Fear, Not Acts, Define Terrorism, Rumsfeld Says
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2004 Events don't define terrorism, but the fear created by terrorist acts does, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today in Chicago.
Rumsfeld addressed the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Commercial Club of Chicago.
"People tend to think of terrorism as an event, where someone is killed or a building is blown up or an explosive device occurs," he said, "but that's really not it." Rather, he said, it's attempting to alter behavior by creating an atmosphere of fear.
He noted that under Taliban rule, women in Afghanistan were forbidden to wear colored shoes, to sing, to walk unaccompanied, to go to a male doctor, to actually be a doctor, and even to study. "In short," Rumsfeld said, "they had no rights." The Taliban and al Qaeda, he said, "follow an ideology of oppression, of hatred and subjugation of women."
Extremist enemies have "an enormous advantage" in the global war on terror, Rumsfeld said. "A terrorist needs to be lucky only occasionally, and the defenders have to be skillful all the time to prevent such an act. Terrorists can attack any time, at any place, using any conceivable technique, and it is physically impossible to defend in every location at every moment of the day or night, against all of the various techniques that terrorists can use."
The only way to win, Rumsfeld said, is to be on the offensive and put pressure on the terrorists where they are before they strike. "We can either change the way they live, or they are going to change the way we live," he said.
Terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan hope to intimidate coalition countries and drive them out so they can impose their rule, Rumsfeld said. "And they are conducting a reign of terror against those who represent hope: the mayors, the city councilmen, the women who register to vote in Afghanistan, volunteers who are standing in line to join the Iraqi security forces, police chiefs (and) coalition troops," he added. "They are targeting oil pipelines, electricity grids and other essential infrastructure to try to slow the new government's progress and to cripple it."
Strikes against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the secretary said, are meant to undermine America's morale and weaken public support for the mission, "as has happened in other conflicts."
Freedom and self-government in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said, will deny terrorists bases of operations, discredit their extremist ideology and give momentum to reformers in the region. "And they are determined to try to prevent that," he added.
U.N. officials, the secretary said, had hoped about 4 million Afghans would register to vote so the upcoming free election would be considered legitimate. More than twice that many have registered, he added. "Clearly, it's a booming success," he said. "The people of that country want elections. They want to participate, and they don't have a lot of experience with that." The registration numbers came about despite intimidation tactics employed by the Taliban and al Qaeda, the secretary noted, which included killing women bus passengers when an inspection of their belongings revealed they had registered to vote.
Rumsfeld praised Iraq's "courageous leaders" and noted continued progress as the country prepares for elections next year. "The economy is growing. The currency is steady. They've opened a stock market. They've pulled together an Olympic team. Schools are open," he said. About 110,000 Iraqi security forces are trained and properly equipped, he added, with another 206,000 recruited and currently being trained and equipped.
"Every day, the Iraqi security forces take on more and more responsibility for protecting their own people," Rumsfeld said.
The progress, he acknowledged, is mixed in with "a lot of bad news."
"People are being killed; people are being wounded," he said, noting that more than 500 Iraqi security forces have been killed. "So it isn't like they're sitting in their barracks not doing anything," he said. "They're out there, trying to help build a free country."
Rumsfeld said seeing the bad news day after day from Iraq makes it easy to believe it's a tough situation, and he added he agrees with that assessment.
"It is a tough situation," he said. "It's a tough part of the world. On the other hand, if one looks at what's happened and the distance they've come and the progress that's been made, one has to be hopeful.
The secretary recalled the numbers of lives lost in past conflicts and how difficult and discouraging those conflicts were "for not just months, but years in some instances."
"And yet, the steadiness of purpose prevailed, and people persisted, and people ended up successful," he said.