The secretary also commented on media reports that suggest support for military action in Iraq is eroding. Such reports led Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, to say before the Senate Armed Services Committee in June that, "We cannot win without the support of the American people."
Although "it's fine" to have "debate and discussion" on the military situation in Iraq, Rumsfeld said, it is important that "we recognize that there are effects from our words."
When people make inaccurate statements that the United States in is a quagmire in Iraq, that gives "encouragement to people who then say to themselves, 'Well, if we just hold out, we may win this thing in Iraq,'" Rumsfeld added.
"Our goal is not to give encouragement to them," he said.
Commenting on the effect the media can have on public opinion, the secretary told Bill Cunningham of 700 WLW in Cincinnati, "If people constantly hear only negative things on television and read it in the media or a large measure they hear eight negatives for one positive, one ought not to be surprised that they're concerned about it."
However, he added, "Given sufficient information they (Americans) find their way to right decisions, and I have a lot of confidence in the American people."
Rush Limbaugh also commented in much the same vein (In a much cruder and less sophisticated manner, of course.)
Later on in this story, Sen. Boxer is quoted as saying, "The insurgents are winning the propaganda wars now." With whose help, Senator, are they winning the propaganda war? Sen. Durbin? The New York Times? Abu Ghraib and Gitmo protests? The ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union]? A couple of federal judges? Who's helping the terrorists? Who's helping the insurgent terrorists win the propaganda war? Who is it that when the terrorists speak and some Americans speak -- who is it that sounds like the terrorists? Who is it that has the same criticisms of this country that the terrorists do? It's your party, Ms. Boxer. It's the American left. The worldwide left.
When bin Laden talks about the "evils" of the United States and why it must be attacked -- it sounds like John Kerry in his 2004 presidential campaign. When whoever did this in London explains why they did it -- sounds like any liberal criticizing a successful capitalist country to me. So when you want to talk about, Sen. Boxer, the insurgents are winning the propaganda war, my question is, "Who's helping them? Who's assisting them? Who's going ape and bananas over Abu Ghraib and Gitmo? Who is aiding and abetting them? Who, who is it when they speak in this country -- the terrorists sit back and laugh themselves silly?" It's you, Sen. Boxer, and members of your party.
Two conservative spokespeople telling American critics of the Iraq War to basically "SHUT UP!!" Neither of them appears to have the slightest idea of just what exactly separates a democracy from a tyranny and why the distinction is important. Success in wartime has never resulted from critics holding their tongues or stifling their writings.
Success has always come about by PERSUADING citizens that they need to support the country's latest effort.
Succes has always resulted from citizens VOLUNTARILY toeing the line, from what the German General Heinz Guderian identified as "confident collaboration from below."
Success has not come from a forced, silent, sullen citizenry since the French Revolution introduced the concept of the Levée en masse in 1793. Wars since then have depended on an enthusiastic, committed citizenry. Immediately after September 11, 2001, Bush advised Americans to "go shopping" and has done absolutely nothing to mobilize Americans to fight thee war in Iraq.
My suspicon of course, is that Rumsfeld and other conservative spokespeople know full well that the Iraq War is being lost and are trying to establish blame, a "stab-in-the-back" theory that they can use as an ex-post-facto justification for losing it.