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Iraqis, Coalition Working Out Fallujah Solution, Myers Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2004 – The situation in Fallujah "cannot remain the status quo," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told National Public Radio in a Sept. 28 interview.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said on the "Talk of the Nation" program that coalition forces are working with the Iraqi interim government to find solutions for Fallujah, Ramadi and other areas in Iraq's Baathist Triangle, now dominated by insurgents.

Any solution in Iraq must have a political aspect to be permanent, Myers said. "There is nothing that can be imposed by force that's going to be lasting in character," he said. "That's what it's all about."

But having said that, he added, the use of force is not ruled out, at least as part of the solution. Whatever happens, the solution has got to be something that all parties -- Iraqi and coalition -- must be comfortable with.

It's a delicate balance in Iraq right now, Myers said. On the one hand, use force and the government and coalition risk alienating Iraqis. On the other hand, not using force may convince the majority of people that the coalition is weak. "And they don't respect weakness," he said.

If the balance turns out right, then Iraqis now participating in the insurrection may throw their lots in with the interim government and become part of the new Iraq, Myers said.

Foreign terrorists are a threat in Iraq. "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates have to be captured or otherwise dealt with, because we cannot leave them in Iraq," Myers said.

Both the foreign terrorists and former-regime supporters are doing all they can to stop the elections now scheduled for January. "(They are) pretty desperate to keep elections from happening, because it'll be that inertia that's going to propel this country to democracy," Myers said.

The chairman said the coming months will become more violent in Iraq because "the Zarqawis of the world, the ones we think are responsible for a lot of the beheadings and proud to show those beheadings on video, the last thing they want is a democratic state in the middle of the Middle East."

Such a state would be directly opposed to their vision of an Iraq ruled via the most oppressive and wrong interpretation of Islam, Myers said.

"(The terrorists) do have some capability," he said. "They're doing desperate acts, but they're not without the resources. And any time you can convince a suicide bomber to take a car loaded with explosives into a marketplace and blow up innocent Iraqis, they'll do it. We can stop some. We can't stop them all."

Myers said stopping these extremists is the world's responsibility because the stakes are so high. "Using terrorism as a weapon, creating fear, is not something that the free world can live with," he said. "We're going to have to deal with the Zarqawis of the world and other extremists that think they can shoot children in the back or explode car bombs in marketplaces and those sorts of things sooner or later. And now's the time.

"It's very important. It's important for the survival of our democracy, as far as I'm concerned," the chairman continued. "In fact, it's a big threat to our democracy. So whatever it takes, we've got to be steadfast and we've got to see it through to the end."

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Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers

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