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Rumsfeld: Iraq not Vietnam. Honestly.

Iraq Constitution Major Step to New Way of Life, Rumsfeld Says

Defense Department Report, August 23: Iraq Update

Washington -- Completing a constitution will be another important Iraqi step toward a new way of life "ruled by ballot boxes rather than by death squads," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says.

Briefing journalists at the Pentagon August 23, Rumsfeld noted that the document's completion "has been delayed a bit, but democracy has never been described as speedy, efficient or perfect." He said the draft being worked on "will require a respect for democratic principles and the rights of women and minorities."

Iraqi Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'a will need to have "reasonable confidence" that the new constitution will protect each of them. "That is a big deal. That is tough stuff. That is hard work. That is a leap of faith," Rumsfeld said. "Therefore the constitution, to be successful, has to take into account the legitimate interests and fashion a balance in the federalism aspect of it and in the other key things that they're worried about."

Rumsfeld rejected the notion that the United States is failing in Iraq, and that Iraq is becoming like Vietnam. "It's worth noting," he said, "that the enemy does not appear to share that view. On the contrary, terrorists like [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi are indicating concern about the lack of support from the Iraqi people."

The secretary gave his own assessment of the reasons for terrorists' pessimism: "[T]he terrorists, the insurgents, are not a nationalist movement with a strong popular support. They have lost their safe havens in Iraq. Their most prominent leaders are not Iraqis, they're not Ho Chi Minhs with a nationalist base, but, in the case of Zarqawi, a Jordanian murderer. And their massacres of innocents have outraged most Iraqis rather than attracting broad support."

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