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Anti-Terror Conflict Is War of Wills, Rumsfeld Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2006 – The war against global terrorism is a war of wills and ideas that's being fought across newspaper front pages and the Internet, as well as on the battlefield, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a National Press Club audience here yesterday.

Terrorists are no match for one-on-one action against the U.S. military, Rumsfeld said, so they employ irregular means -- such as improvised explosive devices -- to fight American troops in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rumsfeld said terrorists also seek to shape public opinion. "They get up in the morning, have committee meetings and think about how they're going to manipulate the world's press to their advantage," he said.

"They have repeatedly proven to be highly successful at manipulating the world's media here in this country as well as elsewhere," the secretary continued, "and they carefully plan attacks to garner headlines in their effort to try to break our will."

American global might ensures that the terrorists cannot win a military victory, Rumsfeld said.

"The United States is not going to lose wars or battles with our (military) capabilities out across the globe," Rumsfeld said. "The battle - the true battle - is a test of will and with the battleground -- the battlespace -- is less Iraq and less Afghanistan and more here in the United States and the capitals of Western nations."

The terrorists secretly operate across the Internet and in schools to spread radical Islamic thought and teachings, Rumsfeld said. They also endorse charities that front phony companies to gather funds, he said, and employ false counterfeit passports and false identities to facilitate travel.

And "because they lurk in shadows without visible armies and are willing to wait long periods between attacks, there's a tendency to underestimate the threat they pose," the secretary said.

The terrorists' goal is to establish global domination, Rumsfeld said.

"They seek to take over governments from North Africa to South Asia to re-establish a caliphate they hope one day will include every continent," Rumsfeld said. "They have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist Islamic empire."

The terrorists want to turn Iraq into another haven and center of operations, Rumsfeld said, much like the situation they once enjoyed in Afghanistan as the guests of the now-routed Taliban.

The United States is constantly employing a three-pronged strategy to thwart the terrorists' global ambitions, the secretary said.

"First, to use all elements of national power to do everything possible to prevent them from obtaining weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, nuclear," Rumsfeld explained.

The second part of the strategy, Rumsfeld said, is to "defend our homeland through sharing intelligence, law enforcement and more integrated homeland defense."

Thirdly, the United States will "help friendly nations increase their capabilities to fight terrorism in their own countries," the secretary said.

Rumsfeld cited "good progress" made against the terrorists over the past few years in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The terrorists failed to prevent the election of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the establishment of democratic government in Afghanistan, the secretary said. Terrorists also failed to stop the three democratic Iraqi elections that were successfully held last year, he said.

"The transformations that are currently under way in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown those who have been uncertain which side to take in the war on terror that there is an alternative to dictatorial regimes of the past," Rumsfeld said.

"There's an alternative to the kind of regime that existed in Iraq," the secretary continued, "that put literally hundreds of thousands of dead in mass graves under the regime of Saddam Hussein."

A recent survey demonstrates "that a large and growing number of Muslims believe freedom can work in their countries," Rumsfeld said. More than 80 percent of surveyed Afghans, he said, have a favorable opinion of the United States, while only 5 percent of Afghans polled like al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

And in Iraq "a growing majority wants a representative government," Rumsfeld said.

The military victories against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ensuing movements toward democracy in those countries, Rumsfeld said, have opened the eyes of non-radical Muslims worldwide and blunted the effects of terrorist propaganda.

"The only way terrorists can win this struggle," Rumsfeld said, "is if we lose our will and surrender the fight, or think it's not important enough, or in confusion or in disagreement among ourselves give them the time to regroup and re-establish themselves in Iraq or elsewhere."

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Donald H. Rumsfeld

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