Wolfowitz: World Must Act Now to Prevent Evil
By Linda D. Kozaryn
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2002 The world must act now to prevent terrorist networks from unleashing even more devastating evil than they did on Sept. 11, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said today in Germany.
"We cannot afford to wait," he stressed in remarks prepared for delivery at the Munich Conference on European Security Policy. For too long, he said, the international community has accepted terrorism as an "ugly fact of life."
"People spoke frequently of retaliation, but rarely acted," Wolfowitz said. "And when they did act, it was more often against the lower-level perpetrators of terrorist acts than against those who were ultimately responsible."
Sept. 11 changed all of that.
What happened on that day, "terrible though it was, is but a pale shadow of what will happen if terrorists use weapons of massive destruction," he said. "No one who has seen the images of Sept. 11 can doubt that our response must be wide-ranging nor should anyone doubt the far greater destruction terrorists could wreak with weapons of greater power."
Documents found in the caves of Afghanistan reveal the scope of what the world faces, he noted. U.S. officials discovered diagrams of U.S. nuclear power plants and water facilities, maps of cities and descriptions of landmarks -- not just in America, but also around the world -- along with detailed instructions for making chemical weapons.
The United States now considers all nations that harbor, finance, train or equip terrorists "hostile regimes" that will be held accountable, Wolfowitz said.
"Those who plotted in the caves share a kinship with states who seek to export terror," he said. "They pose a clear and direct threat to international security that could prove far more cataclysmic than what we have experienced already."
Wolfowitz said President Bush has launched a campaign to hunt down terrorists relentlessly and to deny them the sanctuaries they need to plan and organize. The U.S. campaign is not just a military one, he said, but also integrates diplomacy, intelligence, law enforcement and financial influence to disrupt and defeat the global terrorist network.
"Our approach has to aim at prevention and not merely punishment," he said. "We are at war."
U.S. officials want countries that stand for peace, security and the rule of law to join in the struggle between good and evil, he said. Countries that tolerate or support terrorism will face consequences.
"As President Bush said last Tuesday, 'Make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will,'" Wolfowitz said.
The war on terrorism will be a long struggle requiring the contributions of many nations in "flexible coalitions," he said. U.S. policy has been to accept help from countries on whatever basis is most comfortable to them. Some join publicly; others have chosen "quiet and discrete forms of cooperation."
"We recognize that it is best for each country to characterize how they are helping, instead of doing it for them," Wolfowitz said. "Ultimately, this maximizes their cooperation and our effectiveness."
In Afghanistan, he noted, America's most important coalition partners were the Afghans themselves.
"Because of the historic Afghan hostility to foreign invaders, we strived from the beginning to keep our footprint small and emphasized that we were not in Afghanistan to stay," he explained. "Instead, we leveraged the desire of the Afghan people to be liberated from the Taliban and to be rid of the foreign terrorists who brought so much destruction to their country."
Wolfowitz called on European allies to help expand the alliance against terrorism to include the Muslim world. He said the fight against terrorism is not just a fight of the Western countries, but of all who aspire to peace and freedom throughout the world.
Based on his own experience as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia in the 1980s, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, Wolfowitz said he knows the majority of the world's Muslims "abhor terrorism" and the way terrorists "have not only hijacked airplanes but also attempted to hijack one of the world's great religions."
To win the war against terrorism, he said, "we have to reach out to the hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people in the Muslim world, including the Arab world. They are on the front line of the struggle against terrorism.
"By helping them to stand up against the terrorists without fear," he said, "we help ourselves. Equally important, we help to lay the foundations for a better world after the battle against terrorism has been won."