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Rumsfeld Will Not Resign Wants More Support For War Instead

In his opening statement Thursday he quoted Franklin Delano Roosevelt appealing to the American public to support the war fully. Borrowing Roosevelt's words, Rumsfeld said: "Today as well, we can prevail only if we are in it all the way."
by Pamela Hess
UPI Pentagon Correspondent
Washington (UPI) Mar 27, 2006
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday he does not consider himself "embattled" and is not considering resigning. "Those kinds of calls have been going on for five-plus years. And the president has asked me not to get involved in politics, and that's politics," Rumsfeld said at a press conference Thursday.

A retired U.S. Army major general who trained Iraqi soldiers from 2003 to 2004 -- as the insurgency was strengthening -- wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday that Rumsfeld is "not competent" to lead American forces, citing Rumsfeld's failure to build a real coalition to fight the Iraq war, and for cowing his military advisers rather than soliciting and taking their advice. Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton called on Rumsfeld to resign.

He denied twice before a question was even finished that he had been sidelined in the administration because of his declining popularity.

"No, I'm hard at the job, working hard, and getting up every day and thinking what we can do for the troops and the wonderful people who serve our country," he said.

According to the latest polls, the Iraq war, Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush are all in trouble. A Fox News poll showed 55 percent do not believe the effort in Iraq will result in a stable government. An ABC News poll in the beginning of March showed Bush was viewed unfavorably by 54 percent of the respondents. A recent Harris Poll showed Rumsfeld as rated as only fair or poor by 61 percent of respondents.

Rumsfeld said he is not concerned by the sinking favorability ratings for the war. He takes a long view, and believes history will show this is the right fight to be in.

"I've read that polls may be down and are down in some instances," Rumsfeld said. "They do tend to go up and down depending on circumstances. And if every time a poll went down, somebody changed their policy or changed their position or tossed in the towel, we wouldn't have a country today. There have been plenty of times polls have down in our history when people have persevered and been resolute and prevailed ultimately. And that's what will happen in this instance."

The sinking polls have pushed Bush into a fresh public relations campaign to shore up support for the war, something a senior officer said Thursday is too little, too late.

"When you are only talking about it because you are already in trouble, it's too late. When you are only trying to win allies when you need them, it's too late," the officer said.

The officer is concerned because he sees now as a critical time in Iraq, as it sputters to put together a government that can rule the fractious country, lead it out of the insurgency and put it on a path toward economic and political stability.

The stakes may well be high. If Iraq fails, there is a strong chance U.S. troops will be tied down there for many years more, at a cost of billions and more American lives. If they are not, the country could become the "new" Afghanistan, a place used by terrorists to organize, train and fundraise, while attacks are launched on Middle Eastern, European and American targets. If Iraq was not a terrorist hub prior to the U.S. invasion, it has become one, U.S. military officials say, with fighters gaining experience and making contacts there, then moving to other places where they could start new terrorist cells.

The war has three centers of gravity, the senior officer said, all of which must hold if the Iraq war is to be won: the will of the American people to stay and fight, incurring the costs in both blood and treasure; the goodwill of the Iraqi people toward their American occupiers; and the ability of the all-volunteer military to sustain the operations tempo and get the funding it needs to replace and repair and upgrade its weaponry.

"War is mostly a matter of will," the officer said Thursday.

All three are in flux. The American will seems to be waning. Iraqis tell pollsters they are increasingly afraid their country is edging closer to civil war and anarchy. Getting sufficient funds for the direct and indirect costs of war costs and enough time off for the troops relied on to fight it is a struggle, the senior officer said.

Rumsfeld seems to understand that. In his opening statement Thursday he quoted Franklin Delano Roosevelt appealing to the American public to support the war fully. Borrowing Roosevelt's words, Rumsfeld said: "Today as well, we can prevail only if we are in it all the way."

But he sidestepped the question of whether he believes the United States is "in it all the way," or if there is something more to be done -- tax increases to pay for $250 billion cost of the Iraq war so far, which is being covered by deficit spending, or an expansion of the size of the military.

Shoring up the will of the people to fight a long war should happen before the nation commits to it, several officers commented Thursday.

Source: United Press International

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Northern Iraq Operation Nets 40 Insurgents Including Al-Qaeda Members
Kirkuk, Iraq, March 26 (AFP) Mar 26, 2006
An Iraqi army operation backed by US forces arrested 40 suspected insurgents, including Al-Qaeda supporters, in northern Iraq, an Iraqi general said on Sunday. The operation, which lasted for three days, was carried out by the Iraqi army with air support from US forces and took place around Hawija.

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