Rumsfeld agonises over US failures in 'war on terror'

Donald Rumsfeld has expressed doubts about America's progress in the so-called war on terror, saying the country is in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an internal memo to senior Pentagon officials, the Defence Secretary cited "mixed results" in the fight against al-Qa'ida and said the US had failed to make any "truly bold moves". He went on to say attempts to transform the Pentagon quickly enough to become efficient at dealing with terrorists rather than a more conventional enemy had proved impossible.

"My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?" he wrote in the memo, dated 16 October. "It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."

Mr Rumsfeld's comments present a far more stark assessment of American pro-gress in Iraq and in dealing with al-Qa'ida than he makes in public. They are also at odds with the "positive news" campaign President George Bush and his officials has been pursuing in recent weeks to try to persuade the public that progress is being made in Iraq.

In the memo - circulated to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, General Dick Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Meyer's deputy, General Peter Pace, and Douglas Feith, the under-secretary of Defence for policy - Mr Rumsfeld asked whether the United States was "winning or losing the global war on terror".

In note form, he wrote: "We are having mixed results with al-Qa'ida, although we have put considerable pressure on them - none the less, a great many remain at large. USG [United States Government] has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis. USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban - [Taliban leader, Mullah] Omar, etc. With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started." He also said Washington could not know if it was having more success in countering terrorists than the terrorists were having in recruiting members.

"Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror," he wrote. "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?" He added: "Is our current situation such that the harder we work the behinder we get?"

In recent weeks, President Bush has been trying to emphasise positive developments in Iraq and blaming the media for "filtering out" good news. Yesterday, travelling with the President in Australia, his spokesman declined to comment directly on the memo, obtained by USA Today.

But, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Canberra, Mr Bush said: "I've always felt there's a tendency of people to kind of seek a comfort zone and hope the war on terror is over. And I view it as a responsibility of the United States to remind people of our mutual obligations to deal with the terrorists."

Mr Rumsfeld's spokesman, Larry Di Rita, said the memo was meant to raise "big questions that deserve big thinking" and preserve a "constant sense of urgency". He said the memo was one of a series of deliberately provocative questions Mr Rumsfeld regularly presented to senior Pentagon staff.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Modern Apprenticeship Assessor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Telesales Executive - Cloud Software/SaaS - £37,000 OTE

£25000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you seeking to furth...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Welding, Power Tools and PPE - £45,000 OTE

£25000 - £45000 per annum + car + benefit: h2 Recruit Ltd: A fantastic and uni...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game