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Eisenhower National Security Conference
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, DC, Thursday, September 25, 2003

Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you all and good evening, and General Pete Schoomaker, thank you so much for your willingness to come back and serve your country. Some people said that it was an unusual selection to have somebody come back in after being gone.  I said, that’s not unusual at all -- in fact I thought it was terrific idea.  So we really appreciate it, Pete, and we’re so pleased you’re willing to take on these big responsibilities.
General Sullivan, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here, it’s appropriate that this conference be co-hosted by the United States Army and that it bear the name of one of the Army’s greatest leaders, Dwight David Eisenhower. As we all know in the last century he led the Allied Forces that liberated Europe from tyranny and terror, today in the 21st Century the Armed Forces he once led are now doing the dangerous work of liberation this time in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It’s a little embarrassing but I’ve been around so long that I had the benefit of having former President Dwight Eisenhower help me in my first campaign for Congress back in 1962, and I tell you as a 29 year old running for Congress for the first time, having someone like former President Eisenhower come in and give you a boost -- it was an impressive and memorable thing.
I recently had the opportunity to visit with several of the Army’s Divisions now in Iraq, I met the troops of the 4th ID whose forces went under Eisenhower’s command, that were among the first to assault the Normandy coast and the first American troops to enter Paris. This year, a half century later, they were the first Coalition Forces to enter Tikrit and Kirkuk. In Mosul I visited the 101st Airborne, same Division that in World War II fought it’s way from Normandy to Hitler’s mountain hideout the Eagle Nest.  And in Iraq, the 101st stormed another regime hideout, the Mosul mansion where Uday and Qusay Hussein had taken refuge, and dealt with those two dangerous individuals. In Baghdad I met with the troops of the 1st Armored Division, a division that defeated Rommel’s Africa Corp, in the deserts of North Africa. Today in Iraq this division is once again dealing with deadly adversaries working to bring freedom to a long oppressed people. These Army divisions that helped bring freedom and democracy to Europe half a century ago are now helping the Iraqi people get on a path for democracy and self government along side their comrades from the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine, and the Coast Guard.  And I should add along side the troops from 32 separate Coalition countries.
It is -- I know some of you folks here -- certainly General Schoomaker and others -- have had the opportunity to visit these troops.  They’re doing so many things that are so innovative and so constructive and so different from each other. These facts on the grounds in different portions of that country vary dramatically. And these leaders and their terrific troops are fitting in and adopting approaches that are distinctive are innovative are unique.  So too are our Coalition Forces and it is a truly impressive thing to see. So much of what’s been done they have contributed to in a fundamental way.
By now all of you are familiar with the innovative war plan that General Tom Franks and his superb team of joint war fighters, General McKiernan and General Mosley and Admiral Keating, General Daly put together to defeat the Iraqi regime. Less familiar is the equally innovative and impressive plan to win the peace, so I want to discuss the strategy being employed to secure the peace in Iraq an in Afghanistan, the philosophy behind our approach, why it’s different -- and indeed, it is different from some of the so-called nation building efforts of the past -- and why this new approach we believe is important not just for Iraq and Afghanistan, but potentially for international efforts to help struggling nations recover.
My goodness gracious.
Twenty-five years ago when I was Secretary of Defense we use to have the Barrigan Brothers come in and dig graves in our front yard, so I guess everything changes and nothing changes.
I’m sure you’ve heard suggestions that the Iraq plan is flawed, that the U.S. is going it alone, that the U.S. didn’t anticipate the level of resistance the Coalition would face, and that the U.S. failed to send enough forces to do the job. I’m speaking of course about the suggestions that were offered two weeks into the Iraq war when some prognosticators were declaring that Operation Iraq Freedom was a failure.  The Coalition Forces then took Baghdad in 21 days. Today there are again suggestions, this time declaring that the post-war effort is on the brink of failure, that it will take longer than 21 days, but I believe that when all is said and done, the Iraq plan to win the peace will in fact succeed, just as the war plan to win the war succeeded.
Why did some predict failure in the first days and weeks of the Iraq war? One reason I suspect is that General Franks’ plan was different, and it was unfamiliar to the people who were commenting, and because it didn’t fit into the template of general expectations.  Many assumed at the first set-back that the underlying strategy had been flawed, it wasn’t. In the post-war effort in Iraq today, once again what the Coalition is doing is different; it’s unfamiliar to many.  So when the Coalition faces the inevitable setbacks -- and it will -- the assumption being widely expressed is that the underlying strategy is failing. Now I don’t believe that’s the case, nor does our Combatant Commanders General John Abizaid, nor does Ambassador Jerry Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and nor do General Dick Myers or Pete Pace, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  They all believe that we are on the track.
Today in Iraq we’re operating on the guiding principle that has brought success to our effort in Afghanistan. Iraq and Afghanistan belong to the Iraqi and to the Afghan people. The United States does not aspire to own those countries, or to occupy them, or to run them. During the war in Afghanistan this philosophy shaped how we approached the military campaign.  Instead of sending a massive invasion force, we adopted a strategy of teaming with local Afghan forces that oppose the Taliban, and after the major fighting ended, we did not flood Afghanistan with Americans, despite the many who urged us to do so. Instead we worked with the Afghans to establish an interim government and an Afghan National Army. You may remember that the Soviet Union had 300,000 troops in Afghanistan and lost, so the numbers of forces, it seems to me, do not necessarily determine and outcome.
In Iraq, no force of Iraqi fighters could have toppled Saddam Hussein without significant numbers of Coalition forces.  Though in the North, Special Operations Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters not only tied down Saddam Hussein’s northern units, but also captured Mosul and helped to unravel the northern front with dispatch. Even so, we did not flood the country with a half million U.S. troops.  We kept our footprint modest, liberating Iraq with something slightly over 100,000 forces in the country -- and when major combat ended, we began working immediately to enlist Iraqis to take responsibility for governance and security of their own country and we’ve made solid progress. Within two months, all major Iraqi cities and most towns had municipal councils. This something that took 8 months to accomplish in post-war Germany, and I should add that a great many of those councils -- representative --councils were encouraged by the Army forces and the Marine forces on the ground in that country, and by the Coalition forces through their fine work. Within 4 months, the Iraqi Governing Council had been appointed and a cabinet had been named something that took 14 months in post-war Germany. In just two months an independent Iraqi central bank was established and a new currency announced -- accomplishments that took 3 years in post-war Germany. Within three months we have begun training a new Iraqi Army, and within two months, a new Iraqi police force was conducting joint patrols with Coalition forces. By contrast it took 14 months to establish a police in Germany and 10 years to begin training a German army. All this and more has taken place in Iraq in less than 5 months. I know of no comparable experience in history whether post-war Germany, post-war Japan, Kosovo and Bosnia I know of no example where things have moved as rapidly.
Now why is enlisting Iraqis in security and governance early so important? My view is it’s important because it is their country.  We are not in Iraq to engage in nation building -- our mission is to help the Iraqis so that they can build their own nation. It’s something that a people have to do for themselves, it cannot be handed to a people and I think it’s an important distinction. The foreign presence in any country is in my view unnatural.  It’s a lot like a broken bone: if a broken bone is not set properly in a relatively short period of time, the tendons and the muscle and the skin grow around the break and the break become natural and eventually the body adjust to what is an abnormal situation. If one then tries to refix it to extract it to mend that break after it’s already healed wrong there’s a problem. And this is what’s happened in some past nation building exercises in my view: well intentioned foreigners arrive on the scene, look at the problem, say let’s go fix it for them, and despite good intensions, there can be unintended adverse side affects.
When foreigners come in with their international solutions to local problems it can create a dependency. For example East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia, yet the capital is now one of the most expensive cities in Asia: local restaurants are out of reach for most the Timorees and cater to international workers who are paid probably something like 200 times the local average local wage. At the cities main supermarket, prices are reportedly on a power with London and New York. Or take Kosovo: a driver shuttling international workers around the capital earns 10 times the salary of the University professor. Four years after the war, the United Nations still run Kosovo by executive fiat. Decisions made by the elected local parliament are invalid without the signature of a U.N. Administrator, and still to this day, Kosovo ministers have U.N. overseers with the power to approve or disapprove their decisions. Now that’s just a different approach.  I’m not saying that may be okay for Kosovo, but my interest is to see if we can’t do it in a somewhat different way. Our objective is to encourage Iraqi independence by giving Iraqis more and more responsibility over time for the security and governance of their country.
Long-term stability will come not from the presence of foreign forces -- ours or any other country’s but from the development of functioning local institutions.  And the sooner the Iraqis can take responsible for their affairs, the sooner U.S. and Coalition Forces can leave. That is why the President has asked for $20 billion dollars to help the Iraqis get on a path to self government and self reliance.  He’s requested $15 billion to speed repairs to Iraq’s starved and dilapidated infrastructure so Iraq can begin generating income through oil production and foreign investments. He’s requested another $5 billion dollars to help the Iraqis assume the responsibility for the security of their own country. So the goal is not for the U.S. to rebuild Iraq rather it’s to help the Iraqis get on a path where they can pay to rebuild their own country. The money the President is requesting is a critical element in the Coalition’s exit strategy because the sooner we help Iraqis to defend their own people, the faster foreign forces can leave their country and they can get about the task of fashioning truly Iraqi solutions to their future.
This is not to underestimate the challenges in Iraq today.  Foreign terrorist and Ba’athist remnants and criminals are doing a variety of things to try to stop the Iraqi people’s transition to democracy, and we can expect that they’ll continue to attack our successes and that the brave Iraqis who work with us will be attacked as well, but Coalition forces are dealing with the threat. The work is difficult, costly and dangerous but it’s worth the risk and it’s worth the cost, because if the Coalition succeeds, we will deal terrorism a powerful blow. A democratic Iraq, in the heart of the Middle East, would be a defeat for the ideology of terror that is seeking to take control of that area of the world but to help Iraqis succeed we need to proceed with some humility. American Forces and Coalition Forces can do remarkable things, but they cannot provide permanent stability or create an Iraqi democracy, that in a last analysis, has to be up to the Iraqi people.  It will take patience, but if we are steadfast, Iraq could become a model for a successful transition from tyranny to democracy and self-reliance.
A few months ago that statement would have seemed fanciful to many.  If you think about it, it’s been less than 5 months since the end of major combat operations in that country and yet today given the progress taking place and the support from 32 countries on the ground and additional countries providing financial assistance and humanitarian aid, that goal seems at least possible, but only if we help the Iraqis build their nation instead of trying to do it for them.  And if we have the wisdom to know the difference. Thank you very much.
Thank you all, nice to see you.
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