Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld and Mark Davis from WBAP 820, Dallas/Ft Worth, Texas
DAVIS: Across this great land it is the Mark Davis Show for a Tuesday, April 11th, 2006. Great to have you.
These are busy talk show times. The immigration issue alone would fill all of our lines. The troubling Duke University thing would fill all of our lines. But oh, by the way, every day that we wake up we remain at war. And it's interesting to gauge just how ardently we as a country remember that, and that's why it's always a good thing to revisit the basics of how the war is going, the nature of the enemy, the nature of our fighting force, and these are topics that can easily be handled by a gentleman whom it's a pleasure to welcome back to the program, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Welcome, sir. It's an honor to have you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you so much. I'm delighted to be back on the Mark Davis Show.
DAVIS: We catch you just on the heels of a brisk press briefing, and if you don't mind before we start to talk about the nature of the enemy, let's talk about the nature of our fighting force. Apparently after a patch in the last couple of years, where recruiting totals have been hard to achieve, we may be seeing the pendulum swing I understand.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You're quite right. It has been encouraging to see the fact that the services for the most part have been meeting their targets and of course their targets have been ambitious ones. And that there are so many wonderful young men and women across this country who want to volunteer to serve the American people and the cause of freedom and stick up their hands and say send me. And God bless each one of them.
DAVIS: When we take a look at the force that they are fighting, I was reading something, we had a military spokesman just I believe yesterday say that fully 90 percent of this insurgency is al Zarqawi. – I mean he is the engine behind it. A ton of people have had all kinds of their two cents thrown in about turning Iraqi public opinion against the insurgency, which certainly seems like a good idea.
Do we understand - does the public have a good grasp - of the nature of the enemy, because it's a complex answer?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well it is. It is not a simple response that can answer that question.
I think that if someone hit me cold and said describe the enemy in Iraq and narrowed it down to that, I would say it's a combination of the most lethal element being the al-Qaida and the Zarqawi group that are the ones that for the most part are sponsoring the suicide bombers and planning the IEDs, the explosive devices.
Second, there is sectarian violence to some degree, where Shia and Sunni are against each other. And third, there are criminals who are hired by one or more of those groups - or operating on their own for profit - who are engaged in creating disorder and attempting to advantage themselves as well. So it's the mixture of that.
But in terms of lethality, you're quite right. Clearly the al-Qaida and the Zarqawi group are the most serious.
DAVIS: You took a question from a gentlemen who stole one of mine, but I'm going to give it to you anyway. I've talked to half of them. There are all these generals coming out. There's Tony Zinni who served the country well in many capacities, and all of a sudden he's soured on the war. And there's Bernard Trainor, writing books, doing analysis for the New York Times and all of this.
You made a great point of how many generals have we had and what fraction are they, and that's a good point. But what is with these guys? Not everybody has to be monolithic in their opinion, but what's going on there?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I really don't know. The point is I suppose, it's less than one-tenth of one percent of the generals that exist. And some of them are writing books and they're out peddling their books, I suppose. In the case of Zinni who I've never met that I recall, he was gone and retired before we ever arrived here and he's been opposed, I think, from the beginning. So he's not changed his position.
DAVIS: That's a good point. He was CENTCOM Commander in '96 to 2000. So he's Clinton's boy, I guess we could say.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: But I think it's not surprising that there are going to be people who have different views, or didn't have different views and do now, because it may or may not be convenient.
DAVIS: He made one point that didn't anger me, so let's dwell on that. That was the PR war, and you addressed that in the news conference. I think if I can paraphrase you, you say it's hard to recruit terrorists to fight against people who have played with our kids and helped us build a school.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's true, and of course our troops are doing a lot of that. They're putting generators in hospitals and they're helping with schools and they're providing medical attention to Iraqis and Afghans and did so much of it in Pakistan as well. We're not going to lose any battles out in the Middle East. They don't have big armies, navies or air forces that can contest our forces. The real battle is for the Iraqi people to fashion a government and get it in place and win the confidence of the Iraqi people so that they can proceed forward. That ultimately will have a favorable effect in repressing the insurgency. And it will just take some time.
The Iraqi security forces are doing a very good job.
DAVIS: Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld with us on the Mark Davis Show.
I have a question about patience, because as you've just said, we're not going to lose any battles militarily once they're all said and done. I'm starting to get e-mails from people that say hey Mark, the clock is running. In about seven months or so we'll get to the amount of time between Pearl Harbor and VJ Day. Will you be as supportive of the war and ask us for as much patience, when it has taken longer for us to establish victory in Iraq than it did to win World War II?
I always write back and I say it's not apples and apples. You cannot judge this war by the calendar. So I'm essentially asking you for fresher material. What else can I start to put in those little speeches?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: [Laughter]. Oh, that's terrific.
I think you have to go back, if you want to talk about World War II, you'd have to go include the post-war stabilization period in both Japan and Germany which went on for any number of years, and not just the end of major combat operations in Germany or Japan.
Second, I would think that since World War II was a conflict where major armies and navies were competing against each other, and air forces. That's not the case now.
The center of gravity of this war is back in the capitals of the Western countries. What you have is something more akin to the Cold War which went on for 50 years. A situation where there is an enemy that is determined to intimidate and terrorize free people and alter the way they live their lives. And, is able to do it without having to defend a country, without an army, navy or an air force, to do it through irregular and asymmetrical warfare, to have very good success at manipulating the news media around the world, and their hope is to destabilize the moderate Muslim regimes in the Middle East and to reestablish a caliphate across the major belt of the world.
Now is that something that's going to end instantaneously? No. Is there going to be a signing ceremony like there was when we defeated Japan? No. Is there going to be major conflict with the army or the air or the navy? No. It's much more like the Cold War in terms of the fact that it will take time, and ultimately it will be the Iraqi people who prevail in Iraq against the insurgents.
DAVIS: In our last minutes, Mr. Secretary, having invoked my e-mail the other thing that I get all the time is hey Mark, what can I do, what can I do, what I do? That's an easy reply, a little thing called AmericaSupportsYou.mil. What happens when people log into that?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I'm so glad you raised that. It's a wonderful thing how compassionate and caring the American people are. And what we've done is we've just established a web site where people can go and find all the things that others are doing already. Families and corporations and churches and non-governmental organizations and corporations are stepping up and providing wonderful support to the troops and to the troops' families back home and it is greatly appreciated. I hope that your listeners will have a chance to go to the AmericaSupportsYou.mil web site and take a look at all the wonderful things people are doing.
DAVIS: Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. Continued success, good health to you, sir, God bless you. Poll numbers are what they are, but doggone it, I'll tell you it is those of us who have kept our eye on the ball, have patience, a sense of history, and a little bit of spine and guts to us are going to prevail, and I say that not just about talk show guys or even defense secretaries, but people in our uniform doing the noble work of this war. God bless them and you for supporting them. I really appreciate it.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well said, Mark Davis. Thank you so much.
DAVIS: Thanks a lot. Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld.