Sunday, June 26, 2005

Rumsfeld on Iraq

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld addressed the situation in Iraq on several of the Sunday morning talk shows today. Rumsfeld warned that the insurgency in Iraq may last a long time.

"I would anticipate you're going to see an escalation of violence between now and the December elections," the Pentagon chief told NBC's "Meet the Press." And after then, it will take a long time to drive out insurgents.

"Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years," Rumsfeld said on "Fox News Sunday."

"Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency. We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency," he said.

Before the war, Vice President Dick Cheney predicted that Iraqis freed from Saddam Hussein's rule would greet American troops as liberators. Rumsfeld said Sunday he gave President Bush a list of about 15 things "that could go terribly, terribly wrong before the war started."

He said they included Iraq's oil wells being set on fire; mass refugees and relocations; blown-up bridges; and a moat of oil around Baghdad, the capital.

"So a great many of the bad things that could have happened did not happen," Rumsfeld said.

Asked if his list included the possibility of such a strong insurgency, Rumsfeld said: "I don't remember whether that was on there, but certainly it was discussed."

This is effectively an admission by Rumsfeld that the insurgency we've seen in Iraq wasn't even on a very lengthy list of potential postwar problems. Of course, General Eric Shinseki, at that time the Army Chief of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2003 that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to secure Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein's government. General Shinseki's prediction prompted two very public rebukes--one from Rumsfeld and one from his chief deputy, Paul Wolfowitz--and ultimately his ouster from the Army.

For more on Rumsfeld's comments today, see this Washington Post story.