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Civilized Nations' Interests Overlap in Fight Against Terrorism

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2002 – Most serious threats to security affect many nations, and they "are best deterred and defended against by working together," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Nov. 11.

Rumsfeld, in prepared remarks to the Fortune Magazine Global Forum here, noted citizens from 80 different countries were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

"Citizens of every nation saw in an instant that the threat of terrorism is not confined by borders in either its origin or the targets of its deadly acts," he said.

He said the interests of civilized nations clearly overlap in fighting the war on terrorism. Nations of the world must change to survive, Rumsfeld said. "The one way to confront terrorists with weapons of mass destruction is to stop them before they attack," he said.

The secretary quoted President Bush as saying, "The war on terror will be won on the offensive. The only path to safety is the path of action."

Taking the battle to the enemy should be one guideline of using force. Others include not restricting any option and that military force should be the last choice, not the first, Rumsfeld explained.

The fourth "and most important" guideline for committing force is to be "brutally honest" with other leaders, the American public and coalition partners.

"We should not make a task sound any easier or less costly than it could become," Rumsfeld said.

He noted the guidelines shouldn't be construed "as rules or a formula to encourage or inhibit acting," but merely as a checklist of issues to consider.

"Decisions of this magnitude will almost always be based on incomplete and imperfect information and made under extreme pressure of time," Rumsfeld said. "While these guidelines do not provide clear answers, they may be helpful in framing what information is available."

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