Army Vice Chief Says U.S. Will Defeat Global Terrorism
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2002 Terrorists hate the United States for "who we are and what we stand for," Army Gen. John Keane told several hundred military reserve officers here today.
Speaking at the Reserve Officer Association mid-winter conference, the Army's vice chief of staff said the United States would win the war against terrorism wherever it's battles may be waged. Destroying the terrorists' "safe haven" in Afghanistan, he said, "is only the beginning."
People know what happened Sept. 11, Keane noted, but they may not truly understand why terrorists attacked America's homeland. Many Americans, he noted, may have difficulty understanding why living among us for three or four years had no impact on the terrorists.
"What they see is what they hate," Keane explained.
No other country in history has so dominated the world economically, culturally and militarily as the United States, he said. Terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network aim to destroy what they consider America's "pollution of the world with its values."
"Terrorists are fundamentally opposed to universal suffrage, which is an inalienable right we have fought for and have laws to protect," the general said. "They are fundamentally opposed to the personal freedom we have in this country.
"They oppose equal rights for women," he continued. "They are fundamentally opposed to the separation of church and state, which is guaranteed in our Constitution. They resent the material prosperity of this country which permits a breakdown of class distinction."
In the 1960s through the 1980s, terrorists had more narrowly focused political objectives and were willing to negotiate, said the general, whose military career includes duty in Vietnam and command of the Army's 101st Airborne Division. Today, terrorist networks are global and have broad strategic objectives.
"They could care less about negotiating with anyone," he said. "They know what their goals are and they're moving toward those goals."
Today's terrorists are determined to remove the U.S. military presence in Muslim countries in the Persian Gulf region, change what they believe is a repressive regime in Saudi Arabia, and see to the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, the general said, the terrorists underestimated Americans and their resolve, and made an "incredible, monumental miscalculation."
Terrorists misread U.S. foreign policy when the United States pulled out of Lebanon following the 1983 suicide bombing that killed nearly 300 Marines and pulled out of Somalia in 1993 after 18 U.S. soldiers died and 76 were wounded. The terrorists saw these changes as "weakness of the American people and their disdain for casualties," he said.
"In my judgment, nothing could be further from the truth," Keane declared. "The American people have and they've always had, resolve. Casualties do not intimidate them. They certainly do not welcome them. They want to keep them as low as possible. Their commitment to America's military is clear."
President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the nation's military chiefs are "absolutely committed to this war on terrorism," Keane stressed. "We will succeed. Why? Because the American people -- their resolve -- is behind us."
America's people are committed to combating terrorism, he said, "not just in the near term, not just throughout this year, but in the years to come. I'm absolutely convinced that that support will be there."
Since the U.S. strikes began Oct. 7 in Afghanistan, he said, the Taliban and parts of the Al Qaeda terrorist network have been "fractured." He attributed the mission's success to going in early without waiting to muster all available resources; using the Afghan land force that was in place to fight the Taliban; and using special operations forces to facilitate the introduction of American air power.
The military intends to finish the job in Afghanistan, including capturing the top terrorist leaders. In the meantime, he said, the focus would also shift to other nations around the world that are supporting terrorism -- Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay.
"We are moving Special Forces into the Philippines as we speak," he noted, "to assist the Philippine military in conducting what we trust will be a successful campaign against terrorism in that country."
U.S. military officials also aim to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction.
"We cannot let that happen," Keane said. "Does anybody here doubt for a minute that if the terrorists had an opportunity to kill 30,000 people in America they would have done it?" he asked the audience of officers. "Or, if they had the opportunity to kill 300,000 people or 3 million people, the answer, as we all know, is yes, they would."