Rumsfeld Cites "Impressive" Progress in Iraq
One Year After War
One year after Operation Iraqi Freedom began, U.S. Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld stated the Iraqi people "are vastly better off than they would
have been," had Saddam Hussein remained in power.
The secretary made the statement March 19 in an interview on CNN's "Larry King
"We've got a possibility here for a country that will have an Iraqi form of
democracy that will be at peace with its neighbors," Rumsfeld said.
Recalling the day the war began last year, Rumsfeld said that launching the war
was the administration's last choice, a choice made only after all other
alternatives were exhausted. "The president took every care to give Saddam
Hussein additional chances and final opportunities; even after he rebuffed the
last U.N. resolution and rejected it, the president gave him 48 hours to leave
the country," the defense secretary said.
The secretary said the reconstruction underway in Iraq is impressive. "In one
year, the schools are open, with new textbooks. The hospitals are operating," he
said. "The 1,200 clinics are functioning. The electricity is back up to roughly
where it was. The oil liftings are up to roughly where they were, pre-war."
Although security remains a serious concern, Rumsfeld said the Iraqi people have
stepped forward to reconstitute the national security forces, and "they're doing
Regarding the upcoming transition to political control by the Iraqi people,
Rumsfeld said the outcome is unknowable at this time, but he commended the work
done by the Iraqi Governing Council to fashion a new system of government and
achieve the compromises necessary in democracy.
When asked what he sees for the future of Iraq, Rumsfeld replied, "Whatever they
do, they're going to figure it out for themselves, and it'll be something that's
appropriate to them, and that's a good thing."
By Charlene Porter
Washington File Staff Writer
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information
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