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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 Live."

"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 the job."

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 Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


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