09 February 2004
Rumsfeld Explains U.S. Force Restructuring, Defends Iraq War
Feb. 6, Munich: Defense Secretary's roundtable with European journalists
U.S. plans for restructuring its forces stationed around the world
and the Iraq war were the major topics during Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld's roundtable with journalists in Munich February
Rumsfeld was in Munich to attend the Wehrkunde Conference on Security.
"The changes we will be making will be the biggest changes
in U.S. force structures in the world since the end of WWII, and
they are significant. And they are going to reflect the new technologies
that exist, they are going to reflect our interest in capabilities
as opposed to numbers of things, and so they are complicated," he
He described the conceptual change as one from "static defense" to "a
more dynamic or active defense having the ability to use those
forces for something other than where they may be positioned at
any given moment."
While nothing has yet been decided by the President, "clearly
the countries that have the most substantial numbers of forces
are going to be affected," Rumsfeld said.
"Anything we ultimately decide would then be worked through
with the countries either where some forces are leaving or some
forces might go in. We don't plan many new bases."
Regarding Iraq, Rumsfeld said "the progress is enormous."
"The schools are open. The hospitals are open. The clinics
are open. They're sending a wrestling team to the Olympics. They've
sent Fulbright scholars out to countries. ... There are a lot of
tough issues left. They're going to have to figure out how sovereignty
gets transferred, and you're going to see different people within
ethnic groups and different ethnic groups having different opinions,
and we're seeing that. ... It's not an easy process."
Asked whether he was disappointed with those countries that did
not join the coalition, he replied: "I value the political
courage and the personal courage of people who put their troops
in Iraq or Afghanistan, and who are helping in the global war on
terror. ... And if I'm in a country where for whatever reason they
weren't able, or didn't, or decided, I won't do this -- they're
sovereign, that's their choice."
The global war on terror, he said, "is going to be long and
"It is an intelligence problem; it is a financial problem;
it is a battle of ideas and it is a problem of dealing with ungoverned
areas. It is a problem of countries providing haven," he said.
Rumsfeld characterized the threat posed by terrorist groups as "substantial
and serious" and one for which the militaries of the world
are not yet prepared. "They are not arranged to go out and
find individuals, they are not arranged to help to reduce the flow
of young people into these madrassas [schools] that are teaching
them to conduct terrorist attacks."
Asked whether anything binds the United States in an international
system, legal framework or code of conduct, Rumsfeld replied: "I
honestly believe that every country ought to do what it wants to
do, and it has to live with the consequences. It either is proud
of itself afterwards, or it is less proud of itself. Every country
has a different history. They have a different perspective. They
have a different political situation."
The secretary of defense reiterated his view that "the mission
determines the coalition because various countries have different
perspectives of histories and circumstances."
Other questions to which he responded related to Afghanistan,
North Korea, Libya, Georgia, Bosnia, Romania, and Russia.
Following is the Department of Defense transcript:
U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Friday, February 6, 2004
SECRETARY RUMSFELD ROUNDTABLE WITH EUROPEAN JOURNALISTS
Rumsfeld: I've had a couple of bilateral meetings already, one
with the German Minister of Defense and one with the Canadian Minister
of Defense. I have a good many more scheduled, and we will have
our informal meeting, the first meeting with the Secretary General
of NATO, this afternoon starting about 1:30.
Question: Is he any good?
Rumsfeld: He seems to be. I've met him two or three times now.
He was in Washington earlier and he was engaging. Has a lot of
knowledge from his experience, and he seems very much in tune with
the approach that Lord Robertson took. I thought Lord Robertson
did a particularly good job and I feel good about the new Secretary
General. He is going to serve the Alliance well.
Q: What is the most important point of your coming here and the
most important point in NATO just now?
Rumsfeld: NATO has probably changed as much in the last twelve
months as it has in any 10-year period that I can think of. It
has undertaken a responsibility outside of Europe and outside of
the treaty area -- in Afghanistan, which is a significant decision
on the part of that Alliance. A good decision, a correct decision.
It is performing well as head of the International Security Assistance
Force. NATO is now in the process of taking a decision to expand
its activities to include a number of Provincial Reconstruction
Teams in the country, and talking about how it might over time,
not this year but possibly over the following year, take on still
greater responsibility in Afghanistan. That is a good thing for
It is a good thing for a lot of reasons. The threat inside the
NATO treaty area has changed in the 21st century, and of course
NATO doesn't have to worry about the Soviet Union coming over the
fence, and yet the world is not a stable, tidy place. It has problems,
and NATO as a military alliance could play an important role in
things like that. There are other things that it is doing -- the
support for the Polish/Spanish division in Iraq, which is important.
The fact that they are involved in creating a NATO Response Force,
which is the first time that they had anything quite like this,
suggest that they will (Inaudible.). The concepts of that quick
Response Force will be backed in the militaries of the NATO countries
in ways that will transform them and make them take the steps that
will lead to a much more usable military rather than a static defense
type military. And the 21st century is going to call for our militaries
to be more agile and more rapidly deployable and interoperable.
The Transformation Command that has been stood up in NATO is enormously
important so that as we adjust our militaries to fit the 21st century,
we do it together in ways that assure that we can operate in a
joint and combined way.
The efforts that were put forward by Lord Robertson and which
are being continued by the new Secretary General on the usability
of forces is a part of this transformation. We have had a pattern
over the decades of having our militaries, of whatever size, have
a relatively small fraction that are actually deployable, that
are usable, if you will, absent a total mobilization and World
War III, which is not something that is likely. And therefore you
need to be able to use a higher percentage of your forces. We have
been working on that in the United States, and Lord Robertson has
been working on it in NATO, and the changes that are taking place,
it seems to me, all are helpful there.
Q: Do missions still determine coalitions?
Rumsfeld: I think they probably in history always have. The mission
determines the coalition because various countries have different
perspectives of histories and circumstances, and right now, however,
if one asks oneself how is it going -- the 24 of the 26 NATO or
prospective NATO countries have forces in either Afghanistan or
Iraq. One of the two that doesn't [have forces in those places],
doesn't have a military. So it's very broad, I forget what the
number is. I think there may be 17 of the 26 that are in both of
Q: Let me rephrase. Is NATO a toolbox for U.S. military operation
Rumsfeld: I'm sorry, I don't follow you.
Q: Would NATO be a toolbox if the U.S. chooses to engage in military
Rumsfeld: I don't know what that might mean. I just don't understand.
Senior Defense Official: It is a derogatory [term] that is used
-- that we just pick out of our toolbox what we think we need.
Senior Defense Official: It is a commonly used description that
you might use the Alliance as a toolbox.
Q: When you see 10 people here in Munich or defense ministers
of member countries, about Iraq, what do you need them to do?
Rumsfeld: Okay, let's take Afghanistan because that...
Q: Afghanistan -- everybody was happy to go there or eager to
go there to help you, which is not the case in Iraq.
Rumsfeld: With Afghanistan and Iraq, we went to NATO in each case
and we came and said, "Here is a coalition of countries who
are doing this. It would be helpful and important for NATO to decide
how NATO wants to involve itself," and ask NATO to do that.
And that's what happened on Afghanistan. That's what happened on
Iraq. Obviously these are our closest allies in the world -- the
first place one would go in the event there is a problem in the
world. Well, not always. We are concerned about Liberia and we
did not go to NATO on that. We got the UN involved and ECOWAS involved.
But in most things, one would go clearly first to NATO, and then
NATO would make a judgment.
Q: (Inaudible.) to Europe and the NATO presence -- troops in Europe.
In the last years I've heard some concepts about what will happen
to NATO bases in Eastern Europe. Two days ago I have heard about
a new thinking, a new reform that you are doing, I mean in Hungary
for example -- you have NATO bases -- and I have heard some ideas
about that in Poland and Romania and Bulgaria you will have, and
not NATO, will have some bases. What is the concept to go toward
East and the presence of the NATO in the Eastern part of Europe?
Rumsfeld: Let me talk about it broadly because that's the phase
we are in. The President has asked us to look at how our forces
were arranged around the world and how they ought to be positioned
for the 21st century. So for about two and a half years, we've
been engaged in looking at that and talking to our friends and
allies around the world and to Congress, which has to pay for any
adjustments. We've gotten to the point where we have our combatant
commands, the European Command, the Pacific Command, the Central
Command, they have pretty well thought through their pieces of
it and made recommendations back to us in Washington.
We have to look at the totality of that and the kinds of things
we need to look at are, given the changes in transportation and
communications: Do we need as many forces outside the United States?
Or can some of the forces outside of the United States be brought
back to the United States and be every bit as usable, and indeed
in some instances more usable and more flexible, as to where they
go? We are kind of moving from a static defense, which is leaving
people where they were at the end of the Cold War, towards a more
dynamic or active defense having the ability to use those forces
for something other than where they may be positioned at any given
The United States taxpayers obviously are not going to pay to
have one military to protect one place and another military to
protect another place, if there are no problems in those places.
They have to have the ability to move their forces wherever there
is a problem -- just as NATO does, which is the concept behind
the quick Reaction Force.
A second thing is the usability of the forces. You have to have
forces in places that will allow you to use them where you can
actually move them to do what you need to do, and to the extent
that some country or neighboring country says you cannot move across
our country if you're going to do A or B but only if you do C or
D, that makes a problem. So you have to get them positioned.
Third, you have to have them in places where people want them.
We don't want our forces in places where people don't want us.
It is not enjoyable for the troops, it is not enjoyable for their
families. We want those forces to be in places where that arte
hospitable and where it is a good experience for them.
This is an important subject, and let me just work my way through
where we are.
Anything we ultimately decide would then be worked through with
the countries either where some forces are leaving or some forces
might go in. We don't plan many new bases, and we may have bases
in places where people want us, where it is a warm base, where
we can exercise or use it periodically, but we're doing a lot of
things that enable us to do more reach-back. That is to say, we
can have, instead of deploying a hundred people today with the
transportation and communications we have, we can deploy 60 people,
and have the other 40 that need to do the work back in the United
States on a reach-back basis. That may be intelligence. That may
be personnel systems. That may be various types of logistics.
The other thing we are doing -- we are no longer looking at numbers
of things only. We are looking at capabilities. So if you're looking
at pre-positioned stocks, for example, where do you want to pre-position
them? And what do you want to be in there? If you have -- in the
old days you used dumb bombs, and if today a smart bomb is worth
eight dumb bombs, obviously you don't need eight smart bombs to
do what eight dumb bombs did. You need one. That's also true of
aircraft. It's also true of tanks. It's also true of people. So
we are looking more at capability than we are numbers of things,
and it is going to be a tough transition because an awful lot of
people are hung up in their heads from the 20th century about thinking
about numbers of things.
Now, what is going to happen next? At some point, we will develop
conviction about what we think, and we then will talk in earnest
with the countries involved, do site surveys, and the next step
would be to go to Congress and look through what the cost is in
terms of military construction and that type of thing. Then when
decisions are made, we have to kind of delay because we have a
base closing exercise going on in the United States called BRAC,
and we cannot start bringing anyone back to there until the whole
thing has been reviewed, which means all of 2005. And then once
you start rolling these things out so that you don't do things
in a way that is disruptive in people's lives, you probably would
roll it out over a period of two or three years, four years or
even five years, depending on the costs thereafter. So it is the
kind of thing that is going to run through the decade, one would
Q: Mr. Secretary, (Inaudible.).
Rumsfeld: Does anyone want to say thank you for that very, very
comprehensive, thoughtful answer. (Laughter.) I mean that has the
benefit of being exactly true. As it happens, it is not newsworthy,
and for that I apologize. But the truth has a certain virtue here.
Q: I would like to ask you, what does it mean when you were talking
about German bases, not only American bases. This is also a highly
political question. (Inaudible.) whether the American army stays...(Inaudible.)
talk about punishment for Schroeder's (Inaudible.) failure to support
in Iraq (Inaudible.).
Rumsfeld: Let me see if I can take some of those things. You heard
my answer, so you know this has nothing to do with the past. It
has only to do with the future. That's a fact. What does it mean
for Germany? It means that we have a lot of troops in Germany and
we have lot of troops in Korea and we have a lot of troops in a
lot of places. They will clearly be involved in this re-positioning
of our forces. In what ways -- I had a nice meeting with Defense
Minister Struck this morning and we talked some about this. The
ways that it will work out are yet to unfold, but clearly the countries
that have the most substantial numbers of forces are going to be
affected. That's obvious.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you recently made a highly visible visit to
Georgia. Are you concerned by the fact that Russia isn't fulfilling
its commitment to withdraw its troops from Georgia -- that they
seem to be supporting separatists there?
Q: What are the consequences of that for Russia?
Rumsfeld: Colin Powell was just there for the inauguration of
the new president and I think he said it well -- that the world
is interested in seeing that Georgia's sovereignty is respected
and that it has the opportunity to make judgments about its future
and its direction. And that's in our interest, and I think it is
in the interest of all NATO countries. We are pleased that Georgia
has been a participant in the Partnership for Peace and has oriented
itself towards the West in a way that's constructive. Russia has
a problem with terrorists. They have a common border, and we are
concerned about that and that's understandable. We are pleased
with the orientation of the new government and hope that everyone
will fulfill their commitments.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ask how many American bases you
will establish in Romania (Inaudible.)? We've heard that Pentagon
planners already set a deadline for establishing bases (Inaudible.)
Rumsfeld: "I don't know" to the first question. And
the second question is "no." I don't know of any deadlines.
Q: What are the consequences of the establishment of such bases
for security (Inaudible.) or economy on Bulgaria (Inaudible.) situation
and economy for (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: I can't say, because the decisions have not been made.
These are things we are sorting through and talking to them about.
But it would be wonderful if it were simple. It is complex. It
is enormously complex what we are doing.
The changes we will be making will be the biggest changes in U.S.
force structures in the world since the end of WWII, and they are
significant. And they are going to reflect the new technologies
that exist, they are going to reflect our interest in capabilities
as opposed to numbers of things, and so they are complicated. It's
just going to take some time to work it through and do it in a
way that is responsible and makes sense for NATO and makes sense
for the future. Everyone keeps writing stuff and saying that they
have decided this and that. If you have got junior level people
running around whispering in your ear that X,Y or Z has been decided,
all I can tell you is it may have been decided by some combatant
commander, or it may have been decided by some person down here,
but it has not been decided by the President or me. Because we
are the ones who have got the job to pull those threads through
the needle. So I would listen and look askance at people who would
give you high certainty.
Q: It would be interesting to hear something about how you see
the legal basis of the NATO intervention in the future -- outside
of the NATO countries? What is the international legal basis?
Rumsfeld: I am not a lawyer. The legal basis is in international
law, and it is, clearly, before countries undertake the movement
of NATO assets to some locations. In the case of Afghanistan, the
legal basis is clear from a NATO standpoint. The transitional Afghan
government invited NATO to come in and take over responsibility
for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Q: (Inaudible.) the main discussion they did (Inaudible.).
Rumsfeld: It was not a transitional government when the United
States decided to go in with the coalition and ask the Taliban
and Al Qaeda to leave. That was under the normal right of self-defense,
which is part of the UN charter.
Q: In your discussion with the German Defense Minister, did you
talk about the chance of Germany helping out in Iraq?
Q: Was it your wish to discuss this thing?
Rumsfeld: Had it been my wish, I would have. What NATO's role
has been in Iraq is to support the Polish/Spanish multinational
division that has some 17 countries in it now, and how that will
evolve as we go forward, I don't know. I suppose one could look
at a pact where they could continue to be supportive of that multinational
division. They could take it over at same point like they took
over ISAF in Afghanistan. They could talk to the Brits about their
sector and take over that, I suppose, at some point, NATO could.
But that has not been discussed; it is down the road. NATO has
their feet wet in Iraq in terms of supporting the multinational
division, but no decisions have been taken beyond that. They consider,
properly in my view, Afghanistan as their first priority at this
Q: Would you be able to back this new Afghanistan engagement if
you had five additional PRTs, for example, that would need American
help -- basically "first aid" if a conflict situation
arose? Would your forces be able to provide that?
Rumsfeld: What we did was when the Brits decided to run ISAF at
the outset in Afghanistan, we established a Memorandum of Understanding
with them as to what we would do. My recollection of it is that
we wrote it very carefully -- we provided intel, we provided some
quick reaction capability as available, and then the Turks took
it over, and we refashioned it to fit that. And the German/Dutch
team took over, and we refashioned it to fit that. NATO took it
over, and we refashioned it again to fit that. Obviously as NATO
takes over the PRTs, we would refashion that Memorandum of Understanding
to fit that new circumstance. And it needs to be tweaked and adjusted
each time because the needs are different.
Q: Would it be helpful to melt ISAF and Enduring Freedom into
Rumsfeld: It could, at some point. What could happen -- let's
say you end up with twelve to fifteen PRTs, and they are kind of
fanning out from Kabul. And the U.S. is assisting NATO with a Memorandum
of Understanding for the totality of that. A next step might be
that NATO would say, "look, we'll take over the North and
the West sectors in Afghanistan," and then you would have
to get a new Memorandum of Understanding, and then at some point
NATO could say, "we take over the more difficult areas of
the East and the South," where the coalition forces are currently
doing most of their activities looking for the Taliban and the
al Qaeda. The last step could be, you could merge OEF into NATO
and have NATO take over the whole country.
Q: The easiest part would be to put it all under EUCOM (Inaudible.)
hats so you would have basically the same commander heading two
operations. Or a NATO command that would be SACEUR, and you would
have EUCOM basically in charge of Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld: It could be done that way.
Q: How long will you stay in Iraq, and can you define what you've
done there as a victory, although the WMD haven't been found?
Rumsfeld: How do you define what has happened? Well, major military
conflict ended in May, and since then, we've been in what most
experts seem to want to call a low-intensity conflict, where there
are terrorists and remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime that are
using a variety of terrorist-type activities and explosive devices
and assassinations and the kinds of things at that low level that
occur. And that has been running, you know, it was kind of low,
it went up, and it tapered down, and then more recently, in connection
with some of the religious holidays, it spiked back up some. It's
a dangerous place. The progress is enormous what's taken place
there. The schools are open. The hospitals are open. The clinics
are open. They're sending a wrestling team to the Olympics. They've
sent Fulbright scholars out to countries. The Iraqi Governing Council
has traveled around the world and met in Davos and in the UN doing
things. There are a lot of tough issues left. They're going to
have to figure out how sovereignty gets transferred, and you're
going to see different people within ethnic groups and different
ethnic groups having different opinions, and we're seeing that.
The UN is, fortunately, sending in some folks to take a look at
the situation, and see how they might be helpful. Increasingly,
refugees are coming back, voting with their feet, saying we'd rather
be there than elsewhere. It is untidy. It's noisy. They have, you
know, decades with no experience of political compromise and [they're]
scarred by living in a vicious dictatorship and a command economic
situation. So how do you get entrepreneurs doing things, and how
do you get people developing political compromise and accepting
the fact that the task of writing this basic law, to be followed
by a constitution? It has to go through a lot of clanging and noise
in the system, just like it did in our country and it has in some
of the Eastern European countries who have gone through this more
recently. It's not an easy process; it's an untidy process.
Q: Am I right in thinking that you deliberately want us to believe
that you are not disappointed with the degree [to which] some NATO
members did or did not help you in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that -- first of all, any conclusion that
I am being deliberately trying to lead you to believe something
is wrong. I am answering questions exactly the way they're being
asked. My attitude about life is simple. I think countries ought
to do what they want. I really do. It is up to them. Every country
is different. They are sovereign and (Inaudible.)
Q: Is there nothing that binds you as a country in an international
system? A legal framework or code of conduct?
Rumsfeld: I honestly believe that every country ought to do what
it wants to do, and it has to live with the consequences. It either
is proud of itself afterwards, or it is less proud of itself. Every
country has a different history. They have a different perspective.
They have a different political situation. They may be in a very
fragile political circumstance at some moment. And we're all human
beings, and we all make our own decisions. And does it bother me?
No. I get up in the morning and take the world as I find it.
I'm not trying to deliberately have you believe anything. It's
just a fact that, on any given day, if you ask a lot of different
countries what their position is -- just like if you ask a lot
of different people what their view is -- you're going to have
people across the spectrum, and why fight that? That's reality.
You folks are sitting here in one meeting. You're all going to
go out and write something different. I don't know why you do that,
but you will. You will all go out and write something that fits
where you grew up, or what you thought when you came into this
meeting, and what your personal perspective is, or what you think
your editors want, or what you think your readers want. And you'll
cherry-pick it. And I'll bet you if we took the stories out of
this meeting, they would be all over the lot. That's the way countries
are. That's the way people are.
Q: So you can be satisfied with some stories of us, and you will
be delighted (Inaudible.) --
Rumsfeld: I won't even be able to read them! (Said with humor.)
Q: My country [Poland] supported you in Iraq --
Rumsfeld: Right. And we appreciate it.
Q: And there are others who didn't.
Q: I'm trying to ask you whether you are somehow disappointed
with those who didn't?
Rumsfeld: You know what I do? I value the political courage and
the personal courage of people who put their troops in Iraq or
Afghanistan, and who are helping in the global war on terror. I
value that a great deal. And if I were in Poland, and someone from
Poland asked me what I thought about it, I would say, by golly,
good for you. We agree with the way you think. And if I'm in a
country where for whatever reason they weren't able, or didn't,
or decided, I won't do this -- they're sovereign, that's their
Q: There was a reason you gave to people to go to Iraq. The main
reason -- I remember last year I was sitting here, there were about
10 reasons floating around, but in the end we decided to have it
be weapons of mass destruction. Now the investigations are out,
there are some verdicts out. I want to ask you, whether you changed
your view on that issue in the light of those recent inside developments.
Rumsfeld: I made a rather good statement.
Q: That's all? (Inaudible.)
Rumsfeld: I say that humorously. I don't want someone to go out
and say I was serious (Inaudible.). I made an extensive statement,
as opposed to a good statement, which I'd be happy to give you
a copy of. I testified before the House and Senate yesterday --
the day before -- and discussed the subject. Director Tenet made
some remarks yesterday and you'll find David Kay's testimony and
my remarks and George Tenet's remarks all very much of a kind,
and they basically say that we have run a good distance with the
Iraqi Survey Group and its work looking for stockpiles of weapons
of mass destruction. They have found a good many things about what
was going on; they have not found large stockpiles of weapons,
and they are going to proceed and continue their work.
The second thing that is happening, as you point out, is that
the President is appointing -- I guess today -- a commission to
look at intelligence and ask the question of what were we particularly
good at -- and we have had some wonderful successes -- what might
we not have been particularly good at, and how does that fit for
the 21st century threats. George Tenet used the word "provisional." He
came to provisional conclusions about the quality of the intelligence
with respect to about six or eight things, which I thought, if
you read his paper, that he did a good job.
Q: How long do you expect that an international presence will
be necessary in Afghanistan and in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: You always just hope and pray that it won't be long.
It is such an unnatural thing. And you also hope and pray that
you have the patience and the good judgment to have it be long
enough -- so you don't do all of that and then have it fail. It
is like when you teach your youngster how to ride a bike, and you
put your hand on the back of the seat and you run down the street,
and you know if you let go they might fall, but if you don't let
go you have a four-year-old that can't ride a bike. You do not
want to create a dependency by keeping foreign forces in there
forever. You have to keep doing that. We are close in Bosnia. We
are there a lot longer than anybody anticipated, but it could be
considered a success at the end of this year.
Afghanistan is making good progress. And they have had this (Inaudible.)
Loya Jirga and elections this summer, the good Lord willing. And
the army is being developed. We would like to see the police forces
and border control get developed more rapidly than currently is
the case, but they are coming along, and they are getting good
marks. Their army is getting good marks and doing patrols with
In Iraq, we created some 600, correction, 200,000 Iraqi security
forces since May. Enormous numbers and uneven quality, to be sure,
and uneven levels of training and uneven equipping, but nonetheless,
200,000 is not enough. They are the largest security forces in
the country now. We are down to 110,000 and the coalition is maybe
Q: What is the most important experience in the war against terrorism?
You are going inside this war. Are you seeing the light at the
end of the tunnel or is this a long, long, very complicated process?
Especially from the military point of view.
Rumsfeld: I am afraid that I can give one military answer, but
it would be incomplete, because it is not a military problem. It
is a problem that has got to engage all aspects of our society
and our governments. It is an intelligence problem; it is a financial
problem; it is a battle of ideas and it is a problem of dealing
with ungoverned areas. It is a problem of countries providing haven.
The global war on terror, I regret to say, is going to be long
Q: Do you have a rationale to the (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: The intake in creating terrorists continues. That is
to say these radical views -- narrow radical views that it is a
good idea to go out to kill innocent men, women and children. It
is narrow, but it is real. And it is funded, and it's financed
and it is functional. And people are being trained to do that.
And they have access to very high-level technology and potentially
they are going to have access to weapons of mass destruction. And
the threat that they pose, while not large in numbers, the threat
they pose is substantial and serious, and it is the militaries
of the world that are arranged to go out and fight armies, navies
and air forces. They are not arranged to go out and find individuals,
they are not arranged to help to reduce the flow of young people
into these madrassas [schools] that are teaching them to conduct
terrorist attacks. The sophistication that it takes to share intelligence
worldwide -- we now have 90 countries in the global war on terrorism,
the biggest coalition in the history of mankind. And they're sharing
intelligence, and we're doing what I'm going to guess is probably
an imperfect job of stopping the funding (Inaudible.).
Q: How do you see the European (Inaudible.) structure (Inaudible.)
Rumsfeld: How do I feel about it?
Q: Yes. About this after this couple of months (Inaudible.) the
Europeans are establishing (Inaudible.)
Rumsfeld: Are you thinking it's clear that they are?
Q: I had (Inaudible.)
Remark from another journalist: They want to take over Bosnia
soon, you better take them seriously. (Said with humor.)
Rumsfeld: Well, they are not going to take over Bosnia. The Bosnia
activity will end, and NATO will have a success, and the Bosnian
people will have a success, and it is not a situation where the
EU comes in and takes over and does what NATO is doing. The EU
is going to come in and take over a distinctly different function,
because it's a totally different period in the light of Bosnia,
one would hope.
We were talking before we came in and there was a, if you think
about it, there was a big debate in -- the debates occur sometimes
across the Atlantic and a lot of times within Europe, and we just
wrote down a few of them. There was the question over German rearmament
back in the fifties -- a big debate. There was the Suez crisis,
where the U.S. decided to do something other than France and the
UK -- I was a young Navy pilot at the time. There was the Skybolt
Affair when I worked in Washington (Inaudible.) a Congressman under
the Kennedy administration and that was a big issue. Then there
was the Vietnam War, and my goodness gracious, there were all kinds
of issues between Europe and the United States in there. Then there
was, when I was Ambassador to NATO, there was -- Michel Jobert
was foreign minister in France and Kissinger was the Secretary
of State, there was a clash that was going on there. Then there
was the neutron bomb -- the Carter administration and that issue,
where [he] said you ought to have a neutron bomb, and then Helmut
Schmidt stepped up and said, gee, that's a good idea, and then
Jimmy Carter said, gee, I think maybe I've changed my mind, and
everyone was unhappy. Then there was the -- what was it -- the
Pershing 2 issue, and that was a big issue in Europe, and then
there was the oil gas pipeline and that was a big flap, and then
you had the Bosnia issue in the Clinton administration, Kosovo
issue in the Clinton administration, and then Iraq in the Bush
And to a certain extent, every time there is a change in the security
situation, something burbles up as a problem either within Europe
or between Europe and North America, and then it recedes and comes
down, and that's what's been going on my entire adult lifetime.
If it were perfectly placid the entire time, one of two things
would be happening -- both of which would be surprising. One surprising
and one unfortunate. One would be that the world wasn't changing.
Now, we know that's not true. The world is changing, and so as
these changes occur, institutions have to adjust to them and what
you -- all this noise you see in the system is just that. You see
institutions that get all arranged to deal with one set of problems
suddenly are faced to deal with a new set of problems and you hear
the creaking and the groaning as they rise up and begin to try
to deal with it.
The other thing that could be the case if you don't hear any noise
in the system would be its stagnation -- an institution that's
dying. It just doesn't care -- because the world is changing. And
if you don't hear any noise in the system, it's because that institution
doesn't get it and isn't seeing the changes, and therefore you
don't hear the creaking and the groaning.
Q: So, you're saying in the end America and Europe always kiss
and make up?
Rumsfeld: I wouldn't use that phrase. I think what you're seeing
is what I said, and I'm saying what I said I said, which is better
than what you said. (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, on the Powell issue, the credibility question
broadly has never been that much out front as it has during the
Iraq crisis. Your colleague from the State Department (Inaudible.)
the appropriate people there met with (Inaudible.) who measure
U.S. credibility have come to conclusions that it's never been
that low for a long time. Does that worry you at one point? How
do you want to heal that gap which is obviously opened over the
Iraq crisis (Inaudible.) of September 11th?
Rumsfeld: I've heard that phrase that you've cited and heard about
polls three or four times, exactly like that in my long life, and
I think that I would go back to what I said. I think that life
is going to go on. People are going to sort through, and we're
going to know more as we go along, and I've seen these things go
up and down and ebb and flow over time. And the reality is, if
responsible people look down from Mars on Earth, they are going
to find that the countries of western Europe and eastern Europe
and North America are the countries on the face of the earth that
have essentially the same values and essentially the same orientation
and essentially the same kinds of economic interests for people
to have opportunities and to have political freedom and to not
impose their will on others.
Q: So why did you say at one moment this famous phrase about old
and new Europe? Do you regret it now?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I'm too old to have regrets. (Laughter.) No, I don't
regret it. I'll tell you how it happened, it happened very simply.
I was at the Foreign Press Club. They were saying to me, "Europe
is against you! Europe is this, Europe is that!" And my Lord,
it was France and Germany, it wasn't Europe. It was France and
Germany, was all. So I stood up there and started thinking, my
goodness, these people are confused. They think that because one
country in Europe is saying something, that that's Europe, and
that therefore Europe thinks this or Europe thinks that. (Inaudible.)
we saw the letter from the seven, the letter from the ten --
[Cassette tape changeover.]
-- and we have a bunch of people running around saying, why don't
you internationalize it? We've got a 90-nation global war on terror
coalition and so -- when I was in NATO, Ambassador to NATO, we
had 15 countries, and we had just had meetings when I made this
now famous comment, about all the new invitees. We had 19 with
another six coming in. And I was thinking, that's "old" NATO,
and the new NATO which -- the seven and the ten and all the countries
that were writing these letters supporting us -- and I used --
instead of saying old NATO and new NATO, which is the center of
gravity that shifted within NATO -- and instead of saying old NATO
and new NATO, I said old Europe and new Europe -- and I ended up
becoming a folk hero for all the wrong reasons.
I mean, life goes on. But NATO is a different institution with
all those new members and quite honestly, Europe will be a different
institution with all of those new members, and that is different.
Maybe you don't want to call it new, but it's different. We should
have said "undifferent" and "different." (Laughter)
Undifferent Europe and different Europe.
(Said with humor.) All of that was off the record!! (Laughter.)
I don't want to hear any more of that! All of that was off the
record! (Said with humor.)
Q: How does the United States see the presence of (Inaudible.)
Romania. Is (Inaudible.) presence a problem or no?
Rumsfeld: I didn't understand.
Q: (Inaudible.) former Securitate still are in the intelligence
service in Romania.
Rumsfeld: I'm told that the Department of State has looked into
that and they have (Looks toward Ambassador Burns).
(Ambassador Burns: They have determined there are some people
who made a transition from the old system to the new system in
Romania, but the Romanian government has met all the qualifications
that NATO asked in protecting our classified information.)
Rumsfeld: Oh, I think the President made the correct decision.
Yes, I do.
Q: Did you expect that it would change after Saddam was captured,
(Inaudible.) that Libya agreed to close its nuclear program? (Inaudible.)
Rumsfeld: Clearly, Saddam Hussein was given every chance in the
world to open up and instead, through 17 UN resolutions, he (Inaudible.).
He refused to open up his country. He was given a final opportunity
in the 17th resolution. Then the coalition said, you have a final,
final opportunity to leave the country, and he chose unwisely.
Obviously Libya is choosing wisely. Libya is opening up and giving
the free world the opportunity to do what they did in South Africa
and the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. This is not a new concept, and
it was Saddam Hussein's decision to file what everyone knew was
a fraudulent declaration and which David Kay's research has proven
to have been a fraudulent declaration.
Q: North Korea (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: Well, we're on track there. The track is a diplomatic
track, trying to get China and Russia, as well as South Korea and
Japan and the United States to work on seeing that that regime
would orient itself in a way that could be considered appropriate
in a civilized world. They're engaged in counterfeiting, they're
engaged in illegal drug trafficking, they're listed as a terrorist
state. They have made a series of announcements as to their nuclear
and ballistic missile capabilities. They're engaged in ballistic
missile technology trading around the world, as we've been reading
in recent weeks. It's a country that is starving its own people.
There are concentration camps. It is a country where they have
lowered the height requirement to go into the military to 4 feet
10 inches -- as they are not feeding their people enough food --
and under 100 pounds. It's a tragic situation. The food that the
world gives -- the United States is the biggest donor of food by
an enormous margin in the world, and North Korea is probably the
largest recipient of that food -- and it rarely gets to the right
people. It is a very sad situation.
Rumsfeld: I never said imminent threat, and I don't know anyone
who did say imminent threat, but there are a lot of people running
around saying that word, but it was not used by the people in the
Administration except, I'm told, by one assistant press officer
who used it. The President of the United States used the phrase
a gathering threat. But it has become folklore.
Q: Did you change your mind about (Inaudible.) Iraq and Saddam
Rumsfeld: I will get you a copy of my remarks. I don't want to
start ad-libbing on this. My remarks are very much in tune with
what Director Tenet said, and you can get a transcript of his remarks,
and they're very much in line with what David Kay said, and if
everyone starts ad-libbing off of those remarks, it strikes me
that it just gives people -- mischief-makers (Said with humor.)
-- the opportunity to do their thing. How's that, Charlie? No comment?
Charlie's with the traveling press.
Moderator: We have time for two more questions.
Q: I think this question must be asked. We are all here from countries,
which were all former satellites of the Soviet Union.
Rumsfeld: What country are you from?
Q: Well, from West Germany, so (Inaudible.). (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: I thought so. I just want to get the record straight
Q: The great majority [of us] was deliberately chosen from this,
say, "New Europe."
Rumsfeld: Was it deliberately? Who did it?
Q: Either satellites -- or even parts of the former Soviet Union.
It is therefore very important for us to know how you assess your
relations with today's Russia? And how do you see the future of
Rumsfeld: That is a very good question. It is a question that
should be addressed to the Department of State or the President
of the United States. I can say that Secretary Powell was just
in Russia. He made some public comments about things that he believed
were going well and some things that he had questions about, as
I recall. Did he not? And I thought he said it well. I meet with
the defense minister. We talk about military-military relations,
and the President meets with President Putin. It's a big country,
it's an important country and it's a country that we have multifaceted
relationships with -- economic, political and military -- and not
surprisingly, there are things we agree on and things that over
time we probably don't agree on, as Secretary Powell indicated.
Q: You mentioned (Inaudible.) are relations (Inaudible.) United
States and Germany (Inaudible.) friends (Inaudible.) stabilizing,
getting better after the Iraq war and the second question, what
do you think about rising anti-Americanism in Europe?
Rumsfeld: Present company excepted. The Ambassador, driving in
last night, told me that there is some analytical work that's been
done that suggests that, for example, just by way of illustration,
one western European country -- its press -- is noted for -- television
-- is noted for its bias. Its continuous bias, its repeated bias,
its bias that, on a scale, ranks it more biased than even Al Jazeera
on coverage of Iraq.
So what do I think about it? I think I think this. Number one,
I don't read the European press in the languages that they are
printed in, obviously. I read translations and excerpts, so I would
not characterize myself as an expert on what the European press
generally does. But if the Ambassador's information is correct,
and I find him to be a highly reliable individual, it should come
as no surprise to anybody that if they're constantly bombarded
with inaccuracies that, over time, they begin to believe the inaccuracies.
And the other thing that's also true is that over time truth comes
out, and if some media or element of communications, is consistently
inaccurate and biased, over time people begin to get that and they
turn it off, and that's a good thing. People aren't stupid, people
have a good center of gravity and eventually they'll sift out the
truth from the non-truth.
We are being hurt by Al Jazeera in the Arab world, there is no
question about it, and the quality of the journalism is so outrageous,
inexcusably biased, and there is nothing you can do about it, except
try to counteract it. And it is happening in that part of the world,
and it's a steady drumbeat, and it's hurting. It's causing more
people to be against what we're doing, what the coalition is doing.
In fact, you could say it causes loss of life. It's causing Iraqi
people to be killed.
Q: Have you thought you might have done something wrong on your
side, you think?
Rumsfeld: Oh my goodness gracious, that question is so, so unsurprising.
We do this all the time. We spend an enormous amount of time looking
at lessons learned and what's been done right, and what's not been
done right, and we're so busy self examining to see what we've
done and what we could do better, that it takes an enormous amount
of time. And obviously, no one wants to get up in the morning and
do something that's unwise or unhelpful, unless you've got that
bias and you decide that's what you want to do for a living, and
clearly that's what Al Jazeera is doing. There is just no question