U.S. Must Maintain Will in Terror War, Myers Says
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 25, 2005 The war against violent extremism is a battle of wills, and if the American people give up, they'll end up living in a world ruled by violence and fear, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters at the National Press Club here today.
"If we lose our will - if people decide this fight isn't worth it - then I think we will rue the day, and we will not like the world that will be left for us," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told the group. "It will be a world where what happened in London and what happened in New York and ... what happens in Iraq ever day could happen anywhere in this world." No one living in that world will be safe, and everyone would live in fear, he said.
And that would be "an unacceptable alternative" to living in a free democracy, Myers said.
Two specific groups understand more than anyone exactly what's at stake in the war on terror, the general said. They're the men and women in uniform fighting terrorism around the globe, and the violent extremists bent on changing the way of life those men and women are working to protect.
"Here we have a nation that is at war, where the stakes are very, very high," Myers said. "Violent extremists can affect us just by creating fear, which has the impact to change our way of life."
Americans already have seen some of that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and could see more in the future if they don't keep up the fight, he said. "This is very, very serious business ... and it's not easy business," Myers said.
That's why it's critical that the American public continue to support the troops and encourage those who volunteer to serve, he said.
Given the threat violent extremism poses to the United States and its way of life, Myers called it "a very noble cause" that young people "want to raise their right hand and say they want to serve this country." Appealing to these young people is more than a military effort, he said. "It's a national effort," he said.
The chairman, who visited wounded troops being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here July 24, said he's moved by their motivation to get well so they can rejoin their units in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It's absolutely inspiring and brings a tear to your eye," he said.
These troops, Myers said, "get it" and recognize how important their contributions are to their country and to its friends and allies around the world. "This is very noble work. Our troops feel that," Myers said. "And I would hope people would be attracted to a noble effort when the nation is in trouble."
But just as recruiting isn't simply a military effort, neither is winning the war on terror, the chairman said. He acknowledged that he sometimes has problems with the term "war on terror" because it implies that people in uniform can resolve it on their own.
Victory over extremism demands all instruments of national power - diplomatic, economic and political - and all instruments of the international community's national powers as well, Myers said, adding, "that's where the focus has to be in the future."