Surprise Trip for Donald Rumsfeld; Interview With Brigadier General James Marks; Christian in Iraq
Aired December 24, 2004 - 12:00 ET


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And to change that way of living, would strike at the very essence of our country.

And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten -- indeed the word "terrorized" is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be.

And that is exactly what we cannot allow to happen.

The American people recognize the importance of your mission: that you're here for a purpose, and that purpose is not to run the country of Iraq. That's for the Iraqi people. It's not to find an American solution for Iraq.

Indeed, it is to be here, to try to help train and equip and organize and assist the Iraqi security forces so that they, over time, will be able to take on responsibility for their country. And this country will find a solution that will be uniquely Iraqi.

If you think about what's happened in Afghanistan, three years ago it was the training ground for terrorists. It was the place that the attacks against the United States were hatched and launched. And today they've elected their first popularly elected president in the history of the country. They are moving toward parliamentary elections in April. They have established a democratic system that's respectful of all of the various diverse elements in that country.

Women are voting for the first time. They're able to go outside by themselves without being accompanied. Young children can fly a kite, can sing and dance, which they were not allowed to do under the Taliban. The soccer stadium in Kabul is being used for soccer instead of beheading people.

So the accomplishment in Afghanistan was a truly breathtaking experience. I was there for the inauguration. And President Karzai, from the bottom of his heart, thanked the American people and said that without that help they would not be a free society, they would not have been able to what they are doing, that people would not be going to school.

Here's a country that doesn't have any of the capabilities that this country does. It doesn't have the water, it doesn't have the oil, it doesn't have the population that is as well-educated as Iraq. This country has every chance in the world to make it.

And it's in an important location. It will have a big affect on this region. They've made good progress. If you think about it, they've gone from an Iraqi Governing Council to an interim government, moving toward elections at the end of next month, moving toward then the development of a constitution.

I've lived a few years -- a lot of years. And I have seen fascism rise and fall. I've seen communism rise and fall. We've seen the Berlin Wall get built and get torn down. And if you think about the message in all of that, we've seen Afghanistan go from a terrorist training ground to a democracy.

Now, what does that say? It says that the great sweep of human history is for freedom. And that is the side we're on. And that's the side you're on.

Just a few weeks ago, Falluja was controlled by assassins and today it's a free city. Something like 140,000 refugees have come to this country from other countries, Iraqis. Why do they do that? Why do they get up one morning and say to themselves, "I'm going to leave where I am that's safer to be sure, and I'm going to go back to Iraq"?

They are voting with their feet. They are convinced that life is going to be good here, that there is a chance of making it, and that people do need to pitch in and see that it happens.

I must say, as a personal message, before I come out and shake hands and have a chance to tell you how much we appreciate your service, let me just say that we know that you sacrifice. We certainly know your families do. And they certainly serve, just as you do. And they are strong.

I get a chance to see them in Bethesda and Walter Reed and other hospitals. And I meet the families of people who have been wounded, your colleagues, people who have been here and gone back and are recuperating. And I must say, the families are the most amazing thing. They are truly extraordinary.

They are proud of what their sons and daughters do. They have strength and courage. And I don't think anyone can come away from being with them without gaining inspiration for the tough tasks ahead.

Now, it's Christmas Eve. And I don't want to, in any way, paint a picture that's pretty, because it isn't pretty. This is a tough part of the world. This is a tough country. Your friends and your associates are at risk, as you are. And I wish I could stand here and say that the incidents of violence were going to calm down between now and the elections.

I wish I could stand here and say that the incidents of violence will calm down after the elections. I can't say that.

The people that we're up against have a lot to lose, a lot to lose. They also have brains. And they watch what we do, and they adjust to what we do. And they're determined.

But so are we. We are in a test of wills. There isn't a battle anyone could bring against you that you couldn't win. You're not going to be faced with battles. You're going to be faced in the shadows, in the side streets and with people who are using every conceivable time, task and way of attacking you where you're most vulnerable.

And that's what we face.

So there isn't any way that foreign troops, our troops, coalition troops or any other troops from any country can provide security in this country.

What we can do is contribute to security. What we can do is help to train the Iraqis and mentor the Iraqis, and see that the Iraqis develop the capability, the equipment, the training, the organization, the chain of command, the experience, the rib cage, the officer leadership, the non-com leadership, the experience to take over responsibility for their own security.

And that's our task. That's what we have to do. That's what is being done. And we've got wonderful people working on it, and I'm here to simply to look you in the eye and say, "Thank you, every one of you. God bless you."


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, recorded within the past couple of hours at a place called Camp Victory near Baghdad at a mess hall in the wake of that Mosul bombing. Let's listen back in, he's saying a few more things.

RUMSFELD: But I did today. And I'm glad I did.


O'BRIEN: What you missed was the secretary of defense said he doesn't do hats. Apparently he was offered one of the unit hats there. In any case, giving a speech which was pretty much almost word for word what he has said at several previous locations on his whirlwind Christmas Eve visit to buck up the troops there in Iraq, particularly in the wake of the Mosul suicide bombing.