Rumsfeld: 'Weakness Is Provocative'

At the NATO summit in Prague today, ABCNEWS' Terry Moran down with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was skeptical about the potential effectiveness of United Nations weapons inspectors if Iraq continues to maintain that it has no chemical or nuclear weapons.

ABCNEWS' Terry Moran: Mr. Secretary, there has been another shooting incident on American troops in Kuwait. This is the latest in a series. In that country of all countries — given what the U.S. military did for the people of Kuwait — why can't we keep our troops safe?

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: Assuming that there is a terrorist act: The advantages of a terrorist are great, they can attack at any time, at any place, using any technique. We are engaged in the world in a fairly classic battle and it's a battle between the rule of law and a large number of very well trained fanatics and extremists and terrorists. That means that if a person is determined they can in fact engage in a terrorist act. Will they prevail over the long term? No. Is it possible for people to kill other people? Yes.

Force protection is always a problem when there's tension, and there has been tension in the Gulf.

Moran: What do you say to people who say going to war against Iraq is going to enrage Arab populations, and put U.S. troops and U.S. interests and Americans throughout the region at risk?

Rumsfeld: All I can say is if history has taught anything, it's that weakness is provocative. It entices people into doing things that they otherwise would not do. The course of action that says 'Don't make Saddam Hussein unhappy or mad because he might do something' is kind of like feeding an alligator hoping it eats you last.

If Not Willing to Disarm, Failure

Moran: About the U.N. resolution: Iraq has said it has no weapons of mass destruction; December 8 is the date that it has to declare fully. Is the United States prepared to prove on its own that Iraq has these weapons, or is that a job exclusively for the weapons inspectors and the Security Council?

Rumsfeld: Inspectors trying to inspect a country that is not ready to disarm can't be successful. The only way you would have inspectors are to inspect something, not to force anything.

Moran: So if Iraq denies that it has any weapons of mass destruction…

Rumsfeld: It's doing that every day.

Moran: And if it files that declaration on Dec. 8, that's it for the inspectors? There's no way they could work?

Rumsfeld: I don't know how. If a country is determined to fool the inspectors, they can do that. They can use all kind of techniques.

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