Rumsfeld Says Job Not Over
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that much remains to be done in Iraq and that he doesn’t know how large or how long an allied presence might be needed there.
A day after President Bush flew to a U.S. aircraft carrier off California to proclaim success in ousting President Saddam Hussein, the defense secretary said that although major fighting in Iraq is over, it would be “a terrible mistake” to assume the war-torn nation is secure.
“It is dangerous,” Rumsfeld said of the situation in Iraq.
“There are people who are rolling hand grenades into compounds. There are people who are shooting people, and it is not finished.
“The president said that we have moved from a period of major military conflict to a period of stabilization,” he said. “There will be pockets of resistance. There will be people killed.”
Rumsfeld, joining his British counterpart, Geoff Hoon, at a news conference here, said it was too early to say how long allied forces will have to remain in Iraq and how many troops will be involved. “There are so many variables,” he said.
But Rumsfeld did say he favored the United Nations playing some role in reconstruction.
Asked about the fate of Hussein, Hoon said, “Certainly, we will continue our investigations to either prove that he’s dead or he can be brought to account.”
Rumsfeld, stopping in London at the end of a weeklong tour of Persian Gulf countries to consult with regional leaders, paid a visit to U.S. troops in Baghdad on Wednesday.