WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search) said Sunday it may take as long as 12 years to defeat Iraqi insurgents and that Iraqi security forces will finish the job because U.S. and foreign troops will have left the country.
Rumsfeld, addressing a question about whether U.S. troops levels are adequate to vanquish the increasingly violent resistance, said, "We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.
"Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency," the Pentagon chief told "FOX News Sunday."
"We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency," he said.
Rumsfeld, in interviews on the Sunday news shows, warned that the insurgency could grow through the year as Iraqi leaders develop a constitution for a democratic government.
At the same time, Rumsfeld defended Vice President Dick Cheney's (search) description of the insurgency as being in its "last throes." Rumsfeld said the U.S. commander in the Middle East did not contradict Cheney when he told the Senate last week that the insurgency was as strong as it was six months ago.
"If you look up 'last throes,' it can mean a violent last throe," Rumsfeld said on a Sunday network news show. The insurgency led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) "may very well continue to or get more violent because they have so much to lose between now and December," he said.
Iraqis are supposed to vote in December on a government to be outlined in the constitution.
"There is no Ho Chi Minh or there is no Mao (Zedong)," Rumsfeld told "FOX News Sunday," referring to the famed revolutionary leaders in Vietnam and China.
"[Zarqawi]'s a Jordanian and he's doing it not against a dictatorial government, he's doing it against an elected Iraqi government. He is going out and beheading people. He's killing dozens of Iraqis and Iraqi security forces.... He's out attacking the institution that the Iraqi people have confidence in. And the Iraqi government, they have confidence in," he said.
Rumsfeld said Iraqi security forces have gained respect among the Iraqi people. He suggested that the ability of insurgents to kill in large numbers does not mean public support is diminishing or that political, economic and security progress has been lacking.
"It doesn't take a genius to go blow up a restaurant or attack a police station, a suicide bomber. You can kill -- a kid with a suicide vest can kill a lot of people," the secretary said.
"Does that mean that the population is 'going south' and there's no plan and no progress? No, it doesn't mean that at all," he said.
Last week, Sen. Joseph Biden (search), D-Del., said commanders he met while in Iraq recently indicated Iraqi forces will require two more years of training before they can replace U.S. troops. On Sunday, Rumsfeld said it would take "some time" to train Iraqis but said all sorts of variables make it was difficult to know precisely how much time.
"Anyone who thinks they can predict that it's one year or two years I think is thinking they know things that they can't know," he said.
Rumsfeld also dismissed claims that the Army, which has missed recruitment goals for each of the last four months, is "broken." Such talk is not helping recruitment, he said
"We've missed the goals in recruiting previously in other years, and the world goes on," he said. "The Army is not broken. This is the finest army on the face of the Earth."