"OLD EUROPE": scroll down for the passage with "old Europe"
Press Conference with Secretary Rumsfeld(January 22, 2003)
(Briefing at the Foreign Press Center, also participating, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff)
Moderator: Mr. Secretary, welcome.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. Good afternoon.
Starting today, the Department of Defense will be broadcasting the Pentagon weekly press briefing to the Iraqi people through Commando Solo radio broadcasts. We're doing so because the truth matters, and it's important, we believe, that the Iraqi people know the truth and hear the truth.
To all Iraqis who are listening today for the first time, I say that this is democracy in action, it is freedom in action. Every week, General Myers and I stand in the Pentagon in front of independent journalist professionals and answer their questions -- try to answer their questions. Some of the questions are tough, some of the questions -- many of the questions are insightful and all of them add to the information available to the American people and the people of the world. And when they leave, none of these journalists will worry at all about what will happen to them for what they said or what they asked. They know that they and their families will not be threatened and that no one will be beaten or punished. The truth is important; it matters; it is the foundation of justice.
By contrast, Saddam Hussein's regime is built on terror, intimidation and lies. A decade ago, Saddam Hussein promised to give up his weapons of mass destruction, weapons he has used to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis. At the end of the Gulf War, he agreed to disarm. Yet, for more than a decade, his regime has refused to live up to its promises. Instead, they have fed the world a steady diet of untruths and deception.
Last year, the countries of the United Nations came together to give Saddam Hussein one last chance to come clean, to give up his chemical, biological weapons and his nuclear weapon programs and to prove to the world that he was doing so by inviting inspectors in. The United Nations passed a unanimous resolution requiring Saddam Hussein to submit to -- a currently accurate, full and complete declaration of his WMD programs. He again said he would comply, but when he submitted his declaration it was not complete. There were numerous omissions, and it was characterized by many who reviewed it as fraudulent.
It's a strange situation. You know, in real life if someone in your community is caught lying over and over and over again, at some point that person develops a reputation for not telling the truth, and eventually, that person's no longer believed. And when someone says, "Well, Liar Joe just came around the corner but you can't believe him," people don't believe him. The same should be true in international affairs. The burden of proof is not on the United States or the United Nations to prove that Iraq has these weapons. We know they do. The United Nations put the burden of proof on Saddam Hussein's regime to prove that it is disarming and to show the inspectors where the weapons are. Thus far, he has not done so.
Contrary to what Saddam Hussein told the Iraqi people, America is not the enemy. Our goal is peace, not war. We continue to hope that the Iraqi regime will change course and disarm peacefully and voluntarily. But the choice between war and peace will not be made in Washington, D.C. It will not even be made at the United Nations. It will be made in Baghdad by Saddam Hussein. Either he decides to cooperate or he decides to continue not cooperating. We hope he will choose wisely.
Myers: Good afternoon. And thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I just returned Monday from a trip that began in Stuttgart, Germany, to participate in the change-of-command ceremonies for the U.S. European Command commander and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Joe Ralston, who gave -- passed the command on to General Jim Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps.
While in the region, I took the opportunity to visit my Italian counterpart in Rome, General Moschini, and to visit some of our troops in Vicenza, Italy.
After that, I had the opportunity to visit our forces at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and to reciprocate a November visit with my Turkish counterpart, General Ozkok, in Ankara. While in Ankara, I had very good meetings with the chief of defense and with senior members of his staff, as well as a very good meeting with the minister of defense.
Turkey has long been a trusted ally, and the friendship continues in these difficult times. The relationship with Turkey has been an important one for both our countries, as well as for the region and NATO, and it's been that way for decades.
In both Rome and Ankara meetings, we discussed a wide variety of important military issues that are on all of our plates. It was also an opportunity to thank both of these allies for their support of our operation against terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom. This cooperation has proven invaluable to our overall effort on this war on terrorism.
With that, I think we're ready to take questions.
Moderator: Okay. Let's -- (off mike).
Q: My name is -- (off mike). My name is -- (off mike). I'm with -- (off mike).
Rumsfeld: With what?
Q: (Off mike.) Sir, do you believe that the level of support -- (off mike) -- that the United States has already crossed the point of no return? And does that make war imminent?
And second, sir, will the United States use its --
Rumsfeld: Is this the follow-up that's piling on top of the original one?
Q: Yeah, yeah. I thought I'd do it all in one.
Rumsfeld: I see.
Q: Okay. And second, sir, will the U.S. use its might to enforce other U.N. Security Council resolutions that have been flouted by other countries, such as Israel? And are you for the Raiders or Tampa Bay, sir? (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: What --
Rumsfeld: That's the third question.
First, the answer's no, absolutely not. The president has not made a decision on the final use of -- whether it will finally be necessary to use force.
And as to the question whether or not, therefore, war is inevitable, it's not inevitable. We have been flowing forces to support the diplomacy that is taking place in the United Nations. There is no question but that if one looks at Iraq's behavior, it's very clear that their behavior has been altered substantially since the president went to the United Nations. They have not started cooperating, but they have at least allowed some inspectors in. And they are going through, at least thus far, some pretense as to whether -- indicating -- trying to indicate that they will cooperate, although their declaration, as I said, was not as complete as it might have been.
With respect to the other question, that's a matter for the Department of State and the president.
Rumsfeld: I think this fellow right here. Are there mikes? Well, why don't the -- if I point to somebody and you stand back there, what do I do?
Q: Don't panic!
Rumsfeld: Okay. I'm not prone to. (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, Jesus -- (last name inaudible) -- from the Mexican News Agency. I have a question regarding the foreign media. Why do you think that the majority of the foreign media is not getting the message of the United States in terms that -- to see that really what you say is the real truth, that Saddam Hussein is a threat for the rest of the world? We haven't seen any proof of the arguments. You say that he has weapons of mass destruction.
And secondly, why is the U.S. government trying to have a dichotomy on foreign policy in terms of North Korea --
Rumsfeld: I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Why is the U.S. government --
Q: A dichotomy. Yeah, I mean --
Rumsfeld: Oh, a dichotomy.
Q: Yeah, with North Korea.
Q: They have a nuclear weapon, and they say, "We have it." And you are going -- we went to diplomacy with this country, and we want war with Iraq.
Rumsfeld: Good. I'd like to overrule the gentleman who opened the meeting and suggest there are so many people here. The second questions are second questions instead of follow-up questions. And it seems to me that we'll get a lot more people included if we have a question, and then, if it's appropriate, a follow-up question that follows up, as opposed to being on a totally different subject. Seems reasonable to me.
But the -- first of all, I don't know that you're correct. The premise of your question was why is the majority of the foreign media x, y or z? I don't know that you or I are in a position to judge what the foreign media says. Maybe in your country. But there are many, many countries that are very supportive of the United States. There are 90 nations supporting the global war on terrorism. There are many, many handfuls of countries who have come to us, told us they are ready, willing and able to participate in the use of force, in the event that it becomes necessary and Iraq is not cooperative.
If one looks across the globe, I think that it's very difficult to make the case that you made that the foreign media is x, y or z. I think the foreign media tends to be all across the lot, just like people are. They have different opinions in different parts of the world for different reasons.
We don't see it as a dichotomy between the approaches that have been taken for Iraq and North Korea. In the case of North Korea, we're at a -- in a diplomatic path. The United States, working with China and Russia and South Korea and Japan, are attempting to persuade North Korea that it ought not to go forward with its nuclear programs. Whether they'll be successful on the diplomatic path, I don't know.
Conversely in the case of Iraq, it's been 10 or 11 years. The world community has, in fact, been using every conceivable approach. They've used diplomacy. They've used economic sanctions. They've used carrots, with the oil-for-food program. They've used limited military activity, in the Northern and Southern no-fly zones. They've had 16 resolutions. Here's a country that has used chemical weapons against its own people, used chemical weapons against its neighbors, fired ballistic missiles into three or four countries. This is a distinctively different situation.
Here is a -- both have weapons of mass destruction. Both are dictatorial regimes. Both are treating their people in a way that anyone who's interested in human rights has to feel a great deal of compassion for those people. But there are distinctive differences.
Myers: May I?
Rumsfeld: You bet.
Myers: On the first part of your question, on the rest of the world aligning with U.S. opinion on this, it's not U.S. opinion, it's the United Nations opinion. They're the ones that came -- 15 to zero, Security Council voted on 1441 that says, "Iraq, this is your last chance to come clean with weapons of mass destruction." I mean, the facts are pretty clear on that. And so this is -- I would say it's world opinion, it's not U.S. opinion. Now the rest of it, I guess, is up to your judgment, but those are the facts as I see them.
Rumsfeld: Yes? Right there.
QLukman Ahmed (ph) with the NBC Middle East Broadcasting Center. Mr. Secretary, till today, you are not satisfied with the Iraqi cooperation. At the same time, you are expressing a hope for a peaceful solution. As today, what are the one, two, three, four requirements for Iraqi side to avoid the war?
Rumsfeld: There are several things that could happen. Number one, the Iraqi regime could read the resolution of the United Nations, which, as General Myers said, was passed unanimously, and comply with it. It has a variety of requirements. One requirement was to file a full and complete declaration of their WMD holdings. They have not done so. Another is to supply a list of scientists that can be taken outside the country with their families and questioned as to the location and extent of the Iraqi WMD program. Another is to allow full and free access anywhere and any time. They're not doing that. So I would say that that would be the first thing they could do.
The second thing they could do to avoid war would be for Saddam Hussein to leave.
Q: Can I follow up on that? Can I follow up?
Rumsfeld: No. You only can follow up your own. (Laughter.) (Laughs.) Oh, we make up the rules as we go along. What the heck. (Light laughter.)
Yes, I got criticized for only calling on ladies last time. And this time I've only called on men. So -- right here. I don't want to get beat up on again.
Q: Hi. My name is Mata Farid (sp) from Radio Fadah (sp). And Mr. Secretary, in the case that United States goes to war to Iraq, do you expect Iran to play any role to cooperate, or are you planning to have any kind of dialogue for strategic plans?
Rumsfeld: Well, I have to begin every response by saying of course, no decision's been made with respect to the use of force, and it has not.
What role Iran would play I would guess would be a role that would be not considered harmful to the effort to remove that regime.
Yes, right here. Yes. Just -- right there. No -- yeah, right there. (Laughter.) I don't know how to do it.
Q: Irmit Engensol (sp) with Turkey's NTV Television.
Q: Has there been progress recently in your military talks about Turkish-U.S. military cooperation on Iraq, and are you happy with the level of Turkish support regarding your request to base or deploy troops on Turkish territory? Thanks.
Rumsfeld: Well, I'll just -- Dick Myers, General Myers was just there. But we have -- two things I would say. One is we think it's best, and, in fact, we know it's best, to let other countries characterize specifically what it is they're doing with respect to cooperation with the United States. From my standpoint, I think Turkey's been quite cooperative.
Myers: Absolutely. We had -- we had good discussions, my discussions with my counterpart, General Ozkok, later -- earlier this week were very frank and very open. One of the things we do share is a common vision of wanting an Iraq that is peaceful and without weapons of mass destruction. Again, I'll go back to the secretary's comments; we'll let Turkey characterize the sort of support that they're willing to provide. But it was described to me that, "Gee, General Myers, you're impatient. We're told the United States is impatient about Turkey's help," and so forth. That's not the case.
We've been a strategic ally, as I mentioned in my earlier remarks, for a long time, and we've been allies because we have a common vision of what kind of security and stability we want not only in NATO, but in the region that Turkey lives in. And that will continue.
Rumsfeld: The lady behind the man in the blue shirt right here.
Q: Oh --
Rumsfeld: No, no. Behind him. I'm sorry.
Myers: The other blue shirt.
Q: Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Oh. I see. There are two blue shirts! My apologies!
Q: Thank you.
Rumsfeld: We'll alternate and then come back to you. How's that?
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. This makes it even because I am from Turkey, a lady from Turkey. My name is -- (inaudible). I am with the Public Television, TRT. My question is, what is the possibility of opening a second front on the north? And where are we at this stage concerning the different -- view differences between Ankara and Washington? Is it only a matter of number of troops, or are there any other differences on this opening up a second front in the north? Thank you.
Rumsfeld: We don't talk about plans of that type at all. And General Myers has already responded to the question as to how we feel about the cooperation and the relationship with Turkey. It's been good.
Yes? Just seize the moment and stand up. Don't hesitate! (Laughter.)
Q: Take the opportunity! Mike Levalle (sp) from Tokyo Broadcasting System. Just wondering for Japan, they have decided to send an Aegis destroyer to the Persian Gulf for the Afghanistan situation. And wondering how that limits capabilities or abilities in Northeast Asia in terms of North Korea. And with that situation and the Gulf War in '91, the Kitty Hawk was sent. With the current situation in Northeast Asia, would it be possible to send the Kitty Hawk in case of any military decision this time?
Rumsfeld: The Kitty Hawk's already there. (Scattered laughter.) Isn't it? Where is it? (Laughter.)
Myers: It's -- well, it's in Japan right now, yeah.
Rumsfeld: Japan's in Northeast Asia.
Q: No, would it be possible to send the Kitty Hawk to the Gulf?
Rumsfeld: Oh, to the Gulf. Ah!
Rumsfeld: I misunderstood. It's hard to lose an aircraft carrier. (Laughter.)
The answer is no. The movement of the ship that Japan has thoughtfully sent over to the Central Command area with respect to Afghanistan, is a helpful thing they're doing, and it does not change our robust capabilities in Northeast Asia.
Second, with respect to what we might do with carrier battle groups, we don't announce it.
The lady behind the man in the blue shirt. (Laughter.) In front of the man in the blue shirt!
Q: (Name inaudible) -- with Television Spain. The question is: You said war may not be inevitable. So let's assume there would be a best-case scenario: There will not be a war. What happens to the troops that are in the region?
Rumsfeld: Well, needless to say, it's -- you adjust your forces appropriately. To the extent that there is not a good reason for having people away from their homes and ships deployed and people deployed to different parts of the world, why, your first choice is to have them back where they're home-based.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Rumsfeld: Yes, thank you. (Pause.) This is for General Myers, right? (Laughter.)
Q: It's for you and General Myers, because both of you are in a way the boss of my son, who joined the U.S. Marines; he's European.
Rumsfeld: Tell him thank you. We appreciate his doing that.
Q: Yeah. Parents are concerned.
Q: They would like to know on his behalf -- one thing is he joined because of September 11th and because you and others in the administration made him believe that Iraq had a lot to do with that. And he was wondering where that stands.
And the other question that he has is how many casualties would you take?
Rumsfeld: There's been a good deal of material information that's been presented on an open basis, both by the United States and by the United Kingdom, with respect to Iraq's role in weapons of mass destruction; its role as a terrorist state, its relationship with terrorist organizations. The president and his administration will -- which has not made a final conclusion as to what may need to be done because we're still watching the process in the United Nations -- will, if the president decides it's in -- necessary to use force because of a lack of cooperation on the part of Iraq, would very likely present to the world some additional information; information relating to the president's -- correction: to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, its relationship with terrorist organizations. And the world already knows through all kinds of open sources its -- the extent to which it denies the Iraqi people their rights.
There is no way to know in a conflict -- war is so unpredictable -- whether it would last four days or four weeks or four months. And there's no way to know precisely what the Iraqi regime might do. In the last conflict, in -- 10 years ago, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers switched sides. They just surrendered and said they did not want to support the Iraqi regime. To the extent that's the case, and one would think it could very well be, then obviously the casualties are much less.
The president today, I believe, indicated to the Iraqi regime and to the Iraqi people, and particularly to Iraqi military, that they -- any orders they receive with regard to the use of weapons of mass destruction, they should disobey. And in the event force has to be used, any person who is in any way connected with the use of weapons of mass destruction would be treated and tried as a war criminal.
Myers: I would only add to that that you should be assured that your son or anybody that could be possibly involved in conflict has been trained well, is properly equipped, and has the resources to conduct whatever mission we might ask them to do. And that's what we work on on a daily basis, many times a day. And I would also add that they're under very good leadership and that any potential plan has been reviewed, re-reviewed, worked on to the point where we want to give our forces all the advantage we can give them, for the reasons that you are, as a parent, concerned about.
Rumsfeld: Right in the middle.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Carl Hanlon, Global Television, Canada. Sir, Canada's foreign minister stated again today that the United States must get United Nations approval to go to war with Iraq. Are you still hoping that Canada would support President Bush's so-called "coalition of the willing" if you end up going to war with Iraq without the U.N.?
Rumsfeld: You know, the United States and Canada are close friends and allies and neighbors, and we've participated together in so many activities across the globe, currently are with respect to the global war on terror, allies in NATO. It's up to Canada to decide what it wishes to do. Each country has a somewhat different circumstance, a somewhat different history, a somewhat different perspective, and I think each country is inevitably going to do that which they feel is appropriate to them.
I can say this: that there are a very large number of countries who have said, regardless of whether there is a second resolution in the United Nations, that they are anxious and willing and ready to join a coalition of the willing. There is a very large number of countries also that are prepared in the event there is a second resolution regardless -- almost regardless of what it says. It might simply say that in fact the Iraqis have not been cooperative, or it might go the extra step and say that they haven't been cooperative and therefore the United Nations recommends the use of all appropriate force. I don't know what -- how that will play out; it's not knowable.
But it seems to me it's asking a lot for other countries to step forward publicly and say where they are on this until and unless the case has been fully made, and the president has indicated that he's concluded that force must be used. And at that moment, people then will be making their judgments and participating or not, as they and their people feel is appropriate. And as far as I'm concerned, I think that's the way it ought to work. Every country is a sovereign nation.
Standing up on the side there. You've got the mike. Use it! (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you. This is Hasan Hazar, Turkey Daily. Mr. Secretary, although the United States does very intensive diplomacy campaigns to the Islamic world --
Rumsfeld: What did you say?
Q: Although the United States does very intensive public diplomacy campaigns to the Islamic world, anti-Americanism is growing all over the world. What is the reason, what is the reaction of that?
Rumsfeld: Well, I would have to say that the United States is not very effective in public diplomacy. We have wonderful people working on it, and they work hard on it, and they're talented and they do a good job. But what they're up against is a flow of information that's coming out of these extremists that are trying to hijack that religion, and feeding people in the madrassas schools a line that the West and other religions are against them and that, therefore, they should engage in terrorist acts.
And it seems to me that we have a task, not just the United States, but the world. I would think -- you cast it as though it's the United States and the Moslem world, or the United States and people who are anti-United States. I think that's a bit of an oversimplification. I think there's a real struggle taking place in the Moslem faith. There are an awful lot of people who are unhappy that extremists and small groups of clerics are teaching young people things that aren't true; teaching people that the best thing they can do is not learn a language, not learn mathematics, not learn how they can provide for themselves in the world, instead, filling their heads with hate against the West and against progress, and encouraging them to conduct suicide campaigns.
Now, that religion needs to take back its religion from people who are teaching that. The whole world is part of this process; it's not just the United States.
Let me just say something that I feel very deeply. It's the year 2003. Here we are, we're all sitting here and we're safe and sound. And there isn't anybody when they walk out of this place who is afraid they're going to get shot, or blown up, or face a biological attack, or a chemical attack or a nuclear attack. What's taking place in the world today in -- with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, is so pervasive that as you look out over the horizon --you guess -- five years? ten years? -- there are going to be three, four, five more nuclear powers, and they're not going to be countries like the United Kingdom or France or the United States; they're going to be countries like North Korea; they're going to be terrorist states; and they're going to be states that have relationships with terrorist organizations. The ease of transporting and developing biologicals that can kill hundreds of thousands of human beings is easy; it does not take a genius to do that. They're easy to make, they're easy to transport and they're easy to deliver. And that's the kind of a world we're living in.
Now, that is not a problem for the United States only. It's a problem for the whole world. And at some point, the people of the world are going to be so shocked and jarred by events like 9/11 that they're going to make a judgment that they need to do something differently; that they can't sit back and say, "Oh, what about all this anti-Americanism? Or what about all this stuff? Or why doesn't the United States do this or that?"
They're going to be deeply concerned because they're going to have every right in the world to be deeply concerned. And the time to get ahead of that is now, before it all happens, not after. Let there be no doubt.
Q: Sir? (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: I tell you, I hate to do this. I'd love to call on everybody, but it's a dirty job and somebody has to do it.
Myers: It's a dirty job.
Q: But you've got to do it.
Rumsfeld: Next time you pick.
Q: Sir, a question about the mood among European allies. You were talking about the Islamic world a second ago. But now the European allies. If you look at, for example, France, Germany, also a lot of people in my own country -- I'm from Dutch public TV, by the way -- it seems that a lot of Europeans rather give the benefit of the doubt to Saddam Hussein than President George Bush. These are U.S. allies. What do you make of that?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's -- what do I make of it?
Q: They have no clerics. They have no Muslim clerics there.
Rumsfeld: Are you helping me? (Laughter.) Do you think I need help? (Laughter.)
What do I think about it? Well, there isn't anyone alive who wouldn't prefer unanimity. I mean, you just always would like everyone to stand up and say, Way to go! That's the right to do, United States.
Now, we rarely find unanimity in the world. I was ambassador to NATO, and I -- when we would go in and make a proposal, there wouldn't be unanimity. There wouldn't even be understanding. And we'd have to be persuasive. We'd have to show reasons. We'd have to -- have to give rationales. We'd have to show facts. And, by golly, I found that Europe on any major issue is given -- if there's leadership and if you're right, and if your facts are persuasive, Europe responds. And they always have.
Q: But opinion polls --
Rumsfeld: But -- just a minute. Just a minute. But you look at vast numbers of other countries in Europe. They're not with France and Germany on this, they're with the United States.
Now, you cite public opinion polls. Fair enough. Political leaders have to interest themselves in where the public is, and talk to them, and think about that, and then -- and provide leadership to them. And you're quite right. You can find polls --
I can remember a poll -- I won't -- it was back in 1964. I watched it over something like a three-month period. It went from zero in favor of a certain topic to 55 percent in favor of it, down to 13 percent, all in three months. Now, does that suggest that polls can be fickle and rise and fall, depending on facts, depending on circumstances? Of course they can.
And that's -- that's what political leaders are supposed to do, is to lead. And they -- they're responsible for engaging facts and making assessments and then going out before their people and telling them their honest conviction as to what their country ought to do. And if a country doesn't agree with us, heck, that's happened lots of times in history.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Moderator: Mr. Secretary, that about does it for you now.
MR.: (Off mike.)
Moderator: You want to take one more quick one?
Q: Mr. Secretary --
MR.: Thank you.
Myers: I get to pick.
Rumsfeld: You get to pick.
Q: Sir, he picked me already. (Laughter, cross talk.)
Rumsfeld: No, he picks. He picks. He picks.
Myers: One last question. The man in the blue shirt, red tie, right in the middle.
Q: Blue shirt --
Rumsfeld: Aren't we a little heavy on blue shirts?
Myers: It's a popular saying in --
Q: Matt Fox from the BBC. Thank you, sir. Thanks for picking me, General Myers. I'm actually going to ask Secretary Rumsfeld a question. (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Even better!
Myers: As far as I'm concerned -- no --
Q: I'm doing the dirty on you.
Secretary Rumsfeld, the weapons inspectors at the U.N. have asked for many more months to continue their task. Should they be given that extra time or not?
Rumsfeld: Well, I'm not a participant in the U.N. process. That's a judgment that the president will make.
I will put it this way. If you believe that the reason the inspector's there is not to inspect the weapons of a cooperative country, but rather to go out and discover and find things that that country is trying to hide, then you could add months or years. I mean, look at the size of the place. Look at the number of underground bunkers and tunnels. There isn't any way in the world the so-called inspectors could go out and find things that that country is determined not to show them.
So I can understand if someone has it in their mind that they're not inspectors, and we misnamed them, it's a big mistake; we're very sorry; we really meant to call them "discoverers" and "finders." Then I can understand someone thinking that's a good idea.
If, on the other hand, you read the U.N. resolution carefully and decided that, gee, that unanimous vote was not for discovers or finders; it was for inspectors -- and we know what an inspector's for. Inspector goes into a country that has made a conscious decision that it is in their interest to get the world community to believe what they're seeing, namely, that they do not have something. Kazakhstan did it. Ukraine did it. South Africa did it. The world's got experience with inspectors going in. And they opened the thing up, and they let people talk to their scientists, and they did all the perfectly rational things you do if you are cooperating. But that is not what's going on.
Now it wouldn't take a few more months. It would take years of -- and only -- and my guess is, the only way you'd ever find anything of any note would be if there were defectors, if you got people out, could talk to them, and they told you where to go, and you were able, somehow or other, to evade the surveillance of the Iraqi minders who tend these inspectors, and get to some place before the Iraqis got there to move things. And that's a very difficult thing to do.
So my feeling is, the test ought not to be have they found anything and how many more years will it take to do that; the test ought to be are the Iraqis cooperating. That's what's being debated. That's what should be being debated. That's what the resolution said should be being considered. And that's what this period has been about. This period has been about not finding things, but going in and conducting a series of activities and inspections and discussions so that the world can judge the extent to which Iraq is or is not cooperating.
Q: Can I have a follow-up, please?
Rumsfeld: I was told -- yeah, the boss said you could get a follow-up.
Q: For General Myers.
Rumsfeld: Is it a real follow-up?
Q: For General Myers --
Rumsfeld: Is it a real one?
Q: It is a real one yes.
Rumsfeld: I'm not sure I'm going to like to hear this. (Laughter.)
Q: General Myers, one --
Myers: That was a very good answer. I can't imagine there would be anything left to discuss here.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, are you thus saying that the whole role of the inspectors has been misinterpreted and misconstrued right from the beginning?
Rumsfeld: Well, I'm sure some people have misconstrued it. I certainly haven't. The president hasn't. Most of the people we talk to understand what -- you talk to the prior inspectors, what they -- they recognize the difficulty of that job. I think the press has kind of liked following the inspectors around in a mob and seeing where they're going and taking pictures and saying, "Oh, my goodness, they didn't find anything; what a surprise." But I don't know that the world's misconstrued it. Do you feel you misconstrued it?
Q: General Myers --
Rumsfeld: I mean, I didn't misconstrue it. I'm sure all these bright people here didn't misconstrue it.
Q: General Myers. One more. General Myers --
Rumsfeld: It's over, I'm told.
Q: General Myers?
Moderator: Yes, sir. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Moderator: -- and General Myers.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Nice to see you all.