Recent Attacks Will Not Break American Will, Says Wolfowitz
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2003 Terrorists and former regime gangsters are trying to break the American will with the recent spate of attacks in Iraq, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here Oct. 29.
"They sense progress, and as the president said (Oct. 28), what the old regime gangsters are trying to do is create fear and chaos," the deputy secretary said in interviews with regional media. "What the terrorists are trying to do is break American will the way they tried to break American will on Sept. 11. They're not going to succeed. They didn't succeed then, they're not going to succeed now."
A guest at the Al Rasheed Hotel in downtown Baghdad when it was hit by rocket- propelled grenades Oct. 26, Wolfowitz said his main focus was getting his staff to safety.
After that, he said, business as usual was the agenda. "The really important thing for us -- once we were sure the proper people were in charge of dealing with the aftermath -- was that we went about our business," he said. "We had a lot of important work to do, and it was important to make it clear that this kind of threat and intimidation is not going to derail success in Iraq."
Wolfowitz said the way to win the war on terror is by "going on the offense, by finding and killing and capturing the terrorists, and also by eliminating the swamps in which they breed."
Those who attacked the hotel, he continued, "are not willing to stand and fight. They hit and run. The Iraqis and our people are standing and fighting."
Wolfowitz said there are a "disturbing number of suicide terrorists around the world who like killing Americans (and who) like killing moderate Muslims, and we have to fight them. Nobody should think that fight will be over quickly, either in Iraq or around the world."
The deputy secretary said his experience at the Al Rasheed does not make him rethink U.S. strategy in Iraq.
"There are brave Americans and Iraqis and many other countries participating, risking their lives every day," he added. "This is a war against the last remnants of a really evil regime and some of their foreign terrorist allies, and it's a war we have to win and we will win."
After the attack, Wolfowitz said, he noticed "the real sense of the commitment that our people and their allies have."
He recalled a scene in Baghdad soon after the hotel was attacked. "It was a Sunday morning and one of their comrades at the Civil Administration had been killed, and yet people were hard at work," he said. "I can't tell you enough about the great spirit of both the soldiers on the front lines and the civilians supporting them, and the Iraqis most of all, because they are stepping forward and fighting for their country. "
Wolfowitz visited five of the more seriously injured attack victims in the hospital. "It's really heroic their attitude, their upbeat spirit," he said.