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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

American Forces Press Service

Rumsfeld: War Can Be Lost Only in U.S.

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2005 – American servicemembers are doing a superb job in Iraq, and the only place the war can be lost is in the United States, where people don't have a clear understanding of what's happening on the ground and can lose patience, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Dec. 19.

"The work that they're doing overseas is so professional and so able, and we're so fortunate to have them there that I would have to say that the only place this could be lost is if we lost our will here in the United States," Rumsfeld said in an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live."

The U.S. is winning the global war on terror, Rumsfeld said, citing as proof the progress made in Iraq and Afghanistan. The three elections that have taken place in Iraq in 2005 and the development of a constitution are historic events that show the bravery and determination of the Iraqi people and their significant progress toward democracy, he said.

"It has to be an enormous disappointment to the enemies," he said. "They have lost something very big, because the Iraqi people now have control of that country."

In Afghanistan, the parliament was seated this week and the country has a popularly elected president for the first time in 5,000 years, Rumsfeld said. In this same country that people were not too long ago calling a quagmire, the army is improving steadily and the United States will be able to significantly draw down its forces soon, he said.

"I'm absolutely convinced that the course we're on is the right course," he said. "We're not losing the war."

Every U.S. conflict has had opponents and has caused divisions within the country, Rumsfeld said, but if the government gave in every time someone expressed doubt, this country wouldn't exist as it does today.

"I just am hopeful that people will reflect on our history as a country and the nature of conflicts -- prior conflicts -- and develop an understanding about the difficulty of them," he said. "We have to constantly adjust our tactics to meet the changes that the enemy is imposing on themselves."

At this time of year, it is important to remember the troops overseas and the sacrifices they make to serve the country, Rumsfeld said.

"They volunteered and said, 'Send me,' and they're over across the globe serving our country with courage and perseverance and great dignity and professionalism," he said. "They are convinced that they're winning in Iraq. They are convinced that they are engaged in noble work that's important for the world and for our country and to protect the American people here at home."


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