Rumsfeld: Truth Powerful Weapon in War on Terror
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 29, 2006 With the war on terror being fought largely in the media on a global stage, Americans cannot allow negative perceptions about the country and the military to be repeated without challenge, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld addresses the audience during the 88th American Legion national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 29. Speaking to the veterans at the convention, he applauded them for their help in dispelling negative perceptions and standing up for the truth about the military. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and our country,” Rumsfeld said while addressing the American Legion National Convention. “The struggle we are in –- the consequences are too severe, the struggle too important, to have the luxury of returning to the old mentality of ‘Blame America first.’”
As in past conflicts, the media today focus mainly on setbacks suffered by the United States in the war, and often paint a negative picture of American troops and the work they do, Rumsfeld said. Speaking to the veterans at the convention, he appealed for their help in dispelling the negative perceptions and standing up for the truth about the military.
“One of the most important things the Legion has done is not only to serve, and assist, and advocate as you’ve done so superbly for much of the past century – but also to educate and to speak the truth about our country and about the men and women in the military,” he said.
Every war involves mistakes, setbacks and casualties, Rumsfeld acknowledged, and every army has members who do not live up to high standards. However, those negative factors cannot overshadow the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women who serve with humanity and decency in the face of constant provocation, he said.
“That is important in any long struggle or any kind of long war, where any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere,” he said.
The enemy in the war on terror is smart and takes every opportunity e to manipulate the media and demoralize public opinion, Rumsfeld said. But he stressed he is confident that the American people, though understandably influenced by the media, have good centers of gravity and will see the truth.
“I am confident that over time they will evaluate and reflect on what is happening in this struggle and come to wise conclusions about it,” he said.
Rumsfeld pointed to the true picture in Iraq, where a country once brutalized by a dictatorship is moving toward a new future with a representative government that will be at peace with its neighbors. The conflict in Iraq has changed over the years, he said, but the U.S. strategy remains the same: to empower the Iraqi people to defend, govern and rebuild their own country.
The question in the war on terror is not whether America can win, Rumsfeld said, but whether Americans have the will to persevere. Thanks to the sacrifices of veterans like those in the American Legion, Rumsfeld said he believes Americans have learned that quitting is not an option.
“I believe that Americans do have that determination,” he said. “And that we have learned the lessons of history – the folly of turning a blind eye to danger. These are lessons you know well – lessons that your heroism has helped to teach to generations of Americans.”