantry Division marching on Baghdad.


            And Tip wrote in his memoirs, that he felt “like the guy in the old joke, who gets hit by a steamroller.    Somebody runs to tell his wife about the accident.  She’s taking a bath and she says I’m busy I’m taking a bath, just slip him under the door.”  {Laughter}   


            Of course, the situation in Iraq is not doom and gloom.  And without a doubt the task in Iraq is difficult.   It is dangerous there’s no question about that.  And it is complicated.   And there have been setbacks and there will be setbacks, like those we experienced this past three or four days.  And there will be more that’s the nature of what we’re wrestling with.


            But there has also been impressive progress across a range of Coalition activities over.   Consider some of what has been accomplished:


            The Iraq plan called for establishment of municipal councils in all major Iraqi cities.  The Coalition accomplished that 2 months.  It took 8 months in Germany after World War II.


            The plan called for establishment of an Iraqi cabinet of ministers.  Coalition did it in 4 months.  It took 14 months in postwar Germany.


            The plan called for the establishment of an independent Iraqi Central Bank.  The Coalition did it in 2 months.  It took 3 years in postwar Germany. 


            Our plan called for the establishment of a new Iraqi currency.   The Coalition announced it in 2 months, and began circulating new Iraqi dinars in

5 months.   It took 3 years in postwar Germany.


            The plan called for establishment of a new Iraqi police force.  The Coalition established it in 2 months.  It took 14 months in postwar Germany. 


            It called for the establishment of a new Iraqi Army.  The Coalition began training within 3 months, and the first battalion was ready in less than 5 months.  It took 10 years in postwar Germany. 


            In less than 6 months, we have gone from zero Iraqis providing security for the people of Iraq to 100,000 Iraqis.  In the border patrols, site protection, police, civil defense and the Iraqi Army.  Indeed, progress has been so swift, that Iraq is now the second largest contributor to Coalition security forces in the country.  And it will not be long before the Iraqi passes the United States and becomes the largest, and it will not longer thereafter before they pass the entire Coalition and the Iraqi forces will be the majority of all forces in that country. 


            These are remarkable achievements.   They dwarf any historical experience that I am aware of.  Yet for months the progress that I’ve report have been ignored.  The American people were hearing plenty about terrorist bombings and sabotage, but little about the achievements of the brave men and women in Iraq from Coalition countries, civilian and military the successes that they’ve racked up.  So we have made an effort to present a somewhat more balanced picture, by raising public awareness of these activities.


            Some have suggested that this effort is to put an optimistic face on a difficult security situation.     Not so.  Every time we’ve discussed progress in Iraq, we have made clear that the situation in the country remains dangerous and it does, that the road ahead will be bumpy and it will, and that that there will be setbacks as long as there are terrorists there will be Coalition and Iraqi forces killed and wounded.  


            And to our great regret and certainly our hearts and prayers go out to those families and loved ones of those wounded and killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan.


            But the difficult security situation truly makes our progress that’s being achieved even more remarkable.  Think about it: not only has the Coalition managed to outpace the progress in post-war Germany, Japan, Bosnia or Kosovo – but they have done it under fire.   They have done it, not in a pacified country; they have done it while fighting regime remnants, terrorists and also I should add criminals, some 110,000 who were let loose on the population of that country by Saddam Hussein who are aggressively trying to stop the progress that’s being made.   


            In my view it’s impressive – and it deserves recognition. 


            We’ve all seen in recent days, the Coalition faces terrorists.   What is equally true is that the Iraqi people are taking back their country.   They are assuming greater and greater responsibility for governance, for providing essential services and certainly for security. 


            What form of government the Iraqi people eventually choose is up to them?  The only requirements are those the Coalition has outlined.  It should be an Iraq that is:


            One country not broken up; 


            At peace with its neighbors not invading Kuwait, not threatening other neighbors;


            With a representative government that is built on democratic institutions and is respectful of its diverse population;


            A country that’s developing an economy that contributes to regional growth; something so important to this organization.


            A country that does not weapons of mass destruction or long-range missiles;


            And a country that opposes terrorism.


            Within these broad outlines, Iraqis will form a government as they see fit, they’ll be an Iraqi solution for government just as there will be an Afghan solution for Afghanistan.  And it will fit future – there future as a way that they believe is appropriate and it will put the leadership of that country into the hands of the Iraqi people. 


            They face difficult work to be sure.  The Iraqi people have suffered three decades of oppression and they must overcome the scars of having lived under a brutal dictatorship.  And in that dictatorship everything that was not expressly permitted was prohibited.   


            Suddenly in a matter of months they’re trying to build a free society, where everything that is not expressly prohibited is permitted.   That is an enormous - it’s a truly enormous difference in their lives.


            Iraqis have advantages.  They are an intelligent, educated people.  They have resources.  Everyone talks about oil, they also have water - water that’s been badly mismanaged, water that’s enormously valuable to them and to the people of that country. 


            And, it is about freedom – freedom and security for America, for our friends and allies, and for people who long for what we have and what we enjoy.


            The men and women of the military are doing a superb job.  They’re all volunteers, we should keep that in mind, these are not people that conscripted or drafted these are people that put up their hand and said send me, I want to participate in defending this country of our ours.


            And freedom of course is what Empower America is about as well. 


            For some 10 years now, you have devoted yourselves to promoting the principles and ideas upon which our country was founded  - even help to empower not only America by your work but, by America’s example, all who look to this country and to our people as a beacon of hope.


            So I thank you for what you do – I wish you a happy 10th Anniversary.


            And if Kemp will behave himself I’d be happy to respond to some easy questions.  Thank you.   {Applause}.


            It’s a very bright light I can’t see too well but if someone stands and poses a question I’d be delighted to respond. I think we have time for this don’t we Jack?


            Jack:  Yeah.


            Rumsfeld:  Good.  I’d like to do it.




            Q:  Mr. Secretary I believe we’ve talked.


            Voice:  (Inaudible).


            Rumsfeld: You would think I’ve known that.


            Q:  You made reference to a concerted effort on Administration behalf of getting the word out of which you see as the progress being made or perhaps has not been getting out of the last few months.  Have you been able to assess the effectiveness of that?  Are you getting the kind of feedback that tells you that, that work has gone well?


            Rumsfeld:  I don’t know that I’m the best judge.  I will say that I have seen an increasing number of stories about things that are in fact happening there.


            What I have not seen yet is the backside of it.  A lot of people here have been involved in politics and they know that there’s a thing called talking points.


            I remember one time watching Meet the Press when an individual on it used the phrase “risky tax scheme” 14 times in 28 minutes and no one ever stopped him and said, wait a minute.   What’s risky about that?   Why is it a scheme?  And no one pushed back in the media.


            We’ve seen that recently, we’ve seen the argument that there’s no plan, how in the world do you do all of those things if there’s no plan?  How in the world do you get 100,000 Iraqis trained out on the street, 85 of whom are dead because they’re helping to defend the security of their country?  85 dead in a matter of 3 months, how does that happen with no plan?  And yet its been beaten and beaten and beaten and no media people ever stop.  What are you talking about no plan?  It just goes on and on and it creates a life of its own.


            I’ll give you another one.  Go it alone.  I’ve heard that.  We should not go it alone, America is wrong to go it alone.  What nonsense?  We’ve got 32 countries involved in Iraq with forces there.  The Polish and Spanish Division have 17 countries involved alone.  We didn’t go alone.  Even when President Bush made the decision to go to the United Nations, there’d been two Resolutions passed.


            NATO is supporting the Polish and the Spanish Division.  NATO.  We have 90 nations engaged, one of the largest Coalitions in the history of mankind engaged in the global war on terror.  And yet we hear it over and over and over.  It should be internationalized.  We shouldn’t go it alone.  We’re not going it alone.


            We have gone out before the war ever started and began talking to countries and said in the even that Iraq does not (inaudible) in the requirements the United Nations has imposed.  Would you like to participate and in what way? 


            I was struck on the no plan thing.  I saw in the Wall Street Journal one day a big article how the Defense Department and the United States government had been working with the World Food Program for weeks and weeks and weeks before the war started.  And needless to say they didn’t want it known that they were working with us because it would look like they were complicit in encouraging a war and yet they knew that it was a risk of a humanitarian crisis.  So they engaged in these discussion and planning if I can use that word?  And so those are the kinds of things that I think we haven’t broken through.  I think people tend to – to often have then next question in their mind instead of listening to the question, the answer that they’re getting to the prior question and then respond to that in a way that forces people to justify statements like those.  It’s a long answer to a short question.  I apologize.




            Yes Sir.


            Q:  What are the odds of us catching bin-Laden…


            Rumsfeld:  High.


            Q:  …In the next 12 months?


            Rumsfeld:  {Laugh}.  Oh.  I don’t do time lines.  No, no.


            To the first part of the question, the answer is high.  We’ve got a good possibility we’ll capture him one day but the idea of setting some sort of an arbitrary limit on it.


            When you think of some of the people who’ve been on the FBI Most Wanted List have been there for 10, 15, 20 years – long time.  It’s hard.  Our country is not organized trained and equipped -- certainly not the Pentagon -- to find single individuals.  Think how long that fellow they were looking for from the, I guess it was the Olympics, from Georgia.  And he was within a 2 or 3 state area.  How many – it was an “X” number of years?  Yeah, a long – 5 years.


            So I don’t know when we’ll do it but we’ll find him.


            Question.  Fred Mallick.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            Rumsfeld: Yes you do Fred.


            Thank you.


            Q:  It would appear that a lapse of the terrorist activity inside of Iraq is being provoked by external forces from Iraq.   By the same token it would also appear that the demise of Saddam Hussein and the activity that we’ve taken there would discourage terrorist activities in other countries in support of such.  In wonder if you would comment on the role of Iraq in the larger strategic war that you’re fighting against terrorism?


            Rumsfeld:  Clearly the battle – the low intensity conflict, the terrorism we’re coping with in Iraq is part of the global war on terror.  And that is without question a fact.  It’s not clear to me that a large portion -- or a majority of it -- is being caused externally.


            There are undoubtedly a steady flow of people coming in from other countries, particularly Syria and Iran.


            I don’t know how many we’ve scooped up but the last time I looked it was about 3 or 4 weeks ago and it was in excess of 200 people.  A lot of them were Syrians a lot of them were Lebanese.  A lot of them we don’t know what they were, they do a lot of different passports there.


            Some fellow we scooped up 24 hours ago in a group of about 29 that was picked up suggested he was a Syrian, it turns out now they think he’s a Yememi.  So it’s not – it takes a while to sort through who they are.


            But if you think about it Saddam Hussein let loose 110,000 criminal out of the jails.  Bad people.  On the population of Iraq and they’re there.  And they’re doing bad things.


            Hundreds of people have come across the border, we don’t know how many, we just know what we’ve scooped up.  And that number of 200 to 300 the last time I looked is probably you know gone up from then but that’s relatively small relative to the other – compared to the other figures.


            Then there’s the Ba’athist and the remnants of this Saddam Hussein regime.  And the Fedayeen Saddam, a that crowd and they’re there and a lot of them did not stay and fight they disappeared into the countryside.  They’re there, they’re engaged in trying to take back the country.  So you have combination of things, you have criminals, you have people who want to take back the country and reinstall Saddam Hussein or some poor substitute for that.  And then there are people who have come in because they want to defeat the Coalition and kill Americans and kill innocent men, women and children.


            It’s interesting, you think of the people who’ve been killed in recent days it’s overwhelmingly they’ve been Iraqis.  An enormous numbers of Iraqis have been killed by these people.  And they’ve tried to target success as the President said.  They’ve gone after, for example the women whose on the governing council and killed her, they’ve gone after the training – police training academy for a graduation ceremony.  And they go after the Red Cross, and organizations to try to drive out humanitarian organizations.


            Capturing Saddam Hussein or killing him would be very important.  And I don’t know if any of you have seen any clips of this tape that’s being played of Iraqis standing around cheering as they’ve chopped off the heads of prisoners, as they’ve cut off the fingers or the hands as they’ve thrown 24, 30 people off a third story building down to the ground.  There are tapes like this I’m told, a good many of them.  And they give you a sense of that regime and the horror and the viciousness and depravity.  So the fact that he’s alive is unhelpful.  Let there be no doubt, that the intimidation factor in that regime was near total.  And all anyone has to do is look at the clips on television and see – they’re sanitized, you’re not going to see what really happen for the most part but you get a sense of it.


            So we do need to catch him and I think we will.  When I don’t know but we’re going to win this and we’re going to stay there and get the job done and do it right.  {Applause}.


            Yes Sir.


            Q:   Mr. Secretary we’ve had three very successful campaigns in the war on terror between Homeland Defense in Afghanistan and in Iraq. What’s the next great challenge in the successful conclusion on the war on terror?


            Rumsfeld:  There are a couple of things I would say to that.  I think that we know one thing and that is that the terrorist do what we do.  They go to school on us, just like we go to school on them.  And I remember being President Reagan’s Middle East envoy in the Middle East and Beirut and you’ll recall 241 Marines were killed about a decade ago I guess - it was 1983, it was two decades.  And the next thing they did was they put these concrete barricades around all the building there and of course the terrorist then started lobbing rock propelled grenades over the concrete barricades, the kind you see around the White House today.


            And then you go down to the Corniche you look and there are wire mesh put over an entire multi-storied building trying to repel the rocket propelled grenades to keep them from blowing up the British Embassy is a building I recall having it.


            And of course, then the terrorists migrate over to something else.  They start killing soft targets going to and from work.  So a terrorist is going to attack at any time at any place, using any technique, there’s no way in the world that you can defend it every time, against every technique at every moment of the day or night. It can’t be done.  The terrorists have that advantage.


            And that’s why the President’s policy is the correct one. You cannot hunker down in the United States and think it’s going to go away.  They’ll just follow you here.  We’ve got to go find them, we’ve got to root them out, we’ve got to deal with the countries that harbor terrorists and that is the only way that free people can live in freedom.  {Applause}.


            The other thing I’ll say is out of my lane, but if you look at the world and say what’s happened.  We know some things are happening, we know some people have become terrorist. We don’t know how many people have become terrorist, we don’t know where they are until they become terrorist and then you have a chance to – they move and you’re able to spot them and do something about them after they’ve either tried or succeeded in engaging in killing innocent men, women and children.  Trying to terrorize, as Lenin said, the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize.  It’s to alter your behavior.


            The war of ideas in this world is terribly important and our task is not simply to deal with existing terrorists its to see that more terrorists are not taught, trained, recruited, paid, deployed, encouraged, harbored.  And how do you do that?  I don’t know the answer, it’s as I say, it’s not really the Department of Defense’s task, but we have to make sure that we are not simply capturing and killing existing terrorists, we have to make sure that we’re doing the kinds of things in this world that will give us reasonable confidence that the numbers of people -- there have been terrorist throughout the history of mankind so we know it’s not going to disappear.  You’re not going to end it --  but so that the numbers of those people are reduced dramatically because of things we do and things we assist and encourage other people to do.


            And certainly the things that Ted and Jack and others are going to announce sounds to me, feels to me like the right thing to do.


            There’s another thing.  How can you expect those countries that for whatever reason have decided to set on the sidelines half of their population, the women, how can those countries be successful?  How can those countries that do something like that and don’t benefit from the energy and the brainpower and the contributions that women make in countries that don’t set them to the side.  That is the other half of it, it seems to me.  {Applause}.


            Dr. Bennett.


            Bennett:  I am empowered to say this the last question unless.


            Rumsfeld:  No it’s not. Joe Foggs had his hand up.


            Bennett:  You got it.  You talk as long as you want. You’re the boss.


            Rumsfeld:  Okay.  Joe, you’re next and then he’s the last one.


            Bennett: All right.  Well.  Oh, he’s next?


            Rumsfeld:  Yeah. He’s next and then you’re up.


            Bennett:  You got it. Yes Sir.


            Rumsfeld:  And then I get the hook.  {Laughter}.


            Joe this better be good.


            Q:  Mine is a simple one Mr. Secretary.  Weapons of mass destruction.  I had always assumed that our guys would have trouble finding any of those things in a country the size of Iraq.  But I also assume – just me that we would capture a lot of these guys.  Now you pointed out we’ve captured what 45 out of 52 of the House Cards.  How come those guys haven’t led us to what’s been going on with those programs?


            Voice:  Bill gets to ask his question.


            Rumsfeld:  No, no.  {Laughter}. 


            Now let me think how to respond to this.


            They are being interrogated, the live ones.  I think its 42 our of 55 we’ve captured or killed of those a large fraction are captured and some aren’t.  They’re being interrogated, they’re pros, they’re not revealing much.  They know that there’s the risk of trials for atrocities, trials for a knowledge, punishments that have to happen.  You can’t take people who’ve done the kinds of things you’ve seen if you’ve seen these clips and not see that there’s an Iraqi process that deals with them.  So they’re being very careful.  And I can’t answer the question.  I know that the agency has people who interrogate them and I know that the information is coordinated.


            We’ve got very good people some 1200, 1300 people under David Kay working on the weapons of mass destruction issue.  All I can say is over a decade the intelligence was consistent. It got richer each year.  I believed it.  I believe it today.  The interim report of David Kay indicated that there are a lot of pieces that he is finding.  The press reports characterizing David Kay’s interim report I think did not leave the American people with the accurate impression.


            The report by David Kay did not show that they do not have them.  The country is the size of California, you could put enough chemical and biological weapons in a room this size to kill tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people.  And my guess is, that we will end up finding the kinds of evidence of programs of weapons of mass destruction and conceivably the weapons themselves if they haven’t been disposed of or destroyed in some way.


            Think about it.  We found – how many airplanes was it?  12 airplanes that were buried in the sand, jet airplanes.  Who in the world buries jet airplanes in the sand?  It’s – what else could be buried in the sand.  We would not have known they were there.  There’s no way any one is going to discover anything, trip over it and say, gee there it is.  The only way you’re going to find it is as you suggest by the people who were involved in the programs.


            And very likely only a handful of the top 42, what’s left of them, that aren’t dead.  Were involved in those programs.  My guess is the bulk of those people were doing other things.  So we’ve got a task head of us, it’s a tough task and we got serious people working on it and it seems to me that it’s not prudent or wise for folks to rush to judgment, as some seem to want to do.


            Bill Bennett.


            Bennett:  Yes Sir.  Thank you.


            Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming.  I was over in your office a few months ago.  You invited some folks over for advice.  I don’t think you much.  But I told you at the time that you’d gone mainstream.  You really were highly successful because before a football game a man named Howie Long said, that this very bad team in the NFL.  What they needed more than anything else was a halftime talk from Don Rumsfeld.  {Laughter}.


            And you said -- focused on task as you are.  Who the hell is Howie Long?


            In our office you would know who Howie Long is because of Kemp and all this stuff.


            At any case you have caught the best angels of this country Sir, and when I go around the country people talk about you.  You don’t have time to visit the Hamlets that Jack and I do. But I talked to a guy who said after a speech I gave, he said I’m just doing my job and raising my kids but you that Rumsfeld, I don’t know a lot about foreign policy but if he’s for it then I’m for it.  And that’s the kind of confidence that you have encouraged among a lot of people.


            So I won’t talk you to you about a youthful run for the Presidency in 2008 for you Secretary but, the one question which I think if you will, the opposition tries to go to the heart of it, is about your troops, your soldiers and if you’d just comment on this.


            The reports that your soldiers those men and women want to come home, they’re not sure why they’re there, they’re confused, they’re demoralized.  You’ve been there, you’ve talked to them.  Would tell us about your soldiers?


            Rumsfeld:  Well you know if you take 130,000 young men and young women and you’re bound to find them across the entire spectrum.  You’re going to find someone who’s got a circumstance at home that’s tough and they want to be home.  And God bless them, you can’t blame them for wanting to be home.


            You’re going to find them at every point on that spectrum.  You’re going to find some one who didn’t get a hot meal that day.  You’re going to find someone who had a problem with his boss in a platoon.


            On the other hand if you deal with them the way so many people who visit there and you’ll see when you go over.  If you talk to them and you get them off to the side, they’re so proud of what they’re doing, they know what they’re doing, they know why they’re there.  They are proud of what they’ve accomplished and they also have the wonderful opportunity to feel the energy that comes to them from the Iraqi people – the Iraqi people respond to them.


            These folks are out there.  Let’s for the sake argument say there’s 1500, 2000 patrols or activities a day across that country.  There are maybe 10 or 15 incidents, 20 incidents a day somewhere in that enormous country.  Shootings, either we precipitated or someone attacks our forces.  They last an average of about 1 minute and a half and all the rest of the time those people are out there digging wells, helping people fix up a hospital, putting in a generator.


            They’re doing things that help the Iraqi people and the Iraqi people know it and when you walk down the street the people come up and are thankful.  If you fly over in a helicopter they run out in the courtyard and wave.


            Now, is everyone for us?  No.  Does everyone want to be free and not go back to the Ba’athist?  No.  There are a handful of those folks that want to go back to the Ba’athist, no question about it.   And they’re tough and they’ve got weapons and they’ve got explosives and they’re killing people.


            But the troops are – the single most – the best part of my job is being with them.   They give you so much.  What’s the word?  Confidence in the country, pride in the country, reassurance that what’s being done is right.  And I’ll say this, I don’t know how many of you – I saw Kit Bond just leave but others in the Congress go out to Walter Reed or Bethesda and visit the troops who’ve been wounded and there they are with a burned face or arm or leg off and God bless them they’re so proud of their service and they’re so patriotic about our country and aware of the importance of what they’re doing.  And proud of their units that are still back there so I just feel an enormous gratitude that we’ve go so many wonderful people who are willing to raise their hand and say send me and to do it with such wonder skill and courage and compassion.


            Thank you very much.

Additional Links

Stay Connected