Tuesday :: Jul 1, 2003

Rummy's Effort at Spin Leads to Laughter at the Pentagon Briefing


by Steve

Well, at least the reporters at the Pentagon yesterday had a good laugh at Rummy’s expense when he tried to assert that contrary to the Defense Department’s own definition, what is going on in Iraq is not a guerrilla war.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ask you about a couple of words and phrases that keep popping up in the commentary about what's going on. One of them is "guerrilla war," and the other one is "quagmire." Now, I know you've admonished us not to --

Rumsfeld: I never have admonished you.

Q: -- not to rush to any judgment about a quagmire just because things are getting tough. But can you remind us again why this isn't a quagmire? And can you tell us why you're so reluctant to say that what's going on in Iraq now is a guerrilla war?

Rumsfeld: I'll do my best. I guess the reason I don't use the phrase "guerrilla war" is because there isn't one, and it would be a misunderstanding and a miscommunication to you and to the people of the country and the world. If you think what I just answered on the first question -- looters, criminals, remnants of the Ba'athist regime, foreign terrorists who came in to assist and try to harm the coalition forces, and those influenced by Iran -- I would say that those are five, if that was five items, five different things.

They're all slightly different in why they're there and what they're doing. That is -- doesn't make it anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance. It makes it like five different things going on that are functioning much more like terrorists.

I mean, if you think of what the Ba'athists and the remnants are doing, well, think what they did during the war, the Fedayeen Saddam. They put civilian clothes on, went around and took women and children and shoved them in front of them in Basra, as I recall, during the early part of the war, and attempted to use human shields and that kind of an approach. Now, that is not -- it doesn't fit that word.

So, I think I think that if one analyzes what is going on in that country, they would find a different way to characterize it. I know it's nice to be -- have a bumper sticker, but it's the wrong bumper sticker.

Q: Well, I know. But appreciating, as I do, your appreciation of precision in language -- (Inaudible.) --

Rumsfeld: You've got the dictionary definition?

Q: -- what the DoD definition of guerrilla war.

Rumsfeld: I was afraid you would have -- I should have looked it up. I knew I should have looked it up! (Laughter.) I --

Q: According to the Pentagon's own definition --

Rumsfeld: I could die that I didn't look it up!

Q: -- military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy- held or hostile territory by a regular -- (Inaudible.) -- indigenous forces. This seems to fit a lot of what's going on in Iraq.

Rumsfeld: It really doesn't. (Laughter.)

For the record, the Pentagon defines guerrilla warfare as:

guerrilla warfare: Military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces. (Joint Pub 1-02).

Since four of the five “different things” Rummy uses in his rationale are indigenous forces (“looters, criminals, remnants of the Ba'athist regime, foreign terrorists who came in to assist and try to harm the coalition forces, and those influenced by Iran”), thus making them predominant, he is winging it here.

It’s good to see the Pentagon media still retains its sense of humor when it is being spun by Rummy.

Steve :: 9:02 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!