Rumsfeld Labels Proliferation as World's Greatest Threat
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
SINGAPORE, Jun. 4, 2005 The greatest threat facing nations in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world is the combination of weapons proliferation and terrorism, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
The secretary is attending the Asia Security Conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
"Perhaps the greatest impetus for modernization and cooperation is the specter of lethal threats confronting all free nations," he said in a speech to conference attendees. "Among them is the toxic combination of dangerous weapons, rogue regimes that seek to export those weapons, and violent extremists determined to destabilize civilized societies and kill men, women and children."
Rumsfeld suggested that people who are skeptical of efforts to liberate Afghanistan and Iraq should visit Asia.
"Sixty years ago, this continent was the scene of the Second World War's final battles. Many nations in the region were not free, and they endured civil strife," he said. "But today, the nations of the Asia-Pacific region are among the world's fastest-growing centers for opportunity, for prosperity, and for knowledge -- which is clearly a tribute to the people of this region."
Another tribute to the Asian-Pacific peoples is the overwhelming humanitarian response to the December tsunami disaster that killed thousands of people and devastated large swaths in this region.
"Years of bilateral and multilateral meetings and cooperative operations made possible this swift team response, as America's military joined quickly with Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and many others to provide assistance," Rumsfeld said.
"The atmosphere in the tsunami's aftermath ... demonstrated again that whenever friends and allies in the region confront threats or hardship -- whether caused by man or nature -- we stand at their side," Rumsfeld continued.
Rumsfeld pledged that the United States will stand by its allies in the region, whatever the future may hold.
"It has never been more clear but that the great sweep of human history is for freedom, and the United States is privileged to have formed close bonds with so many Pacific partners who also stand on freedom's side," he said. "And history will prove once again that freedom is the side to be on -- let there be no doubt."