DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers
(Also participating was Gen. Richard Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Bush recently cited President John F. Kennedy's Oval Office address that was delivered 40 years ago today, in which he declared, "Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril."
President Kennedy did not wait until the Soviet missiles were in Cuba or until one was fired at the United States. Instead, to prevent that, the United States established a blockade to stop the missile shipments to Cuba. President Kennedy determined that the risk to our country of allowing Cuba to gain that capability was simply so great that he had to stop it before the United States was attacked.
It's interesting to note that on March 21st, 1962, just six months before the crisis broke, the National Intelligence Estimate on Cuba declared, quote, "We believe it is unlikely that the Soviet bloc will provide Cuba with strategic weapons systems or with air and naval capabilities suitable for major independent military operations overseas. We also believe it's unlikely that the bloc will station in Cuba combat units of any description, at least for the period of this estimate."
On May 24th, 1962, we now know that the Soviet General Staff sent Nikita Khrushchev the following memorandum: Quote, "In accordance with your instructions, the Ministry of Defense proposes to deploy on the island of Cuba a group of Soviet forces comprising all branches of the armed forces, headed by a commander in chief of Soviet forces in Cuba; to send to Cuba the 43rd Missile Division, comprising five missile regiments, with 60 missiles and 60 warheads. Upon arrival, personnel will, within 10 days, be ready to launch the missiles."
We know that now. Needless to say, we did not know that in March 24th of 1962. The missile shipments to Cuba took the U.S. completely by surprise. There was apparently a failure to appreciate that even with the best intelligence, we will not have, we have not had, and we cannot have, everything that is necessary to provide for perfect protection of our country. We can't know everything that's going on in the world at the exact moment that it's happening.
The only time we'll have perfect evidence that a terrorist regime has deliverable weapons of mass destruction may be after they've used those weapons. And needless to say, that's a bit late.
I remember the Cuban missile crisis well. It happened during the final weeks of my congressional campaign in 1962. And certainly anyone who lived through that experience can recall the fear that gripped our country as the realization set in that at any moment a missile, possibly a nuclear missile, could strike our cities.
Our task today is to do everything in our power -- diplomatic, economic, military, if necessary -- to ensure that history does not repeat itself; that the U.S. avoids a nuclear standoff, like the Cuban missile crisis, with a terrorist state. And President Bush is determined to do just that.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And good afternoon. Today, coalition aircraft in the Operation Northern Watch no-fly zone were fired upon by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery sites northeast of Mosul. We responded by dropping precision-guided weapons on those anti- aircraft artillery sites. The planes returned safely to base, and we have no bomb damage assessment at this point.
And then, in Afghanistan, we began training the fifth Afghan National Army battalion yesterday. And we're currently gathering the people for a potential sixth battalion. This fifth battalion stood up with 650 recruits. Of course, this is a -- this Afghan National Army is a key component in ensuring stability in Afghanistan for the future.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Q: Secretary, a U.S.-proposed resolution being discussed at the U.N., a resolution on Iraq, would give Iraq -- I think it proposes that Iraq would have -- after the passage of the resolution, Iraq would have 30 days to declare all its weapons of mass destruction. And after it declared, then the U.N. would have 45 days to get inspectors in, and those inspectors would then have up to 60 days, a maximum of 60 days to report.
While these are maximum figures and they could occur in shorter periods, could this, then, push back the possibility of -- any possibility of military action against Iraq up to four and a half months?
Rumsfeld: I have not seen the latest version of the resolution that's under discussion -- and I guess you'd characterize it as negotiation up in New York. How it will finally sort out, what sorts of provisions, like the ones you've described, will be in any document that is finally approved, if any is approved -- I suppose there are still some countries that might want to veto any resolution.
So I think it would be premature to try to speculate about what could happen, since we don't know what -- we know -- we do not know what the resolution will finally say when it goes for a vote, if any resolution ever does go for a vote, nor do we know if it will pass or fail or be vetoed.
Q: But given the fact that you would like to have action as quickly as possible against Iraq, not necessarily -- (inaudible) -- have the situation --
Rumsfeld: The president has not said anything like that.
Q: I didn't mean military action.
Q: -- the situation resolved as quickly as possible, would you be willing to wait as long as 4-1/2 months to have this thing settled?
Rumsfeld: It's not for me to decide those things, Charlie. That's for the president and the United Nations and the country to make those decisions.
Q: May I do a follow-up, please, Mr. Secretary? Actually, it's for General Myers, if you don't mind, sir.
Rumsfeld: And it's on a totally different subject. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)
Q: I'm trying to be as nice as I can.
General Myers, and I know it's an "if," based on this discussion and the question, but isn't Saddam getting almost an inordinate amount of time to plan and prepare for any possible invasion? And if so, doesn't that put U.S. troops in greater harm's way? For instance, there was a published report today that the U.S. has decided in a sense not to fight in the cities and play Saddam's game. Are you at all concerned about this extra time that it's taking?
Myers: The short answer is that the U.S. military remains capable of responding to the president whenever he asks that it respond for crisis prevention, for conflict, across the entire spectrum, whenever. And the last thing that we want to do is limit the president or the rest of the national command authority's flexibility in responding to crisis. And we're postured -- I can tell you we're postured in that way that that will not be a problem.
Q: But capable is one thing, sir, but, I mean, do you see the possibility now, because of the time, you know, elapsing here, for a greater threat to our forces? I mean, there's no question, from what you say, that the U.S. is capable, but what about losses?
Myers: In a hypothetical situation, the longer you wait, obviously, an adversary has time to prepare, but so do you, to prepare for the consequences. So I would say no. I think -- we have a very strong military force. We have potentially great coalition partners and, as we said before, that will contribute in many different ways, and we'll be ready for whatever whenever.
Q: Mr. Secretary, do you believe that it's possible to disarm Iraq with Saddam Hussein remaining in power?
Rumsfeld: The -- if one thinks about it, inspections are designed for a situation where a country decides it wants to be cooperative, and it wants to prove to the world that it has done something that the world wants them to do. Therefore, they invite in inspectors, and they then behave in a totally cooperative way, so that those inspectors can in fact do their task of informing the world that the host country has been behaving in a hospitable and open manner.
Inspections don't work, really, in a situation that's hostile. They can do some things. They can, on occasion, talk to inspectors -- correction: to defectors. The inspectors can talk to defectors and learn things that can be helpful, and they can discover some things. But in terms of being able to disarm a country, unless that country is cooperative, it is -- it strikes me as a very, very difficult thing to accomplish. I can't quite imagine how that could happen, except through the cooperation of the country.
Therefore, the answer to the question is for everybody, in the United Nations or in this room or in the country, to answer for themselves: How do we feel about Saddam Hussein's behavior over the past 11 years and in the past 11 months and in the past 11 weeks or days? Does it lead one to believe that he's likely to behave in that manner or not?
Q: If I could follow up, the administration seems to be sending a signal that regime change could come by simply a change in the way the regime operates and not a physical removal of Saddam Hussein. Is military -- the threat of military action possibly enough to get Saddam Hussein to change the way that he's operated in the past -- more than a decade?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I think, again, each person can answer that for themselves. They can look at the record, they can look at Saddam Hussein, they can look at the country.
Q: How do you answer it?
Rumsfeld: Very carefully. (Laughter.)
Q: I understand a small number of Pakistani nationals are going to be released from Guantanamo Bay detention. Why are they being released? And is this the beginning of a larger release of people found to be of no value?
Rumsfeld: Well, if you think about the universe of detainees, the ones that have been -- for the most part, they've all been interrogated or are being interrogated, the purpose being not law enforcement, but intelligence-gathering. If at a certain moment that process proceeds and someone concludes that they're very likely not to be of any additional intelligence value, then they're stuck in a different basket, and they're then looked at for law enforcement purposes: Is this somebody that our country or some other country would like to prosecute and deal with in a law enforcement as opposed to an intelligence-gathering manner? If the conclusion there is no, that not only are they not interesting from an intelligence-gathering, they're not interesting from a law enforcement standpoint, the next question is: Are they people who ought to be kept off the street simply because they might be inclined to go back and again engage in activities that would be opposed to the Afghan government or to the United States, or whatever. And if the judgment there is that they're not people who need to be kept off the street for whatever reason -- health or attitude -- then the goal is to not have them. If you don't want them for intelligence, and you don't want them for law enforcement, you don't need to keep them off the street, then let's be rid of them. And so that process goes forward.
There's one other way we might move somebody out, and that would be if, for whatever reason, another country, the country that the individual is a national of, was willing to take them for intelligence-gathering, law enforcement, keeping them off the street, or whatever.
Q: Is that the case of the Pakistanis, the latter?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that I even bothered to look at what the nationality of these folks are. But there are a small number that have now been moved through that process, and are either -- I've said that's fine with me, and there's kind of an interagency process so that the people who look at law enforcement and intelligence all have a chance to chomp on it. But whether it's actually happened yet or not, I don't know. But you're -- it's true that that process is working and that there are some people likely to come out the other end of the chute.
Q: Just a small number, that's it?
Rumsfeld: At the moment, that's all I've seen, is a relatively small number.
Q: And the folks that are coming out of the other end of that chute, will they go to the control of another country, or will they be set free? And --
Rumsfeld: They could fit in any of those categories -- it --
Q: You don't know yet; that hasn't been --
Rumsfeld: Well, I do, I've seen -- I don't know what the other countries have decided. I know what we decided; that we were willing to turn them back. And whether the other countries would set them free -- they may have a process they have to go through.
Q: You're giving them to a government's control, and then it's up to them, from that point out?
Rumsfeld: We certainly would either hand them to a government's control, or we would have talked to the government, and the government have advised us that they did not need to have control, in which case they would be free.
Q: And could you give us your understanding of the supposed dozen or 15 people with al Qaeda connections captured at Pankisi Gorge and apparently turned over to U.S. forces?
Rumsfeld: I don't have any good current information that would validate that story.
Q: It's possible that it didn't happen, then?
Rumsfeld: I guess anything's possible. I can't validate it.
Q: General Myers?
Myers: No, I can't either.
Q: Are you looking into it? Is it interesting? (Laughter.)
Myers: Well, we'll run it down. It was in a major paper, we'll run it down. But, there's -- we don't have any information to support that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you appointed new members to the DACOWITS [Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services] Commission today. Some of the conservatives would like -- wanted you to abolish that, and yet you kept it -- revamped it and put it into -- a lot of prior military people on there. What do you hope this commission will do with their new members?
Rumsfeld: I hope they'll do well for the Department of Defense and the men and women in uniform. What we decided to do was to discontinue the old approach and to have a considerably smaller board, and they develop criteria for those members. Those members were then -- people were screened, nominees were screened, and a relatively small number selected. I forget -- it was 11, 12, something like that.
Staff: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: Thirteen. And there's now a charter, which is available, and it's focused on the family and circumstance of men and women in uniform. And it -- my hope will be that this very talented and distinguished group of people will be able to provide advice and suggestions for the department, so that our stewardship of the kinds of issues that fall within their charter will be thoughtful and improved. And we appreciate their service.
Q: Mr. Secretary, if North Korea were to remove fissile material from the reactor to use for military purposes, what would be our options? What sort of responses could we make?
Rumsfeld: That is a -- as I recall, a reactor that has been under fairly continuous attention and inspection by appropriate individuals from outside of North Korea for a period of six or eight years -- I think since 1994 or something -- five.
The -- I know of no change in the status of that. Therefore, speculating about -- one might do, were they to violate that understanding, as well as the four agreements they have already violated with their highly enriched uranium activities -- I don't see any purpose in speculating about what might be done.
Q: How advanced is that uranium enrichment program they just acknowledged, as opposed to the other you describe in -- (off mike)?
Rumsfeld: The -- North Korea is a closed system. Our intelligence on it is imperfect, just as our intelligence on the Cuban missile crisis was imperfect. We do have very hard evidence that they are engaged in a development program using highly enriched uranium. And I don't know that I want to get into a discussion about gradations of maturity.
Q: But could you say -- distinguish between simply acquiring materials, et cetera, as opposed to assembling or producing?
Rumsfeld: You don't acquire the things they're acquiring because you have extra hard currency you want to throw around; you do it for a purpose. And if you don't know everything about what they're doing, you can't know with certain knowledge where they are. We do know a variety of specific things, but of course, to discuss them publicly would be unhelpful.
Q: General Myers? Why - sense the other gentleman vanish? Oh, there he is. (Laughter.)
The Central Command has postponed its headquarters exercise for a month. I guess equipment was slow in coming. Is there any other explanation for why that has been delayed? And is the movement of various headquarters elements from the Army and the Marine Corps to the Persian Gulf -- are those slipping?
Myers: Well, we don't talk about deployments until they deploy, so -- but the ones I think you're referring to, no, they are not slipping, as far as I know. And I'll check into the CENTCOM one about why. I'm not --
Q: A month is a good amount of time for an exercise like that that may have other implications.
Myers: Let me check on it, because that's -- I just need to check on the reason why. We'll get back with you.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the Defense Science Board Task Force report on aircraft carriers has now been released. And as you know, it recommends that you proceed on the, I think, 2006 or 2007 schedule with CVNX. Is that the department's intention now, or are you still considering a delay or perhaps even cancellation of that ship?
Rumsfeld: The Defense Science Board did indeed have a study on the subject. And there is other work going on on that subject. I've been briefed on it twice, and I suspect I'll be briefed still more on that subject.
The sequence is roughly this. It's now the 21st or so of October, 22nd, and the budget has to go to OMB in December, which means that between now and November and early December, most of those decisions have to be made, to the extent they've matured to the point that they're makeable. And the number of studies that flowed out of the Defense Planning Guidance are being completed and they're starting to come forward in a relatively orderly way. The services are engaged with those studies, the Comptroller's Office is engaged, the PA&E is engaged, and it then moves -- the services bring those things forward to the senior military and the senior civilian leadership. And I must have had last week four or five meetings on the subject. Not on the carrier, but on studies that need to be concluded and briefings that have to be concluded before December.
Until something's decided ultimately by the president after a budget decision is made here and a recommendation is made there, it's not decided, because it's the president's budget. Therefore, the answer is that there have not been decisions made with respect to that.
Q: You have talked for a while here about your assessment of the al Qaeda. Given the number of incidents and things you've seen around the world in recent weeks, what's your assessment at this point? Do you think that they have reconstructed some of the links in communications that you thought you disrupted? Are they back in business in a way they weren't before? Is it just more of the same? Your feeling about their ability to order operations around the world, and especially to conduct some operation within the United States.
Rumsfeld: They're certainly not back in business the way they were before. They've gone to school on us. They've received a great deal of pressure -- financial pressure, law enforcement pressure, military pressure. They've dispersed from locations where they were. They're still spread across the globe in dozens and dozens of countries, including the United States. There's no question but that they're capable of conducting an operation in the United States, just as they are in many other countries.
Are they reconstituted? My guess is that it's going to be constant reconstitution; that is to say, as we put pressure on and close a door here, they'll push and find a door somewhere else. And that has been going on now for better than a year, and I suspect it will go on for better than another year or two. And what we need to do is just to keep that pressure up and keep closing doors and keep scooping up folks and keep closing their bank accounts and making life difficult.
Q: Do you think that their very top, most senior leaders are still able to communicate with other al Qaeda or affiliated organizations around the world and order attacks? Or do you feel that you have still got -- or have you ever had their most-senior leadership isolated from communicating?
Rumsfeld: Well, you know, if you don't know they're dead or captured, you can't know that you've prevented them from communicating. And we have captured, you know, a couple of handfuls, and we've killed a couple of handfuls, and there are still more than a couple of handfuls of relatively senior people out there that we don't know if they're dead or if they're injured or if they are functioning.
We have learned a lot from the folks that we've scooped up, and we are still learning from them. And that is enabling us to keep moving our -- we're behaving differently as well. Just as they've gone to school on us, we've gone to school on them and have learned a good deal about how they operate and what they do. And -- but certainly it would be inaccurate for anyone to express high confidence that the process has proceeded sufficiently that one can say they're not capable of sending signals or conducting attacks, because they clearly are.
Q: Could you update us on plans to provide military training for Iraqi dissidents, potentially 5,000 of them?
Rumsfeld: (To the general.) Can you?
Myers: I can do a little bit on that. That they're -- that -- no training has started yet, because we're still evaluating those plans. The secretary will see them again before we begin that. So we're in the preliminary stages of trying to determine if there are people out there that might be helpful in case the president asked us to use force in Iraq. And so there are more -- there are probably more unknowns than there are knowns right now, in regarding that.
Q: Would DOD personnel do that training, or would it be something contracted out or through the Saudis?
Myers: Well, that's one of the things that has to be decided. But my guess is, there would be some DOD involvement. But how much --
Q: Where would you train them, General?
Myers: To be determined. To be determined.
Q: What sort of training would this be?
Myers: It sort of depends on the sort of people you get and what you want them to do, and all that is being looked at right now. And I mean, it could be as -- probably as simple as just trying to develop liaison officers that might be useful with language skills and local knowledge to combat units. And so we just have to see what kind of recruits we get, how much time we have and those sorts of things. But a lot of that is to be determined.
Q: And can you just elaborate on why you think it's important at this point to do those evaluations and engage in that kind of discussion?
Myers: Well, it's -- as you know, we need to be ready whatever -- for whatever the president might ask us to do. And so if he would ask us to use force in Iraq, for instance, to have forces that are -- that know the language and are familiar with the territory, it would be useful to have those on your team, especially they had similar goals to yours.
Q: Where are you looking for these people?
Myers: I think I've said enough, probably, already, and I'll just -- but wherever. It's not --
Rumsfeld: Wherever Iraqis are.
Myers: Wherever --
Q: Well, before the briefing would end, and with the understanding that I do know it could be the most extraordinary -- sensitive or difficult question for either of you to answer, but let me just be the one to ask anyhow. Is there anything you -- either of you gentlemen can tell us today about continuing military support that you have acknowledged from this podium for the assistance to law enforcement in the Washington area? Is that military support continuing? Can you tell us anything about the status of that, again understanding that's an extraordinarily sensitive subject?
Rumsfeld: You're right; it is sensitive. And the answer is that it is unhelpful, it seems to me, for us to characterize what it is we may or may not do with law enforcement. What we try to do is to find ways to be as cooperative as we can in a supporting role when we may have capabilities that would be appropriate for an important task. We don't do it frequently, and we don't do it lightly, and we do it in a supporting role.
Q: Kind of a related question. The department has thousands of people -- uniform and civilian -- living and working in the Washington area. Are you making any kind of special provision for folks who might feel like they need to leave work early to pick up their kids at school or come to work late to get their kids to school, rather than have them ride buses?
Rumsfeld: I was walking down the hall today and I saw someone who had their kid in the department. (Laughter.) So -- I think it was Torie Clarke! (Laughs.)
Rumsfeld: But that's the kind of thing that is being dealt with in an office-by-office basis. But in terms of any overall policy, I'm not aware that they have done anything. But clearly, supervisors are aware and sensitive to the problems of traffic, for example, today, and sensitive to the problems of schools. And I'm sure they make appropriate arrangements with their people.
Q: I don't mean this to sound flip, and I'm afraid it's going to. But I'm in kind of an intellectual cul-de-sac on your opening statement, and I'm hoping you can lead me out of it.
What you described in the Cuban missile crisis is essentially an intelligence failure that led the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The events of 9/11 -- 9/11 possibly occurred because of an intelligence failure; might have been prevented had intelligence been acted upon differently. And what has been described so far is a lack of intelligence or, therefore, an intelligence failure with regard to what Iraq is doing and what Iraq has.
So then at the same time, there is, you know, lots of talk -- "we can't tell you everything that we know."
So I don't quite know what my question is, but I'm sort of having a hard time reconciling all of this and not coming up with the flip answer that the reason that the United States is considering and possibly preparing to use force in Iraq is because of a massive intelligence failure. And we don't know what we don't know, so let's go do this.
Rumsfeld: I don't like the phrase "intelligence failure." And I purposely didn't use it with respect to the -- I don't think I used it -- with respect to the Cuban missile crisis. I wouldn't use it with respect to September 11th.
I think the point I like to make is that we're living in a big world, where these technologies and capabilities are spreading across the globe. And many more countries and many more terrorist networks are going to be able to get their hands on them, and are getting their hands on them. And that it's not possible to know everything that's going on in this globe -- no matter how good you are, no matter how effective your intelligence gathering is. You can know a lot, and you can make good estimates and guesses, but there are -- we have to accept that we're going to live in a world of little or no warning, a world of surprises if you're still surprised.
But if you know that those capabilities are out there, and you know you can't know exactly where they are, or exactly who has them, or exactly what method they may or may not use to attack you, then you ought not to be surprised. The only thing surprising to me is that people are surprised, because that's the nature of our world.
And the Cuban missile crisis, one can say, was an intelligence failure. Anyone with 20/20 hindsight can go back and say they failed to know that. And that's not inaccurate from a grammatical standpoint, or from a semantic standpoint. It is, however, I think, an unrealistic expectation to think that it's possible to know exactly what's going in the -- on the minds of people, or whether they have intent, whether they necessarily have capability because they have very effective means of denial and deception. And it's constantly a moving target.
And I think what we have to do is to just -- I don't know if I'm leading you out of your cul-de-sac, but -- (laughter.) But it seems to me, that what I was trying to say is, there was an instance where we did not know, months after a decision has been made to put those missiles in Cuba. We did not know that. At some moment, they were seen physically.
Now, that is not often the case, when you can see something physically. If it's underground, you're not going to see it. If it's something other than a large mass, like a ballistic missile, you may not see it. If it's chemical or biological you might not see it. We saw it, and then the president made a decision, President Kennedy, and he said: That's unacceptable; no one's fired a missile at us, no one's announced they intended to do that, but that's not acceptable. And he imposed a quarantine, a blockade which he called a quarantine, euphemistically, because he was acting to prevent or preempt their ability to use those missiles against us from the island of Cuba. And he did it at the last moment and was fortunate in succeeding.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you --
Q: On President Kennedy, didn't -- Mr. Secretary, President Kennedy did not preempt action by Cuba by a military strike. He engaged in --
Rumsfeld: I didn't say he did.
Q: -- he ordered a blockade, not military action. So how --
Q: Two things. How --
Rumsfeld: Oh, I'll explain it.
Q: You're not --
Rumsfeld: I'll explain it. Are you ready?
Q: How --
Rumsfeld: Here we go.
Q: How is that justification for a preemptive military strike?
Rumsfeld: It's perfect.
Rumsfeld: It's perfect. What he did was he interposed U.S. ships -- Soviet ships that were sailing to Cuba with U.S. ships with orders to stop those ships and prevent them from delivering those missiles to Cuba.
Q: But he didn't bomb Cuba.
Rumsfeld: Just a minute. There would be no reason to. The missiles weren't there. He made a conscious decision that he would put the world at risk of a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union by preventing those ships from doing that which the Soviet Union had ordered those ships to do. And a set of decisions had to be made on both sides as to how they would wind that down.
That process is taking place in the world today. The president has said that there are risks to taking action, and they're serious risks; and he has also said there are serious risks to inaction, and the one thing that is not acceptable to him is to do nothing.
And he has gone to the United Nations, and Iraq is being offered an opportunity -- just as the Soviet Union was -- to make a set of decisions. And it seems to me that if one thinks about it and walks through that process -- we happen to know how the Cuban missile crisis came out: The ships turned around and went home. The Soviets made a set of decisions that they would not risk testing that blockade.
I do not have any idea what set of decisions Iraq will make in the event that a U.N. resolution passes and -- or fails -- and they have to face a set of decisions as to what kind of inspections they will agree to. And time will tell.
Rumsfeld: It is not a perfect -- it is not a perfect, on all fours, analogy, but it is certainly as similar as anything in recent years that one can find.
Q: But given the situation in North Korea now, why can't you just as easily draw a parallel between the Cuban missile crisis and North Korea? North Korea has launched missiles much more powerful and with longer range than Iraq has. North Korea attacked South Korea. Why couldn't you draw a parallel with North Korea also?
Rumsfeld: The president's speech to the United Nations distinguished between the two cases. My remarks and testimony and responses to questions up on Capitol Hill distinguished between those cases. The conclusion on the part of the president is that Iraq is unique; that is has the set of characteristics and intent and behavior pattern that he described, and there are distinctions between that country and other terrorist states and other terrorist networks.
Q: Mr. Secretary, one more attack on your --
Rumsfeld: And we'll make this the last question.
Q: Thank you, sir. Just another attack on your opening statement and your, in a sense, rebuttal here.
If you accept the fact that President Kennedy established a blockade, there are critics of the president's stated and possible policy vis-a-vis Iraq, by saying that containment works and that we could solve the problem by continuing the containment of Iraq without any kind of military action.
Q: Which is what Teddy Kennedy said.
Q: Your view on that, sir?
Rumsfeld: There's no question but that there have been times in history, in my lifetime, when containment has worked. There have also been times when containment or deterrence have not worked. And one has to look across a spectrum of activities and recognize the reality that some set of capabilities deter certain kinds of behavior but not others.
With respect to containment, if you wanted to use that word and say that a containment of Iraq might be an appropriate approach, the reality is that for 11 years, the United States has attempted to do that. They have worked with other countries, through the United Nations, some 16 resolutions. They have attempted to diplomatically restrict Iraq, with the hope of creating incentives for them to give up weapons of mass destruction. It's failed. They've used economic sanctions. And for a while, the economic sanctions pinched. But today they not only don't pinch, but they may very well even result in higher revenues for Iraq than were those sanctions not there. And so that has not worked, because he's made a conscious judgment that he'd rather have weapons of mass destruction than the food or the revenues from the oil liftings.
And the third approach of military activity has also been used, and it's been used first in Desert -- in the Gulf War and then, second, in -- Desert Shield I guess it was called, and -- pardon me?
Q: Desert Fox in December '98.
Rumsfeld: Desert Fox. And then, third, it's been used in the northern and southern no-fly zones -- military weaponry and capability. And all three have failed. And they failed over a sustained period, which is not a month or a week or a year; it's 11 years of --
Q: To do what?
Rumsfeld: They have failed to bring about a situation where Saddam Hussein would do what he promised to do at the end of the Gulf War, namely, give up his weapons of mass destruction and adhere to those resolutions.
Now, anyone who wants can rewrite history, anyone who wants can give speeches and say things they'd like to say. But the fact is that at some point, I think most reasonable people would have to agree that 11 years is a long time; that the economic sanctions are not working; the borders are porous, the weapons are flowing in; and third, that the diplomatic efforts have not failed. So, if one is enamored of the word containment, it's pretty clear that they have not been, are not currently, and I would submit, are unlikely, prospectively, to feel contained.
Deterrent, one can also raise, and say, are they deterred? We know that the fact that the United States has nuclear weapons did not deter the Korean War. It did not deter the Vietnam War. It did not deter Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait, and it did not deter a bucket of other things. It happened that those deterrents did work with the Soviet Union, one would think, and created a relatively stable situation between two powers.
But it never worked with respect to terrorist states. It never worked with respect to lesser contingencies. And I think that that's an accurate reading of history. And I hope you do, too. Thank you.
Q: Have a great day.
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