Thank you very much [David Brown, President of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce]. It’s a pleasure to be here. As it was pointed out, we’ve come from a truly moving ceremony. It was the change of command at Strategic Command and a chance to pay tribute to some remarkable achievements that command has made but, most of all, a chance to say “farewell” or “good retirement” to Admiral [James] Ellis who’s completed 35 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy—a remarkable human being, a remarkable patriot, a remarkable naval officer. And you see in a relatively short ceremony, kind of a whole life in front of you. And all you can do is say “wow” and with great admiration.
I’m lucky. Normally, the Secretary of Defense would have taken that duty and I would have had to stay home. Today happens to be Don Rumsfeld’s 72nd birthday, so he’s celebrating it with the kids and grandkids and I got to come out here. And I’m told that it’s Omaha’s 150th birthday. So the secretary is still behind you—[laughter]—but trying madly to catch up, I’m sure.
Today’s ceremony was a reminder to me of what a privilege it is in my job to work with the extraordinary leaders of the U.S. military and people like General Dick Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, [General] Pete Pace, who’s sort of my counterpart, as the Vice Chairman, and a whole range of combatant commanders. But most of all, I think one of the greatest things about my job is a chance to work with the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces at all ranks and all levels. It’s a truly extraordinary institution and they’re truly remarkable individuals.
I don’t think it’s any accident that Strategic Command with its truly global responsibility is based right here in America’s heartland. Now that may strike some people as not obvious at all, but it has struck me over some 25 years now, mostly in public service, how states like Nebraska—particularly Nebraska—deep in America’s heartland, have continually produced leaders with a broad international outlook on world affairs.
I had the pleasure of working with Senator Nelson. He’s on my oversight committee—the [Senate] Armed Services Committee. And he brings to it great fairness, great judgment, great bipartisanship. Thank you for that, Ben. I’m probably going to get in trouble by singling out a single individual, but I’m going to do it anyway. He’s not here. Congressman Doug Bereuter who is retiring from the Congress this year, was one of the senior members of the House International Relations Committee back when I was the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and played a major role in shaping our policy toward the Philippines and other issues. And I think he’s going to stay involved in Asian issues after his retirement, so that is good news.
This is a remarkable state. It’s a remarkable maritime state. In fact, for a state without a sea coast, you certainly have a large Navy. [Laughter.]
It may not have many ships, but I’m told, has more admirals than any other Navy in the world [laughter], which I just used as an excuse to tell you a joke that I really love. It was one of those kinds of jokes that President Reagan liked so much. Back in the bad old days of the old Soviet Union, about the only good thing that was produced in the evil empire were jokes—black humor about what it was like to live under tyranny. And one of those jokes concerns a country that also had no coastline—Czechoslovakia. The story, it seems, was that a society woman found herself at a dinner seated next to the Czech minister of Naval Affairs. And she said, “I don’t understand this, I thought Czechoslovakia doesn’t have a coastline.” He said, “We don’t.” “Well,” she asked, “then how can you have a Navy?” And he said, “We don’t.” She said, “Well then how can you have a Minister of Naval Affairs?” To which he said, “Well, the Soviet Union has a Minister of Justice.” [Laughter]
At any rate, time to get serious. Last July on the first of four trips I have now made to Iraq, we visited up north with the 101st Airborne Division. A brigade commander told me that when he explained their mission to his soldiers, what he told them is, what they’re doing is every bit as important as what their grandfathers did in defeating fascism in Germany or Japan in World War II or what their fathers did in defeating communism in Korea or Europe during the Cold War.
That colonel, I think, is right. Our forces today face the most recent evil mutation of totalitarianism. It’s not religion. It’s an evil.
And in fighting that evil, America’s troops today are helping to transform two formerly totalitarian states that are becoming America’s newest allies, allies in the free world and champions of moderation and freedom in the Muslim world.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Americans serving today are changing history in a way that will make America and the world safer for us and for our children and for our grandchildren. And at an individual level, I can also tell you, there may not be as many of them, but they’re every bit as great as that “Greatest Generation.”
September 11th delivered a rude and bloody awakening to Americans—and the recognition that we’re in the middle of a war that had been declared on us some years before. We didn’t go looking for this fight—it came to us.
Terrorist extremists declared war, not only on the civilized world and on the ideas of freedom and pluralism, democracy and economic development, they declared war particularly on Muslims who don’t share their twisted view of the teachings of that great religion. In their attacks, they routinely murder innocents, including innocent Muslim women and children.
Certainly one of the lessons of September 11th has to be that the United States and the free world must be vigilant. We must be committed to connecting the dots and acting before it’s too late to act. When terrorists plot their next attacks, rarely do they telegraph their exact coordinates from their dark and murky world. If we wait until their intentions are clear, clear beyond a reasonable doubt, we will probably have waited too long.
In the case of both Iraq and Afghanistan, both of those totalitarian regimes were given chances to come clean. Both of them failed the test. In Saddam’s case in particular, he thumbed his nose at the expressed will of the international community, expressed in 17 successive U.N. Security Council Resolutions. The 17th and final one, U.N. Resolution 1441, required that he declare everything that he had and not obstruct inspectors. David Kay, who was best known for his comments on the quality of intelligence—and I might say he commented not just on intelligence in this administration or in the last administration, he was commenting on intelligence not just in the United States, but in France and Germany, all around the world.
There were reasons people got it wrong—because Saddam was hiding what he had. But David Kay himself has said, “Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities, one last chance to come clean about what it had.” And he goes on to make clear Iraq did not do so.
In removing Saddam and the Taliban, we have removed two dangerous regimes, but we can’t stop there. By helping Afghans and Iraqis to establish stable democratic governments, we can prevent those countries from reverting once again to being states that support terrorism and provide sanctuaries for terrorists. But more than that, we are enlisting new allies in the fight against terrorist extremism. That brigade commander in the 101st was right: Like their grandfathers in World War II, his troops are not just defeating an evil enemy, they are helping new allies to stand on their own feet.
Our troops have seen with their own eyes how it is on the ground in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They understand, I think better than most, the savagery of those totalitarian regimes and the need to win. One of those is a sergeant named Adam Replogle. I met him recently when I was visiting Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he was recovering from his wounds. In May, he and his unit were fighting Sadr’s army near Karbala when a rocket-propelled grenade slammed into him. He lost his left arm. He lost the sight in one eye.
He’s made an enormous sacrifice, but he’s determined to get on with his life. And he puts the price that he’s paid in this perspective. He said, and I quote, “We’re fighting for everything we believe in. We’ve freed Iraqis from a dictator who was killing them by the millions.”
And Adam described how he had personally changed so many lives in Iraq, how he’d helped destroy terrorist cells and get people back into their houses, how he and his fellow soldiers had multiplied the number of schools in his sector from two to 40 in just one year. He’d even bought bikes for Iraqi girls and boys. “After all,” he said, “they only cost me five bucks, and these kids don’t have anything.”
Sgt. Replogle summed up the situation like this: “Saddam affected everyone in that country. Something had to be done.”
Our enemies have clearly defined this as a war with the international community, a war with everything that represents the rule of law, whether it be multinational forces or Iraqi civilians, the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, a hotel in Indonesia, a government building in Saudi Arabia, a commuter train in Spain, or the World Trade Center.
In Afghanistan today, we have nearly 9,000 non-U.S. troops from more than 40 countries helping Afghanistan on its way to becoming a viable state in the international community. This is a country where just a few years ago women were brutalized and kept from public view. Today Afghans have adopted a constitution that gives equal rights to men and women. In another historic milestone, Afghans are looking toward elections this fall. Some six million Afghans have so far been registered to vote and close to 40 percent of those registered voters are women.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, that great transatlantic alliance, leads what we call the International Security Assistance Force. This is a force whose initial purpose was to maintain stability and authority in the capital of Kabul—a capital that had the potential to be disputed between two major ethnic groups. NATO’s gone beyond that to set up teams in remote provinces. And during last week’s summit in Istanbul, the NATO leaders pledged to increase their troop strength to support the fall elections. That international support is also evident in Iraq, including heavy participation by our NATO allies. Thirty one nations—it used to be 34 before Madrid—31 nations, including 16 of our NATO allies, are fighting alongside Americans and Iraqis for a free Iraq; 120 of those soldiers have given their lives in that cause. This is much more than just window dressing.
The United Kingdom leads a very impressive division that is providing security in the southern city of Basra. Poland is commanding a multinational division in south-central Iraq in what they call the Shia heartland. Special forces from little El Salvador, among other nations, are in the fight. And military engineers from a country that didn’t even exist 20 years ago—Kazakhstan—have cleared more than half a million explosives.
The Administration has also engaged the United Nations in the reconstruction effort in Iraq. Coalition efforts have received the endorsement of not one but four successive U.N. Security Council resolutions. Sergio Vieira de Mello, a distinguished Brazilian diplomat, served as special representative of Secretary General Kofi Annan last summer and he played a crucial role in helping to establish the Iraqi Governing Council. Tragically, he paid for those efforts with his life when the terrorists bombed the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.
More recently, an Algerian diplomat, Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, representing the United Nations, has played the leading role in helping to form the new sovereign Iraqi government that took office on June 28th. For the next six months, the United Nations will be providing election expertise and assistance as Iraqis prepare for the election of their first freely-elected government this coming January.
With the passage of that fourth U.N. resolution, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546, we hope that even more countries will contribute peacekeeping forces to Iraq, particularly to help protect the U.N. mission. However, we need to be realistic. With more than 30,000 coalition troops already deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and thousands serving in the Balkans and Bosnia and Kosovo and in peacekeeping missions elsewhere in the world, our allies are stretched thing. Fortunately, though, the most important contributions to success in the war effort in both Iraq and Afghanistan will come not from bringing onboard more contributions, as welcome as those will be. The key to success in both those countries rests in helping the Afghans and the Iraqis build their own capacity for self-defense, along with their capacity for self government. And we’re making great progress in both countries.
Working closely with Germany and Afghanistan, the United States has trained more than 19,000 Afghan police. In addition, U.S. and Coalition trainers have completed fielding battalions of the Afghan National Army and … and current Afghan National Army strength is over 10,000 troops and growing.
Even more importantly, in Iraq, the President recently laid out a 5-point plan to get us through elections at the end of this year. The first step in that plan kicked off on June 28—two days ahead of schedule for the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government. The Iraqis were ready and eager to move ahead. Now that Iraq’s future is clearly in their own hands, it has already made a big difference in the way they see their future and the way they fight. The big challenge now will be to pull off elections at the end of this year, or early next, in the face of an evil enemy, an enemy that is determined to stop forward progress in that country.
Right now, if we just do the numbers, we can count more than 200,000 Iraqis on duty or in training in the five different branches of Iraqi security forces—the Iraqi army, Iraqi National Guard, Iraqi police, Iraqi border service and something called the Facilities Protection Service. But I wouldn’t exaggerate the numbers. While those numbers, I think, are impressive for a force that didn't even exist a year ago, numbers alone are, admittedly misleading. Iraqi forces still have significant shortcomings in training, equipment and leadership. We saw some of that this past April. But no one expected that Iraqi security forces would be ready this past April to stand up to the kind of fighting that they encountered in Fallujah and in the Najaf-Karbala region. Not surprising, many of them performed poorly, but many others stood their ground and performed creditably.
That town up north, Mosul, was a notable example. On April 9th, the enemy attacked the government headquarters at night in Mosul. The governor of Mosul, who is a Sunni Arab—I think that’s significant for those of you who follow these complicated differences. The governor of Mosul, a Sunni Arab stayed here all night. The police initially did desert their posts, but the Civil Defense Corps, which has now become the national guard, stuck it out. The facilities protection people stuck it out. Eventually, the police came back. American troops from the 2nd Infantry Division were there—not there physically, but they were there connected, communicating, ready to come and help the Iraqis if that help was needed. I think, in part, because the help was available, it wasn’t needed. And I think that is part of the key to success going forward.
To me, it’s very encouraging that that performance by those security forces up in Mosul is really a product of the work that Maj. Gen. Dave Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division did over the year that they were up there, ending in March of this year. I say it’s particularly important because Maj. Gen. Petraeus is now Lt. Gen. Petraeus and he’s in Baghdad. And his assignment is to manage the training and equipping and organization of all five branches of those security forces. Let me say it a little more precisely—to manage the American support for that effort, ultimately, these are Iraqi forces and they will manage them.
Already, I think, in part because of the fact that there is now an Iraqi government, we’re seeing some significant changes. Some of those changes are on our side. There was a long delay in getting even some basic equipment into the hands of the Iraqi army and Iraqi police. I guess with us, we start slow and then everything kind of floods in, and equipment is flooding in now, and it’s very good news. But equally important, along with the equipment is a new sense of pride and self-confidence as Iraqis now see themselves fighting for an Iraqi government under Iraqi officers. They are no longer an occupied nation. I believe that makes a very big difference. The newest battalion of the Iraqi army was trained by Iraqi trainers, no longer by American contractors, and the first reports are that they’re doing even better than their predecessors. Perhaps most importantly, Iraqis are coming forward with great courage to fight for their country. It takes courage. By our own count, which General Petraeus and I both think is probably off by a factor of two, over 450 Iraqi police and soldiers and other security forces have already died in the past for the cause of an Iraq that is free from tyranny and terror.
Despite those casualties and despite the enemy’s attempts to intimidate them, both directly and through their families, Iraqis continue to come forward in large numbers to defend their country. For every opening that is advertised in the new Iraqi security forces, usually 5 or 10 Iraqis come forward to volunteer. Recently, when a suicide bomber attacked volunteers who had lined up outside a recruiting station in Baghdad, and killed quite a few people and badly injured others, the very next day long lines appeared in front of that same recruiting station. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Iraqi security forces in Mosul conducted two operations last week that seized weapons, ammunition and people suspected of being insurgents, all with very little help from American troops. And they quote Brig. General Carter Ham, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, quote, “There were, not unexpectedly, a few minor hiccups, but every day we are closer to the day when Iraqi security forces will have the capability to manage their own affairs.”
I was in Iraq most recently about three weeks ago, principally for discussions with the new Iraqi government, particularly Prime Minister Allawi, about the shape of Iraqi security forces and what their needs will be and how we can help support them. But we also managed to get around the country and visit with every one of the U.S. coalition divisions. When we visited Fallujah, that notorious and still very difficult part of western Iraq, we met a young U.S. Marine whose life had been saved by five brave members of what we now call the Iraqi National Guard—it was the Civil Defense Corps at the time. The Marines had been living, training and fighting with these people.
And when Marine Pfc. Rodriguez fell wounded, three Iraqis immediately returned fire as two other Iraqi guardsmen raced to pull the American off the battlefield. In the eyes of their American trainers and counterparts, this response was textbook perfect. Two Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals and three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals—all of them with a “V” for valor—were awarded to five Iraqis for that action.
One Iraqi private said after that heroic achievement, and I quote, “I feel very, very bad the Marine was shot, because they are like my brothers now. But I am ready to go out again. I am always ready.”
In our meetings with the new Iraqi government, I was struck by how much courage these new leaders must have. As I mentioned, we had extensive discussions with Prime Minister Allawi. This is a man who was nearly axed to death in his apartment in London in 1979 by one of Saddam’s assassins. He awoke in time to move his head out of the way, but his leg was nearly cut off. He spent a year in the hospital. His wife suffered a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. He is labeled by that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the number-one on his hit list. Prime Minister Allawi knows what it is to be number one on someone’s hit list.
The new president, a man who is an Arab sheikh from the largest tribe. They call them tribes. We were talking about this at lunch, by the way. I think it may be better understood if you use the word “clans” as we vaguely think of them in Scotland. I’m no expert on Scotland. I think I know more about Iraq. But I think we’re talking about basically clans – enormous, enormous ones, though. He’s from the Shammar tribe. In fact, this is so big that there’s is a large branch up north which is Sunni Arab and a large branch in the south, which is Shia-Arab. He himself is one of the Sunnis. He became the rotating president of the previous Interim Governing Council when his predecessor was assassinated in a car bomb attack. Deputy Prime Minister, whom we met with, Barham Salih, a Kurd, narrowly escaped an attempt on his life two years ago when assassins went after him in northern Iraq. These men know the dangers they’re facing and they continue to do so.
My current military assistant—and I’m privileged to have him—Brigadier General Frank Helmick, recently came back from seven months as assistant division commander of that distinguished 101st Airborne Division. And he has a personal story about an Iraqi he knew very well. In fact, Frank worked with this man every day, in charge of tracking the daily distribution of fuel and oil for some 8 million Iraqis in the North. One day when General Helmick was on his way to their daily meeting, he was informed that his Iraqi colleague had been the victim of an attempted drive-by assassination and that he survived, but he was in the hospital. Frank went to visit him in the hospital and discovered that not only had he been wounded, much worse, his son had been killed. General Helmick told the man how sorry he was and this Iraqi replied, “General, yesterday you lost one of your soldiers. Today, I lost my son. This will make us more determined.” We are lucky that so many Iraqis have that kind courage.”
While much has been accomplished, much more remains to be done. And as difficult as it is to be patient, especially when American blood is being spilled, we must recognize that our enemy’s one hope is for our impatience. Paradoxically, I believe, the more patience the enemy thinks we have, the sooner we will win. Their only hope is that they will somehow outlast us, that we will withdraw our support for the Iraqi people before they have the capacity to defend themselves and their new government.
The enemy hopes to outlast us, because they have so much to lose. Liberty for others not only comes at the cost of their own former license and privilege, but puts them at risk for the same fate that Saddam is encountering now. And for the foreign terrorists, including associates of Al Qaeda, the success of democracy in Iraq will be a major defeat.
Fighting on even after the capture of Saddam Hussein last December, the murderers and torturers of his regime, as well as their terrorist allies with their perverse ideology of evil, have been seeking through death and destruction to prevent the emergence of a new and free Iraq. In a remarkable letter that coalition forces intercepted in January, a letter from an al Qaeda-associated terrorist who you may have heard about—he’s the most notorious one in Iraq today, a man named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was writing to his al Qaeda associates in Afghanistan where, by the way, he used to run a terrorist training camp before the liberation of that country. He wrote that the prospect of democracy in Iraq spells in his words "suffocation" for the terrorists, the prospect of Iraqis fighting in their own defense. “When the army and police are linked,” Zarqawi says, “to the inhabitants of this area by kinship, blood and honor, how can we fight their cousins and their sons and under what pretext after the Americans pull back? Democracy is coming, and there will be no excuse thereafter."
And in this 10-page screed, he outlines his strategy of hoping that by killing Kurds and Americans and Iraqi police and, most of all, Shia Muslims to create enough chaos and civil war that he can prevent this specter of democracy. But in the end, how can these evildoers fight back when liberty begins to gain momentum? Their one strength—and it’s a great strength—is their ability to kill and terrorize and intimidate. But they offer nothing positive. I can’t think of a guerilla war in history that had such a negative agenda. Instead of building schools, they use them as bases of attack. Instead of putting people back into their homes, they blow them up. Instead of buying bikes for little children, they kill them and maim them with roadside bombs and rob them of their mothers and fathers. This utter lack of regard for human life, this philosophy of despair, this death worship, is their only strength, but it is also their fundamental weakness. It will prove to be their ultimate undoing.
This is a fight that cannot be won by the West alone. But we are not fighting alone. In fact, the fight against the killers who pervert and exploit a great world religion is most effectively fought by Muslims themselves. It is more appropriate for Muslims to refute the extremist’s false arguments that Islam condones terrorism and suicide bombing and the killing of innocents. Muslim voices are the ones that will be most effective in calling for the reform of madrassas that deny Muslim children the opportunity to cope and excel in the modern world. Muslims are the only ones who can dispute theologically the extremist teachings that are distributed free to millions. And many good, decent Muslims have spoken out against those who have tried to hijack their religion. Unfortunately, all too often, they have to do so in the face of threats and intimidation from well-funded extremists.
Sgt. Replogle said “Something had to be done.” In each generation, countless Americans have done it. Just as in World War II and the Cold War, we weren’t simply fighting the evils of Nazism and Communism, we also were creating opportunities for Germany and Japan, Korea and Poland to become strong allies in the longer term goal to build a free and peaceful world. So too, in Iraq and Afghanistan today, we are not only fighting against terrorists and the terrorist regimes that supported them, but we are helping Afghans and Iraqis become strong, moderate Muslim allies in the longer-term struggle against extremism.
Their struggle is our struggle and their courage and resolve in the face of evil will ensure that brave Americans and our brave coalition partners who have sacrificed so much to liberate those countries will not have sacrificed in vain.
The most remarkable demonstration of that resolve and courage that I encountered during our recent visit to Iraq came from a young Iraqi woman who served as our interpreter up north. Her sister had been assassinated not long before because she was working with the Americans. And yet, here was this energetic, vital young woman, still working with us and we asked her why. And she said, “Because my father told me that you must never retreat in the face of evil.”
We must never retreat in the face of evil. If we want to stop evil from coming to our shores or to our heartland, we must stand up to that evil in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we want to have allies in the fight against terrorism, we should not only enlist our old allies, but we should help countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to become new ones. Given the opportunity to choose, the overwhelming majority of people will choose freedom, whether they are Muslims or Christians, Arabs or Americans, Europeans or Afghans. That is why we will win and the terrorists will lose. Because we stand for life where they stand for death. Where they stand for tyranny, we stand for freedom.
The greatest strength of this country is not our military forces. It’s not our great economy. It is above all what we stand for – the cause of freedom. The future belongs to those who dream a dream of peace and freedom, the oldest and noblest dream of all. Thank you. [Applause.]
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Opportunity for questions from anybody in the audience. Yeah, yes.
Q: When it comes to the outside influences that are impacted in Iraq, is there anything you can do to quantify for us how much of that is coming from outside of Iraq and what could ultimately be done about that?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s a good question. I guess one has to say, first of all, the military part of this war is, above all, a war of intelligence and getting information. I said the great strength of the enemy is its ability to kill. I suppose the other strength is its ability to hide. So anything that anyone tells you about the shape of the enemy really should be qualified by, “as best we know” and “with enormous uncertainty.” But I ask that same question very often and particularly when I’m out there talking to commanders.
And the numbers sort of – first of all, they distinguish between the people who are organizing all of this and some of the people they may hire. They may hire some unemployed kid to take a shot at us. But the people who are organizing this – and this is mostly contract killing – are some probably 80 percent built around the hard core of the old regime, especially what was called the intelligence service, really an enforcement organization, and maybe 20 percent foreign terrorists of various kinds.
But if you look at it in terms of who’s doing what, the foreign terrorists are doing the big bombs, the suicide bombs they think are probably mostly foreigners, although it’s hard to prove it afterwards. What are called improvised explosives devices and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on our troops are probably mostly from former regime types. The question of what you can do about the foreigners, is one of the big challenges that this new government is already addressing, I think, creatively. Iraq has these huge borders, very, very long, very mountainous on the Eastern side which makes it hard to control, very desert on the western side which actually, I think, also makes it hard to control, although in some ways easier.
But there are three elements of control. One is to do a better job at the border itself and that’s why we’re building up border guards. That’s why we need to improve the ability to check papers and process people at legal checkpoints. The other two things, though, are to do a better job on the other side of the borders and that’s the responsibility of their neighbors and that’s why Prime Minister Allawi has called so much attention, particularly not by name, but by implication, to the role of Syria and Iran. And the third thing is to improve the ability to catch people once they get inside to have better law enforcement, better records on people. All of that takes time, but it’s getting there.
Q: Hi. Hello. Is this on? Yep. I just read in the Manufacturing and Technology News from this Wednesday that the bullet industry is on the rise due to wars and increased training needs. Since we’ve got a chamber of commerce backdrop for you, I wonder if you might take a stab at what role war and war industries will have in economic recovery and profitability for the U.S.?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: You know, I think war is bad for the economy. I think the World Trade Center attack was bad for the economy. We do very well in peacetime and it’s this kind of Marxist myth that our economies can’t work without war. We do very well when there’s not war. I mean, other than that, I’m not sure where the question goes. I mean, this is a strange kind of war in terms of the sort of the burden on the economy of this war. It’s a lot lower than the classical conventional war, but it’s real. The burden of all the security measures that we have to take because of terrorism are real. It’s basically attacks on the economy that I think slows us down. It’s impressive that we do so well in spite of that.
Q: Actually, this follows up from that. What I’m wondering is what criteria have been developed to determine when the war is won—the war on terror?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s a fair question. It’s a question that comes up in many contexts. Although I would say it seems that the question shouldn’t be—I mean, I’m going to try to answer it—but the question really shouldn’t be put to those of us who’ve been attacked, but rather to those who are attacking. The war will be won when they stop attacking. It comes up, for example, in a context that, once again, no one likes being at war. I repeat what I said earlier -- this war came to us, we didn’t go out looking for it. The people that we’re holding down in Guantanamo—and we’ve been through a lot of effort to make sure that we don’t have people we shouldn’t be holding. We’re going through another effort now, actually, because of the Supreme Court decisions. In any normal war, no one would question their being there as prisoners of war. They don’t have the legal rights, under Geneva that a regular POW would have because they fight in a number of ways that confuse them with civilians.
But one of the issues that comes up was, as prisoners of war or as enemy combatants, the laws of war and the Geneva Convention allow you to hold them for the duration of the combat. And people say, well, but this – I think implied in your question—this is combat that might go on forever. So does that mean you can hold them forever? We certainly don’t want to hold people forever, if we can possibly help it. But we’re only two years into – barely two years, two and half years since the World Trade Center was attacked. Osama bin Laden comes out, it seems to me, on an almost monthly basis re-declaring war on us and reaffirming that the war is on. We know that the people with whom these people were associated are still out there plotting. We know in some cases, they’re successfully killing people. It may be hard to know when the war is ended, but it very clearly hasn’t ended yet. It may peter out. Maybe miraculously people will start coming in and saying we took the wrong path. That may sound incredible, but it’s not totally incredible. The Saudis gave us some broadcasts by a couple of extremist preachers who actually have gone on television or radio in Saudi Arabia saying they were wrong and they were misleading these young terrorists. And we’ve played a few of them down in Guantanamo and it seems to have an effect at least on some people. But this is different from any kind of war this country has fought before. That makes it more difficult and more challenging but no less serious. In fact, because of the ability of the enemy to use the openness of our society to get inside and attack us, it may be the most serious war we’ve ever fought.
Q: It seems to me that some of our traditional allies, although supporting us or not supporting us nearly as fully as they should be or may not be taking the threat of terrorism as seriously as we are. Am I wrong in that and could you comment on that?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Some are. I’d say most aren’t. I’d say – and even, you know, some who may differ with us on Iraq, like France or Spain, are fighting and performing in Afghanistan. It’s actually, I think, amazing how many countries are in this effort in one way or another. And even on Iraq, which obviously caused some deep divisions within NATO, there is now – I think you can even include the French in this – a consensus that it’s important to win this. It’s important to allow and enable the Iraqis to succeed. And I hope when that day happens maybe people will look back and say, you know, maybe just like some other wars, this wasn’t such a bad thing. But at any rate, NATO leaders met in Instanbul just at the end of June and there was unanimous agreement on the importance of supporting the training and equipping of Iraqi forces. I should also recognize that some of the things where we’d like help are way beyond the capacity of most countries to deliver. I mean, to be able to send troops to Afghanistan thousands of miles away with no infrastructure, incredible climate, incredible terrain, is something that really only the United States can do and even to support us in an effort like that with some help, the number of allies that can send significant forces isn’t large.
And while I mentioned and I think it’s impressive that some 10,000 troops from other countries, mostly from NATO allies, are with us in Iraq and in Afghanistan – excuse me – more than 22,000 in Iraq, 10,000 in Afghanistan. It’s an impressive number and they’re doing it (Audio Gap) …. I’ll give an example of what impresses me, actually. Little New Zealand actually has a team in one of the remote provinces of Afghanistan, I think it’s Bamiyan. What we call a provincial reconstruction team where they combined New Zealand special forces who-- by the way, are very, very good, it may be a small country, but they produce a small number of very good soldiers – combined with civilian reconstruction workers and non-governmental organizations to help bring essentially economic and humanitarian assistance to people in this remote province. That’s New Zealand. Romania, it turns out – one of our newest NATO allies – has some terrific mountain troops because Romania has a lot of mountains and they’ve done very, very good efforts – some 700 of them in Afghanistan. It’s pieces here and pieces there, but when it comes to the large efforts, only the British even come close and if we’re stretched and we are stretched with 135,000 troops in Iraq, the U.K. is stretched with less than 20,000.
That’s why I come back to the point that our real allies are the people who are fighting for their own country. And particularly in Iraq, I am struck at how much intelligence there is there, mental – I don’t mean CIA intelligence, I mean human intelligence – how much courage there is there. And maybe because they suffered so much for the last 35 years, how many of them are determined to make things better. One of my, it’s a little dated now, it’s five or six months old, but one of my favorite photographs, I turned up on an Iraqi Web site, two Iraqi women in what they call full hijab—which means covered, except for their faces are not covered—in Baghdad demonstrating against a resolution by the old Iraqi Governing Council that would take rights away from women, they were demonstrating against that these conservatively dressed women and one of them said, “We didn’t suffer it so long under Saddam Hussein to be tyrannized by some new group.”
I talked a lot about Iraqi courage and I’m talking about people that want a new Iraq. There are thousands who want something different. By no means do I want to paint a rosy picture. But I don’t think it’s surprising that after what that country’s been through that an overwhelming majority of those people do not want to go back. And now that they see a way forward that’s not an occupation, that’s not Americans there indefinitely, that really is Iraqis taking over, I think they’re inspired.
I might make one other comment a little afield from your question, but it was striking to me. Some of you may have noticed the planned assumption of sovereignty by the new Iraqi government was supposed to take place on July 1st. We speeded it up and surprised people and did it on June 28th. It’s not a secret that the reason we did that was to surprise the terrorists in case they had some plan for a big event to disrupt the whole thing. And I guess we may have surprised them. I’m not so sure. The unintended effect was spectacular. It said to Iraqis, the Americans are so eager to get out of here, to hand government over to us, they even did it two days early. They’re serious. I mean, there was an expectation somehow July 1st would come and we’d find an excuse to stick around because the myth that’s out there is we really came to take their oil. I think they’re starting to believe we didn’t come to take their oil. We came to give their country back to them and now it’s their job to take it back because we’re not going to stay there forever, if they don’t step up to the plate.
MODERATOR: One last question, I think.
Q: Mr. Secretary, would you comment on the source of funding for the terrorists [inaudible]?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Again, I wish I knew. It’s the other kind of intelligence. It is the CIA intelligence. One of the – I think he was the interior minister in the previous Iraqi – the governing council, it wasn’t actually government—said not long ago that some large amount of money is coming from Saddam’s daughters and their relatives who were living in Jordan and have access to tens of millions of dollars. I don’t know that that’s true, but I find it plausible. I’ve seen intelligence reports that say that senior members of the Saddam regime who are still at large have tens of millions – many tens of millions of dollars in bank accounts in – particularly in Syria and Lebanon. Unfortunately, this regime stole a lot of money and they salted quite a bit of it away outside the country. Sometimes you see indications that they, in particular localities, are running short of funds, but it seems to be a temporary thing still, so far. But it’s something, by the way, in speaking about terrorism more generally. It does make a difference to go after the sources of funds and we’ve had some real successes internationally against al Qaeda and I think they’re feeling the heat. But if we let up the pressure, and they stop feeling the heat, they will be able to replenish unfortunately.
Thank you. I have to say it’s always good to get out of Washington [Laughter]. And I wish I could stay in Nebraska longer and maybe I can come back again. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to at least come visit for a while. [Applause.]
MR. BROWN: If I could ask Governor Johanns to come up and make a special presentation.
GOV. JOHANNS: Mr. Secretary, if my memory is right, I think you’ve been in Nebraska three times in the last few years. We appreciate the attention immensely. But what I have to tell you, it appears to me that the time has arrived to induct you into this great Navy of the state of Nebraska, so come on forward. I want to give you a little bit of history. This actually dates back to 1931. It’s got a little bit of a dubious past inasmuch as this arose when the governor left town – Governor Charles Bryan left the state for awhile and left in charge his lieutenant governor Theodore Metcalfe who issued 20 to 25 admiralships to prominent Nebraskans, otherwise described as his cronies. [Laughter.]
GOV. JOHANNS: Since then, we have made many people admirals, but today we do it to honor people. You join the ranks of President George W. Bush, President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, President Harry S. Truman, President Franklin Roosevelt, General Douglas McArthur, and Queen Elizabeth, II. So it is my pleasure to make you an admiral in the great Navy of the state of Nebraska. [Applause.]
MR. BROWN: I guess that means we salute now, Mr. Secretary. Thank you all for coming. Senator Nelson, again, thank you for your attendance here today. Governor, we appreciate your being here. Mr. Secretary, again, thank you very much for your attendance. Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be here today. We are adjourned.