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Political Process in Iraq Will Stay on Schedule, Rumsfeld Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2005 – America is not losing the war in Iraq, and despite the insurgency's efforts at disruption, the political process will continue on schedule through elections planned there for December, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in radio interviews June 21.

Progress is being made across Iraq in the areas of economics and reconstruction, political development, and security, Rumsfeld told David Kelso KOKC-AM/KRXO-FM, Oklahoma City, Okla. Terrorists understand the need for these three areas to proceed together and have accordingly targeted these areas to delay the progress, Rumsfeld told Kelso.

"We've seen, for example, the insurgents attempting to delay the reconstruction efforts and going after some electrical activity or water systems to try to slow them down," Rumsfeld said. "Then they'll do the same thing with the Iraqi security forces. They'll try to delay that progress and go after a police station or something. And the same thing they'll do on the political side. They'll go out and try to assassinate a provincial governor or a police chief in a way that frightens people."

Despite the insurgents' efforts, progress in Iraq has continued and needs to continue in order to lessen the damage, Rumsfeld told Tony Snow on Fox News Radio's "Tony Snow Show." People who are calling for the political process to be deferred are only doing so because they think they can gain an advantage if the war goes on longer, Rumsfeld told Snow.

"The more they delay, the greater the damage," Rumsfeld said. "My view is that it must go forward on schedule. That's the president's view, and I predict that's what will happen."

Iraq already is on its way to being a free country, and more and more Iraqis are recognizing their responsibility to make their country better, Rumsfeld told Kelso. The economy is strengthening, the stock market is open, and the security forces are continuing to grow and receive more training, he said. Security forces are up to about 169,000 now and are expected to be at 200,000 by the December elections, Rumsfeld told Kelso.

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