(Question and answer session in Munich, Germany. Also participating was Prime Minister of Bavaria Stoiber; Member of the German Parliament Weisskirchen; Mr. Moran; one of the leaders of the Green Party in Germany Mrs. Beer; member of the German Parliament, the Christian Democratic Party Mr. vonKlaeden; Minister of Defense from Canada John McCullum, Member of the German Parliament Mr. Arnold; Foreign Policy Editor of the Deutsches Zeitung Mr. Cornelius; Member of the German Parliament, Spokesman on Foreign Policy of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group Dr. Pfluger; Chief Editor of the German Magazine Die Zeit Mr. Josef Joffe; CDU/CSC's parliamentary group in the German Parliament Mrs. Schmid)
Moderator: We have 45 minutes for discussion now. You can raise questions to the Secretary and he will stand up and answer your questions. Please, go ahead.
The first one is Prime Minister Stoiber, Prime Minister of Bavaria. Please, go ahead.
Stoyba: [In German]
Rumsfeld: Thank you Mr. Minister. You're right. These are tough questions, there's no question about it. And the fact that there is a debate in the world and a debate in our countries and that people are not certain is understandable. We're in a new century. We're in a new security environment. We're in a circumstance that is not comfortable for us. It's different. The people in this room who have devoted major chunks of their lives to deal with military matters and defense matters are used to confronting armies and navies and air forces. They're not used to confronting the possibility of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and terrorist networks. It requires us to think through how we deal with that. It's a different circumstance.
So the fact that there are differences of views among countries or differences of views among the peoples of our country I don't find surprising at all. I personally think that the debate and the discussion is healthy and necessary given this new circumstance that we face.
War is the last choice. There's been an effort by the world community for now close to 12 years. Diplomacy has been tried extensively. Economic sanctions have been tried extensively. They don't work.
The things that the international community has fashioned to try to stop the proliferation of these technologies and the availability of these technologies to people are not working. Countries are not effective enough in preventing the flow of those technologies across the globe and those technologies are increasingly lethal every day.
Now. So we go through, as you point out properly, some people are talking about a second resolution in the UN. It won't be a second resolution, it will the 18th resolution. That's patience.
Finally you said that should there be more time for the inspectors. That's a question not for me to answer, it's for countries to answer and for the United Nations to answer and for the President of the United States to answer. I personally have a view that if one is talking about time for inspectors to go out and try to discover things that the Iraqi regime are hiding in a country the size of France, then I think it would take years and years if ever.
If we're talking about time to determine whether or not the Iraqi regime will cooperate with the inspectors, then the question is: How much time do we need? That is not months or years. There have been months and years. That's days or weeks we can know whether or not they're going to cooperate. Most people who have observed it have a pretty good idea as to whether or not they'll cooperate. But it's not for me to make the decision.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Meanwhile I have nine interventions, eight of them are Germans. [Laughter] Perhaps --
Rumsfeld: I feel right at home.
Moderator: Perhaps there are some others as well who have questions.
The next one is Mr. Weisskirchen, member of the German Parliament.
Weisskirchen: [In German]
Rumsfeld: First let me say that the government of Germany and the German people, you're quite right, have been and are today being very cooperative in the Operation Enduring Freedom, and in the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan, and in a variety of other ways. There's no question but that Germany is an important contributor in the global war on terrorism.
With respect to the success of the inspectors in Iraq previously, my impression of that process is that the inspectors discovered, found very little. What they did find they were alerted to by defectors, by people who left the country and told them where to find things, and they then were quite successful in finding things and destroying things. They were never fully successful in closing that gap of knowledge between what they believe exists and what was discovered and what was accounted for. There are sizeable gaps as Secretary Powell pointed out.
As to the concept of containment, there's no question but that the steadfastness of the West over many decades, and successive leaders in all of our countries from all political parties had an effect in deterring and defending Western Europe and indeed the world from the Soviet Union's efforts to encroach. That's correct. That was a very different threat.
The threats we face today are just different, completely different. And containment -- I heard the phrase, we keep Saddam Hussein in the box. I heard that a lot during the '90s. He wasn't in the box. Those borders are porous. Things are flowing across those borders going both ways every single minute of the day. We know that.
The combined efforts of the technically advanced countries of the world to prevent him from receiving the kinds of technologies to develop those weapons have failed. He has not been contained. He is successfully getting into that country darn near everything he wants.
Now there's a new problem. Not new, but relatively new in the press. North Korea.
North Korea is a country that the world knew had a nuclear program. Most intelligence services assessed as having possibly one or two nuclear weapons. It's on the terrorist state list. Now it's pretty clear that if they restart that reprocessing plant, which they seem to indicate they intend to do, that they can have nuclear material sufficient to make an additional six to eight weapons.
Here's the country that's the world's leading proliferator of ballistic missile technology. With the likelihood that by May or June could have nuclear material to make six or eight additional weapons. Most people are looking at North Korea in the context of the threat that poses to the peninsula or the threat that it poses to Northeast Asia, but think of it as a proliferation threat. Think of that nuclear material leaving as ballistic missile technologies leave almost every day from that country, leaving for a terrorist state or a terrorist network.
At some moment our countries are going to have to lift our eyes off the 20th Century, look out at the 21st Century and ask ourselves how do we want to live in that world? Do we want to live in a world where there are four, five or six more nuclear powers, several of them terrorist states? Do we want to continue to be relaxed as we got relaxed after the end of the Cold War and allow the kinds of proliferation of these technologies to flow across the globe as they are? How do we feel about all the ungoverned areas in the world? And there are enormous numbers of countries that have portions of their countries that are not being governed, that are natural havens for terrorists and for terrorist networks. There aren't responsible entities to deal with those. We have a problem.
We have a world that we're going to be living in, most of you will, some of us for awhile, that's going to be a notably different world than the world we've experienced over the past 50 years and we haven't gotten used to it. We have not lifted our eyes up and acknowledged it. We have not demonstrated the sense of urgency, the sense of concern about those changes and we've not developed the new thinking that is going to be necessary for us to do as well as we did dealing with armies, navies and air forces, to do as well as we did then with these new challenges.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The next one is Mr. Moran, please.
Moran: Good morning, Mr. Secretary, [at the UN] Secretary Powell laid out a credible case for what will happen if we don't intervene militarily in Iraq. Would you share with us your vision of what will happen if we do go to war with Iraq? For example the extent, the multilateral dimensions and duration of military control that might be necessitated before handing over civilian governance to acceptable leadership and where you think we might find that leadership. And especially, how we are prepared to deal with any adverse reactions in unstable allied governments in the Middle East such as Jordan and in Asia such as Indonesia and the nuclear-equipped regime of President Musharraf of Pakistan?
Rumsfeld: Those are tough questions and they're important questions. The United States and other countries that are cooperating with the United States have been doing a good deal of planning and thinking through those issues. It's not possible to know how long, if force has to be used, how long it would take. Whether it's four days or four weeks or four months or somewhat longer, I can't say that anyone can answer.
The principles that we have worked with, with our friends and allies, and there are a large number of countries and a growing number of countries that are committed to participate in a coalition of the willing if necessary, both with respect to the use of force, but also with respect to the post-Saddam Hussein period.
The principles are first that there be a single country, that it not be broken up; that it be a country without weapons of mass destruction; that it be a country that does not threaten its neighbors; and that it be a country that puts itself on a path towards some sort of representation and involvement on the part of the various ethnic groups and religious groups in the country. That it's respectful of the minorities in the country.
There is a great deal of humanitarian effort going on already with non-governmental organizations to be prepared to see that there's food and medicine. Clearly, as in Afghanistan, it isn't for the United States or for the coalition of the willing or some outsider to figure out what kind of a post-Saddam Hussein government they will have. It will have to be a uniquely Iraqi solution just as it is in Afghanistan an Afghan solution, where they had this Loya Jirga process and produced a transitional government and now we're on a path to developing a more permanent government arrangement. So it's not possible to know.
I would suspect that people from inside Iraq and from outside Iraq and the Iraqi opposition, the expatriates around the world, the Iraqi people are intelligent, they're well educated, they're energetic, and they have resources, they have oil. That oil belongs to the Iraqi people, and I suspect that that country will be able to put itself on some sort of a path towards a future that would make sense.
The advantage in that region of a peaceful, non-aggressive Iraq. The advantage to Jordan, the advantage to Turkey, the advantage to the neighbors, would just be enormous. It could conceivably transform that region.
Are there risks? You bet. There's no question. That path is a tough path and it's going to take international organizations and countries in this room to try and help see that it's done well and it's done right. But just as there are risks to acting, there are risks to not acting. And those need to be balanced.
Moderator: Thanks. The next one is Mrs. Beer. She is one of the leaders of the Green Party in Germany.
Beer: [In German]
Rumsfeld: I'm running out of paper. [Laughter]
Beer: This is the last question, sorry.
Rumsfeld: Well, I was advised as recently as this morning that in the North Atlantic Council in Brussels there was a proposal put forward not to deploy any NATO assets to Turkey but simply to begin the planning process so that in the event Turkey was threatened, that NATO countries and NATO could assist with Patriot defensive capability, NATO could provide AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System), and NATO could provide chemical and biological weapon detection capability. Nothing there is offensive. It's all defensive. And I am told that that has been blocked for days in the NATO Council by two countries possibly, three.
I can't imagine doing that. It is beyond comprehension for me. How in the world can a NATO -- [Applause]
Turkey's an ally. Turkey's a member of the Alliance. The North Atlantic Treaty provides for this type of thing. And to prevent defensive capabilities, just the planning -- not even the deployment -- from going to that country I think is inexcusable.
Now you said next is Turkey threatened. Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons against his own people. He's used chemical weapons against his neighbor. He has fired Scud missiles, I believe, into four other countries, neighboring countries. We know he has ballistic missiles. We know he has chemical weapons. There are U.S. assets in Turkey conducting Operation Northern Watch. Is Turkey possibly threatened? Yes. Is every neighboring country possibly threatened? Yes. Are the minorities in Iraq possibly threatened by Saddam Hussein? You bet. He's done it before. There is even a possibility he would do it now and try to blame it on the coalition if the coalition attempts to use force.
Now is there still a possibility of a peaceful solution? Sure. That is everyone's preference. I would dearly love to see him get up and leave the country with his family and a few close friends. [Laughter] Very few. [Laughter]
I forgot the rest of your question. [Laughter and Applause]
Moderator: We are running out of time a little bit, therefore if you don't mind please take two or three questions together?
Rumsfeld: Fine. I'm here all day.
Moderator: Okay. Thanks a lot.
Rumsfeld: I'll try to give shorter answers.
Moderator: The next one is Mr. vonKlaeden. He's a member of the German Parliament, the Christian Democratic Party. A short question.
vonKlaeden: [In German]
Rumsfeld: Can you stand so I can see where you are?
vonKlaeden: Here I am.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
vonKlaeden: I cannot stand up because the microphone is so small here.
Moderator: Thank you. The next one is Minister McCullum, Minister of Defense from Canada.
McCullum: Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Wait a second. We're not going to answer questions? We're just going to have the questions? [Laughter] This is new. Never heard of that. You're quite a Chairman. [Laughter]
Moderator: Go ahead.
Rumsfeld: I was up all night flying. Let me just respond quickly to that.
There's no question that there's differences between the German government and the U.S. government. It's not between the German people and the American people. There are just differences. [Applause]
I've been around so long I can remember lots of differences that existed. But I must say as an American flying over here, I sense that there are probably more differences among Europeans than there are between the United States and Germany.
The eight countries that came out in support, the ten countries that came out in support. I sense there's an awful lot of wisdom in Europe.
Now what do we do about it? Look, we had, what was it, they called the [Skipole] problem back in Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy's era. There was the neutron bomb problem in Jimmy Carter's era. There was the gas pipeline problem back in Reagan's era. When Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft were in the White House and Michelle Jobert was the Foreign Minister of France they didn't quite always see eye to eye. This happens in an alliance. I don't know what to say.
How does it end? It ends, that's all. And as the old saying goes, if you're in a hole, stop digging. [Laughter and Applause]
Moderator: Thanks. Mr. McCullum please.
McCullum: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With Senator McCain and Mr. Rumsfeld's chair on my left and Foreign Minister Fischer on my right, Canada is happy to serve as a buffer between the United States and Germany today. [Laughter]
More seriously, sometime ago we and other countries thought we might be caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock of the risk of U.S. unilateralism and the hard place of possible monolithic European Union. I think what cut through that and what was very good news was at the Prague Summit, the commitment to the Rapid Response NATO Force agreed to by the leaders as what might be the centerpiece of the Atlantic Alliance going forward.
So my question to Mr. Rumsfeld. We now have Iraq, and I don't want to get specifically into Iraq, but it might be a complicating factor in terms of this vision of the NATO Response Force going forward, and I'd just like to ask you whether the commitment of the United States to that NATO Rapid Response Force is stronger, weaker, or how if at all it has been affected by the current problem in Iraq.
Rumsfeld: It hasn't been affected. We believe that the idea of a NATO response force is a good one and we were very pleased with the very broad support that it received at the Prague Summit.
Mr. Arnold, Member of the German Parliament as well.
Arnold: [In German]
Rumsfeld: Can I see a hand?
Arnold: [In German]
Rumsfeld: You're right. Leaders do have an obligation to deal with the public and to see that to the extent possible the information is available to them. It's also not surprising if different countries have different facts or see things differently that they would end up with different views. It's important that to the extent possible we all be working off the same sheet of music. I think that takes time.
It particularly takes time when you have a new circumstance, a new security environment as we have today. So I think the debates and the discussions, as I say, are not surprising, and they're probably very useful and desirable.
It is not surprising to me that in some countries the publics are very strongly opposed to the use of force in Iraq because in a number of countries that's what the leadership has been telling those people it ought to be. If that's pounded in often enough pretty soon the people say well, the people we elected feel that way and therefore why don't we feel that way?
Second, I think you said U.S. acting unilaterally. The U.S. is not acting unilaterally. We will not act unilaterally. We have a lot of countries who are in agreement. You talked about the U.S., the differences with Germany. Structural differences I think was the phrase you used. I must say I see differences within Europe. How do those get sorted out? The answer is they get sorted out the same say. They get sorted out because people talk about things and everyone's entitled to their own opinion but they're not entitled to their own facts. Some people look at facts and see them somewhat differently.
But in this case because it's a new situation it is going to take our publics some time to get comfortable with the kind of world we're living in. We're comfortable with armies, navies, and air forces, but we're not in a world where armies, navies and air forces are confronting us. We're in a world where terrorists are confronting us and they're confronting us with weapons of enormous lethality and we have to recognize that.
Moderator: The next one is Charles Powell, Lord Powell, who was one of the closest advisors to Prime Minister Thatcher.
Powell: I agree with I think everything you said. I'm particularly glad that you drew attention to the fact that while war may be a last resort it should not be a too late resort.
I'm also glad that you drew attention to the differing views in Europe. It is indeed the case that no single country or pair of countries can purport to speak for Europe as a whole on these issues. There are very different views.
My question is whether you think that if NATO is prevented for a significant period from providing assistance or even planning assistance to Turkey, and if major European countries were actively to vote against military action in Iraq as the United Nations, whether in those circumstances you could envisage the possibility of maintaining American public and congressional support for NATO into the future, or do you think it will be seriously undermined in a way which would jeopardize the future of that institution which has served us so well?
Rumsfeld: There's no question but that if the countries blocking the planning to assist Turkey continue it, Turkey will not be hurt. The United States and the countries in NATO who believe in assisting will go right ahead and do it, let there be no doubt.
What will be hurt is NATO. Not Turkey. And it isn't a matter of having it hurt in the United States, it will be hurt everywhere. Everyone who looks at NATO and sees that they seem not willing to live up to their charter and to the treaty would have to say well if they won't live up to that, what else might they not live up to?
Moderator: Thank you. The next one is Mr. Cornelius who is the Foreign Policy Editor of the Deutsches Zeitung.
Cornelius: Mr. Secretary, I guess the major reason for that reluctance on the European side, especially on the German side, is based on the fact that there seems to be a confusion in the goals the U.S. actually is trying to achieve in the Iraq case.
The reasoning went from anti-terrorism to disarmament of weapons of mass destruction to regime change to fighting a dictatorship to human rights issues to energy supply and to terrorism, reforming the Middle East, setting up a beacon of democracy or a pseudo democracy, whatever, a stable regime to shine in that region. What is it actually for?
Rumsfeld: That's a clever question. It also is inaccurate. To say that it's gone from this to this to this to this is not correct.
The Congress of the United States passed legislation in the 1990s calling for regime change. That's been the policy of our government. It was overwhelmingly supported in the Congress and that's that, so that is a continuum.
Second, the United Nations had a position calling for disarmament. It wasn't the United States alone, it was the countries of the United Nations. They passed 17 resolutions, 16 and then the 17th more recently. Is that a big change? That's a decade-long effort to disarm Saddam Hussein. That's why they had inspectors in there in the first place. That's why inspectors are in there now, trying to see if he'll disarm.
Now you then listed four or five other things implying this zigzag course that's going on which is certainly not the case.
Is it proper for me to say that Iraq has an absolutely rotten record on human rights? I think it's perfectly proper. I think people in Europe ought to be concerned about that. When they see a country repressing people every non-governmental organization that's looked at how Iraq treats its people has cited them for inhumane treatment.
Is it okay to mention that? I think so.
I'm surprised people aren't more concerned about it. Is that a reason for going in and destroying their weapons of mass destruction? No, it's not. Is it front and center at the UN? No. But is it okay to mention it? I think so. In fact I think it's not responsible not to mention it.
Moderator: Thank you. The next one is Dr. Pfluger, member of the German Parliament, spokesman on foreign policy of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group.
Pfluger: Mr. Secretary, --
Rumsfeld: There's a lot coming from over here. [Laughter]
Moderator: This is the German bank. [Laughter]
Pfluger: [In German] This was a statement. [Applause}
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
Moderator: The next one is the Deputy President of the German Parliament, Mrs. Folmer. She's over there as well, the German league.
Folmer: [In German]
Rumsfeld: First let me say there's no question but that in democracies, unlike dictatorships, publics do have to be convinced. We know that. It's true in Germany just as it's true in the United States. And that takes leadership. And it takes leadership in the right direction. And it takes leadership that's committed and leadership that's willing to spend time and leadership that's willing to marshal facts and leadership that's willing to recognize a new circumstance in the world. It's a hard one. It's a tough thing to get our head around. We're not used to it. We're not comfortable with the new security environment. And it takes people who want to look at it and think about it and then provide that leadership.
Why Iraq? I guess it seems to me that everything else has been tried. It's been 10 or 12 years. Diplomacy has been exhausted almost. Economic sanctions haven't worked. Period. Limited military, keeping them in the box with the United Kingdom and the U.S. aircraft patrolling the Southern and Northern No-Fly Zones haven't stopped it. The borders are porous. It's still going on. Their programs are maturing every day.
Why Iraq? Because the international community decided Iraq. They decided it years ago. They've continued to work the problem. Regrettably it hasn't worked. It's been a decent effort. A lot of people put their lives at risk but it hasn't worked. So it seems to me the answer is fairly clear.
How do you deal with the Middle East? It's something that has been a problem for the world my entire adult lifetime, and you've got a situation where at various moments it's looked like it might get solved. Thanks to Sadat and Menachem Begin, they managed to come together at a moment and deal with the Sinai. There was a moment in the last Administration when it looked like they might have come together and found an agreement and Mr. Arafat rejected it.
Now how do you deal with that? The question suggests that you shouldn't do anything until you can do everything. If that were the case, if we wanted to put everything else on hold until we finished solving the problem of the Middle East, what kind of a world would it be?
I don't have a magic formula. Colin Powell's working on it hard. Other leaders in our country are. Other people in other countries have been working on it. And it hasn't been solved. But my goodness, we can't say until we deal with that we can't do anything else. In my opinion.
Moderator: Two last questions, short questions, please. One is Joe Joffe. He's the Chief Editor of the German Magazine Die Zeit.
Joffe: Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, first a compliment, then a question. I think you've been the funniest Secretary of Defense up on stage there for many, many years. [Laughter]
Rumsfeld: I don't know quite how to take that. [Laughter]
Joffe: It comes from the bottom of my heart, 120 percent sincere. In fact I want to ask you if you're taking any pills against jet lag, what are you taking? [Laughter]
Rumsfeld: No, I'm not. I used to be in the pharmaceutical business. Anything strong enough to help you is strong enough to hurt you. [Laughter]
Joffe: You see? You're getting more laughs than anybody else.
Now the question. There is a good reason to assume, as you did, that this is just another within NATO crisis. It has been with us since from [inaudible] to (inaudible). This crisis too will pass.
But what if there's something more profound going on that is pitting Germany and a bit more ambiguously France against the United States? What if the reason behind this is a fundamental change in the balance of power in the world after the demise of the Soviet Union which helped to balance and stalemate American power?
Or let's put it this way. I don't think no German Chancellor would have, in order to win an election, played the card of pacifism and very, very mild anti-Americanism while Soviet [front] armies were ensconced 20 miles outside of Hamburg. They are no longer there. The strategic dependence on the United States has been lifted and come down almost to zero.
Now the question, what if the real explanation for what we are witnessing is that the Europeans or key European countries like those two are now more uncomfortable with Gulliver and Bond than with Saddam. They're more worried about the exercise of untrammeled U.S. power than about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? In other words, what if there is a watershed and some countries in Europe have not begun to balance against Mr. Big? Thank you.
Rumsfeld: I don't think what you are characterizing is the case, although there is clearly some truth in it. There is no question but that throughout history people tend to oppose a power and set themselves against it. It has the effect in some people's minds of making them bigger if they compete with that power, and that satisfies some urge that people have. It in some instances can be a legitimate concern if they think that that power is unbridled.
You say if in fact that were happening, I don't know quite what would happen but I would guess that if -- The likely effect would be that Germany and France would isolate themselves rather than isolate the United States is my guess.
You characterize them as key Europe, and there's no question but that they're each important countries. But countries are measured not simply on their size or their GDP (gross domestic product). If that were the case, Japan's GDP is bigger than France and Germany's and several other countries combined. It's more than their size that makes something key. It's also being right and being proved right over time.
If in fact there are people or governments who from time to time are more concerned about the United States than they are terrorists and terrorist states, and in this case Iraq, I think history will prove them wrong.
The United States has no interest in asserting its power over other countries in terms of taking their land or their wealth. This country, the United States, has a record of helping countries, not hurting countries. It seems to me that governments that think that way will ultimately be rejected by their people. [Applause]
Moderator: There is the last question, Mr. Secretary. This is Mrs. Schmid who is responsible for defense policy for the CDU/CSC's parliamentary group in the German Parliament. She is over there.
Schmid: [In German]
Rumsfeld: If the thrust of that is that there needs to be better communication and better understanding, you're right. And that's hard work and it's difficult work, and things need to be said in different ways because they go into ears and receivers in different ways. People have a tendency to hear what they want to hear.
We're all human, we know that, and I just think that it's going to take some time and it's going to take a lot of effort and a lot of good judgment.
But I sat with a leader in the Middle East a month or two after September 11th. It was a private meeting so I'll not mention his name. But he said I hesitate to say this but it may very well be that the thousands of people killed on September 11th, that that event will prove to be a blessing in disguise. That maybe it will be sufficient for his world to take back those that are trying to steal his religion and to stop the schools teaching terrorism as opposed to languages and mathematics and things that can help people learn. He said maybe it will be enough to wake up the world to the dangers so that the next September 11th will not be one involving weapons of mass destruction and killing hundreds of thousands of people instead of thousands of people.
I think the question is, when we look back a year from now or at your next conference, we'll have to ask ourselves what did we do as individuals to address this problem? Are we going to be proud of what we did as governments, as countries, as individuals?
Assume there's another event. Assume thousands more are killed or multiples of that. And after that happens, and we come here to gather and we look back and we say what did we do as leaders? What kind of a job did we do in alerting our people to those dangers? What kind of a job did we do to create a level of cooperation among us so that we did limit the flow of those technologies to other countries? So that we did cooperate and share intelligence in a way that we could do a better job of knowing about these networks and disrupting the networks and stopping the flow of funds to them?
It seems to me that the goal would be that when we do have that session we can look at each other and look ourselves in the mirror and be proud.
Thank you. [Applause]