RUMSFELD: Well, I mean, just to give you one example, when you demonstrate weakness as a country, people take advantage of that. The phrase "weakness is provocative" is real. It encourages people to do things they wouldn't otherwise think of.
And so this pattern of apology by this president, the pattern of not even getting a status of forces agreement in Iraq, where we would have had an arrangement with that country, the setting of a timetable in Afghanistan, it seems to me, all are examples of a withdrawal, a decline, a pullback by our country.
And I think that that's unfortunate because I think that the -- that vacuum's being filled, and it's being filled by people who don't have our interests at heart.
VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned Iraq. I read just moments before coming in here that September was our deadliest month, the deadliest month in Iraq in 12 years.
RUMSFELD: There were -- the fact that a number of additional troops were put in Afghanistan led to additional targets in Afghanistan. And there, too, we've seen a good many attacks against our forces.
VAN SUSTEREN: We hit our -- we hit our 2,000 milepost over the weekend in Afghanistan.
VAN SUSTEREN: That doesn't count the people who came back and were severely injured and may have died from their injuries.
VAN SUSTEREN: So your assessment of the war now, both wars?
RUMSFELD: I think that each country is considerably better off by not having the Taliban in Afghanistan and not having the "Butcher of Baghdad," Saddam Hussein, in Iraq. The countries have been given an opportunity to have a freer political system and a freer economic system. They've fashioned their own constitutions.
They are going to have to -- those countries are going to have to plan their future and figure out their future and make their future. We can't build nations for other countries, the United States. But we can be helpful. And if we do it in a wise way, we can set them on a path that will be better for their people and better for the region and better for the United States. That does not mean we have to stay there forever, in my view.
VAN SUSTEREN: This administration -- I was in Afghanistan, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a group of women that the United States would not leave and let the Taliban come and continue to do the things to the women that they're going to do, that they did historically. It looks like the Taliban is coming in full force.
RUMSFELD: I don't know that.
VAN SUSTEREN: You don't think they're coming in at full force, the Taliban?
RUMSFELD: Full force? I wouldn't...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you don't see...
RUMSFELD: ... use the phrase.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... the -- I mean, I guess the -- that there's a strong presence of the Taliban right now.
RUMSFELD: There's no question the Taliban was shoved out of that country, and a Karzai government was elected and a new constitution. It's also no question but that they've been reorganizing in Pakistan and they've been attempting to reassert themselves within the country. How far they'll get, I don't know.
I think that the -- the people of Afghanistan were relieved when the Taliban was gone. Now, is it intimidating? Do they kill people? You bet. They were using the soccer stadiums to cut off heads. Women couldn't go out without a male member of their family. Women couldn't get health care in that country.
But a lot of refugees who left the country have come back. I think the people of Afghanistan like the fact that they had an election and voted for their parliament. And I think they have a crack at building a better country.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you optimistic?
RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm realistic, I think. I think it's up to them. They're going to have to pull up their socks and grab it and make it work, and they're going to have to make it work in a way that won't be exactly the way we made it work. But it's a tough path for them, no question about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Egypt -- and now that President Morsi is in command -- your thoughts. Is this better for the United States? How does this -- how does Israel -- is this better for Israel? Israel should be nervous or uncertain, or is this worse?
RUMSFELD: Oh, I think it's worse for Israel, without question. I mean, Sadat, Anwar Sadat, and Mubarak fashioned a relationship with Israel that created a stable situation there and put Israel in a much more secure circumstance.
Morsi is Muslim Brotherhood. He -- the Salafists in the parliament, with the Muslim Brotherhood, have control. The stabilizing influence in that country, in my view, is the military. And how that will shake out over time -- but I personally -- I don't think we're better off there. I think you can't be better off with a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, in my view.
Furthermore, I think you can't be better off if the impression in that part of the world is that we've turned away from the liberals, we've turned away from the people that were supporters of freer political system and freer economic system. And -- and I guess the secretary of state, when she was over there, was -- had tomatoes thrown at the United States secretary of state. And it wasn't by Muslim Brotherhood people. I'm told it was by people who feel that we've left them. We've left them in the lurch.
And the other problem you have with what happened to Mubarak is other countries around the world see that and they see that the White House in the United States, as they say, threw him under the bus, cut him loose, said he should go. Every leader in that part of the world wonders, are they next? Are they going to be told by the White House that they should go and shift support away from them?
Our country went through a long, tough process. We went through a horrible civil war. We had slaves into the 1800s. Women didn't vote into the 19 -- we didn't arrive like this.
And those countries are going to be perfect. They're going to be imperfect, if perfect is what we think of ourselves. We're still evolving, and they're going to evolve. They're going to be different than we are.
And for us to be as judgmental to think that we're going to be better off with the Muslim Brotherhood than we are with the Sadat or Mubarak governments, or that Israel's going to be better off, I think is missing the point. I just don't believe that's true.
VAN SUSTEREN: One last question. Next four years with a President Romney and foreign policy and next four years with a President Obama foreign policy. What's the -- what do you foresee as the difference and where are they similar?
RUMSFELD: Oh, I think the difference will be significant. Normally, the Republican and the Democratic Party have really within been within the 40-yard lines, to use a seasonal figure of speech. But I think in this case of this president, we're not. We're -- we're -- he's -- he's way, way over in terms of the policy.
Governor Romney without doubt understands that our country is exceptional. He recognizes the role we've played in the world. He believes that the world is a better place if we are a participant in that world and recognizes that it is not for us to go around the world apologizing and wringing our hands.
What's called the Arab spring is really something that's happening in the Islamic world. It's not Arab only because it's happening in a good many other countries, as you know well. And it's not spring, but it's summer and fall and it's going to be winter. It is a significant shift on the part of a lot of people in a lot of countries, who are encouraged and see the rise of Islamist non-secular forces in those countries. And that is not in our interests.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Secretary, always nice to see you, sir.