Rumsfeld: Terrorists Use Media to Manipulate American People
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2006 The “center of gravity” in the Iraq war is in America with the American people, not on the battlefield, and the media is a powerful tool that influences the people’s will, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Oct. 24 in various radio interviews.
“This is the first war that's been conducted in the 21st century with all the new media realities of 24-hour talk radio and Sony cams and digital cameras and news constantly on television,” Rumsfeld said in an interview with Inga Barks on KERN News/Talk Radio in Bakersfield, Calif. “But the American people have a pretty good center of gravity. They've got a good inner gyroscope. And it may be disorienting for a time; it may blow us off course somewhat, but we tend to re-center.”
Rumsfeld did several radio interviews as part of White House Radio Day, where various administration officials talked with representatives from radio stations around the country.
America’s wars have always had critics, but the difference in this war is the prevalence of the media, Rumsfeld said in his interviews. Terrorists recognize the influence the media has, so they use their own media committees to determine how best to manipulate the American public through the media, he said.
The terrorists plan their attacks to deliberately dishearten the American people and make them think the cause isn’t right or that America makes terrorism worse, Rumsfeld said.
“I just don't happen to believe that America is what’s wrong with the world. And I know that's a fact,” he said in an interview with Scott Hennen on “Hot Talk” WDAY AM 970 in Fargo, N.D. “And these terrorists have been determined to dishearten the American people, and we simply must not let that happen.”
Despite negative media reports, Iraq is making progress, Rumsfeld noted. An aerial tour over the country will show people going about their daily activities, such as driving, shopping and eating in restaurants, he said. The troops also see the progress made, he said.
“Everywhere I go with the troops around the world -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa -- invariably they will ask me, ‘Why is the impression in the United States so notably different from what they see? Why is the general impression of what's taking place so different?’ And it's because of the media. They decide to do that,” he said.
The insurgency in Iraq is tough right now, and as more progress is made, the terrorists become more determined to throw the government off track, Rumsfeld said. However, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a strong person who is committed to the country’s success, and U.S. troops serving on the ground are doing amazing things, the secretary said.
“I never cease to be impressed. If I want to be inspired, I go visit the troops,” Rumsfeld said in the interview with Hennen. “And they are doing just a superb job for the country. They're proud of what they're doing. They're professional. They are highly skilled at what they do.”
The U.S. is constantly changing its tactics to better fight terrorists, who are a smart enemy and adjust their tactics, Rumsfeld said. However tough the fight might be, the coalition and Iraqi government are committed to defeating the terrorists and bringing peace to the country, he said.
“It's serious, and it's important, and our task is to see that our country prevails and that we succeed in this effort,” he said. “The consequences for our country were Iraq to be turned over to the terrorists and terrorist training camp, as Afghanistan was, with their water and their oil and their size and their geographic location -- it would impose an enormous threat to our country and to our friends and allies around the world.”