Rumsfeld: U.S. Must Go 'All the Way' to Counter Terrorism
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 23, 2006 The only way to prevail in the war against violent extremists is "if we are in it all the way," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters today.
"We can, we must and we will see it through to completion," he said.
Rumsfeld borrowed a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, two days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, acknowledged that all Americans were in World War II together. "We are in it all the way," Roosevelt said. "We must share together the bad news and the good news, the defeats and the victories, the changing fortunes of war."
Roosevelt's sentiment applies equally well today, as the United States confronts the threat of global terrorism, Rumsfeld said. It's not a question of whether the United States must face this threat, but how, he said, because terrorists have openly stated that their jihad against the United States won't end when the country leaves the Arabian Peninsula.
"The question of our time is whether we face this enemy on their terms or on our terms, on their territory or on our territory -- where they are on offense or where they are on defense," he said.
Rumsfeld noted that the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks have spared no corner of the world from terrorists' brutality. He pointed to examples of attacks in London; Madrid, Spain; and Casablanca, Morocco, and noted the savagery of terrorists' acts elsewhere in the world. In Russia, extremists killed 186 schoolchildren, some as young as 20 months old. In Israel, terrorists hid a grenade under a baby. In Iraq, the mayor of Tal Afar reported that terrorists placed explosives inside children's corpses to kill grieving parents who attempted to retrieve the bodies.
"Imagine what the beheaders and the hostage-takers would do were they to accomplish their goal of establishing a safe haven in Iraq -- how a victory for them would aid their cause, their efforts to raise money and their recruiting efforts," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld dismissed arguments being made by some that a different course of action might placate the enemy and reduce the violence terrorists are inflicting. "This enemy seeks no armistice with people," he said. "They have called American an enemy of God. They have said of Americans and Europeans, 'their wives will be widowed and their children will be orphaned.'"
America has learned important lessons during the past 200-plus years, Rumsfeld said. "One is that weakness is provocative; it tempts people. (Another is) that appeasement is dangerous and that military strategists and warfighters need to always be prepared for the unforeseen and the unexpected."
Rumsfeld said not a day passes that he and other leaders in the Defense Department and the United States don't consider if everything necessary has been done to protect the nation and its people. "We ask our commanders on the ground at every opportunity if there is something we ought to be doing differently or if there is a new threat we need to combat," he said.
Referring to Iraq, Rumsfeld said he's avoided predicting when U.S. forces will be able leave Iraq. He reiterated that force levels "will depend on conditions on the ground and the recommendations of the commanders." Some troop reductions are likely this year as the Iraqi government forms and Iraqi security forces gain in number and capability, he said.
"Good progress is being made, so I would anticipate that as the Afghan and Iraqi security forces continue to take over more and more responsibility, we will continue to reduce down our forces and that any stress on the force would be eased," he said.
Once a unity government is formed and begins serving the Iraqi people, Rumsfeld said, he expects violence there to drop. Delays in that process aren't helping the security situation, he said.
"If one believes, as I do, that a good government -- a competent government, a government that is seen as inclusive and ... as governing from the center, that gets about the task of ... serving the people that went out and voted -- I believe that would be a good thing for the country and would reduce the level of violence," he said.