Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability after Fox News Sunday
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can take a couple of questions.
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I suppose if you think about it, wars tend to be tough things – difficult things, and there’s violence and that gets reported. And people tend to see the negative. The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of positive things happening as well. The political progress is impressive. The economic progress, the schools and the hospitals are open. They have a stock market. They have free press for the first time in Iraq.
But what the public hears here is mostly negative things. On the other hand, the troops out there have a good deal of confidence in what they’re doing. They’re doing a wonderful job. They understand the importance of it. They see that it’s an historic event that’s taking place there, with 25 million people liberated. And I have a lot of confidence that the American people will be supportive over time. And we’ve all seen polls go up and down. If you chase those you just get seasick.
Q: Secretary, are you aware of the story in the New York Times of the – (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: I saw the headline and that’s all the knowledge I have it, and it didn’t have anything to do with the Department of Defense so I’m not knowledgeable.
Q: What are your thoughts on – (inaudible) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: You would have to know the facts. I’m not knowledgeable about that. I’m sorry.
Q: Mr. Secretary, some experts suggest that the insurgency might not keep for another year – (inaudible) – what’s your best estimate – (inaudible) –
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I think that what you need to have is the political process moving forward, the economic process moving forward, and the security all together. They’re linked. And we know the political process is moving forward with solid accomplishments. The next step, as you point out, is the constitutional drafting and then the referendum and the election under that in December.
The terrorists know that. They are out trying to stop that. So it’s entirely possible that they could increase the level of violence between now and then. On the other hand, they don’t have a vision. They don’t have a nationalistic cause. They mostly are foreigners who are the most lethal of these terrorists and they’re getting support from some former Ba’athists in the country. But I think that what we’ll see is possibly a level or an increase in violence as it looks – to the terrorists – that they’re closer to losing and then as we go into next year we’ll see the insurgency moderate over time as political and economic progress is made, and as the Iraqi security forces assume greater responsibility.
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, if you think about it, there’s never been a war where you were not up against a thinking enemy. And the statement that is always made in history about war plans is that no war plan survives first contact with the enemy because the enemy adapts. So a war plan has to be flexible. It has to have excursions and scenarios where you can vary it depending on what happens. And that’s exactly what has occurred. The terrorists have adjusted their tactics just as we’ve adjusted our tactics to take care of their tactical adjustments. And that’s the way it is throughout history, and there’s nothing new about that at all in this case.
Q: What are three ways in which we’ve adjusted our tactics?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, for example, at the beginning of it you’re facing an army that is heavy. It’s got tanks and artillery and airplanes and the like. So you’re arranged to deal with that. And that was defeated in short order. Very quickly, the army disintegrated and it turned into an insurgency and that’s been what’s taking place. And that takes a different organizational arrangement. It takes different tactics, techniques and procedures and that’s what’s underway at the present time.
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t do retooling messages. The facts are the facts. We’ve been telling the facts and we are where we are and it’s going pretty darn well with the political process, with economic progress being made, the Iraqi security forces are increasingly large and more competent. The Iraqi people have confidence in the Iraqi security forces. They’re not ready to take over security yet, but they will be at some point in the future. And I guess the only message we have is the truth.
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, the insurgency will be put down by the Iraqi people over time. It won’t be won by the coalition forces. Foreigners don’t defeat insurgencies. What will happen is at a certain moment it will be at a level that the Iraqi security forces can handle it, and they will then assume that responsibility. And then over some period of time they will defeat the insurgency because the insurgency will be increasingly seen to be against the Iraqi people. And that’s how that happens in history.
Q: But are you worried about – (inaudible) –
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, I’d say quite the contrary. The Shi’a are reaching out to the Sunnis and the Sunnis are now participating in the drafting of the constitution.
Thank you, folks.
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