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Wolfowitz Stresses Global Terror Threat to Asia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SINGAPORE, June 1, 2002 – The war on terrorism's effect in Asia, building bridges to moderate Muslims and the continued U.S. involvement in the Asia-Pacific region were highlights of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's speech here June 1.

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Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz answers questions from the press following a speech on U.S. Asian Policy in Singapore, June 1, 2002. Photo by Jim Garamone.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Wolfowitz opened the first International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Conference. He used the platform to concentrate on the war on terror and how it affects the countries of the region.

The deputy secretary said the future of Asia and the world could be vibrant if countries unite to defeat terrorism. Bringing stability and security to the world will help all people realize their dreams, he said. First, all countries, all people, must realize that no one is immune from terrorism and that an attack in one part of the world affects all others, he said.

"When evil of this magnitude is loose in the world, it will not stop until it has claimed for itself the ultimate power of wrenching from people across the globe any sense of peace and security they now enjoy," Wolfowitz said. "Unchecked, this evil will spread."

Terrorists killed thousands in America, and they also threaten to kill many more. "The signs tell us that as terrorists continue to murder innocents, their methods will only grow more deadly," Wolfowitz said.

He said it is a mistake to think that Sept. 11 was the last terror attack, and it is a mistake to think the United States is the only target. It is also mistake, he added, to believe that terrorists would not use weapons of mass destruction. "How attractive they would find that," Wolfowitz said. "How efficient. How horrific."

The world must work together to seek out and destroy terrorism. More than 70 nations have cooperated with the United States in law enforcement, military actions, diplomatic efforts, financial blocks and intelligence sharing, he said. "The commitment of our allies and partners demonstrates that we are not alone in this defense of freedom and justice and peace," he said.

But the United States wants to go after the root causes of terrorism. He said to really win the struggle against terrorists, countries that believe in freedom, peace and democratic ideals must win the "battle of ideas."

"To win the war against terrorism and help shape a more peaceful world, we must speak to the hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people in the Muslim world, regardless of where they live, who aspire to enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy and free enterprise," Wolfowitz said.

He said another terrorist target is these moderate Muslims, and free countries have an obligation to help them. "By helping them to stand against the terrorists without fear, we help ourselves," he said. "We help to lay the foundations for a just and peaceful world."

Wolfowitz said a number of states with large Muslim populations can serve as a model for the Islamic world. He cited Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan and Jordan as examples other nations could follow. "Strikingly, even in a portion of Iraq -- in the Kurdish-controlled regions beyond the reach of Baghdad -- we see an example of the kind of self-government Muslims can achieve," he said.

Wolfowitz said he is convinced that the vast majority of Muslims have no use for the extreme philosophies of groups such as al Qaeda and the Taliban. "Very much to the contrary, they abhor terrorism," he said. "They abhor terrorists who not only hijacked airplanes, but have attempted to hijack one of the world's great religions."

Wolfowitz said Asia is crucial for helping the world solve its problems. The region, he noted, has an "optimism tempered by realism" that is a natural for contemplating long-range solutions. He said five strengths are implicit in the region:

o First, the United States is a Pacific power and will remain committed to the region. America will work with allies and, increasingly, with multilateral groups on the region's future.

o Second, international cooperation in the region "is becoming kind of a habit," he said. As examples of this, he cited the response of wealthier nations of the region to the 1997 fiscal crisis and the willingness of a number of countries of the region to cooperate in East Timor.

o Third, countries of the region have responded positively to China's growing power. "Historically, the emergence of major new powers has frequently threatened the stability of the existing order," he said. "But we can be much more hopeful of a positive outcome in China's case because all the countries of the region are prepared to welcome a strong Chinese role in a constructive regional order."

o Fourth, Russia and India are ready to play important roles in the region.

o Fifth, the Muslims of the region can be key allies, "particularly since they represent some of the most moderate and tolerant traditions in Islam," he said.

Since Sept. 11, the United States views the world through a different lens, Wolfowitz said. Long-term solutions are important, but so is the peace that terrorists are trying to destroy, he remarked.

Wolfowitz said there is one certainty. "This truth we know: The single greatest threat to peace and freedom in our times is terrorism," he said. "So this truth we should also affirm: The future does not belong to the terrorists. The future belongs to those who dream the oldest and noblest dream of all, the dream of peace and freedom."

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