Rumsfeld: Moderate Leaders, Free Political Systems Will Prevail
By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2005 The Defense Department will continue to fight terrorist extremists, but the war on terrorism will be won by moderate Muslim leaders like those currently serving in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told civic and community leaders April 25.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld briefs members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference at the Pentagon April 25. JCOC is a weeklong orientation program for civilian public-opinion leaders to get a better knowledge of national defense issues. By Tech. Sgt. Scott F. Reed, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"What we have to do is create an environment hospitable to a free political system," the secretary told members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. Even nations like China are recognizing that to grow and expand they need political freedom, he added.
Each year, the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference brings together civilian leaders from across the nation who spend a week meeting with Defense Department officials and visiting military installations in the United States and around the world to observe and participate in military exercises and training. This is the 69th such conference to be held since 1948. Rumsfeld spoke to this year's 54 participants over breakfast at the Pentagon on the conference's first day.
He told the group that America needs to do a better job at communicating its goals. "We no longer have any mechanism in government to communicate to the world what the United States is all about," he said, noting that in recent years the country has become "skittish" about public diplomacy.
"In an age of 24-hour news cycles and electronic media, a lie can spread around the world in 16 minutes," Rumsfeld said. "But it still takes us two to three days to track it down and investigate it.
"That is why it is so important for leaders like you to meet with the troops, recognize their contributions, and go home and communicate those contributions to your communities," he said.