Saturday, April 08, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld: Iran Prez Will Weaken

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld predicted yesterday that saber rattling by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will backfire, isolating him from the international community and ultimately weakening his hold over the Iranian people. READ MORE

"The Iranian people do not want to be isolated from the world," Rumsfeld told ABC Radio host Sean Hannity.

"And I think that Ahmadinejad is behaving in a way that may have that effect, and I think that it could weaken his position over time."

Rumsfeld acknowledged that Iran posed a threat to both the U.S. and Israel, but refused to answer a direct question about whether he thought a war was likely.

"They sponsor terrorism with Hezbollah and Hamas," the defense chief said. "They are spending their time with Syria and North Korea and people like that."

Rumsfeld cautioned, however, that President Bush "is on a diplomatic track. That's his decision, and it's the right decision in my view. And all efforts are being made to see that the United Nations engages that subject. And I think it's best to leave it at that."

On Iraq, Rumsfeld rejected criticism from Sen. John Kerry, who urged the Bush administration this week to withdraw all U.S. troops next month unless Baghdad forms a representative government.

"I think that there's a risk in being too heavy-handed and to visible in mandating what should take place in what is a sovereign country," he told Hannity. "The risk of that is that you're going to end up with a government that doesn't have the support of the Iraqi people, that it is a government that's imposed on them on a timetable and with certain stipulations."

Asked about the increasingly harsh attacks by anti-war critics, the Pentagon leader said opposition to wars and the presidents who waged them is nothing new.

"I was alive during World War II, and I think of what was said of Franklin Delano Roosevelt . . . When I was in Congress, President Johnson was president, and he couldn't leave the White House to give a speech. They had to put buses around the White House to keep the demonstrators from coming on the White House grounds.

"If you go back in history and think of the things that were said about Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, it was as abusive as it could be."

Still, Rumsfeld noted, "We survived that."