Remarks and Q & A to the Council on Foreign Relations
delivered 4 October 2004
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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Thank you very much, Lou, ladies and gentlemen, Pete, David, Richard. It's good to be back here. And, as before, it's a very full crowd in a -- in a small room, tightly packed in. So I thank all of you for being here as well.
Last month we observed the third anniversary of the day that awakened our country to a new world, a day that extremists killed so many innocent men, women and children. Thursday will mark the third anniversary of the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom, when America resolved to take the battle to the extremists, and we attacked the al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Three years into the global war on terror, some understandably ask, "Is the world better off? Is our country safer?" They're fair questions, and today I want to address them by taking a look at the last three years at what the world looked like then, compared to what we find today, and what has been accomplished, and to be sure what remains to be done.
It's been said that the global struggle against extremism will be the task of a generation, a war that could go on for years. I should say will likely go on for years, much like the Cold War, which of course lasted for decades. We look back at the Cold War now as a -- as a great victory for freedom, and indeed it was. But the 50 year span of battle between the free world and the Soviet empire was filled with division, uncertainty, self-doubt, setbacks and indeed failures along the way, as well as successes. Territories were seized, wars were fought. There were many times when the enemy seemed to have the upper hand.
Remember when euro-communism was in vogue, when the West considered withdrawing? I was Ambassador to NATO in the mid, early '70s and had to fly back to testify against the, an amendment in the Senate to withdraw all of our troops back in the '70s. And a lot of people from time to time over that long span considered withdrawing from the struggle exhausted. The strategies varied from co-existence, to containment, to détente, to confrontation. Alliances wavered. In NATO there were disputes over diplomatic policy, weapons deployments, military strategies, the stance against the Soviets.
In the 1960s, France pulled out of the military organization of NATO and asked NATO out of France. In America, columnists and editorialists questioned and doubted U.S. policies. There were vocal showings of support for communist Russia, marches against military build-ups, proposed freezes, even instances where American citizens saw their own government challenged as warmongers and aggressors.
Clearly many did not always take seriously the challenge posed by communism or the Soviet appetite for empire. But our country, under leaders of both political parties over a sustained period of time, and with our allies, again of mixed political parties over time, showed perseverance and resolve.
Year after year they fought for freedom. They dared to confront what many thought might be an unbeatable foe, and eventually the Soviet regime collapsed.
That lesson has to be relearned throughout the ages, it seems, the lesson that weakness can be provocative. It can entice people into doing things they otherwise would avoid, that a refusal to confront gathering dangers can increase rather than reduce future peril. That while there are risks to acting, to be sure, there also can be risks to not acting, and that victory ultimately comes to those who are purposeful and steadfast.
It's with those lessons in mind that the President and an historic global coalition of some 80 or 85 countries have sought to confront a new and perhaps even more dangerous enemy, an enemy without a country or a conscience, and an enemy that seeks no armistice or truce, with us or with the civilized world.
From the outset of this conflict, it was clear that our coalition had to go on the offense against terrorists. The goals included the need to pursue terrorists and their regimes that provide them aid and comfort, havens; to establish relationships with new allies and bolster international coalitions to prosecute the war; to improve considerably America's homeland defense; and to advance freedom and democracy, and to work with moderate leaders to undermine terrorism's ideological foundations.
In the last three years progress has been made in each of these areas. Four years ago al Qaeda was already a growing danger well before 9/11. Terrorists had been attacking American interests for years. The leader, Osama bin Laden, was safe and sheltered in Afghanistan. His network was dispersed around the world.
Three years later, more than two thirds of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been detained, captured or killed. Osama bin Laden is on the run. Many of his key associates are behind bars or dead. His financial lines have been reduced, but not closed down. And I suspect he spends a good deal of every day avoiding being caught.
Once controlled by extremists, Afghanistan today is led by Hamid Karzai, who is helping to lead the world in support of moderates against the extremists. Soccer stadiums in Kabul, once used for public executions under the Taliban, today are used for soccer.
Three years ago in Iraq, Saddam Hussein and his sons brutally ruled a nation in the heart of the Middle East. Saddam was attempting regularly to kill American air crews and British air crews that were enforcing the northern and southern no-fly zones. He ignored more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions, and was paying some 25,000 dollars to the families of suicide bombers to encourage and reward them.
Three years later, Saddam Hussein is a prisoner awaiting trial by the Iraqis, his sons are dead, most of his senior associates are in custody. Some 100,000 trained and equipped Iraqis now provide security for their fellow citizens. Under the new Prime Minister, Mr. Allawi and his team, Iraq is a new nation, a nation determined to fight terrorists and build a peaceful society.
And Libya has gone from being a nation that sponsored terrorists and secretly sought a nuclear capability to one that has renounced its illegal weapon programs, and now says that it's ready to reenter the community of civilized nations.
The rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network was providing lethal assistance to nations such as Libya and North Korea, today has been exposed and dismantled, and is no longer in operation.
Pakistan three and a half, four years ago was close to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Today under President Musharraf, Pakistan is working effectively and closely with the global coalition against terrorism.
Thanks to the coalition, terrorist safe havens have been reduced, major training camps have been eliminated. Their financial support structures have been attacked and disrupted, and intelligence and military cooperation with countries all around the world has dramatically increased.
NATO is now leading the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and is helping to train Iraqi security forces. This is a, an historic move for NATO. Not only is it out of the NATO treaty area, but it's out of Europe, this activity on their part.
The U.N. has taken a role in helping with free elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq, which are coming up very soon in Afghanistan later this week, and we anticipate in Iraq in January.
And over 60 countries have expressed support for an effort to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Here at home the demands of the global war on terror have accelerated the need to transform our armed forces, and to undertake an increasingly complex array of missions around the world. We've increased the size of the active duty army by about 30,000 troops, and we're reorganizing it into more agile, lethal, and deployable brigades with enough protection, fire power, and logistics assets to sustain themselves. And we're increasing the number of these brigades from currently 33 to 43 or possibly 48 over the coming two and a half to three years.
We're re-training and re-structuring the active and reserve components to achieve a more appropriate distribution of skill sets, to improve the total force responsiveness to crises, and so that individual Reservists and Guardsmen will mobilize less often for shorter periods of time, and with somewhat more predictability.
We're increasing the ability of the branches of the armed services to work seamlessly together. Joint operations are no longer an exception. They must become the rule. Communications and intelligence activities have been improved in the department. We've significantly expanded the capabilities and missions of the special operations forces and much more.
Since the global war on terror began, we have sought to undercut the extremists' efforts to attract new recruits. The world has been divided between regions where freedom and democracy have been nurtured and other areas where people have been abandoned to dictatorship or tyranny.
Yet today the talk on the street in Baghdad and Kabul is about coming elections and self-government. In Afghanistan over 10 million people have registered to vote in this month's election. They estimate that some 41.4 percent of them are women. Iraq has an interim constitution that includes a bill of rights and an independent judiciary. There are municipal councils in almost every major city and most towns and villages and provincial councils for the provinces.
Iraqis now are among those allowed to say and write and watch and listen to whatever they want, whenever they want. And I sense that governments and people in the Middle East are taking note of that.
Have there been setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq? You bet. It is often on some bad days not a pretty picture at all. In fact, it can be dangerous and ugly, but the road from tyranny to freedom has never been peaceful or tranquil. On the contrary, it's always been difficult and dangerous. It was difficult for the United States. It was difficult with respect to Germany and Japan and Italy.
The enemy cannot defeat the coalition in a conventional war on any battlefield, but they don't seek conventional war. Their weapons are terror and chaos, and they want us to believe that the coalition cannot win; that the free Iraqi and Afghan governments cannot win; that the fight is not worth it; that the effort will be too hard and too ugly.
They attack any sort of hope or progress in an effort to try to undermine morale. They are convinced that if they can win the battle of perceptions, and they are very good at managing perceptions, that we will lose our will and toss it in. I believe they're wrong. Failure in Afghanistan or Iraq would exact a terrible toll. It would embolden the extremists and make the world a far more dangerous place. These are difficult times.
From Baghdad, Kabul, Madrid, Bali, the Philippines, the call to arms has been sounded and the outcome of this struggle will determine the nature of our world for some decades to come. Our enemies will not be controlled, or contained, or wished away. They do seek to enslave, and they have shown that they're willing to die to achieve their goals. The deaths of innocent people are not incidental in this war. Innocent people indeed are in fact their targets, and they will willingly kill hundreds and thousands more.
The world has gasped at the brutality of the extremists, the hundreds of children in Russia that were killed or wounded on their first day of school; the commuters blown up in the trains in Madrid; innocents murdered in a night club in Bali; the cutting off of heads on television. And should these enemies acquire the world's more dangerous weapons, more lethal weapons and they are seeking them, to be sure, the lives of hundreds of thousands could be at stake.
There have been costs, and there will be more. More than a thousand U.S. soldiers, men and women, have died, killed or in accidents in -- in Iraq, and some number more since the global war on terror began. Every loss is deeply felt. It is in freedom's defense that our country has had the benefit of these wonderful volunteers deployed, these the most courageous among us. And whenever freedom advances, America is safer.
And amid the losses, amid the ugliness, the car bombings, the task is to remain steadfast. Consider the kind of world we would have if the extremists were to prevail.
Today, as before, the hard work of history falls to our country, to our coalition, to our people. We've been entrusted with the gift of freedom. It's ours to safeguard. It's ours to defend. And we can do it, knowing that the great sweep of human history is for freedom, and that is on our side.
Thank you very much.
Q & A
MR. LOU GERSTNER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Now, I want to remind you all of our procedures. I think you all are aware of that. If you're called on, wait for a microphone. When you get a microphone, please stand and for the benefit of your colleagues and our speaker, identify yourself and your affiliation. And please, we really like brevity here. We want to avoid that rare but occasional circumstance here where somehow a questioner turns him or herself into a panelist in the event and asks a question that rivals in length the speaker's remarks, and is actually simply a text of a forthcoming book or article. So, please, let's keep it brief so a lot of people can participate.
Now, we do have participating by Teleprompter, members from around the country, and I want to welcome them. And I actually am going to ask the first question, which comes from one of those participants. Donald Straus from Maine, Mr. Secretary, asks what specific efforts are we making to gather more allies in the war on terrorism? And then I'm going to let you handle the questions yourself. I think you'd prefer to do that.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Unless I need help. All right. First, coalitions are enormously important. They are critical. There are things that -- that cannot be done by a single country, no matter what country, and -- and we all know that. The coalition that the President and Secretary Powell and others have put together for the broad global war on terror is, I'm going to guess, the largest coalition in the history of mankind. It's somewhere between 80 and 90 countries. And the sharing of intelligence, the -- the cooperation on trying to squeeze down finances, and the work they're doing has put pressure on terrorist networks in an important way.
The coalition for Iraq, the effort was made immediately to enlarge and create a coalition. They went to the United Nations, the President did. The, I -- I believe at one point they had 34 countries, and I believe two are now not there with forces on the ground, but at the present time I think it's 32, total countries. Thirty-three as this piece of paper says to me. The total numbers of troops from the coalition is relatively small compared to the U.S. forces or compared to the Iraqi forces. The Iraqi currently have 105,000 fully trained and equipped in the coalition, and I would include them. The United States has 133,000 in the coalition. The Iraqis will pass us some time in the next month or two, one would think. And coalition, other coalition forces besides the U.S. and Iraq have a total of 23,500.
I believe in the coalition in Afghanistan, we currently have 26 or 27 countries, plus the NATO countries, which are 26 countries alone, and some of those are doubles, so it's probably now in the thirties if you count all of the NATO countries. And the effort for both Afghanistan and Iraq were made immediately. We went right to Brussels and talked to the people. We've made constant efforts to increase the size of the coalition because, needless to say, we want as many countries as possible to have a stake in the success of what's going on in Afghanistan, and to have a stake in the success of what's going on in Iraq.
But I do think it's wrong to look at either of those countries through a soda straw, so-to-speak. They are interesting to look at through a soda straw, but they are part of something much bigger, and it is a global struggle between extremists and moderates, people who are determined to impose their will on others and to terrorize others into acquiescing in what it is they want for this world, and it is a dark world they want.
Yes. Oh, I should go with someone who's near a mike. Where are the mikes? Here they are. Good.
Question: I have one. Mr. Secretary, my name is Roland Paul. I'm a lawyer. Some years ago I was counsel to a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Military Commitments. And even though I am a registered Democrat, I...believe and still believe the administration was right in invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein. I always thought the reason, for a simple reason, and that was because sooner or later he would acquire nuclear weapons or other, and other weapons of mass -- of mass destruction. But what it today, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you say in your mind, as the Secretary of Defense, is the number one reason for the -- for the war?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the President made the judgment, and he went to the United Nations, he went to the Congress, and he set out the reasons he believed that it was unwise for the civilized world to allow Iraq to continue rejecting the some 16 or 17 U.N. resolutions, and that it was -- it was not good for the United Nations, it was not good for the world, and that Saddam Hussein was a, an individual who ran a vicious regime that had used weapons of mass destruction on its own people as well as its neighbors, and that it was important to set that right by removing that regime before they in fact did gather weapons of mass destruction, either themselves or transferring them to terrorist networks. That was his -- his view, and that is what he presented, and that is what the United Nations voted on when they -- when they addressed the resolution.
It turns out that we have not found weapons of mass destruction, and do, does everyone know he had them at one point? Certainly. Does everyone believe, even those in the U.N. who voted the other way, acknowledge the fact that he had filed a fraudulent declaration with the United Nations? And what, why the intelligence proved wrong, I'm not in a position to say, I simply don't know. But the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail than they were with him in power.
The possibility, and -- and I, maybe I'm an optimist, maybe I'm just a hopeful person, but I -- I do honestly believe that Iraq has a good crack at becoming a country that is a single country, at peace with its neighbors, without weapons that -- that are threatening its neighbors, and that is reasonably respectful of the various, diverse religious and ethnic groups in that country. And that, if it happens, and I believe they've got a very good crack at doing this, it won't be easy, it'll be tough, it'll be bumpy, and people will get killed along the way but that's a dangerous part of the world and has been for a long time. If they are able to do that, the potential impact in that part of the world could be significant, truly significant. Historic.
Yes. Oh, no mike again.
Question: Hello. My name is Khalid Azim. Mr. Secretary, you have a very impressive career both in the public and the, I mean in the government sector and outside the government sector. As such a credible leader, could you please explain to us what your definition of the word "accountability" is?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Capability?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Accountability. Oh no, I don't know that I can. And I can't do it any better than anyone else in this room. I guess some of us, when -- when we think of that world, word we -- we understand the -- the importance of -- of checks and balances. We understand that -- that there are some things that, where accountability is near instantaneous and that there are other things where there are gray areas and it's much less difficult. But what it means, very simply, is to, to me anyway is that people understandably look to individuals who have responsibilities to be accountable for the conduct of those responsibilities.
And there -- there are, you know, someone said to me one day that -- that with a million-four men and women in the armed forces and a number of reserves on active duty, and six or eight hundred thousand civilian employees, you've got an organization spread all across the world of -- of over two and a half million people. At any given moment of the day or night, some one of them is doing something wrong. And I read in this morning's newspaper about some woman who had worked in the Air Force and who had done something very, very wrong, and is being punished for it. And -- and we -- we had a, I...can't talk about some of the other things that happened on, in -- in the last 24 hours in different countries around the world because of command influence, and some of them may be talking, but -- but it is a -- a, you need to put in place a series of things that hold people reasonably accountable for their actions, and -- and people, I think, expect that.
There's a mike. You've -- You've got a mike? Good. There's somebody over there.
Question: My name is Ed Vick. I'm former Chairman of Young and Rubicam and also a Vietnam veteran. I'm concerned about medical care for returning troops and for veterans. By almost any account, whether it's research or anecdotal, it seems like we really need to try to do more. And I wonder what your thoughts are on how that might be done?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The Congress has each year addressed the subject and added various things, whether it be for the active force or for the Guard or Reserve, and in some cases for retired personnel. The cost is enormous, and what it requires is just what you would do at Young and Rubicam or any other company in...the world. You have to look at the full range of incentives pay, retirement, health care, day care, all the things that one might do to attract and retain employees, and then fashion packages that fit the various types of people you need in both the active force and the Guard and Reserve.
I think it's a mistake, personally, to do what the Congress does, to reach in the middle of that and pick out a single thing, whether it's pay, or health care, or retirement, for this group or the other, because almost immediately inequities occur because the, it was only -- it only dealt with the retired community as opposed to the Reserve or the Guard, or it only dealt with the Guard or Reserve and not the active force. And what we really need, urgently need, is -- is the kind of a master overview of how we're doing in managing our force. And we've got truly wonderful people, and -- and at least for the moment, our recruiting and retention are -- are working well.
The task is to see that we get the skill sets balanced so that we don't overuse Guard and Reserve and to see that we balance the incentives in a way that they fit across the spectrum for people so that we are able to continue to attract and retain the force we need to serve this country. We're so lucky that -- that they -- they keep raising their hands and say "Send me." Every one of them is a volunteer, and -- and God bless them for it. But we've got to see that we --we look ahead and manage that force with the full range of incentives in a way that makes sense for them.
Question: Allen Adler. The President has said that without question there would be elections in January. If some of the major cities are not subdued, safe, will elections take place anyway? And how would you look at those results?
SEC. RUMSFELD: It seems to me that that's up to the Iraqis, number one. They have a sovereign country. They're going to decide what their elections are. They're going to -- they're going to make every call with respect to it. The United Nations is in there working with them at the present time. Countries are beginning to step up and offer some troops to provide additional assistance. Needless to say, your first choice is to say that every, we know every Iraqi deserves the right to vote, and one would -- one would anticipate that that would be the case.
I, what...judgments the Iraqi government would make at any given time is entirely up to them, not me, not the United States, and not the coalition.
Hi, Richard. One more mike up here maybe. There we go. Thank you. Dr. Garwin, how are you, sir?
Question: I'm Dick Garwin. I served with the Secretary in 1998 on the commission to assess the ballistic missile threat to the United States.
Now, you said that by invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein we have kept him from providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, and that's a good thing. The President has said that the A.Q. Khan network in Pakistan has been brought to justice, and A.Q. Khan was certainly dealing with Libya and North Korea, and people all over the world, providing nuclear-related technology which could have ended up over here. But in what way, speaking of accountability, has the A.Q. Khan network been brought to justice?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it's not for me to be judgmental in this instance. It isn't. Let me -- let me tell you why. You laugh. Listen first, then laugh. Musharraf is criticized by a lot of people, President Musharraf. I will say that I think that the world is enormously fortunate that he is where he is, doing what he is doing, and doing it the way he is doing it. And God bless him. His -- His life is at risk every day. There have been repeated attacks on his life. He severed relationship with the Taliban. He has been going into the tribal areas where no Pakistan government had ever gone previously. He is a moderate voice in the world, in the Muslim world for moderation, which is what's needed. It ain't going to be the people in this room that are going to lead the Muslim people away from those who are trying to hijack that religion. It's going to be the Karzais and the Allawis and the -- the Musharrafs of the world who are going to carve a path towards moderation.
Now, what did he do? He discovered, we discovered, others discovered, that a, an icon in Pakistan named A.Q. Khan was conducting a private network to sell for profit the nuclear elements of nuclear technologies that would enable countries to develop nuclear weapons. Richard mentioned two of the countries. There are undoubtedly more.
When that was discovered, Musharraf stepped up and stopped him, and that network was rolled up insofar as the -- the United States or the U.K., or to my knowledge Pakistan, know where that network was. So the network is gone.
Now, what's happened to A.Q. Khan? The implication of your question was that he should have been punished in some way other than that which he was punished. And I said, gee, it's not for me to be judgmental about it. I don't know, but what if I had been in Musharraf's shoes, I would have done the same thing maybe. I don't know that. But I know he's got a lot of extremists in that country that are trying to kill him. There are a lot of people who are against him, determined against him, and this man was a -- a hero not just in Pakistan, but all across that part of the globe.
Now, he had a choice. He could have killed him. He could have thrown him in a cell someplace. What did he do? I think he put him in house arrest. He has stopped his free-lancing, and the world is an awful lot better off. And -- And I'll say it again, I'm not going to stand here and criticize Musharraf for the way he's handled it. I think he's… every day when he gets up he's walking on a tightrope. And, by golly, he's a courageous person, and he's a skillful person, and the world is very lucky he's there doing what he's doing.
Yes, sir? I'm going to go in the back in a minute now, so get those mikes ready.
Question: Mr. Secretary, my name is Steven Mukamal. On your previous visit I thanked you for liberating the country of my birth. Today I have a question for you. Do you have a scenario in case there is a civil war?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The, there is a risk of -- of things happening in -- in any country that one doesn't want to happen. And when a particularly repressive government is removed, the repression ends, freedom is there, people are then free to be rational or to be vicious killers. I mean, once you're free you can free to be a criminal or you can be an anti-Semite, you can be a, go out and -- and engage in ethnic cleansing and do all kinds of things that are, that free people do in different parts of the globe.
Do I think it'll happen? No. Do we worry about it? Anyone worries about all kinds of bad things happening and -- and thinks about them and what might be done. But at the moment we are seeing a behavior pattern by the Shi'a, by the Sunnis, by the Kurds, that is uneven in different parts of the country. There -- There isn't one template you can say that's what's happening in Iraq. It's different in the north, it's different in the south, it's different in the Sunni Triangle and in Baghdad. There isn't one thing that's happening.
And what one has to do is to keep doing everything humanly possible to see that the people in that country, all elements in that country, come to develop conviction that they have a stake in the future of that country. And -- And that means you can't carve out and leave some off to the side. You simply, you cannot allow retribution. You have to find ways for reconciliation. There has to be something done in the north, for example, where Saddam Hussein went and his people went up there and moved a whole lot of people out of their homes and put other people into those homes. There has to be a process. They have to have hope that there's going to be justice done.
Now, you know, people say, well, what are you going to do about this? Or, what are you going to do about that? I hate to even talk about it, because it sounds like we think there's, it's -- it's going to happen, and -- and I don't think it's going to happen. But -- But what has to be done in that country was what basically was done in Samarra over the last 48 hours. You have to first threaten the use of force if things, you cannot allow a series of safe havens or a -- or a consistent pattern of misbehavior, anti-social behavior, violence against the government of Iraq, to go on over a sustained period of time. You can't allow that, or you don't have a country, or people won't feel they have -- they have a stake in it.
So you have to do something about it. Your first choice is diplomacy. Your first choice is to talk, and -- and to gather people together. And that's what they tried in -- in some areas, and it worked, and in some areas it didn't. And the next thing you have to do is have the threat of force. And finally you may have to use force. And that's what happened in Samarra. And my guess is that -- that what you'll see in that country is the government of Iraq systematically deciding that they are not going to accept the idea of safe havens and foreign terrorists and former regime elements running around threatening and killing people.
Think of the number of Iraqis that are getting killed. We see every day the number of coalition people who are getting killed, we know that. It's the Iraqis that are getting killed -- killed in large numbers, civilians, innocent people, because these folks are running around, chopping off heads. They're running around, the terrorists are running around, and -- and former regime elements, blowing up people willy-nilly, to try to create chaos and -- and to try to force the coalition countries to leave, and to try to snuff out any aspect of success they see.
If there's a Governing Council, they try to kill, they killed one of the women on the Governing Council some months back. If there's a police station that's recruiting people, they try to blow up the police station. If there's a… provincial governor who's doing well, they go after the provincial governor.
They're trying to -- to, they're engaging in a test of wills. They're engaging in -- in the management of perceptions, and they are determined to think from their standpoint what if, just what if Iraq makes it. Think of where the extremists are. Their goal is to flip the governments in that part of the world, one after another, and to take them over and reestablish a caliphate. That's their hope, is to have a small handful of clerics determine how everybody lives. And if, if it's successful in Afghanistan and you have a moderate regime, and if it is successful, as I believe it will be in Iraq, think what it does to them. It -- It sets them back.
And they're not going to go down easily. They're going to keep fighting, and it… isn't going to be won by a coalition. It isn't going to be, it's going to be Iraqis over time that tip and make a judgment that they'd rather have it one way than another way. And -- And ultimately, I mean, it sounds ridiculous to say it, but if you think of -- of you're running down the street with your hand on the back of the bicycle with your youngster on the seat, and they've never ridden, and you're running and you're running and you're getting tired, and you know you've got to go from a full holding onto the seat to three fingers, and then to two fingers, and then to one finger, and then you let it go, and they might fall. But if you don't you're going to have a forty year old that can't ride a bicycle. And...we cannot force this to happen. The world can't force this to happen. All we can do is everything humanly possible to create an environment that's hospitable for them making it happen.
Way in the back. I worry when someone's that eager, but....
Question: It's Raghida Dergham of Al-Hayat. Recently there has been a tripartite agreement, the United States, Iraq and Syria working together on the borders and Iraqi-Syrian borders, that is and of course intelligence sharing. How important has this development become? Is it a good example to apply to Iran? And what was it, carrots or sticks that made this happen?
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's too soon to tell. Syria has been notably unhelpful. They have refused to release the frozen Iraqi assets in Syria. They are continuing to cooperate with Iran and… fund and support Hezbollah. They are still occupying Lebanon for all practical purposes with troops and intelligence people. They have used their border with Iraq to facilitate terrorists moving back and forth, money moving back and forth, and they've been unhelpful. There have been meetings lately, and whether they'll change their way and be more helpful prospectively, time will tell. But I'd like to see it.
And -- And it's too early to say there's been any progress at all, in my view.
Yes? Sure. I keep forgetting to go where there's a mike already. Yes, ma'am?
Question: Thank you. Dr. Mia Bloom, University of Cincinnati. In the spring campaign in Fallujah, most of the, or a good number of the Iraqi police either mutinied or went over to the side of the militants. We seem to be thinking that the Iraqi military and the police will be a sound investment for the future to take over from U.S. forces. What have we done to ensure that that's not going to be repeated in the future?
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's… interesting. Again, this is a perfect example of the impression that's left. There have been some instances where the Iraqi police and Iraqi border guard or Iraqi National Guard have not performed well. That's a fact. It is also true that hundreds of Iraqi security people have performed brilliantly. They just did in Samarra, very well. The army has been doing a good job. And -- And there have been instances where Iraqi security forces were not well enough trained or well enough equipped, and they ran up -- up against folks that were better trained and better equipped, and they left. I do not consider that cowardice. I consider it prudent.
If… you've got a squirt gun and they've got an AK-47, it's best to come back another day. Furthermore, there isn't a city in the world, certainly not in the United States that I know of that has never hired somebody who turned out to be a bad apple in the police force. We've -- We've had that trouble in Pete Peterson's hometown, Chicago, my hometown. It happens.
And we've got a vetting process that's imperfect. We look at a couple of databases, check their names, go to the tribal leaders, ask them what they think about them, does it look all right? They say yes, no or maybe. You hire the person, you give them a uniform, you train them, you equip them, you send them out, and sometimes they don't work out. And what do you do? You know, you get rid of them and go hire somebody else and try it again. That's the same just like we do in companies, Young and Rubicam, or wherever.
Question: My name is Glenn Hutchins. Mr. Secretary, what exactly was the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I tell you, I'm not going to answer the question. I have seen the answer to that question migrate in the intelligence community over a period of a year in the most amazing way. Second, there are differences in the intelligence community as to what the relationship was. To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two. There are, I just read an intelligence report recently about one person who's connected to al Qaeda who was in and out of Iraq and -- and there's the most tortured description of -- of why he might have had a relationship and why he might not have had a relationship. There are reports about people in Saddam Hussein's intelligence service meeting in one country or another with al Qaeda people from one person to another, which may have been indicative of something, or may not have been. It may have been something that -- that was not representative of a -- a hard linkage.
What we do know is that Saddam Hussein was on the terrorist list. We do know they were giving 25,000 dollars to suicide bombers. So, I mean, this is not the Little Sisters of the Poor. But -- But what I would, to answer it, when I'm in Washington, I pull out a piece of paper and say I don't know, because I'm not in that business, but I'll tell you what the CIA thinks and I read it, the public version of it. If you want a...not terribly current now, but George Tenet did testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a version of it was unclassified, declassified later, which you can get and read if -- if you want to see the answer that he gave.
But it is -- it is, the relationships between these folks are complicated. They evolve and change over time. In many cases, these different networks have common funders. In many cases, they cooperate not in a chain of command but in a loose affiliation, a franchising arrangement almost, where they go do different things and -- and cooperate but they're not, in the case of al Qaeda, most, my impression is most of the senior people have actually sworn an oath to Osama Bin Laden, and even, to my knowledge, even as of this late date, I don't believe Zarqawi, the principal leader of the network in Iraq, has sworn an oath to, even though what they're doing, I mean, they're just two peas in a pod in terms of what they're doing.
So, it -- it is too complicated for me to try to pretend I'm the...expert analyst on the subject, and for that I apologize.
Question: I'm Gary Ross of Power Energy Group. How much of meddling in Iraq is being done by Iran? And what's the extent of Iran's cooperation with al Qaeda?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The… answer to the first portion of the question is a lot of meddling. They have a...very big interest in the outcome in -- in Iraq. It's a country that has been at war with Iraq. It's a country that had been, Iraq having been run by the Sunni and Iran by the Shi'a, it's a country that had been secular where Iran had been the small group of clerics running it. It -- It is a country that is unhappy about the fact that the Shi'a shrines are not in Iran, they're in Iraq. They have millions of refugees and pilgrims going back and forth across that border, so it's the easiest thing in the world to make mischief. There's no way we could stop the flow of these pilgrims back and forth across that border. The border is reasonably porous.
They -- They have been notably unhelpful in terms of it. They -- They clearly want to affect the outcome of the election, and they are aggressively trying to do that. They're sending money in, they're sending weapons in, and they're notably unhelpful.
The second part of the question, what's their relationship with al Qaeda? It's -- It's a funny one, as far as I can tell. There have been a lot of al Qaeda, senior al Qaeda, in and out of that country over time. Do I know for sure that they were facilitated or that they were authorized? No, I don't. But we do know that there have been a lot of senior al Qaeda that have moved in and out of Iran over a period of time.
We also have the impression today that there are senior al Qaeda there now. But --But there is at least an impression that they're not fully free to do anything they want at the moment. I don't know quite what that means. I, it's not like, I don't think they're in prison cells, but I think that there may be that the Iranian leadership, first of all, it's… not completely homogenous. I don't think everyone in the Iranian leadership agrees with everyone else. Of course, I've never seen that in any country. What's new? Why state the obvious? But, it -- it may be that they are managing the senior al Qaeda that are in their country at the present time in a way that they hope might benefit them. And -- And how that might be is not quite clear to me.
Yes. Just, you decide. You've got the mike.
Question: Sorry. Claire Gaudiani of the Hyman Center at NYU and Director of MBIA. As a wife and mother of two Princeton graduates, I want to underscore and agree with what Mr. Gerstner said about your background and your contribution to our nation.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
Question: So, thank you, as a fellow Princetonian.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
Question: I think one of the critical issues now for all of us believing going forward is trying to figure out about what we believed going into this whole business. I was one of three people attached to the Yale Law School, I'm only kidding, who wanted, was in -- was in favor of going in to Iraq. New Haven was, is known by some of my friends as the Republic of New Haven. But I have to ask, what scenarios did we run in the Defense Department that would have prepared us for a -- a Saddam Hussein's guard that disappeared and then contributed to a very different year following a magnificent technological display by -- by the U.S. military?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the Pentagon, thank you, does an awful lot of analysis and exercises, and scenarios and studies, and contingency plans. And the dilemma going in, as General Franks would -- would tell you, was that each one of the neighbors, I shouldn't say each one, most of the neighbors favored the U.S. going into Iraq. But they were very nervous about how long it would take. And the amount of time it would take was something that concerned them because they were worried about the street that they had to face, and their populations. And they knew what -- what the press and the media would be showing, and they therefore wanted whatever happened to go very fast.
General Franks designed a plan that used speed instead of mass, speed and precision in weapons. And it… saved a lot of potential damage in neighboring countries in terms of revolutions, or overthrowing governments, or -- or street uprisings. It saved a lot of harm to human beings inside of Iraq because of its speed. But the disadvantage of the speed and, as opposed to mass and time, one of the disadvantages was that -- that it happened so fast that a large fraction of the entire Iraqi military just disappeared, just quit. It was over so fast. And they -- they were then available to fight another day. And they had weapons. And they had money. And there are a lot of them still around doing things that are harmful, and -- and hoping against hope that the dominance of -- of the Ba'ath Party will not be lost completely.
So, in any, you know, no war plan survives first contact with the enemy because you've got enemies with brains. These are people who think, and they, they're going to, they see one thing happening and they'll adapt just like today with the terrorists. And it -- it seems to me that -- that in life you have to take the benefit, and there were a lot of benefits. They didn't have to time to destroy the oil wells. They didn't have time to blow up the bridges. There was no big humanitarian crisis. There weren't a lot of -- a lot of refugees fleeing the country because of disorder. There were not a lot of civilians killed. All of those things are good that -- that one had to plan that might go bad. But by the same token, the Fedayeen Saddam were able to infiltrate the populations and shoot people who refused to, who were inclined to cooperate with the coalition forces coming in, and -- and refused to cooperate with the Fedayeen Saddam.
It's a -- it's a mixture of, I guess, most things are in life, of some things that work very well and some things that don't work quite so well. And I've rarely seen everything work perfectly at once.
MR. GERSTNER: One more question, please. One more question.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, sir.
Question: Chris Isham, ABC. Mr. Secretary, I wonder if you could address....
SEC. RUMSFELD: Did you say ABC?
Question: ABC. Correct. Yeah.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I thought you said the press weren't going to ask....
MR. GERSTNER: There're a few.
SEC. RUMSFELD: There're a few. Oh, they're members. Ahh!
Question: There're a few. We're scattered.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Fair enough.
Question: Two hats. I wonder if you could address the question of disability payments to the seriously injured?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm sorry, of what?
Question: Disability payments to the seriously injured soldiers. Several thousand have come back from Iraq. They've got serious injuries, partly because of the good medical care they've received. A lot of these folks are saying that they really have a hard time making ends meet, that the disability payments are not sufficient. I wonder if you could just say, are you satisfied with this at the moment, or do you think there are things we could do be doing better on that front, specifically on -- on the payments to these -- these folks?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, you… could always say, no one could say they're satisfied. How could anyone say they're satisfied? Someone loses a leg, an arm, an eye, two eyes, and -- and you ask, well, what's that -- what's that worth, and -- and whether it's a life not lived at all, or a life that's going to be lived notably differently?
I go to the Bethesda and to Walter Reed and to other hospitals around the country and visit with these folks who -- who survived. And -- And as you say, they do get superb medical attention. And...you go in and there's a wonderful young guy sitting there with his girlfriend, and his, both eyes are out forever, and he's got a bad left knee, and he looks at you kind of turns his head and says, "My knee's going to be fine and I'm going to be up and out of here next month." And you think, "Oh, goodness."
Now, I can't say whether I'm satisfied. I'm obviously, no one's ever satisfied. You, I...watched one young fellow who lost his leg. He got out, he went back to jump school and finished first in his class. The most amazing thing to me is the spirit of these folks. They -- They and their families understand what they're doing is...historic. They understand that -- that it's, it is noble for a person to be willing to put their lives at risk and their… bodies at risk for their country. And -- And they're proud of their service. And I -- I guess I...can only say that this is a very lucky country to have so many folks willing to do that. And we've got to see that we treat them right while they're in, and we've got to see that we treat them right when they're out.
Thank you very much, folks.
later clarified his answer in a statement issued via the Department of Defense.
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¹ Rumsfeld later clarified his answer in a statement issued via the Department of Defense. Click for statement
Research Note: Transcription by Diane Wiegand
Original Text Source: Defenselink.mil
Audio Source: C-SPAN.org
Image Source: Defense.gov
Page Updated: 2/16/18
U.S. Copyright Status: Text and Audio = Property of AmericanRhetoric.com. Image = Public domain.