Ideological Extremism Blocks Progress, Rumsfeld Writes
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2004 Ideological extremists can't be appeased, so they have to be confronted, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote in a guest column published in today's Chicago Tribune.
"The phenomenon of ideological extremism -- of which terrorism is the weapon of choice -- stands in the way of global political progress and economic prosperity, threatens the stability of the international order and clouds the future of civil society," Rumsfeld wrote. "Because it cannot be appeased, it must be confronted on many fronts by all civil societies."
Terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and would have killed far more if they had the capability, the defense secretary wrote. "This is a different kind of enemy and a different kind of world," Rumsfeld noted. "And we must think and act differently in this new century. The extremists think nothing of cutting off innocent people's heads to try to intimidate civilized people. They have murdered citizens from many countries -- South Korea, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and others -- hoping to strike fear in the hearts of free people."
Rumsfeld cited progress in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. "Courageous leaders have stepped forward to lead their country and crack down on insurgents. Their economy is growing, their currency is strong and they've opened a stock market. More than 2,600 schools have been rehabilitated," he wrote.
"They have gone from zero to more than 200,000 Iraqi security force members. We have a good team helping the Iraqis develop their security forces, training them, equipping them and helping them set up a chain of command so they can assume responsibility for their country."
Afghanistan, he noted, is moving toward a free election this fall. "Despite the violence aimed at discouraging citizens, and particularly women, from registering to vote, more than 8 million people have already done so, including nearly 4 million women," he wrote. "Under the Taliban, women had virtually no rights at all."
The Afghan national army now has 13,000 soldiers, and more than 21,000 Afghans serve in the national police, the secretary noted. Construction of a major road linking major cities is well under way, he wrote, to unify the country and bolster its economy. Afghans have approved a new constitution that protects the rights of all Afghans, the secretary added.
In his guest column, Rumsfeld recalled a visit to Korea when that country's parliament was debating whether to send troops to Iraq. A Korean reporter asked him why Korean soldiers should go halfway around the world to be killed or wounded in Iraq.
"It was a fair question, one an American could have asked during the Korean War," Rumsfeld wrote. "That day, I had visited a war memorial in Korea that bore the names of every American soldier killed in the war. On it was the name of a close friend of mine from New Trier High School, a wrestling teammate named Dick O'Keefe, who was killed on the last day of the Korean War. I asked the reporter: 'Why should Americans have sent their young people to Korea?'"
Rumsfeld didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he urged the reporter to look out the window, where the city of Seoul lay below.
"The city was filled with lights and cars and energy and people, a robust economy that's just an economic miracle, and freedom," Rumsfeld wrote. "And I told the reporter that I kept a satellite photo, taken at night, of the Korean peninsula on a table in my office. North of the Demilitarized Zone, there is nothing but darkness, with one little pinprick of light in Pyongyang, the capital. In the south, the country is bathed in light, beacons of prosperity and freedom that 33,000 Americans and thousands of others gave their lives to protect."
Though it came at a terrible cost, Rumsfeld wrote, Korea's freedom was worth it "just as it was worth it to liberate Germany, Japan and Italy."
The enemy in the global war on terror can't win militarily, but that doesn't mean the enemy can't win, Rumsfeld noted. "Terrorists cannot defeat our coalition on the battlefield; they can only win if we give up or decide the effort is not worth the cost," he wrote. "But if we stay the course, I have no doubt of our ultimate victory."