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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Incase you missed it: Rumsfeld on BBC News

The following snippet came from the BBC News interview of Donald Rumsfeld by Sir David Frost:
Frost: Do you think Deep Throat was a hero or a villain?

Rumsfeld: Oh, goodness. I'm in charge of a large government department and certainly my hope and prayer would be that any employee of this department who sees something illegal or wrong or improper would report it to the Department of Justice or the proper authorities. It seems to me that that's what our obligation is as a government official, serving the American people.


Frost: Do you think, when you fought for a leaner, smaller, high tech war as it war, less soldiers, that you were right as far as the war went but wrong as far as the aftermath went?

Rumsfeld: I don't think I even agree with the way you've constructed the question. Let me first say that --

Frost: Transformation will take place.

Rumsfeld: First let me say that it was not Don Rumsfeld or the President of the United States who decided the size of the forces, either during the war or after the war. The general officers and the people responsible for conducting the war, in that case General Franks and General Abizaid and General Delong and the division commanders, told us what they recommended and they got exactly what they recommended. As the war ended they told us what they recommended, and today they have told us what they recommended, and they have exactly what they're recommended.

So the answer to your question, it seems to me, is not whether we were right; whether or not the people who have the principal responsibility for making those kinds of judgments were correct, and the answer is I believe they were. The war, in the first instance in terms of the conduct of the war was completed with dispatch and with minimal collateral damage and with minimal loss of life. Probably never been a war quite like that where anyone has moved that fast from outside the country to Baghdad and defeated what was reputed to be an impressive army that rapidly and that skillfully with that few loss of life.

In terms of the post major combat operations efforts, the tension is this, and it's important to understand it. On the one hand if you have a very very large force you have a problem with force protection, you have a problem with logistics, you become a bigger and bigger target, and most important you become a bigger occupying force. You're more intrusive in the country, which makes for greater hostility against that occupying force. If you have a smaller force there's less force protection, less logistics, less of a footprint, less of an occupying force, intrusive circumstance, and you're more likely to get the population leaning forward, working with you.

So you have to have enough to do the job but you don't want any more than enough to do the job. There have been observers from the outside who have said oh, my goodness, there should be more people, it won't work, going into the war. Well, they were wrong. In fact General Franks was correct.

Subsequently there have been people who have said there should be more and there are people arguing now that there should be fewer. The reason for fewer is because ultimately it's going to be the Iraqi people who are going to prevail in this insurgency.


Frost: And we've ruled out military action against Iran in the foreseeable future?

Rumsfeld: That's something that, when you say we, you don't have military power, I don't have military power. Nations do. Most nations make a practice of not ruling things out. They do that almost as a matter of principle, that there's a linkage between these things. But obviously the path that the President has chosen is one of a diplomatic path and the North Koreans; obviously the path that's been chosen with Iran has been a diplomatic path.
Wow, what great answers! I have nothing but respect for Rumsfeld. I think he is perhaps the most competent person in Washington. I wish he would run for President.

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