Remarks by Secretary Rumsfeld at Southern Center for International Studies, Atlanta, Ga
SEC. RUMSFELD: Peter, thank you very much. And Julia and Cedric and all the team at the Southern Center, it's good to see all of you again, the troops down here. Enjoyed having a chance to shake hands and visit briefly before we came in.
I thank all of you who are in uniform and all of those who previously were in uniform, for your service to the country. I see one down here I know was active in the military.
It's always good to be back in Atlanta. I used to come in and out of here when I was a young Navy pilot 50 years ago and always thought a great deal about this city. It's become one of the most creative and diverse and energetic communities in the United States.
I think it should probably be noted that part of its emergence can be attributed to the work of organizations such as the Southern Center and the work they do to improve understanding about important international issues. And we congratulate you, Peter, and your board of directors and those who give you money. (Soft laughter.)
MR. WHITE: Say that again? (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: The prospect of speaking here today about our alliances and our partnerships around the globe reminded me of a mission I took overseas a great many years ago. It was in 1970. I was part of a presidential delegation representing the United States at the funeral of President Nasser of Egypt, if you can believe it.
And back then Egypt was very closely aligned with the Soviet Union, and I remember I was with Elliot Richardson, who we mentioned earlier; John McCloy, who'd been high commissioner to Germany; and Robert Murphy, who was known as the "diplomat among warriors." We were the delegation to this funeral.
And we arrived in Cairo, and everywhere you looked, there were Soviet tanks, Soviet missiles, Soviet airplanes, Soviet troops.
And no one in our delegation had ever met the fellow who happened to be vice president when Nasser died. And we didn't know much about him, and we didn't really know what to expect.
And we went in to meet him. It was Anwar Sadat. And he'd been an army officer. And he looked at us and said that he had no issue with the United States except Israel, and he wanted us to know that. And we probed, and it turns out he had been on an exchange, a military-to-military educational exchange program and spent some time --
GLORIA TATUM: (I/We ?) will not keep silent. This man deserves to be in prison for war crimes!
MS. TATUM: (Off mike.)
MS. TATUM: (Off mike) -- illegal war in Iraq! (Off mike) -- a nuclear war in Iran! You deserve to be in prison!
MS. TATUM: And the world can't wait! We -- (off mike)!
Q Throw her out~!
MS. TATUM: (Off mike) --
Q I love you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs, applause, cheers.) (Continued applause.)
Good for you, Sergeant York. (Laughter, applause.)
MR. YORK (?): (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think we'll count her as undecided. (Laughter.)
In any event, we went in and met Sadat and didn't know what to expect, and it turned out he had been in the United States, in a military school, over in the south, and had a special experience which he'd never forgotten. And the -- two years later after taking power, he began to move the Soviets out of Egypt and expelled them, began to build a friendship with the United States that's gone on a great many decades. That was one example of the importance of establishing relationships with other countries and military-to-military relationships and maintaining communication with other countries.
Another example occurred very recently when Pakistan had the terrible earthquakes, where so many people were killed and homeless, and God bless our troops. We -- our folks went over there with helicopters and medical facilities and went in and provided an enormous amount of assistance to the Pakistani people who had been so terribly hit by the earthquake. And the military people, the -- that I talked to you over there when I went in -- went to visit them said that they found an unusual thing, that the older Pakistani officers and military people were quite friendly and quite comfortable with the American forces, and the junior ones were not and -- at all. They were suspicious, uneasy, not certain about the United States or about our military, despite the fact that our folks were there providing rescue missions and medical attention.
And one would ask, "Well, why would that happen?" And of course the answer is that most of the senior officers had been exchange people years and years before. And then we cut off relationships with Pakistan on a military-to-military basis, and there was nothing for a generation. And as a result, there's a whole generation of Pakistanis and American military people who have no linkage, no relationship, and it's a mystery, the other is a mystery to them. And that's unfortunate.
The break of lost relationships and friendships and contacts and understanding had to be restarted again almost from scratch after September 11th. I mention this because of the importance of military-to-military relationships in the world, particularly in this new century, and currently they are undergoing fairly significant changes in our arrangements and our relationships with other nations and other militaries, adjustments that are based on the new realities and the fact that we do have new threats and we need to see that we have the kinds of partners and allies and friends and cooperative relationships that will best serve our country and free people everywhere.
I thought I might take a few minutes and talk about some of these developments and where we might be headed before responding to some questions.
First, I think it's important to note that since 2001, the United States has probably done more things with more different nations in more constructive ways in more parts of the world than at any time in our country's history. In the wake of September 11th, President Bush helped to fashion and lead a coalition, probably the largest coalition in the history of the world, to fight the struggle against violent extremists, the global war on terror.
Further, he proposed the Proliferation Security Initiative, recognizing the terrible dangers from the proliferation of powerful weapons. And today there are some 60 nations currently cooperating in that initiative, trying to prevent dangerous weapons from being -- weapons or materials from being transported to terrorists or outlaw regimes.
And we're working with partners such as Japan and Australia on a regional missile defense basis to try to prevent --
MS. ROBERTS: (Shouting) Why should the Americans --
AUDIENCE: Oh! Come on! (Boos.)
MS. ROBERTS: -- (inaudible).
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, that charge is frequently leveled against the president for one reason or another, and it is so wrong, and so unfair, and so destructive of a free system where people need to trust each other and government. And the idea that people in government are lying about something is fundamentally destructive of that trust and, at bedrock, untrue.
In any event, the last four years have witnessed fundamental transformation in a number of our relationships. And I'd also mention India -- the world's largest democracy. We've moved from an uneasy and at times wary coexistence during the Cold War, when India fancied itself as very important in the non-aligned world and -- but we've moved to a true partnership based on common values and common interests. Americans have trained with Indian commandos in their jungle warfare school, and our paratroopers have jumped together in exercises. The recent arrangement on civilian nuclear technology is the latest example of a growing relationship within India that President Bush worked out very recently.
As Americans -- America's cooperation with other nations has evolved, so has the Department of Defense's approach, from a 20th century focus on -- basically on our activities, military activities, to an emphasis on trying to strengthen our relationship with other nations and strengthen partners and allies so that they can participate in what are a complicated set of problems we face. The global issues our country faces today, and will for the foreseeable future, are the kinds of problems that can't be solved by any single nation alone, they require cooperation. I mean, if you think about it, narcotics and terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, all of those things require enormous cooperation among countries.
These new priorities to prevent problems from becoming crises and preventing crises from becoming full-blown conflicts have prompted our military to undertake a number of new non-traditional missions in non-traditional places. For example, a joint task force we have is headquartered in Djibouti. It conducts civil affairs, training and security operations in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda and Yemen.
The weapons in this unconventional conflict are really schools and clinics and shovels. As one serviceman put it, we're fighting a war down there, and we haven't fired a shot. But they're working with other people and developing relationships that are going to be very important.
These unconventional and asymmetrical security challenges have prompted a rethinking of the structure and role of our traditional military alliances, including NATO. The NATO alliance is currently standing up a new NATO Response Force, which is going to be an important step forward for them. And with the assumption of responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, NATO has moved outside of its traditional treaty boundaries in Europe and the United States for the -- really for the first time in a major way.
Despite this progress, the secretary-general of NATO has noted that the capability and the credibility of the alliance is being undermined by the fact that so many member states have relatively small defense budgets. The -- I think the average of the non-U.S. NATO nations today, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is about 1.85 percent of their GDP. So of every dollar in their GDP, 1. -- of every hundred dollars, it would be 1.82 -- not much, less than 2 percent.
This is a concern. It's a declining number. And given the demographic trends in Europe, one has to imagine that those kinds of pressures will continue on their defense budgets.
Coupled with a(n) uneven threat assessment as to the nature of the world we're living in -- the countries have somewhat different perspectives than the United States; some of them do -- this makes the transformation of NATO all the more urgent, so that the scarce resources that they're investing in defense can be put to best possible use.
Updating our arrangements with traditional allies has included a fundamental thinking of the role of the -- and location of our forces around the globe. When President Bush took office in 2001, for example, we had heavy U.S. Army divisions that were still in Germany, despite the fact that the Soviet Union had been gone for more than a decade. A number of those units are now being moved back to the United States and reconfigured, so that they can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world where they may be needed.
On the Korean peninsula, unlike Europe, a threat from a hostile communist neighbor, North Korea, does still exist. But South Korea, our ally going on some six decades now, is no longer a devastated, war-ravaged nation. It is the 12th-most powerful economy on the face of the Earth and a very successful, free political and free economic system.
So while we have upgraded our military capabilities collectively with the Republic of Korea and strengthened the deterrent on the Korean peninsula and in Asia generally, nonetheless, we are able now to reduce somewhat the U.S. military footprint in South Korea.
A similar dynamic is taking place in our relationship with Japan. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Condi Rice and I met with the foreign minister and defense minister of Japan, our counterparts, to sign an historic agreement that will represent probably the most significant realignment of U.S. forces in that country since the end of World War II.
When you think about it, the changes that have taken place in Japan just within the span of my lifetime have been truly remarkable. I can remember, I was -- on V-J Day I was selling newspapers at the Coronado Ferry. My father was on an aircraft carrier out in the Pacific, and I was, I guess, 12 years old, and the war ended. And some years later, I was in Congress in 1960s, early 1960s, and the big issues were about the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and the issue of the revision of Okinawa back to Japan.
And here we are many years later. Japan's got the second-most powerful economy on the face of the Earth. They're a longtime alliance. They're a country that people said wasn't ready for democracy. They've got a free political system, a free economic system and have been an enormous success.
It was during that period after World War II ended that President Truman would launch an enormous number of the institutions that have seen us and the free world through the following 50 years. They were crucial to victory in the Cold War, things like the Marshall Plan, the Doctrine of Containment, the U.S. Information Agency, to mention a few. Some of the institutions, of course, are still important today -- NATO, the World Bank, the IMF, not to mention the Department of Defense, the CIA and the National Security Council. All of those institutions -- some U.S. and some international -- had their beginnings in that post-World War II period when we were at the juncture of the end of that war and the beginning of the Cold War.
And the task for us, it seems to me, is to recognize that we are at a juncture today as well, with the end of the Cold War and at the beginning of the 21st century, a time where we're moved from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, from the threats of conventional and nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union to a time where people recognize that it's difficult for them to compete with our conventional capabilities -- armies, navies and air forces -- and therefore, they're fashioning various asymmetrical ways that they can attack us, irregular warfare ways.
And the task for us, and I think for Peter in the Southern Center, and those who provide recommendations for policymakers, is to consider what we might need at this juncture in history. I suggest that we do need a 21st century USIA, the old U.S. Information Agency. We need to find ways to see that we're better understood in the world than we currently are.
I know that Secretary of State Rice recently has proposed something along that line, particularly with respect to the people of Iran, who are hearing things from their leadership that are different from what we would want them to be hearing and what we believe to be the truth about our country.
We may need to take a hard look at our existing security arrangements and institutions and examine whether they're sufficiently effective and agile to operate in a world that hostage-takers, suicide-bombers, terrorists --
HECKLER: How can you sit here and listen to this war criminal?
AUDIENCE: Oh! No!
HECKLER: You are a serial killer!
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Sit down! Sit down!
HECKLER: This man needs to be impeached, along with George Bush. How can you sit here smiling and listen to this criminal?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Booo!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Get out of here!
HECKLER: You're a war criminal, Mr. Rumsfeld!
(Pause while heckler is removed by security.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Like Peter said, just a few of his close, personal friends! (Laughter, applause.)
MR. WHITE: But, Mr. Secretary, he came from Chicago. (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well -- (chuckles.)
You know, you think back to the end of World War II and VJ-Day, no one really could have imagined quite what course the world would take in the following 50 or 60 years. So too today. It's very difficult to think what the world might look like in 20, 30, 40 years, and what kinds of challenges and tasks that we may be facing.
The focus of our attention today is properly on the global war on terror, the struggle against violent extremists, the battles taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. Within future decades, some of those priorities will change, and of course, much of what we are called upon to do and to think about in that period will be determined by choices made by others.
Consider Russia, a nation of vast natural resources, an educated people, a rich heritage, scientific and cultural achievements. Like our people, they're threatened as well by violent extremists. They're a partner with us in some security issues, and on the whole, our relationship has, of course, dramatically increased since the Cold War. In other ways, though, Russia has not been helpful with regard to the use of energy resources as a political weapon, with their resistance to the positive changes that are trying to be made in some of their neighboring republics.
And then, China. Chinese people are educated and talented, live in a nation that has great potential. They have high growth rates, industrious workforce. But nonetheless, there are aspects of China's actions that remain somewhat unsettling and complicate our relationship. Last year, the Department of Defense report that's required by Congress noted that Chinese defense expenditures, for example, are probably two or three times that which they publicly indicate. That issue of the lack of transparency is something that causes some of their neighbors and others to look at it and wonder: Why is that? What is it that's going on that they, for whatever reason, seem to not want the free countries of the world to know?
In addition to the choices that these and other countries make, of course, there's the question of the choices that our country makes, and from time to time, America's gone through periods when public sentiment has weighed against our having an active role in the world. I am from Chicago, and I can remember in the pre-World War II period, the "America First" and the strong current against any international involvement or entanglement or commitment to friends or allies.
And in the early 1970s, when I was ambassador to NATO, I can remember being called back to testify before Congress because there were amendments in the Congress to pull our troops home. Just at the very moment when the Soviet Union was building up their massive military capability, we had people who were suggesting that we should toss in the towel and that we couldn't win the Cold War.
And then that was a period when Euro-communism was in fashion, and people said, "Oh, it's not that bad. There's some bad communists and some good communists," and not to worry. And fortunately, political leadership in this country of successive administrations of both political parties, and the political leadership in other countries and the people that supported those people and elected them and put them in office, stood fast and were purposeful and persevered through very tough times in the Cold War.
We look back now and think, oh, it was written that we'd win the Cold War. It wasn't even written that we would continue to persist during that period -- but we did. It didn't happen by accident or by chance. And I must say that looking forward, I am convinced that if we have the wisdom and the strength to adjust long-standing arrangements, to embrace new partners, and above all, to have the courage to persevere in the face of adversity and difficulty -- and there's no question but that our country is currently facing difficulty in Iraq and difficulty in Afghanistan, and threats from elsewhere around the globe, but I have every confidence that if we preserve, if we prevail in this test of wills. And it is a test of wills. The battle seems to be in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it isn't. There's no way the terrorists can win a single battle over there. They can kill people, they can kill particularly innocent men, women and children, and particularly Iraqis or Afghans, but they can't win a battle as such. The battle is here, and the battle -- it is a test of wills. It is going to require staying power for us.
And I think that the victory in that long war -- and it is a long war, just as the Cold War was a long war -- against violent extremists and against the other threats that may emerge in this still uncertain new century, is a task that the people in this room face, that we all face; that our friends and allies around the world who are free people and believe in freedom, and how important it is for you to able to get up in the morning and say what you want, and go where you wish, and vote as you wish, and know that it is exactly that, that that threat from extremists is determined to terrorize and to alter our behavior in a fundamental way. And it is that which we must not allow to happen.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Thank you very much. Thank you.
MODERATOR: What we'd like to invite you to do is, if you have a question, is to stand in back of one of the two mikes that we have. We'd ask you, as Cedric has indicated, to keep your remarks very brief. Please, no speeches. We'd like to get to questions.
I just have one question to begin with, Mr. Secretary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't call on you. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: You don't understand, but I'm in charge. (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Chuckles.)
MODERATOR: Didn't work for Al Haig. I guess it won't work for me. (Laughter.)
But in spite of that, in order to fulfill our destiny that you've outlined for us, I think it's going to require that our people have a greater knowledge of world affairs. And I'm not convinced that this is the case when we can't -- so many of us can't even identify the state of Louisiana.
I wonder if you have any suggestions as to how we can proceed to enlighten our people as to world affairs and great issues.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I saw something like that in the paper this morning or yesterday morning that students today were having trouble picking out countries in a map that didn't have the names of the countries.
I guess all I can say is that as parents and grandparents, what we need to do is to see that -- is to understand that we have staked everything on the people. We -- the best this country made was that the American people, given sufficient information, will find their way to right decisions. And that means we have to be informed. And that means schools have to teach history, and they have to teach geography, and they have to teach current events, and they have to -- (applause).
Look at the line! (Laughter.) We better get at it. Peter, sit down, would you please? (Laughter.)
MR. WHITE: Okay.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let's go. Yes, right here.
Q Yes, sir. My question is, what actions are the U.S. going to take, as far as from a security or military standpoint, against the genocide that's occurring in the Sudan right now?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The president and Condi Rice addressed that yesterday, and they have sent the deputy secretary of State, Bob Zoellick, to Sudan to be there during some negotiations that are taking place, in an effort -- basically an effort to get the parties -- and I won't be pejorative with respect to the various parties -- there are multiple parties -- with an effort to get them to sit down and complete an agreement so that the people that are in distress -- and there are large numbers of human beings in distress -- will be in a circumstance where their lives will not be threatened and where the humanitarian and aid workers will be able to get to them and provide the kind of assistance they're going to need if they're to avoid the risk of starvation.
And they are -- the president is absolutely determined to try to be helpful. He is not happy -- I shouldn't say what he's happy or not happy about. I'll let him speak for himself. Let me put it this way. There are those in our government -- (laughter) -- for a brief, shining moment I was a diplomat. I've mostly gotten over it, but -- (laughter) -- I'll try to recoup some of it. There are those in our government who wish the United Nations would step forward and take a more prominent role. (Pause.) (Applause.) Thank you.
Q Secretary Rumsfeld, the famed journalist Edward R. Murrow kept secrets during World War II, whereas today our wartime intelligence is disclosed periodically. What is your reaction to those who print our wartime secrets? And how has it compromised our ability to keep us secure?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it's against the law, it's a criminal act to reveal a -- something that is classified. We worry about it a great deal in the Department of Defense because we have people that are out doing things that, if information is put out, their lives are at risk. It just is not fair to people who are willing to put their lives at risk on behalf of our country to -- for people then to go out and, with no respect for their lives, compromise that information and cause death. And that is happening.
The United States government today is -- has to operate in a totally different way than it did 30 years ago when I was secretary of Defense because of the hemorrhaging of information out of the government. So it requires a lot more time and a lot more compartmentation and a lot fewer people involved in things. And of course, you lose something when you are that restricted in how you do things.
Q Yes, Mr. Secretary, could you tell us about what you anticipate in terms of the number of wounded in the war in Iraq?
And then secondly, tell us about the Wounded Warrior Program and those things that are going on to help the wounded men and women.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I tell you, I have -- I'm 74 years old in a month or two, and I've seen a lot of people speculate about the cost of a war, the length of the war and the number of casualties in a war, and they've never been right. Therefore, I was without an expectation. And I recognize that no effort or no war plan survives first contact with the enemy because the enemy has a brain and they are constantly adjusting and adapting, and therefore our folks have to adjust and adapt and change their tactics and their techniques and procedures, and you don't know what the unknowables are.
As the saying goes, there are no knowns. There are things you know you know. (Laughter.) You've heard this. (Laughter.) There are known unknowns, the things you know you don't know, but then there's that third category, and those are the unknown unknowns. And you can't know how much help is going to come in across those borders. You can't know how successful, for example, in the case of Iraq, the government will be in encompassing and bringing into the political process all of the elements. So there's just no way to answer those kinds of questions.
The Wounded Warrior Program is terrific. It's a group of folks who have gotten together and are providing assistance to the wounded at each various stage of their circumstance from the time they're wounded. And it is really something that I feel so strongly about that I've given some money to, and I hope others will do it as well.
Are you involved with it, the Wounded Warriors Program?
Q (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Ahh, yeah. Terrific. Thank you. I hope you do.
Where am I? Here.
RAY MCGOVERN: I'm Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. (Light laughter.) I would like to compliment you on your observation that lies are fundamentally destructive of the trust that government needs to govern. A colleague of mine, Paul Pillar, who is the top agency analyst on the Middle East and on counterterrorism accused you and your colleagues of an organized campaign of manipulation, quote, "I suppose by some definition" --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Could you get to your question, please?
MR. MCGOVERN: -- that's been called a lie.
Atlanta, September 27th, 2002, Donald Rumsfeld said, and I quote, "There is bullet-proof evidence of links between al Qaeda and the government of President Saddam Hussein."
Was that a lie, Mr. Rumsfeld, or was that manufactured somewhere else, because all of my CIA colleagues disputed that and so did the 9/11 commission. And so I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people. Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties?
MR. MCGOVERN: Why?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven't lied. I did not lie then -- (applause). Colin Powell didn't lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. The president spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people, and he went to the American people and made a presentation. I'm not in the intelligence business. They gave the world their honest opinions. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.
MR. MCGOVERN: You said you knew where they were.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were, and we were --
MR. MCGOVERN: You said -- you said you knew where they were near Tikrit, near Baghdad and northeast, south and west of there. Those are your words.
SEC. RUMSFELD: My words -- my words were that -- no, no, no. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Let him stay one second -- just a second. (Referring to security removing Ray McGovern from the press conference.)
MR. MCGOVERN: This is America, huh?
Q Yeah. (Applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: You're getting plenty of play, sir. (Laughter.)
MR. MCGOVERN: I'd just like an honest answer.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm giving it to you.
MR. MCGOVERN: We're talking about lies and your allegation that there was bullet-proof evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were you misled?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.
MR. MCGOVERN: Zarqawi -- he was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That's where he was.
SEC. RUMSFELD: He was also -- he was also in Baghdad.
MR. MCGOVERN: Yeah, when he needed to go to the hospital.
Come on, these people aren't idiots, they know the story.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You are -- let me -- let me give you an example. It's easy for you to make a charge. But why do you think that the men and women in uniform, every day when they came out of Kuwait and went into Iraq, put on chemical weapon protective suits? Because they liked the style? (Laughter.) They honestly believed that there were chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously; he'd used them on his neighbor, the Iranians. And they believed he had those weapons. We believed he had those weapons.
MR. MCGOVERN: That's what we call a non sequitur. It doesn't matter what the troops believe --
MR. WHITE: I -- I think -- I think --
MR. MCGOVERN: -- it matters what you believe.
MR. WHITE: I think, Mr. Secretary, the debate is over. We have other questions, as a courtesy to the audience. (Applause.)
MR. MCGOVERN: Okay.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I guess over here.
MR. WHITE: Good grief. That's a hard act to follow now. It better be good!
SEC. RUMSFELD: You've forgotten your question? (Laughter.)
Q Mr. Secretary, as a man much younger than you -- (laughter) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Everybody is! (Laughter.)
Q -- I've followed your career. And your passion for life and your positive outlook and your ability to deal with situations like the one over there are more than impressive. But for the sake of the audience, how about some comments about what happened in your childhood to make you the man you are today? This might help some parents. (Laughter.) You're a great man.
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Chuckling) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
Well, I guess one thing I'd say is that my mom was a school teacher and my dad read history voraciously. And I guess I adopted some of those patterns of reading history.
Q Mr. Secretary, permit me to congratulate you, commend you for be able to take all this criticism --
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Chuckles.)
Q -- which sometimes is (nonsense ?), and still -- and keep going. (Applause.) And you represent the most of us.
My question is, how close are we to have the Iraqi oil pick up some of the expense of the war and give some relief to the American taxpayer? Thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The Iraqis have a great deal of oil. They are exporting oil currently. And it is the thing that funds their budget. They have the ability to increase it dramatically and to take on more and more responsibility, which they are planning to do.
Our hope and prayer is that as we continue to train the Iraqi security forces -- there are now over 254,000 of them -- that they will continue to take over more responsibility, and we will be able to continue to reduce down U.S. forces and have them be responsible for the security in their country, which is where the principal cost is.
Q Is one of the goals of the U.S. in Iraq to provide a free economy or free enterprise economy in Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The new government, if -- they just have a new constitution. And a referendum was successful. The terrorists tried to stop it, and they failed. They just had an election in December 15th, and the terrorists tried to stop it, and they failed. They've just announced the top seven officials in their new government. The terrorists tried to stop it, and they failed. They're now going to be announcing the new ministries.
Then that new government and the parliament will fashion an Iraqi solution for their political situation, their economic situation and their security situation. And until they get in the saddle and get going, I don't think it's probably possible for us to characterize it.
I would say that what they have -- they didn't have anything like a free system -- free economic system before. But what -- anyone who goes around Iraq today -- most of the violence is in four out of the 18 provinces. One of them's Baghdad, so the bulk of the population is in those four. But if you look around, there's satellite dishes on every house. There's -- at night when the electricity is shut off, in some sections of the town, there's all kinds of electricity because they've all got -- (audio break) -- and what the new government will do precisely, I don't know.
Q Mr. Secretary, what will happen if -- and as you said, we can't really predict the success of the new government and how well it's going to bring in the various factions. What will happen down the road, perhaps not now when there are many U.S. troops still in Iraq, but what happens two years from now, let's say, when the U.S. troop numbers have lessened and the government is unsuccessful in bringing in the various parties, and where there's a situation where the country erupts into civil war among the Sunnis and/or the Shi'ites and the Kurds, and to make it even worse, neighboring countries may try to grab Iraqi land? What political and military contingencies does our country have, that you might be able to share with us, in that event?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We do not have and cannot have military-to-military relationships with Iraq because the new government isn't even in place yet. And to have established military-to-military relationships with one of the earlier interim or transition governments would have been inappropriate because the new Parliament and the new government has to address those issues. And therefore, the question isn't answerable at the present time.
The security forces they're developing are, the good Lord willing, going to be appropriate for internal security, but not so much for external threats. And -- but how they will want to get themselves arranged, I think remains to be seen. I don't think the scenario that you have described is going to happen, but life's filled with things you don't think are going to happen.
Q Mr. Secretary, your tenure has been mixed with successes and failures. The success is the force restructuring you've undertaken, which is overdue and commendable. The failure is the Iraq war, and most people -- most Americans would say that. The question that I have is the quandary and the quagmire that we're into in Iraq is endangering our ability to deal with the bad guys like Iran. My question to you is, how are we going to deal with the bad guys in Iran, considering the situation we are in Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the president has announced, in my view correctly, that he's working with the European countries, and he's working with China and Russia in an attempt to, on the diplomatic path through the United Nations, to try to persuade Iran that a -- there are better courses for them. How that will play out, only time will tell.
I -- you know, my personal view is that the single thing that would be the best -- would be the best received by the current leadership in Iran would be for us to fail in Iraq. For us to succeed in Iraq is not a happy prospect for Iran. To have a government in Iraq that is representative of the people, at peace with its neighbors, as a free economic system and a free political system is not something that the handful of clerics that are leading Iran would admire. (Applause.)
Q Mr. Secretary --
MODERATOR: Could you speak right into the microphone, please?
Q Okay. (Laughter.)
I served with the Fleet Marines as a volunteer surgeon in Vietnam, '68-'69, Northern I Corps. That year, we had 14,000 killed, and with a wounded-to-kill ratio of three to one, over 40,000 wounded.
My question is this, if we had a draftee Army, would we be in the same position today?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I am personally pleased we don't have a draftee Army. I think that the volunteer force is, in a free country like ours, the -- I think it's preferable to allow people who want to serve to stick up their hand and say, "I want to do that for my country. Send me." And every one of them is there because they want to be there. I think that's admirable.
And if you think back to the years when we had conscript army, we excluded people who were married, we excluded people who were in school, we excluded teachers, we excluded all kinds of people. And therefore, some served and some didn't, and the ones who served were getting paid 50 or 60 percent of the going market rate out there. So they not only were required to do what someone else wanted them to do, but they had to do it at the cut rate.
I just -- the big disadvantage of not having conscription, it seems to me, is that so many people -- fewer people get the opportunity to serve -- they have the opportunity, fewer people serve, and therefore, fewer people understand the military and understand the professionalism and the contribution that they make. But that's the only disadvantage, I think. I think there are -- overwhelmingly we have the finest military in the history of our country and on the face of the Earth -- the best equipped, the best led -- (applause) -- thank you.
Q Mr. Secretary, I have a confession to make. I listen to National Public Radio. (Laughter.) You may forgive me for that, please. But I heard a commentary about Daniel Schorr yesterday about Afghanistan in which he stated that we were losing in Afghanistan, that the Taliban was strong, that by attacking the Taliban, we made an error which caused us not to be able to capture or kill bin Laden. What I'd like to know from you is the truth.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The Taliban were using the soccer stadiums to cut off people's heads in Kabul. They wouldn't allow kids to fly kites or sing. Women weren't allowed to go out in the street without a male member of their family accompanying them. Deifying the Taliban is not something that I think is necessarily admiral.
The situation in Afghanistan is this. It's a very poor country. They have their first popularly-elected president in, I don't know, 500 years. They -- Karzai is a talented man who is managing a lot of complicated problems: war lords, illiteracy, religious views of different elements, tribal differences in different parts of the country. And he's doing a pretty darn good job.
One of the biggest problems in Afghanistan today is the narcotics problem, the opium problem and the drugs that are being grown and supply Russia and Europe, and the money that comes from that trade is a danger to a democratic system, needless to say.
But I give him high marks for what he's doing. And he's managing a parliament for the first time and making good progress. There's been a spike of violence in the southern part of Afghanistan recently, but to -- I hear this word "quagmire." The New York Times had a(n) article, after we went into Afghanistan and had been there about two weeks, saying we were in a quagmire. And it was about three weeks later that Kabul fell.
So I'm not of a view that we're in a quagmire in either country myself. I think that -- I think that -- there are 34 countries helping us in Afghanistan, and 25 or (2)6, I think, helping in Iraq. And a lot of countries are committed to seeing that there is a success there, and I think that in Afghanistan there will be a success. I think Dan's going to probably be wrong.
Q Well, he usually is. (Laughter, applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, sir?
Q Mr. Secretary, the war on terror has required very little sacrifice by the American people, unlike World War II, Korean War. And I believe our domestic oil policy is keeping the Department of Defense playing defense. On one hand, we arm the terrorists; on the other hand, we are fighting the terrorists. And I'm of the firm opinion, by the way, Hummers should be in Baghdad, not on West Paces Ferry Road. (Laughter.) Armed or not armed. Congressman --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm innocent. My wife just bought a hybrid. (Laughter.)
Q I was at the auto show looking at all the hybrids, but --
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)
Q Congressman Kingston has recommended stopping the mail delivery on Saturday, which would be great, it would be one less day of bills for me. (Laughter.) I would also like to know why the Department of Defense doesn't immediately have all military vehicles, all government vehicles, take gasohol. I just find that we're fighting a war with one hand tied behind our back. And drilling for more oil we can debate forever. I'm plus-minus on that. But we need to have a saner policy.
And we have to ask the American people to make sacrifices, whether it's paying higher taxes for gas guzzlers and no taxes for hybrids, for your wife, or whether we convert our government cars to gasohol, or whether we stop mail delivery on Saturdays. Something immediate so it would keep money out of Iran and --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Is this a question?
Q Yes. Sorry.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sort of.
Q Yeah. Well, you get the idea.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. I do. And that's fair enough. You're right, we do need an energy policy. And the president's been working on it with the Congress, and the Congress has not been as responsive as one would hope. Along the line of the Department of Defense, however, we have been working to try to find ways to see that the -- to the extent that the Department of Defense is involved, that we can have considerably more fuel-efficient vehicles in the future.
Q Mr. Secretary, my question for you is, how come the focus of the U.S. seems to be on Iran and its nuclear situation, whereas North Korea seems to be further along in nuclear development, but it hasn't been getting as much publicity lately?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I -- I don't know. If there's one thing I am not, it's the world leading oracle on journalism. (Laughter.)
I think maybe it's because of the utterances of the current leadership in Iran. He has a flair for the dramatic -- Ahmadinejad, the president. And when he says things like Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth and the United States should go with them, or something to that effect, and that there was no Holocaust, and the various other things he's been saying, people -- it gets attention and it gets ink and it gets television time.
Mr. Kim Jung Il has not said much lately. And so I suppose that's the reason.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
PATRICIA ROBERTS: Mr. Secretary, my son is Specialist Jamaal Addison. He's the first soldier to die for Georgia in Iraq. And I have a two-part question.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes.
MS. ROBERTS: My first question is, is there any measures being taken that when the troops are being sent over to Iraq now that they are being trained in combat? Because I do know that when he went, he was not trained in combat. And he was a supply unit with Jessica Lynch and the POWs, and they were left and they were not able to defend themselves. So I would like to know if there's any progress, now that we are three years into this war, that they're doing something as far as making sure they're better equipped in fighting this war.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, ma'am. Yeah. You're correct, the era of a linear battlefield where there's a frontline and people in combat, and then the people in combat support and combat service support assisting them from behind the line and, therefore, out of danger, is gone. There isn't a linear battlefield. It's a dangerous place because they're using irregular warfare and asymmetrical attacks against civilians and people who are at any location in the country.
And your proper -- your question's a very good one, and the answer is you bet. They're spending a great deal of time training everybody who goes in that country to understand the dangers and to find ways to deal with these IEDs, these explosive devices. And I am so sorry about your son.
MS. ROBERTS: Thank you. My second question, of course, is that my son had a son, and I am raising my grandson now. And I want to know if they are doing anything to help take care of these children that are being left behind with no mothers and no fathers.
SEC. RUMSFELD: There are -- I'm trying to think. I can think of three organizations that are currently taking money to provide funds, mostly for the education of the children whose parents have been killed.
MS. ROBERTS: Right, but that's after they reach 18. I'm saying the younger children, so they get to 18.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'll tell you, if you would give your name and address to Peter White, we can go to a website called AmericaSupportsYou.mil. And on it are -- it is not an organization. It is a listing of all of the organizations that people have put on there, indicating the kinds of things they're doing to be helpful to -- not just to the men and women in uniform, but to their families, who also, obviously, serve and sacrifice.
MS. ROBERTS: Thank you. (Applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary, reluctantly, this will have to be our last question. Sorry to disappoint those who are on line.
Q Madam, my deepest condolences for you.
Mr. Secretary, I would like you to comment, if possible, on the relationship of the United States with East European countries, many of which are NATO members and support the coalition in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know for a fact that they do have well-educated people who are great friends of the United States.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Who are what?
Q Great friends --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Indeed. Our relationship with the Eastern European countries are very close. And I think part of it's because the people in those countries have so recently not had their freedom, and they are -- appreciate freedom. They value it very highly. And we can feel that in those relationships.
As you say, many of them are NATO partners. Many of the Eastern European countries are assisting in -- most of them are assisting in Afghanistan. Many are assisting in Iraq. And our relationship is solid and strong, and we appreciate that.
MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary, in your name, I'd like to thank the audience for coming here this afternoon. We appreciate your presence very much and your active participation in this program. Mr. Secretary, we're in your debt. Thank you very much for coming. (Applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
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