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Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld with Bill Cunningham, 700 WLW, Cincinnati, OH

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 31, 2006 1:20 PM EDT
CUNNINGHAM: America's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, will be with me in about 10 or 15 minutes, but until then the Secretary of Defense, the Donald, the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld. And Don Rumsfeld, welcome again to "The Bill Cunningham Show."

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, thank you so much. I'm delighted to be with you.

CUNNINGHAM: Two or three issues are percolating.

Number one, your good friend, Senator John Kerry, said last night he's warning students, young people demanding education and leadership -- have you heard the cut from Senator John Kerry, Donald?

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, I have not.

CUNNINGHAM: Let me put you on hold real quick. It's eight seconds long. Listen up.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From tape.) You know, education, if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

CUNNINGHAM: The senator from Massachusetts is saying if you're a loser and you volunteer, you get stuck in Iraq. If you're bright and educated and windsurf like me, then you're smart. And I'm wondering if it's been your experience from looking into Iraq and going there a dozen times and walking around the Pentagon, which I had the honor of doing on 9/11, doing the broadcast from there, that the losers, the failures, the miscreants end up stuck in Iraq?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I just can't imagine why anyone would say something like that. The young men and women who serve in the armed forces of the United States are amazing, and indeed, they're inspirational. They are so well-trained and they are so proud and they are so dedicated and they're so courageous, and they understand what they're doing, they believe in what they're doing. And I just can't imagine someone saying something like that. (Chuckles.)

CUNNINGHAM: Well, he says it all over the country, and he was at Pepperdine or some other university in California with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Angelides, and I think he felt he was in comfortable surroundings so he could express himself. And we have -- you know, some of my best friends are the Maupins, Keith Maupin and Carolyn Maupin --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, indeed. Yeah.

CUNNINGHAM: -- whose son, Matt, is still locked -- is still hopefully locked up in Iraq. And when service personnel and those in Iraq and Afghanistan today hear that dominant -- the Democratic nominee for president 24 months ago is calling them losers, does that undermine morale in Iraq?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think that the morale of the troops in Iraq that I talk to is high. And needless to say, they know what's going on. They know there's debate going on. They know that the enemy is trying to influence the American people and to try to weaken their will to prevail and to persist and to show perseverance in this conflict. So I suppose the only thing I'd say is God bless them for their courage and their intelligence and their contribution that they're making to our country.

CUNNINGHAM: Well, another one of your friends, Congressman John Murtha, was in Cincinnati about 10 days ago stumping for Victoria Wulsin. In your view, Mr. Rumsfeld, if the Murthas and the Pelosis and the Kerrys take over American defense policy, is that in the best interests of victory in Iraq or not?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think the president of the United States has said it all, that this is important, what's being done there. It is important for the Iraqi people to be sure, but it is important for the Middle East and it's important for the American people and their safety and their future.

If we turn over -- the consequences if the United States and the coalition countries were to turn over Iraq to the violent extremists and terrorists and have that become a haven for terrorists and the destabilizing process that they've been -- potentially could be involved in, it would be a tragedy. So I think that most people who look at the situation understand how important prevailing in that conflict is, and how tragic it would be were people to decide that it wasn't worth the cost or it wasn't worth the time.

CUNNINGHAM: You know, in 1964 General Douglas MacArthur, when he received the Thayer Award at West Point, said that all other missions and all other issues relative to service in the American military is secondary; the only purpose of the American military is to win the nation's wars.

So a little PR advice: instead of stay the course, which I think sounds almost like Vietnam, how about having a policy of winning the war? What wins the war is what we do. What loses the war is what we do not do. MacArthur said it in '64. Donald, you need to win the war. And whatever it takes to do that, to get the lawyers out, get the consultants out, don't listen to those who want us to lose. The role of the American military is to win the nation's wars, and everything else is secondary.

Can you commit the American nation today, to tell them we are at war -- we're in three wars: Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror -- and the role of the Secretary of Defense -- and I feel to an extent you work for me as an American taxpayer -- is to win the war. Can you commit today that America will win this war?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Listen, we have to. We have no choice. We cannot allow people to go at the very being of the American people; that is to say, free people.

Terrorists -- the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize -- it's to alter behavior -- and that is what's going on. They are determined to reestablish a caliphate in this globe of ours and to have handfuls of clerics decide what everybody in those countries can do; to destabilize the friendly moderate Muslims regimes in the Middle East and to spread themselves all the way into the Far East. We may -- must not, cannot, will not let that happen.

CUNNINGHAM: We can't, because to lose this war would incentivize the terrorists, and what happened to us on 9/11 would be an hors d'oeuvre compared to the mushroom cloud, compared to anthrax. We are winning this war to an extent, but I wish the American people from John Kerry to John Murtha to Nancy Pelosi to Ken Lucas to Sherrod Brown would get together, as American politicians have done during most of the other wars, and say we may argue about the means, the tactics and the methods of war, but the goal here is to win the war.

And so three years ago 75 percent of all the American people said win the war. Democrats, Republicans stood together and say win the war. Three years down the road, we hear it from John Kerry that if you're serving in the military you're a loser. We hear from John Murtha that we need a date certain. We hear from Kennedy and from some others that American military personnel are cowards, dragging people out of their homes in Iraq at night and shooting them in the head; that American soldiers are rapists and killers. And this idea has seeped into the body politic, into the groundwater, and now the majority of the American people don't want to win the war.

And I'm thinking, what's up with that? And I want confidence from you, Donald, that we're going to win this war at all costs, bring home the troops after victory, and give them a parade down Main Street.

SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, as I listen to you, I think back of all the people who were naysayers during the Revolutionary War -- if they had prevailed, we would have no United States of America; to all the naysayers during the Civil War, and had they prevailed, there would be no 50 states here; and the naysayers in other conflicts. There have always been people who have been wanting to toss in the towel; people who felt that it isn't worth the price, it isn't worth the cost, and we really -- if we put our head down it'll go away. Well, it won't go away.

These people are determined, and they're going to keep after us. And our only -- our only task is to see that they don't prevail.

CUNNINGHAM: Well, lastly, don't let Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi run you out of your job.

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Okay. (Laughs.)

CUNNINGHAM: Donald Rumsfeld, you're a great American.

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) I enjoyed visiting with you. Thank you so much.

CUNNINGHAM: God bless America.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Okay. God bless you.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.

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