SEC. RUMSFELD: Hello folks.
Q: With polls showing that people are very worried about Iraq, is the administration trying to change its message now? What are they saying?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you know, I don’t think there’s ever been a war that was popular. I think that if you think about it, in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War – they’re tough, they’re hard, and people die. And the reporting on them tends to report the dramatic and the negative.
I think the important thing for the American people to recognize is the amazing progress that’s been achieved. The fact that you’ve got 25 million Afghan people who have been liberated and have elected the first popularly elected president in the history of their country in 5000 years. 25 million Iraqis are free and the schools are open and they have a sovereign government and they’ve had an election that was successful, and now they’re drafting a constitution.
Is it going to be easy between now and when they take over full responsibility for their country? No, it won’t be easy – it will be tough. It was tough for us when we were doing it in the 1700s and it’s going to be tough for them. And they have practically no experience in democracy, just as the Afghan people have no experience.
But the wonderful men and women serving in uniform over there know they’re doing noble work; they know that they’re making progress. And there’s not a doubt in mind that they’re going to look back in 5, 10, 15 years and be proud of having been a part of a truly historic accomplishment.
Q: Are Americans talking to the – trying to talk to the insurgents in Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, it’s the Iraqi people’s country, and the Iraqis are doing that and we work with the Iraqis, so there’s no question that we talk to – I don’t know if you’d call them insurgents – they’re people all across the spectrum, insurgents and opponents, people kind of leaning that way, people in the middle, people leaning towards to the government, and then the government. And the goal is to get everyone moving in the right direction towards the government. And there’s all kind of talks going on and that’s a good thing.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, can we get your reaction to the deaths of the female soldiers in Iraq this week and the coverage that they’ve received in the news media?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the death of any American soldier, male or female, is always a heartbreaking thing. There are Americans that are being killed and wounded over there, and it’s a great credit to them that they are willing to serve, volunteer – they’re all volunteers, and the women and the men are doing a superb job over there for the country.
Thanks very much folks.
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