Rumsfeld defends Iraq

Pentagon producer Luis Martinez blogs:

When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaks to the convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars tonight he will mount a spirited defense of the War in Iraq as a frontline in the War on Terror. Rumsfeld's comments will echo Vice President Cheney's comments to the same veterans group earlier today. (At left, Rumsfeld in Alaska on Saturday.)

In excerpts from his remarks tonight, Secretary Rumsfeld is critical of what he calls “the lack of perspective� involved in the current domestic debate over the progress War on Terror. A perspective not lost on veterans who've sacrificed so much in "freedom's defense."

He argues the ongoing debate could give "the enemy the false impression that Americans cannot stomach a tough fight. We must work hard to keep a "Blame America First" mentality from undermining our efforts in another long war against a determined enemy."

Rumsfeld will highlight the difficulties of the War on Terror where the US faces “an enemy unlike any we have known. An enemy that has no country to defend, has signed no treaties, and does not honor the conventions or laws of war. As we have seen recently, our enemy is seeking to strike again on a massive scale.�

Rumsfeld's comments indicate a frustration with Islamic terrorists and fighters who constantly lie “and portray our cause as a war on Islam when in fact the overwhelming majority of victims of their terrorism have been thousands and thousands of innocent Muslims -- men, women, and children.� (At right, Rumsfeld inspects interceptor missiles in Alaska on Sunday.)

He adds: “As our forces strive to protect civilians, the enemy uses civilians as shields. As our troops strive to obey the laws of warfare, the enemy uses those laws against us. As our troops are held to a standard of near perfection, the enemy is held to no standard at all. And while some argue for tossing in the towel, the enemy is waiting and hoping for us to do just that.�

Rumsfeld notes that while there’s debate within the United States on whether or not Iraq is a battlefront in the War on Terror, there's no hesitation about Iraq’s status from America's enemies. “The extremists openly call Iraq the 'epicenter' in the War on Terror. And they mean it. Yet even today so many seem to want to argue otherwise.�

He concludes: “The great story of America is instead one of grit, of determination and victory. And that story is still unfolding. Americans didn't cross oceans and settle a wilderness and build history's greatest democracy, only to run away from murderers and extremists who try to kill everyone they cannot convert and try to tear down what they could never build.�

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