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Interview with Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Cal Thomas of Fox News Watch

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
December 07, 2006

            MR. THOMAS:  Let me start with something that I -- you know, is kind of -- today's the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It is.  Have you ever been out there and seen the memorial and --


            MR. THOMAS:  I have several times.  It's about as holy a place as you can get to.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It really is.


            MR. THOMAS:  It's just incredible.  It's overwhelming.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  When I was here last time, I worked with Admiral Ike Kidd, whose father was on the Arizona and --


            MR. THOMAS:  The oil is still coming up from below.  It's the most unbelievable to stand there and look at that, you just -- it's hard to conceive, it really is. 


            I was born the year after.  You got a couple of years on me.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I sure do.  I remember it just vividly.


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah.  People are always comparing and lessons, you know, there are some people today -- "oh, Vietnam and Iraq" -- and the rest.  But there were lessons that came out of World War II, some of which you addressed subliminally and not so subliminally in your Philadelphia speech on December 1st. 


            If you had to compare the public attitude and their vision of what the threat was in World War, and what I perceive -- I'm not going to put it in your mouth -- is the lack of vision of what the problem is today, how would you compare those?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It's dramatic in this sense; that in World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor was stunning.  It followed a long series of things happening in Europe that -- and even in Asia -- that were not stunning to the American people, but the attack on Pearl Harbor was, and it was griping.  And the threat that was anticipated on the West Coast, for example, by an attack there was real and palpable.


            The fact of mobilizing the country and declaring war moved us to a next step as a country.  The large numbers of people who went to serve from almost every community in the nation, the extent to which people were engaged.  And I can remember having a "Victory Garden."  I can remember buying war bonds -- $18.75, that if you held them long enough, they'd be $25, and you'd buy them in coupons until you had a whole one.  Collecting paper, collecting old rubber, collecting hangers and metal to be recycled into war materials.  It -- you know, we were all engaged, particularly with your parent -- father -- I guess it wasn't to the same extent for those who didn't have a family member.  It wouldn't be.  But those who did, it was --


            MR. THOMAS:  But most did, or knew somebody who was there.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Undoubtedly.  Somebody from their town or their school or their business, or something like that.


            Furthermore, the movie industry was mobilized to support the war.  And they wanted us to win, which is an important factor. 


            They did a good job of bringing people back and talking about the war over time, people like -- who did something notable, like Jimmy Doolittle, who came back. 


            The situation today, of course, is in a sense -- the success that's been achieved in not having another attack in this country for the last five years has allowed the perception of the threat to diminish, even though the threat has clearly not diminished and indeed is real and lethal and dangerous to the safety of the American people.


            The fact that it's the first war of the 21st century and notably different from World War I or World War II is also a problem in a sense that it is unfamiliar ground.  There are not big armies, navies or air forces contesting, going against another with visible results and unambiguous outcomes.


            We have, without question, the finest military on the face of the Earth and indeed in the history of the world.  We can't lose a battle, and we haven't, and we won't.  But the military alone, given the nature of this struggle, this conflict, can't win alone.  There is no way the military can prevail because what we're engaged in is, in a very real sense, a battle of ideas, a struggle within the Muslim faith between the overwhelming majority of mainstream Muslims and a relatively small minority of violent extremists that have access to all the modern technology, off-the-shelf stuff, very lethal weapons -- increasingly lethal and dangerous weapons -- and all the technologies of wire transfers and e-mails and the Internet to communicate with each other.  So the absence of a good, clear, readily understandable and indeed preferably visible -- through photographs and images -- of a conflict, of a war, of a struggle that is understandable -- the absence of that creates a notably different environment.


            Second, all of the changes in your business, in the media in the 21st century have changed.  And this is not only the first war of the 21st century from a military technology standpoint, this is also the first war of the 21st century in terms of new media realities, with 24-hour radio and bloggers and 24-hour news and SonyCams and digital cameras and, you know -- all the things that can be used and manipulated by the other side to their advantage, which they do very skillfully.  So it's a big difference.


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah.  The Iraq Study Group Report -- you've read it, I'm sure.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I haven't.


            MR. THOMAS:  You haven't?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No.


            MR. THOMAS:  You've read the executive summary?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I've -- yes, I've read reports of it, and I've gone through the executive summary.


            MR. THOMAS:  Okay.  Well, from what you know -- and the executive summary is pretty good; it gets into more detail about, you know, the Baker thing about the Israeli-Palestinian business and resolving other things, but basically it's about finding another way and that this isn't working.  From what you've read and what you know and what you've seen in the papers -- which I know you trust implicitly --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  -- what would you say is the --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Do not record "laughter."  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  -- yeah, sorry, sorry.  I'll say that myself.  What would you say, from what you know, is the good, the bad and the ridiculous so far?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I guess what I'm going to say about it and all I'm going to say about it is that -- is what the president said, that he has cooperated with it, he has met with them and reviewed their recommendations and appreciates the work they've done and the suggestions they've offered, and that he has appreciated the suggestions that have been offered from the Congress and from private parties that he meets with, outside people, which he does -- I don't know -- every six, eight weeks he meets with a cluster of people, the advice and counsel he gets from Generals Abizaid, Casey and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and that he again will in the period immediately ahead be making some judgments.


            I think it's fair to say that he is faced -- the country is faced with a situation where, because of the fact -- the new nature of the struggle, the -- because of the fact that it's unfamiliar to the American people and not well understood, that he, the president, has the task of managing and maintaining sufficient support for the things he believes are necessary for our country's safety, that he has to take into account the reality that only if we persevere do we have an opportunity to succeed; that the penalty of failure, the consequences are so dire for the country that he has to recognize that the center of gravity of this struggle, while to some extent is in the Middle East, is in a very real sense here in the United States of America, and that he has to take that into account in reviewing and considering the variety of proposals and suggestions he's received.


            We here have been working with the military and with the chiefs and the separate commands on proposals.  Some time back a long time ago, I drafted a memo which took a variety of suggestions that had been offered by various people inside the department and elsewhere and asked General Pace to use it as a discussion piece with the chiefs, which he has done, and as a way of stimulating their thinking.  And he sent it to Abizaid and Casey -- Generals Abizaid and Casey for their -- to think about and stimulate their thinking.  OFF THE RECORD


              SEC. RUMSFELD: I think that's what -- I can say this, that a -- any decision that -- let me rephrase it.  I personally believe that the consequences of allowing the situation in Iraq to be turned over to terrorists would be so severe and not simply because Iraq with its water and oil and wealth and geographic position and population size and history as a haven to plan attacks on the rest of the world, the moderate regimes in the region, the United States would be so consequential; but because the -- I don't -- the effect in Iraq is one thing, the effect in the region is a second thing, but the implications worldwide in terms of the U.S. ability to provide security for the American people and work effectively with our friends, partners and allies would be diminished.


            Q     How helpful -- you're not going to answer it that way.


            Dr. Gates, in his confirmation, answered rather directly to Senator Levin -- Are we winning? -- he said, "No." -- in Iraq.  And later he added, "Well, we're not losing, either."


            This just seems to fit into the liberal Democrat and much of the media template that feeds the withdrawal syndrome.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I see.  I didn't see his testimony, and I would want to -- before -- I don't want to comment on it at all because I didn't see it in context.


            But if you asked me what my view would be, it would be that the military can't lose, but the military can't win alone, it simply requires political solutions.  They've got to have reconciliation in their country. They simply have to take a series of steps, that they've not yet sufficiently taken. 


            And that it would be like trying -- set aside World War I, set aside World War II and major air, sea and land battles, think more of the Cold War.  At any given moment in the Cold War -- which lasted 50 years -- you couldn't say if you're winning or losing, it's very difficult.


            MR. THOMAS:  The Civil War, too.  Lincoln thought he might not win.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The Civil War, yeah. 


            They aren't straight, smooth paths, they're bumpy roads.  They're difficult.  The enemy has a brain; they're constantly making adjustments.  Here -- I mean if you think of the phases of the Cold War when Eurocommunism was in vogue and when people were demonstrating by the millions against the United States, not against the Soviet Union, and the -- and yet, over time, people found the will to -- both political parties, our country, Western European countries, to persist in a way that ultimately led to victory. 


            The circumstance we're in today is more like that than it is World War II.  And people are going to have to get more familiar with that idea.  It's not a happy prospect.  But there are people in the world who are determined to destabilize moderate Muslim regimes and reestablish a caliphate across this globe, as they are.  And anyone who wants to know about it can go on the Internet and read their own words, what their intent is.  They are serious, they are deadly.  They are not going to surrender.  They're going to have be captured or killed.  They're going to have to be dissuaded.  People are going to have to be dissuaded from supporting them, from financing them, from assisting in the recruitment, from providing havens for them. 


            And we're in an environment where we have to fight and win a war where the enemy is in countries that we're not at war with.  That is a very complicated thing to do.  It doesn't happen fast.  It means you've got to invest the time and the effort and the ability, which we -- we don't have the institutions, we don't have the organization, we haven't had the training as a society to rapidly develop the skill sets so that the countries that are cooperative with us develop the capacity and the ability to govern their own real estate, which they don't have.


            MR. THOMAS:  Almost verbatim what you said in the Philadelphia speech.  I just want you to know that I read it.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Good for you!


            MR. THOMAS:  Well, thanks to (Hollen), who's brilliant.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)  She was up there.


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah she was -- yeah, it was a good speech.


            You don't have to go to journalism school to ask the hindsight question,  I mean, obviously, the perfect vision.  What -- with all you know now, what might you have done differently?  You've had all kinds of criticism:  not enough force initially.  You know all the stuff.  What would you have done differently?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I guess I don't think I would have called it the war on terror.  I don't mean to be critical of those who have or did or -- and certainly I've used the phrase frequently.  Why do I say that?  I say it because the word "war" conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War, and it creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within the 30 or 60 minutes of a soap opera.  And it isn't going to happen that way. 


            Furthermore, it's not a war on terror.  Terror is a weapon of choice for extremists who are trying to destabilize regimes and impose their -- in the hands of a small group of clerics, their dark vision on all the people that they can control. 


            So "war on terror" has a problem for me, and I've worked to try to reduce the extent to which that's used, and increase the extent to which we understand it more as a long war or a struggle or a conflict, not against terrorism but against a relatively small number, but terribly dangerous and lethal, violent extremists.  I say "violent extremists" because an extremist that goes off in a closet and is extreme is not bothering people.  But an extremist who has those views and insists on imposing them on free people strikes at the very heart of what free people are.  They're people who want to be able to get up in the morning and go where they want and say what they want and do what they want, and that is exactly the opposite of the vision of violent extremists. 


            And the -- I guess the second thing I'd say is that maybe there would be a better way to familiarize and help people better understand the tension that exists between too many or too few troops.  The people who argue for more troops often, I think, are thinking World War II, and they're thinking the Weinberger Doctrine, which is valid in a conflict between armies and navies and air forces.  The problem with it in the context of a struggle against extremists is that the greater your presence, the more it plays into extremists' lives that you're there to take their oil, that you're there to occupy their nation, that you're there to stay and not leave; that you're basically against Islam as opposed to against extremists, violent extremists.  And so there's a tension that people who argue for more, more, more -- as I would be in a conventional conflict -- that they fail to recognize that it can have exactly the opposite effect.  It can increase recruiting for extremism, it can increase financing for extremists, it can make more persuasive the lies of the extremists that we're there for their oil or for their water or to take over their countries. 


            And that tension is -- there's no rule book for it.  There's no guide book, there's no map that says to General Casey or General Abizaid what they should recommend to the secretary of Defense and the president as to numbers.  The fact of the matter is that it is a fact, whether it happens to fly in the face of the popular media or not, but it is a fact that the level of forces that we have had going into Iraq and every month thereafter, including today, are the number of troops that the commanding generals have recommended.  I have not increased them or decreased them over the objections of any general who is in a position of authority with respect to that decision. 


            Is it the right number?  I don't know.  Do I have a heck of a lot of confidence in those two folks?  Yes.  Do I think it's probably right?  You bet, or I would have overruled it or made a different recommendation to the president. 


            But I think they have to walk that line, they have to find that balance so that they do not -- there are two centers of gravity.  One is in Iraq and the region, the other is here.  The more troops you have, the greater the risk that you will be seen as an occupier and that you will feed an insurgency.  The more troops you have, particularly American troops -- who are so darn good at what they do -- the more you have, the more they will do things, and the more dependent the Iraqis will become, and the less independent they will become. 


            If there is a ditch to be dug, an American does not want to sit down and teach an Iraqi how to dig that ditch.  He will -- he'll go dig the dad-burned ditch.  It'll be a beautiful ditch. But that is not what the task is.  The task is get the Iraqis to dig the ditches.  And I use it figuratively, obviously.


            So you -- on the one hand, you don't want to feed the insurgency.  On the other hand, you don't want to create a dependency.  So at some point, you've got to take your hand off the bicycle seat.  You get the bicycle running down the middle of the street with your youngster on it, and you're pushing and you're holding it up, and you know if you let go -- you go from a full hand to three fingers to two fingers to one finger, and you know if you let go, they might fall.  You also know if you don't let go, you're going to end up with a 40-year-old that can't ride a bike.  Now, that's not a happy prospect. 


            Simultaneously, you have the problem here at home.  The more troops you have there, the more force protection you need, the more food you need, the more water you need, the more convoys you need, the more airplanes you need, and the more people get killed, the more targets there are.  And if -- part of the center of gravity's back here in the United States, and they constantly see more and more people getting killed, Americans getting killed, and they ask themselves, "Well, where are the victories?  Where's the land warfare victory?  Where's the sea victory?  Where's the air victory?  Where's the body count?  How many of these people are we killing?  How many of these people are we capturing?  How do we know if we're winning or losing?"  And the more people you put in, the more people you're going to get killed.


            Now, I think the argument has been unimpressive, not terribly thoughtful, not terribly multidimensional, and a bit -- (pauses) -- narrow in its perspective, in this regard.


            Do I know that the right number's there?  No.  Do I think it is?  Yes.  Is there anyone who's smart enough to prove it is or isn't?  No. 


            MR. THOMAS:  And so if it's not a war on terror, you may want to consider changing your vest there.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I know!


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah.  (Inaudible.) 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I almost ripped it off when you walked in.


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I just thought I would point out that out.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It does not come off.


            MR. THOMAS:  Oh, okay.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It's (sewn -- sewn -- I -- oh, I'll unstitch ?) it here.


            MR. THOMAS:  (Laughs.)


            What --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Smart aleck.  (Laughter.) 


            MR. THOMAS:  Well, I -- it's right there.  You know, it's hard to miss.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I want to go get my Patagonia --


            MR. THOMAS:  This is why it's not on television. 


            But anyway, what -- I want to talk a little bit about missile defense, too, because I know in our first interview we did after you became secretary of Defense, this was one of your main things.  And nobody's talking about that anymore, because it's all Iraq, all the time.  Where are we on that, as we have rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, all the -- rattling their missiles and threatening us?  Where are we on missile defense?


            STAFF:  Sir, you might take him back to '01, when you were noodling with developing --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yeah.  When we came in, the president wanted to proceed with missile defense, and it was a hair knot.  It was theological.  Even the proponents didn't agree with each other.  Some wanted space.  Some wanted air.  Some wanted land.  Some wanted this.


            And the opponents, again, were theological.  They just could not accept the thought.  It was -- just viscerally against it. 


            And it was called national missile defense, so our allies were against it, because it separated us.  To the extent we were successful in protecting ourselves, they no longer would be protected.


            So we had many, many meetings at that desk over there.  And we ended up saying, first of all, we we're going to call it missile defense, but not national missile defense, and we're going to recognize that our goal is not to separate ourselves from our allies and friends.


            And second, we're going to admit that the concept of a perfect shield, which is the way that the original President Reagan proposals were --


            MR. THOMAS:  Right.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:   -- were characterized, not so much by them but by people who wanted to be dismissive, we said let's just say that the -- that reality is that this is in an early stage.  It's been opposed by many in the Congress for a long time.  And what we want to do is do the experimentation and the developmental work to see what is possible and what makes sense and what kinds of capabilities might be developed. 


            That required getting out of the ballistic missile treaty, which we -- the president then stepped up and did, to his great credit.


            That permitted us to do the research and development necessary.  We have been proceeding to do that.  We now have -- I've always believed that the way you get something is not sitting around trying to develop it full-blown, before you ever put it out there, but you put it out, test it, use it, play with it, evolve it, develop it.  And that's what we've been doing.


            And we have evolved to the point where we have an initial missile defense capability to shoot down a missile from a rogue state, we believe.  We've not had to do it yet, but we've been prepared to, and we are prepared to.  Each month that goes by, additional elements add to that capability. Whether it's an additional radar here or a sensor there, whether it's an additional interceptor, or a ship that can help triangulate and have information, or whether it's the development of more information about others' capabilities, all of that adds to a growing body of knowledge which gives us increasing confidence that we will continue to evolve this capability at a pace which we believe is appropriate to the threat. 


            We'd like things faster, I suppose, but the North Koreans, you know, they put the Taepo Dong II on there and it didn't work.  They had a nuclear test of some kind, device test of some kind.  And what we simply have to do is recognize that there is a threat to our country and there will be a growing threat to our country and we need to continue to invest and evolve this capability as we've been doing. 


            And we're now discussing things with European countries as to ways we could add radars and interceptors and various sensors which would improve the capability to intercept an Iranian rogue missile.


            MR. THOMAS:  Do you think that's the biggest potential threat right now, Iran?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: The capability is not something that in any way weakens the capabilities of China -- correction, of Russia.  And over time as you watch the Chinese, obviously they're going to end up with multiples of things, and the system is designed for smaller numbers. 


            But it's a good thing to have done.  It's a good investment.  The knowledge that's been developed is important.  And we're making progress every month.


            MR. THOMAS:  What are you most proud of during this latest of many tours to Washington that you've accomplished?  And what's your biggest disappointment that you wish you could have done but didn't, or failed to do?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, I suppose the -- we can give you a piece of paper about the task of transforming.


            MR. THOMAS:  I already have it.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And we have a number of accomplishments and a number of initiatives that have been achieved.  And I think there is a lot of momentum for it. The people we've selected are people who are joint in their perspective.  They are people who in large measure are bold in their vision, people who get it.  They understand that this is a new century and that the technologies are changing, that we face risks down the road from things like cyberattacks, given the high degree of vulnerability we have. That given our free way of life, we face risks from chemical and biological as well as nuclear devices. 


            And they're people who I hope and pray are the kinds of people who will attract people like themselves; that is to say that likes attract.  And you know the old story, A's hire A's, and B's hire C's.  And I think people that are in key spots in the military, in this department, are people who are the kinds of people who will want to see -- who are willing to improve on all of the training and education and doctrine they received as young men and women and face the 21st century the way it is and not the way the 20th century was.  So that has a way of perpetuating itself.


            MR. THOMAS:  Biggest disappointment?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I think is the inability to help the free people of the world understand that this new century and the struggle we're engaged in is real, is terribly dangerous to their safety, and regrettably, it is not going to be as easily seen in terms of pitched battles.


            MR. THOMAS:  Think it'll take another 9/11 to make people wake up?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, there are people who have written that this administration is the victim of its success and the fact that there hasn't been another attack in the United States.


            I remember when I was -- shortly after September 11th, I met with the Sultan of Oman in a tent, and it must have been 150 degrees.  We were just perspiring through everything on our bodies, every piece of clothing we had on.  And he basically said, you know, this terrible, terrible thing that's happened may be a blessing in disguise, that it may be the thing that will wake up the world to the danger that these extremists pose before those people get their hands on chemical or biological or nuclear weapons and where they could kill many multiples of what they were able to kill on September 11th.  This is a man sitting in a tent in a desert with that perspective and that understanding of extremism and the dangers of extremism.  And it did for a short while, but that threat then diminished, in their minds, whereas it not only has not diminished in reality, it is growing because of the advances in technologies.


            I mean, you look at the Johns Hopkins exercise with smallpox -- called Dark Winter -- put in, I don't know, three airports in America and something between 800,000 and a million people died within a matter of some number of months or a year from a disease that people are no longer vaccinated against.


            So I mean, there are these things that can be done.  And anyone who -- now, there's a tendency for a lot of people to be dismissive of all of that, and to do it not just once or twice but repeatedly and to ridicule the -- what was the -- Churchill's phrase, "The Gathering Storm" -- there was a storm gathering, but that there were people in Europe who didn't believe it, who didn't take the storm clouds, the periodic storm clouds and the squalls to constitute a real threat.  They felt they were transitory, and, of course, paid the penalty, an enormous penalty in treasure, in life in Europe for that failure to understand the nature of that threat.  And I worry that we are in a gathering storm and that we do not, as a society, accept it and that many of the -- particularly the elites of our society, the key opinion leaders, if you will, are -- I don't know -- try to find the right word -- are for whatever reason --


            MR. THOMAS:  Denial?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  -- unwilling or unable to accept what an awful lot of people believe to be the case.  And, of course, the penalty for being wrong can be enormous.  There can be consequences.


            MR. THOMAS:  Last question.  My time will be up.


            General MacArthur's famous line, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away" -- what about old secretaries of Defense?  What are you going to do?  You going to write the book?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  Movie of -- with you playing yourself?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  You did a good job here with, you know --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't know.  I haven't really given any thought to it.  I've still got another week or two here that I've got to move through.  I guess it's about a week, isn't it?  Today is Thursday?


            MR. THOMAS:  The 15th is your --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'll finish a week from Monday, yeah.


            I am -- I don't know what I'll do.  An awful lot of people think I should write a book, and I may very well write a book.  But, you know, life's been -- has been good, and we feel very, very fortunate to have been able to be here and to be involved in something as important as this -- it's -- during such an enormously challenging time for the country.  I feel so fortunate to have had this very intimate relationship with these amazing people in uniform, the young men and women who volunteer and who are -- represent the best-led, the best-equipped, the best-trained, the most capable military in the world.


            And they are motivated.  They're proud.  They -- the people who are dismissive of them don't understand what's going on in our society.  And these are terrific people, and they're doing a superb job.  And the fact that it's tough, the fact that it's long, the fact that it's hard, the fact that it can be ugly at times should take nothing away from what they're doing because they're doing everything that military can do.  And the fact that it takes a health care system through the Iraq army -- or Afghan army to be able to get health care for themselves and their families, that's not the job -- military's job.  The fact that it takes a prison system where the military -- Iraqi or Afghan military when they arrest somebody can put somebody, that's not the Department of Defense job.  All of those things are the task of other elements of our government, coalition partners and take time.


            People -- I read the other day where someone was comparing this -- that it's longer than World War II.  I mean, my goodness, gracious Germany didn't even have a government until `49, as I recall.


            STAFF:  I believe that's right.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The -- and you were dealing with a very different environment in Western Europe than you are here.


            So the progress that's been made in these countries, I -- these folks, when they -- the uniformed personnel, when they look back five, 10, 15 years from now and they've got a grandchild sitting on their lap, they're going to be able to know that they helped liberate 50 million people.  That is a big thing.  That is historic.  They're going to know that they have given these folks an opportunity to succeed in a world that is not a command economy that punishes every bit of entrepreneurial activity or creative energy.  They're going to have a chance to succeed in an environment that is not a repressive political system, but a free political system where they can be represented.


            Now, is it easy to get from where they were to that?  Noooo.  It's hard.  It's darn hard.  But is it worth it?  You bet.  I mean, people said the Japanese could never have a democracy.  They're just -- it doesn't fit their culture, they said.  Well, you know, they're doing pretty well the Japanese.  It's like the biggest economy on the face of the Earth.


            So I feel that these folks can be darn proud of what they've done and what they're doing and that fortunately the history is going to be written not by the local reporters who are looking for bad news to report because it's newsworthy, it'll be written by history over time and with a perspective.  And they can be darn proud of what they've done.


            MR. THOMAS:  Thanks.  Well, it was good being with you.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It's good to see you.


            MR. THOMAS:  When you get things, you know, straightened out, come down and see a movie with us.  I promise it won't be a war movie.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  What kind of a movie?


            MR. THOMAS:  We got a movie theater we kind of like in our house.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, do you really?


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah, we decided we're not leaving anything to the kids, so we're spending it on ourselves since I earned it.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yeah, damn right.  That's my answer.  (Laughter.)


            MR. THOMAS:  (Laughs.)  There you go.  And so we have this nice movie theater with surround sound --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I've heard these home theaters -- you have chairs that --


            MR. THOMAS:  Oh, they're fun.  Oh, yeah.  Oh, yeah do that.  You can sleep, you can do anything.  It's very cool.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  My wife --


            MR. THOMAS:  Juke box, all kinds of stuff.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  My wife loves movies.


            MR. THOMAS:  Oh, good.  Well --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  She goes all the time with a group of women, and I have not been in six years to the movies.


            MR. THOMAS:  It'll be fun.  I got one for you that'd you'd really love.  You got it this Christmas.  Get for her and watch it together.  It's called "Akeelah and the Bee."  Starbucks is involved in it.  It's about a little African-American girl, 11-years-old, growing up in Crenshaw in LA.  Her father's been killed by some hoodie.  Her brother's about to become a hoodie.  And they discover that she has this great gift of spelling.  Laurence Fishburne is in it, Angela Basset.  She goes out and redeems everybody.  I mean, this is about every value we care about.  Hard work overcoming honesty, integrity.  I'm sitting there I'm balling away.  I'm cheering for the kid.


            SEC. RUMSFELD: (Inaudible) --


            MR. THOMAS:  (Then they have a bee ?).  A-K-E-E-L-A-H -- maybe -- and the B as in spelling bee --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  I guarantee you I'll give you your money back if you don't love this movie.  You will absolutely love this.  It's got everything.  There's not a white guy -- the only white guy in it is the principal of the school.  Everybody else is minority, everybody else gets along.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Did you like the "Sound of Music?"


            MR. THOMAS:  Of course I liked the "Sound of Music."


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, so did I.


            MR. THOMAS:  And you know something?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  People laugh at that.


            MR. THOMAS:  Well, I want to you something.  I stalked Julie Andrews for 40 years before I finally got her.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Is that right.


            MR. THOMAS:  On our shelf, a picture of us having tea together in New York.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  How long ago?


            MR. THOMAS:  Two years.  But I --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  She's showing her years.


            MR. THOMAS:  Yeah, well -- no, she looks great.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  I waited for her outside the Majestic Theater in 1962 in the rain.  That's when it started.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)


            MR. THOMAS:  And that's how I opened the letter to her, you know.  So anyway, you got more important things to do.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Good to see you.


            MR. THOMAS:  Good to you see you, and let's stay in touch.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Terrific.


            MR. THOMAS:  And come and see a movie.  You will love that one, I guarantee it.  Merry Christmas.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Thank you.  Very good.


            MR. THOMAS:  Thanks, everybody.

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