United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks at the Truman Library, Independence, Mo.

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 02, 2006
Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks at the Truman Library, Independence, Mo.

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Thank you very much.

            Clifton, thank you for those kind words.  Dr. Divine, I'm very pleased to be here and have a chance to see this impressive library.  I thank you so much for the opportunity to tour it and also to meet those young folks that were there doing a mock decision, White House decision, with respect to Korea.

            I don't know if the rest of you know it, but they have a program here they bring in students and they assign roles as Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, President and so forth, members of the press, and they then have debates and discussions and try to think through those decisions, and they're tough decisions to be sure.

           Mayor Stewart, it's good to see you.  I understand that I think it's the city and the library are going to award Congressman Ike Skelton the Truman Award sometime next month, or May?  You made a good selection.  Ike's a fine man.

           I also want to say hello to the people from Wentworth Military Academy. And the American Legion. I saw a number of folks from the American Legion here outside, and was pleased to see those who have served our country so well.

           I have been a great admirer of President Harry Truman for many years.  In fact I was down in Key West, Florida not too long ago with my family.  My wife and I took our three children and seven grandchildren and we all went to, I think they called it the Winter White House or the Little White House or something down in Key West, which if some of you have not see it you ought to do it when you're on a vacation or something.  It's most impressive.  Our grandchildren of all ages, from 19 down to 3 or 4, all toured and found it most interesting, and I think it's important for people to have a sense of what an epic figure President Truman was and how much he affected our country and the world, post World War II history.

           You have to admire a President who was so down to earth that when he was asked what's the first thing he's going to do when he gets home.  He says I'm going to take the grips up to the attic. [Laughter].  Now some of you are a little young and you don't know that a grip is a suitcase.  [Laughter].  Back in the old days.  I can remember my father using the word, and my wife's father using the word.

            I'm also told that in leaving the White House he said if I'd known I'd have that much packing to do I'd have run again.  [Laughter].

            He certainly was loyal to his family, his home town and his friends.  As I recall, he overrode his advisors and even attended the funeral of Mr. Prendergast who was not terribly popular at that period, and did it because he went back a long way with him.

            He was humble.  Upon the death of President Roosevelt I'm told that he said, "I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me, and I pray to God that I can measure up to the task."

            I guess he'd been Vice President for less than three months when he was called on to replace a man who was really a giant in everyone's life during that period.

            I was 12, living in Coronado, California when President Roosevelt died.  My father was out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during World War II.  They announced over the school system that President Roosevelt had died.  And millions of people across this country and the world cried because he was so big a figure in everyone's life.  And the free world suddenly found it's trust placed in, as they said then, a former haberdasher.  But he was also a former soldier from Independence, Missouri, and the world wondered, and indeed President Truman wondered if he was up to the task.

            I'm told that his wife Bess was a bit more practical.  She started burning her love letters to him.  [Laughter]. He said she shouldn't do that.  She replied, why not?  She said, I've read them several times.  The President pleaded, but think of history. She said, I have.  [Laughter].

            When you think about it, her task was almost as daunting as his.  She had to succeed Eleanor Roosevelt who was also a big figure. I can remember being in college and watching Eleanor Roosevelt on a corner talking to somebody.  She was tall and animated and powerful.  I see someone who was probably there with me at Princeton many many years ago.  She'd given, Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, had given a lot of press conferences and everyone knew her.  She was involved in all kinds of things.

            After some prodding I'm told that Mrs. Truman agreed to hold a press conference of her own for the first time.  Then she canceled it.  She did, however, apparently eventually agree to answer reporters' questions.  She had the following ground rules. The questions had to be written and submitted in advance.  Her responses would be in writing.  She reserved the right to respond with short, one-syllable answers, and frequently, no comment.  She was onto something.  [Laughter].  She had it figured out pretty well, I like that.

            Of course there are many reasons to pay tribute and remember President and Mrs. Truman, but what brought me here in particular is to reflect on President Truman's leadership in the early days of the Cold War and to consider what lessons might apply to another and in many ways very different struggle that could occupy our country for a good many years ahead.

            Consider the institutions and the programs that started on President Truman's watch.  Some almost from scratch, which proved to be so crucial during the Cold War and indeed in the period since.  The Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, Radio Free Europe, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- several of which of course are still going strong.

            In addition, President Truman led the way in extending official diplomatic recognition to the new state of Israel.  Again, a step that was not particularly popular in many places in our country during that period.

            The country went through important cultural changes as well under his leadership, including his decision to desegregate the federal work force.  It changed our federal government significantly to make that decision not by Congress, but by an Executive Order.

            Then he did the same thing for the United States military.  And in effect I suppose you could say he helped make the United States military one of the most color-blind institutions in the United States of America.  And an institution that's provided countless Americans the opportunity that they deserved and had previously not had.

            Those steps were truly historic.  They have had lasting effect no our country.  It is always surprising to me that they hadn't been done before, and he had the wisdom and the courage to do it.

            Now with the perspective of history the many new institutions and programs of the Truman years can seem, I suppose to many people, as part of a carefully crafted, broadly supported strategy that led to what now almost seems like an inevitable victory in the Cold War.

            But of course things didn't unfold that way.  That isn't the way it was in history.  They never unfold quite that way.

            Our country was tired after the 2nd World War.  Strong strains of isolationism still persisted.  Many Americans were not in the mood for a global involvement on the part of the United States.  And particularly against something as ill defined as the Communist menace at the time.  It wasn't as though they were engaged in a battle and you needed to respond.  It was different than World war II.  It was something that you couldn't quite put your hand on, you couldn't quite show a movie about it as readily.

             It was a time of heated disagreements.  You think back now, it seems like anyone with any sense would have recognized the importance of the Cold War and of pursuing our values and our interests as a country. 

             I don't think it would surprise anyone to hear that Mr. Truman was a proud and enthusiastic partisan.  He used to say, "Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me."  [Laughter].

             He wasn't shy about expressing his views to those who did.  Yet together, leaders of both political parties tended to get the big things right, and they did get the big things right.  They understood that war had been declared on our country, on the free world, whether we liked it or not, that we had to steel ourselves against an expansionist enemy, the Soviet Union, that was determined to destroy our way of life. 

             A small but perhaps telling moment in the history of the Cold War took place on one of President Truman's first days in office.  During his second week as President he met with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov.  President Truman had what was described as a tough conversation during which he told Molotov that the Soviets were not carrying out their agreements on Poland.  Molotov responded, we are.  President Truman, as he put it, he said I then explained to him words of one syllable exactly why they were not.

             After the President's typically frank reply and undiplomatic response, Molotov apparently said to President Truman, "I've never been talked to like that in my life."  Truman replied, "Carry out your agreements and you won't be talked to like that again."  [Laughter].  Sounds reasonable to me.

             In a sense that quintessentially American candor would prove to be a valuable attribute in winning the struggles against the Soviet Union.  We knew that our free system of government was vastly preferable to their dictatorship. That when given a real choice the natural desire of men and women is to be free, and that the task of free people was to hold firm, to defend ourselves over many long decades, and trust that the truth would eventually win out.

             That, I would submit, is our task today in the global war on terror.  The struggle against violent extremists.  These two eras have many many differences, I understand that.  The enemy today is not an empire, but a shadowy movement of terrorist cells.  The threats today are not conventional, they're unconventional and al-Qaida and other terrorists have no territories to defend, no nations, no diplomats to sign agreements and no hesitance to kill innocent men, women and children.

            But these two eras have something important and instructive by way of similarities.  Both required our nation to gird for a long, sustained struggle, punctuated by periods of military conflict.  Both required the use of all elements of national power to defeat the enemy.  Both required a transition from arrangements that were successful in the previous war to arrangements that were much better suited for this new and different era.  And above all, both required perseverance by the American people and by their leadership to be sure.

           There are other similarities between the two conflicts that are less obvious but equally instructive.  One is the critical importance of being able to bolster the capacities of partner nations.  This notion was the heart of the Marshall Plan which cost more than $100 billion in today's dollars, but most certainly helped to save Western Europe from Soviet tyranny and led to the emergence of important democratic allies that despite our occasional differences remain indispensable to our success today.

           The post World War II effort to aid the Japanese helped Japan become a stalwart democracy.  President Truman's decision to come to the aid of Greece and Turkey in accordance with the Truman Doctrine proved essential to saving both countries from Communist takeover.

           It was during the Truman era that we came to the rescue of what is today called the Republic of Korea.  The result of that long-term investment, and it was a significant investment in dollars and in lives, has made the Korean Peninsula the most stark example of the differences between a free system -- a free political system and a free economic system, as opposed to a command economy and a vicious dictatorship.

           I have a satellite photograph taken at night of the Korean Peninsula that I keep in my office on my desk.  It shows a peninsula with the demilitarized zone in the middle, the same people in the North as the South, the same resources in the North and the South.  At night the South is just filled with electricity and light.  It is the 12th most powerful economy on the face of the earth.  And the North is absolutely black.  Nothing but one pinprick of light in Pyongyang, the capitol of North Korea.  The starvation and malnutrition has been so bad in the North that they now take people into their military that are 4'10" tall, men, and weigh under 100 pounds.  It is a tragedy.  And in the South, the 12th largest economy on earth.  The contrast, it says it all, that picture.

           It should be noted that few, if any, of his foreign policy initiatives won universal acclaim here at home.  Or abroad, for that matter.  Indeed, a former diplomat in the closing days of World War II said that democracy would never work in Japan.  Don't you love that certainty?

           A 1946 Life magazine article was entitled, "Americans are losing the victory in Europe." 1946.

           President Truman and his successors in both political parties, had the courage, however, to hold firm.  Understanding the necessity of helping other nations become democratic allies for the long struggle ahead.

           The situation today is different.  I would suggest that a similar rationale underscores efforts to help bolster the capabilities of our many new allies in the global war on terror, including Afghanistan and Iraq. 

           Another similarity that bears mentioning is that both were and are fundamentally ideological conflicts, the Cold War and today, challenging free people and free systems of government.

           During the Cold War the Soviets sought to undermine the West by cultivating divisions among our allies, among the countries of the developing world and among even the American people.  And they met with considerable success.

           Millions marched against the United States, not for the United States but against the United States.  Not against the Communist bloc but against the United States.  Both in Europe and here at home.  Some of us have been around long enough to remember when Euro Communism was very much in vogue.  It was very fashionable to talk about Euro Communism, the good Communists.  When there were Communists in the Italian government, and Communists in the Portuguese and what have you.  And separating it somewhat from Soviet Communism, and allowing as how it was kind of the wave of the future.

           Much of the world granted the Soviet Union moral equivalence or equity with the United States.  They talked about the two super powers.  They talked about the bipolar world.  They compared us and equated us as though we were each part of the problem.

           I can remember being called back from Europe when I was Ambassador to NATO to have to testify twice against the amendment to withdraw all our forces from Europe in the '70s.

           There were powerful forces against the Cold War.  But leaders over a sustained period met that challenge with something our enemies could never match and that was the powerful demonstration of the attractiveness of free systems. 

           Indeed, one of the most powerful statements of the difference between our way of life and the Soviets was what President Kennedy said at the Berlin Wall in 1963.  He said, "Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in."

           Our country established institutions such as the Voice of America which aired its first broadcast to Soviet Russia in 1947. Radio Free Europe that had its first broadcast into Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia in 1950.  Both were in the Truman era.

            Today we're contemplating similar approaches.  I would note Secretary of State Rice's proposal recently to expand our radio broadcasting into the Middle East, and particularly to try to reach some of the young people and women and reformers in Iran.  There will have to be other new institutions to augment the effort that's been made thus far.

            Just as millions who were trapped in Eastern Europe during the Cold War were given hope by messages that filtered in from the West, similarly I believe there are reformers in the Middle East who have been silenced and intimidated and who want their countries to be free.  We must reach out to them.  We are still only beginning to embrace this profound challenge.

            In many ways, many critical battles in the war on terror will be fought in the newsrooms and the editorial board rooms.  Unlike the Cold War, this is an era of far more rapid communications with the internet and bloggers and chatrooms and 24 hour news channels and satellite radio.  Lies can travel around the world in an instant, I think it was Mark Twain who said, "while the truth is still putting its boots on."

            We need to develop considerably greater dexterity to counter the enemy's skills in media relations and in manipulating the news.  They are demonstrating their skills in that field daily.

            These tasks are not easy.  They never are.  In those early days of the Cold War the future then too was unclear.  The tasks often seemed insurmountable and it was difficult to view things with the perspective that only history can offer.

            But let there be no doubt.  The United States did not win the Cold War by luck and victory was not inevitable.  It took perseverance, it took a confidence in our course despite the many uncertainties, and there were uncertainties throughout, and despite the many critics along the way who stood outside and blamed the United States.  Critics here at home and critics overseas.

            It involved making needed corrections, self corrections to be sure.  No path is straight.  And it relied on the vision of leadership in both parties who understood the menace we faced and resolved and stayed resolved to defeat that menace.  Leaders like Eisenhower and Kennedy and Scoop Jackson, President Reagan, and of course those crucial formative years under President Harry S. Truman.

            They did what they did without a road map.  There was no guidebook that they could pick up in the morning and tell them what to do when they got up to serve the country, to chart the way in an era when the Cold War we were in, it didn't dominate the news every day.  It wasn't something that called people to be courageous and to stick with it.  It was off the pages, but it was hard and it took investment and it took time.

            Our allies bickered with each other and with us.  Political parties sometimes disagreed.  When crucial battles were fought, sometimes they were even in secret.  But the specter of a super power confrontation was with us in our consciousness most every day.  And when people asked when the war might be over, there was no clear answer.  There isn't one today.

           I was struck by the mock news conference these students had down here earlier this afternoon and this morning.  They were pretending they were press people asking the President why the decision this way, why the decision that way.  I kept waiting for one of them to ask, it was concerning the beginning of the Korean War and the sending in of troops and planes after the North attacked the South.  I kept waiting for one of the mock press people to stand up and say well when will the war be over?  How much will it cost?  We hear that every day.

           But President Truman's final words to the nation as President in 1953 I think ought to offer some comfort to those with question about the struggle we face today.  He said in part, "Some of you may ask when and how will the Cold War end."  This is 1953.  "When and how will the Cold war end." 

           "I think I can answer that simply.  The Communist world has great resources and it looks strong, but there is a fatal flaw in their society.  Theirs is a system of slavery.  There is no freedom, no consent.  I have a deep and abiding faith in the destiny of free men.  With patience and courage we shall some day move on into a new era." 

           And we did.  But it wasn't in that year or ten years later or twenty years later or thirty years later.  It was forty years later.  He was right. 

           The man from Independence whose final resting place is so few steps from here deserves enormous credit for that and he deserves our nation's undying appreciation.

           To this day when visitors come to Washington and tour the Oval Office they're shown a wood-carved desk that was given to President Hays by Queen Victoria.  It's the only object in the White House that still shows the old presidential seal which had the Bald Eagle looking towards the arrows, the signs of war.

           It was President Truman, I am told, who changed that seal, deciding that the eagle should look the other way, toward the olive branches, not the arrows -- symbolic of a nation dedicated to peace. 

           Perhaps that is a fitting tribute to President Truman.  He was a man of peace, a reflection of a country that he led and loved, and I can say that this remains the noble mission of our nation's young men and women in uniform who are deployed around the world to secure the peace for our generation and for generations to come.

           Thank you very much.

           [Applause].

           I'm told there's some time for questions and answers.  Or at least questions. [Laughter].

           Why don't we dispense with the question of how long is it going to last, and we'll skip the one, how much is it going to cost, and I'll be happy to -- I always worry when someone has their hand up that fast, that eager.  But go ahead.

           I think there are some mikes coming toward you, and then folks can hear.

           QUESTION:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your timely presentation today and for your long-term service to this country.

            My question is one that is in the softball category, so fear not.  A few weeks ago, in fact in mid January, John Zweiful was here, and he of course is the originator and creator of the White House in Miniature which is currently downstairs on exhibit.  He told me point blank in very glowing terms that you were the man who got him into the White House and he was very grateful for that.

            I'm wondering if you could elaborate on your association with John and how that invitation came about, because he said he was there for two weeks at a time and now the entire country and much of the world has been blessed with that resulting creation.

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  It is an impressive piece of work.

            I remember him.  I remember him from the Ford Administration period as opposed to one of the Presidents that I served before or after.  I cannot remember why he was connected with me but I think it may have been through President Ford.  But I remember him well and was so pleased when Dr. Divine showed me the work and gave me a chance to walk around it and look at it and think about it and muse over it.  As a matter of fact I was in the White House for dinner just Sunday night where the President hosted his former colleagues, the 50 Governors of the country were all there for it.  It was most enjoyable.

            QUESTION:  I'm hoping you'll be candid.  You usually are.  But one of the things that I've been thinking about lately and talking about with friends is [inaudible] military doing and there are going to be [inaudible], and most people I know [inaudible].  We’re very proud of them.

            Where I see a problem is, is the State Department [inaudible] and helping doing some of the infrastructure things which the military cannot be expected to do?  [Inaudible] the military, are you supposed to not just fight the battle but build a nation?

             SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  I'm always candid.  [Laughter].

             Let me take the last couple of words first.  Build a nation.  I may be in the minority but I don't believe that the United States or any country in the world has the ability to go into another country and build their nation for them.  I think the best we can do is to go into another country, remove a dictator as was the case here or in Afghanistan, getting the Taliban out of there, and then providing enough assistance so that you create an environment within which the people of that country can build their own nation.

             In the case of Afghanistan it's going to be an Afghan nation.  It's going to be an Afghan constitution, an Afghan parliament, an Afghan infrastructure, Afghan military or Iraqi as the case may be -- not American.

             The task we have is to try to be there with -- and let me take a minute on this because it's a terribly important question.  Particularly people say well how many troops should you have in Iraq or Afghanistan?  Are there too many or too few?  We see violence there.  Should we have more troops there?  The answer to that is there's been violence in the Mid East since the beginning of time.  Saddam Hussein sent hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people into mass graves.  The idea that there's violence today compared to the violence then, it is just not even comparable.

             But the difficulty we face and the tension that exists is the following.  On the one hand you want to have enough forces so the security environment is sufficiently permissive that the Iraqi or the Afghan people can develop a political system, vote on a constitution which they did, elect their people and be willing to go to the polls and risk the intimidation and the threats that they received, start their economy going, and yet you don't want too many people there that you look like an occupying force, that the insurgents and the terrorists are able to lie to people and say you're only there for their oil, you're there to occupy the country, you intend to stay there permanently, all of which is false. But it feeds the insurgency to the extent you have so many people there that they begin to wonder if you plan to stay and occupy their country.  No one wants an occupying force in their country over a long period of time.

             The second problem if you have too many people is that Americans are terrific.  If there's a ditch to be dug, they go dig it, and they dig the best dad-burned ditch you'll ever see.  If someone needs a generator in a hospital, by golly they go find a generator and stick it in the hospital.  And if they're walking down the street and there's a security problem and they're with some Iraqi security forces, their inclination is to take care of it themselves.

           That's a wonderful quality and attribute on the part of Americans, but the fact of the matter is, you know, I suppose many of you have youngsters and you taught them how to ride a bike, and you run down the street holding onto the back seat and you've got your whole hand on it, you don't want them to fall.  Then you go to four fingers, then you go to three fingers, then you go to two fingers, and you know if you let go of that last finger they might fall and skin their knee, and you also know if you don't you could have a 40 year old who doesn't know how to ride a bike.  You do not want a 40 year old who can't ride a bike.  [Laughter].  And by golly, we have to keep avoiding filling every vacuum.  And if we're around that place with too many people we tend to fill every vacuum.  That's not a healthy thing.

             So that's that dilemma that exists.

             Now you began by talking about the State Department.  They have a totally different culture than the Department of Defense and I think it's a proud history.  They're professionals.  They go out to a country, learn a language, go out to a country, and report back kind of what's going on.

             They don't have a culture of being deployed and being sent out like the military.  In the military it's career enhancing to be deployed into a conflict zone.  In the State Department it is not career enhancing and it hasn't been.

           Condi is in the process of trying to alter that culture. She's trying to figure out ways that more people from the Department of State and other agencies of our government can get out there and help develop the ministries in Iraq and the ministries in Afghanistan so they're more competent than they are now.

            If you think about Iraq, goodness gracious, under Saddam Hussein anyone who stood up and made a decision and called an audible and executed the audible got executed.  They got picked up by the police.  They weren't looking for people to make decisions.  So there isn't a natural rib cage like there is in the United States of America or in the United States military where you've got people all up the line -- non-commissioned officers, junior officers, all the way up to the senior with a chain of command and linkage where you expect those people to go out and make a lot of decisions.

            The Iraqis for two generations, all the incentives were to the contrary.  So it's going to take a little time for those ministries to develop competence so they can work with each other.  The Ministry of Interior with the Ministry of Defense, the police with the army, if you will.  They're working on it hard.  I had meetings on it this morning before I left Washington.  It isn't easy stuff.  As I say, in this case too, there isn't any road map.  Think how long it took in Germany and in Japan -- it took years.  Was it worth it?  You bet.

            I'll never forget being in Seoul, Korea last year and a woman journalist, she looked to be 40, something like that, came up to me and the Korean Parliament was just considering whether they should send forces into Iraq.  She said, why in the world should we send our young men and women halfway around the world to Iraq?  Fair question.  If you have no memories, you never studied history, and you're looking at a blank blackboard and saying that's a fair question for that kind of a person.

            I pointed out the window and said look at your city of Seoul, look what's out there.  There's this fabulous economic miracle, a free political system, a free economic system.  I said had the Americans not sent their people halfway around the world to a country they didn't know the language, they didn't know the people, I said South Korea wouldn't exist today.  Millions and millions of people would be 4'10" tall and under 100 pounds trying to get in the military so they could get fed.

            I think she got it.  [Laughter].

            Question.

            QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I have 20 young people here with me today who are about to enter into your employ here in the next year to three years.  What would you say to them as they enter military service as young commissioned officers?  The challenges they're going to face.  How is it going to be different from my generation and the past generations that they need to prepare for please?

             SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  First of all, congratulations.  You're making an excellent decision.

             I think the opportunities in the military today for young men and women are really truly amazing.  The opportunity to have responsibility at a much younger age, the opportunity to be engaged in something that you will know and all of your fellow Americans will know is a noble calling.  That has to be something that inspires, which it does.

             I think that what we're going to need in the United States armed forces are the kinds of people I've described.  They're going to be people who are innovative, people who understand there's no one, for example, in Washington D.C. smart enough to tell the 133,503 American military personnel that happen to be in Iraq today what they ought to do when they get up in the morning.  In fact there's no one smart enough in Baghdad to tell them what they ought to do.  They need to be people who develop the skill sets to call the audibles and to make decisions themselves and to bring their values and their skills and their professionalism to their work and apply it to a situation on the ground that is not the same.

             In Iraq today there are 18 provinces, the situation in those 18 provinces is totally different, one from another.  [...Tape malfunction...].  The enemy adjusts and adapts to it.  What we have to do is have people who are trained well enough and professional enough and confident enough to make decisions that they are willing to watch what the enemy does and make adaptations and adjustments so that they can take advantage themselves, and preferably turn inside the enemy's turning circle.

             We are so blessed to have the folks we do serving our country over there, and they're so proud of what they do.  And anyone in the Pentagon who gets down and wants to get up and get inspired, you go out to Iraq or Afghanistan or you go to Bethesda Naval Hospital or Walter Reed Hospital and talk to those people and talk to their families and talk to their loved ones.  You cannot help but come away inspired.  They are so talented and so proud and so confident and so capable, and we're a lucky country to have them.

             Question.

             QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, is the port controversy worth [inaudible]?

             SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Oh, my.  [Laughter].  You know, in a democracy anything that people feel is important enough to talk about is probably important enough to talk about.  And given sufficient information the American people find their way to reasonably right decisions, and they do it through trial and error and through debate and discussion, and through information and misinformation, and in this case we have to begin with the beginning.  That is this country was attacked, we lost 3000 people here on September 11th, several hundred were in the Pentagon where I was, so we ought to be concerned about security and it's perfectly proper for people to raise it and discuss it.

             The fact is that the Congress many many years ago created a process for looking at foreign investment.  There's a committee chaired by the Department of Treasury.  It has six government departments and agencies on it.  There are also six or seven offices in the White House that are on it, and they get, I'm told, something like one of these proposals a month, or one a week I think it is.  I think it's one a week.  A lot of them that come in.  I think it's 60 a year maybe.  So about once a week one of these things comes over the transom.  Somebody wants to buy something and this committee which worries about that went about their business and circulated it and discussed it and considered it, and the Coast Guard raised questions about security and how it should be handled, and other people raised issues.  They all decided to approve it, and they didn't raise it above their level.  There in the Pentagon it was down -- you've got Rumsfeld, the Deputy, the Assistant Secretary, another person, and then a person below that was the one on the committee.  That's probably true in most of the departments.  They're intelligent people, they're professional people, they made their best judgment.

             It clearly turns out to be an issue that because it wasn't pre-briefed to the Congress and pre-briefed to the press and packaged in a way that people would feel confident that the analysis had taken place and could explain to the public and the world before it came at them in a rush with concern, it would have been vastly better had that been done.  It wasn't, and as a result people were saying my goodness, we're selling the ports, which is not happening.  Many ports in the United States are already owned -- They're all owned by the United States -- states, local governments, whatever.  They're operated by a mixture of people whose companies operate them.  But in every case the Coast Guard handles security and in every case in this latest thing the Coast Guard would handle security.  Literally nothing would change at all.

             So it's hard for me to see -- I'm not an expert on the subject, but it's hard for me to see that there's a security problem.  There clearly is a political problem and a need to see that it's well explained and discussed.

             The President's properly, I think, pointed out that one particularly difficult part of it is that the company is headquartered out there in Dubai, and of course they have a port and have airfields which the Department of Defense uses for our ships all the time and our airplanes and our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, and they have been a very strong ally in the global war on terror.  They were one of the first countries that stepped up and offered financial assistance when Katrina hit.  And so the press coverage of all of this and the debate, the very heated debate that's taking place, is awkward to have it all seemingly focused on an ally in the global war on terror in the UAE and leaving the impression that they, that there's something wrong with them as a country, even though they have been very helpful and very supportive to us and are on a continuing basis day in and day out.  But I guess that's what democracy's about.  People can say something and then somebody has to say something else and the American people sift it and sort it and to the extent we don't flood our carburetors on each one of these why we'll find our way through it.

               Yes?

               QUESTION:  Thank you for [inaudible].  You are [inaudible] democracy and beliefs in life, but the issues that we're facing are bigger than Iraq, bigger than Afghanistan, and whether you call it Islamic Fundamentalism or terrorism or just thugs and bullies, it goes over state lines and country lines and it's going to affect all of us -- whether it's Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or any of these locations.

               Is there anything that we can do, we are doing, are there enough Muslims in the world to work with us to conquer these problems?  How do you see it?

               SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  You've defined it well.  There is a struggle within the Muslim faith between violent extremists on the one hand and moderate Muslims and the violent extremists represent just a tiny fraction of the total of Muslims in the world, and the overwhelming majority are peaceful, are moderate, have families and want to see them grow up, and their goal in life is not to strap suicide vests on them and have them go kill people.

               The question is how do you deal with this?  We've always had extremists in the world.  It's when they're violent and kill other people -- If someone is an extremist and they go off in the closet and be extreme, that's their business.  [Laughter].  If they're violent extremists and their goal is to reestablish a caliphate throughout the world and impose the rule of a small handful of extremist clerics on everyone else, then it's quite a different thing.

               The problem we've got is -- The purpose of terrorism, of course, is not to kill people.  The purpose of terrorism is to alter behavior, it's to terrorize.  It's to change how you behave.  That strikes at free people right at the very center of what we are.  What we are about is the ability that nobody tells us what we should do.  We can get up in the morning and go do what we want and say what we want, go where we want.  We go to work, we send our kids off to school with every reason to believe they'll come home.  Once we're terrorized because of those threats, then they have won.  We've altered our behavior.

                 Now it's physically impossible to defend against terrorists in every location at every minute of the day or night against every conceivable threat.  It can't be done.  You cannot defend.  You simply have to go on the offense.  You have to go after the terrorists.  You have to make everything they do harder.  You've got to go after their safe havens.  You've got to go after their networks.  You have to go after their finances.  You have to make it harder for them to move between countries, harder for them to recruit, harder for them retain, harder for them to raise money and move weapons.  Everything has to be harder because if you're only on the defense you lose, and you particularly lose at that point where they're successful in getting their hands on chemical or biological weapons or radiological weapons.  The thought of a biological weapon that is contagious, for example, in the hands of these people, it would be many many many multiples of what we saw on September 11th.

                 So we have no choice as a people.

                 Now can we deal with this?  We can.  We can't do it alone.  We have to have the cooperation of other nations.  The kinds of things we're dealing with here, the global war on terror, the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, no nation can deal with that by themselves.  We simply have to be successful in taking this 80 nation coalition that's been fashioned, which is a breathtaking accomplishment.  It's the largest coalition in the history of the world -- sharing intelligence, cooperating with law enforcement, sharing military information, and we have to keep the pressure on them and we have to do that but we have to do one other thing.

                 We could put pressure on them, and we are, and it's not the Department of Defense, it's not all kinetics, it's the Treasury Department, it's the State Department, it's the FBI, it's other countries.  But we have to build partnership capability on the part of other nations and make them better able to deal with terrorists inside their country.  We also have to find ways to shift gears like President Truman did back after World War II and recognize that we need to worry about not only the ones that are terrorists, but the ones that are being brought in the intake of that and sent to these extreme madrasas and being trained to do that.  We know pretty much how many terrorists there are and what we can do to make their lives more difficult.  We do not have a good fix on the numbers that are being brought in and being trained and being told that this is the way to go to heaven, this is the way to lead your life, to kill other people.  That takes money, it takes time, it takes leadership from moderate Muslims. 

                    If you think about it, Musharraf in Pakistan is helping us.  President Kharzai replaced the Taliban and the al-Qaida in Afghanistan.  He's a moderate Muslim.  He's helping.  The new leadership in Iraq, the good Lord willing when they are able to fashion a government here in the weeks ahead will be a moderate government, a non-Islamist government.  The new President in Indonesia, a large Muslim country, is a moderate.  The leadership in India which has an enormous Muslim population, probably the second largest in the world population, even though it's a minority, they have leadership that understands these things.

                    So we're not alone in the world.  I think that the problem is, change is hard.  You all know that.  It's very hard for all of us.  It is particularly hard for our Congress, it is particularly hard for our Executive Branch, and we do not have the post-World War II incentive and urgency to make the kinds of adjustments and changes and the creation of new institutions -- We've gone up to Congress for several years trying to get authorities changed so that we can do things with our partners in the world.  The resistance to it is enormous. 

                     We have got to be wise enough and smart enough and provide the right kind of leadership to create new institutions that fit the 21st Century because the ones left over from the 20th Century were terrific and a lot of them still have applicability, but by golly, there's a lot in the 21st Century that is notably different.  We are not going to be faced with big armies, navies and air forces.  We're going to be faced with irregular warfare, with asymmetric warfare, and we have to find ways to improve our intelligence capabilities and adjust our institutions to fit this new century.

                     I'm getting the hook. I can feel it.  [Laughter].  I did not want to look over and find that out, but I will graciously leave the podium.

                     Thank you very much.

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE. NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.  UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.  FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.  NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.  FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.

                     [Applause].

Additional Links

Stay Connected