Iraq, Afghanistan Show U.S. Determination, Wolfowitz Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2005 The results of America's dedication can be seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Budget Committee here today.
Those who doubted that Muslim countries could embrace democracy have been proven wrong in those countries. Wolfowitz, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Tina Jonas, the defense comptroller, testified before the panel.
"In the terror war which (Osama) bin Laden associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is waging against democracy in Iraq, al Qaeda is losing badly," Wolfowitz said. "In just the last three years, in regions some people previously judged immune to the democratic spirit, there's been an extraordinary movement toward representative government, what President Bush has rightly called the ultimate weapon against the terrorists' bleak vision of death and despair."
American servicemembers have helped more than 50 million people realize their dreams of democracy, and that example is being felt around the world, Wolfowitz noted. Elections in Palestine, a revolt against rigged elections in Ukraine and the Lebanese people standing up to Syria are just the latest examples of the spread of freedom and democracy, he said.
Fighting this war, though, is expensive. And the U.S. military role in the battle "is unquestionably the most expensive. It's expensive in terms of the resources that it demands of the American taxpayer, and it's expensive particularly in terms of the sacrifices that it demands of our men and women in uniform, including those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and security," Wolfowitz said. "This defense budget is first and foremost about them, about their future, and about ours as Americans."
Wolfowitz said the senators must look at the fiscal 2006 defense budget request in context with what is going on around the world and how far the war on terror has progressed. "Combined with the supplemental (funding request), this request provides sufficient funding to sustain the president's pledges to defeat global terrorism, to restructure America's armed forces and global defense posture, to develop and field advanced warfighting capabilities and most of all to provide for the personnel needs of our forces," he said.
The Bush administration's fiscal 2006 request is pegged at $419 billion, and it walks a fine line between fighting the war on terror and allowing the U.S. military to continue to transform and face the threats of the future, Wolfowitz told the Senate panel. "It provides for our most valuable asset, our people, by maintaining the president's commitment to take care of our military men and women and their families," the deputy secretary said. "It includes a 3.1 percent increase in military base pay, it includes an increase in funding to ensure continuing good health care, and it will fund by fiscal 2009 the elimination of all inadequate housing units worldwide."
The deputy said the American "investments" to fight the global war on terror are already beginning to pay off. But that early return should not make Americans complacent, he said, as the war will last many years. "This problem of terrorism grew up over a period of 20 or 30 years, if not longer," he said. "It's not going to go away in two or three (years)."
The United States fought the Cold War for 40 years. "We may recall how long we waged the Cold War and how long it took to rebuild Western Europe, but in both cases we know how the story ended," he said. "We know that seemingly impossible challenges can be achieved when the American people and their allies are resolved to stand firm for freedom."