U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrapped up his visit to Iraq at a Christmas Eve dinner with American troops in Mosul, the country’s second largest city and one of its most volatile.
Escorted by Apache helicopters to the U.S. regional headquarters in Mosul, Rumsfeld lent a hand serving troops a dinner of lobster tails and steak.
Addressing troops later, he reflected on a year in which, he said, Iraqi security forces had assumed greater responsibilities.
“When you read things and hear things that express doubt about the future here in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, know that there have always been doubts expressed, there have always been those who have suggested that the cause could not be successful, that the cause would be lost,” he said.
“In fact it was the people who persevered that proved them wrong. The great sweep of human history is for freedom and we’re on the side of freedom.
“In the struggle between freedom and tyranny, freedom ultimately prevails.”
Rumsfeld said the war in Iraq would go down in history as the “liberation of a country that once was an ally of terrorists”.
“It will recount the battles that defeated Saddam’s regime and the struggles that helped Iraq along its path to democracy, ushering in a new chapter in the Middle East, a hopeful era.”
Rumsfeld was coming to the end of a two-day visit to Iraq which followed trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It was the second Christmas in a row Rumsfeld had spent with troops in Iraq.