Rumsfeld Says Calls for Ouster 'Will Pass'

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 resignation.

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.