Rumsfeld Says Calls for Ouster 'Will Pass'
By THOM SHANKER and DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: April 18, 2006
WASHINGTON, April 17 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld predicted Monday
that calls from retired generals for him to step down would fade away, and
he dismissed the criticism as a standard part of the history of American
combat since the Revolutionary War.
"This, too, will pass," Mr. Rumsfeld said during an interview with Rush
Limbaugh, the conservative nationally syndicated radio host.
"So I'm here at the Pentagon doing my job, working on transformation and
seeing that we manage the force in a successful way, and working on things
involving Iraq," Mr. Rumsfeld said, according to a transcript posted on the
radio program's Web site.
Mr. Rumsfeld and senior military commanders in Iraq are planning to meet
Tuesday with a group of retired officers and civilian analysts as part of an
effort by the Pentagon to stanch calls for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation from a
half-dozen retired generals.
The retired officers and analysts invited to the Pentagon on Tuesday are
among a group that appears frequently on television, and are invited
regularly to meetings at the Defense Department, some of which have been
addressed by Mr. Rumsfeld. Some of the television commentators and analysts
have visited Iraq on trips organized by the Pentagon.
But the session on Tuesday is unusual in part because it will include
remarks from commanders in Iraq, who will appear via satellite.
Pentagon officials may be hoping that putting forward senior civilian and
military officials at the same time will demonstrate that relations at the
top level remain unaffected by the recent calls for the defense secretary's
Topics for the closed session, scheduled to last several hours, include the
war in Iraq and the broader campaign against terrorism, Bryan Whitman, a
Pentagon spokesman, said on Monday.
Mr. Whitman described Tuesday's meeting as part of "a regular program"
intended to provide the analysts and commentators with "factual information,
statistics, to keep them in a position where they can add some value and
context to the reporting."
In his radio interview, Mr. Rumsfeld said that those who had spoken out
against him represented "the same kinds of criticism that occurred in the
Revolutionary War and World War I and World War II and the Korean War,
Vietnam War; it's not new."
While acknowledging that "wars are terrible things," Mr. Rumsfeld added, "On
the other hand, if every time there were critics and opponents to war, we
wouldn't have won the Revolutionary War and we wouldn't have been involved
in World War I or II, and if we had, we would have failed, and our country
would be a totally different place if it existed at all, if every time there
were some critics that we tossed in the towel."
The effort to counter global terrorism is "a test of wills," Mr. Rumsfeld
said, and cautioned that "if you started chasing, running around chasing
public opinion polls or a handful of people who are critics of this or
critics on that, you wouldn't get anywhere in this world."
Mr. Rumsfeld said "the sharper the criticism comes, sometimes the sharper
the defense comes from people who don't agree with the critics."
Among retired officers who have recently spoken out on Mr. Rumsfeld's behalf
are Gen. Richard B. Myers, who stepped down last year as chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who headed the central
command at the time of the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.