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Rumsfeld: Iraqis Ready to Manage Own Affairs

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2004 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likened the new Iraqi government taking the country's reins to learning to ride a bicycle sometimes you just have to get on and start pedaling.

"They're ready to grab ahold and start riding that bicycle," Rumsfeld said in a July 1 interview. "It may wobble a little bit from time to time, but you can't learn to do it unless you get on it and climb up and go."

The secretary offered high praise for the individuals now running Iraq. "The prime minister and the deputy prime minister are both enormously competent individuals," he said, adding that the president, vice presidents and ministers are all highly educated.

Rumsfeld also said the new leaders of Iraq are tremendously courageous. "They have stepped forward despite the fact that there are a lot of extremists that are trying to kill them, that are trying to prevent Iraq from becoming a democratic country at peace with its neighbors," he said.

"And yet, these folks put their hands up and said, 'OK, I will do that.'"

And it's not just members of the government that are stepping forward to build a new Iraq. Rumsfeld said that "people are lining up to join the security forces." Despite the fact that more than 400 Iraqi security forces have been killed in the line of duty, he said, "they're waiting in the queue."

Rumsfeld explained that economics are a good indicator that the security situation in Iraq is not as dire as the civilian media often paint it. The Iraqi dinar has remained steady since it was implemented in 2003.

"Money is a coward," Rumsfeld said. "And if the situation there were as bad as we so often see in the newspapers it would be diving. And it isn't."

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

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