By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asserted today that "progress has been good" in the war in Iraq and said he is unruffled by calls for his resignation by six retired U.S. generals.
"Well, you know, this, too, will pass," Rumsfeld said on Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated radio show.
Some generals have charged that Rumsfeld intimidated members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while planning the war in Iraq and that he has mismanaged the war, which in three years has resulted in more than 2,300 deaths of U.S. military members.
Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led coalition that ousted former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has made progress in transferring more responsibility for the war to Iraqi forces. "I mean, we are now up to a quarter of a million Iraqi security forces," he said, "and they're, as I say, taking over more and more bases and real estate all the time."
Asked why the retired generals are criticizing him now, Rumsfeld said: "Well, I just don't know. I can't climb into other people's minds."
Rumsfeld said he is not surprised by the comments made by anti-war critics.
"I guess only someone who's rooted in the history of our country, I think, could accept the kinds of comments that are being made," he said, according to a transcript of the interview on Limbaugh's Web site. "And if we recognize that the same kinds of criticism that occurred in the Revolutionary War and World War I and World War II and the Korean War, Vietnam War, it's not new. There have always been people who have opposed wars."
Rumsfeld added: "Wars are terrible things."
But if the United States had not participated in some of these wars, "we would have failed, and our country would be a totally different place, if it existed at all."