Accessibility links

Rumsfeld:  Progress Being Made in Iraq's Reconstruction - 2003-10-30

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insists progress is being made in the reconstruction of Iraq despite an escalation in terrorist bombings.

Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledges there is a difficult security situation in Iraq and he concedes there may be further setbacks.

At the same time, speaking at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld also admits there are no easy and quick solutions for stopping the ongoing terrorist attacks.

"There aren't short-term fixes to these problems," he said. "An attacker has the advantage and that is why the task is to root out terrorists and terrorist organizations where they are, to find them and to capture them or kill them and that is what we are doing."

Over 230 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq as a result of what the Pentagon terms hostile fire. More than half of those deaths have occurred since the end of major combat operations on May First.

In addition, scores of the ever-growing number of new Iraqi security forces have been killed, along with many Iraqi civilians.

Mr. Rumsfeld calls the casualty toll heartbreaking. "It's always heartbreaking when you see fine young people, men and women in our services, coalition forces, the Iraqi security forces and innocent Iraqis being killed and there have been a lot of innocent Iraqis that have been killed in the last three or four or five days," he said.

The violence has been blamed on supporters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as well as foreign fighters who have entered Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld says coalition forces have captured some 200 to 300 fighters believed to be foreigners, mainly from Syria and Lebanon.

Despite this, the Defense Secretary says remarkable progress is being made in Iraq, citing creation of a cabinet of ministers, formation of new security forces, the introduction of a new currency and other achievements. He says the introduction of such reforms in Iraq is outpacing the post-war reconstruction of Germany, Japan and the Balkans.

"The difficult security situation makes the progress being made all the more remarkable," he said. "Not only has the coalition managed to outpace the progress in post-war Germany, Japan, Bosnia or Kosovo, they have done it under fire."

Mr. Rumsfeld denies he is trying to put an optimistic face on a difficult situation. But he told reporters the Pentagon has made an effort to point out progress in Iraq because he charges it is being largely ignored in the news media, which he says are focused on terrorist bombings and sabotage