General Pete Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff: Well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is now my honor to introduce our keynote speaker, our Deputy Secretary of Defense, The Honorable Paul Wolfowitz. Secretary Wolfowitz is now serving in his third tour of duty at the Pentagon, which I’m happy to say probably took up a couple of mine, which … [laughter] I appreciate. Formerly, from 1977 to 1980, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Regional Programs. And from 1989 to 1993, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. He understands also how military might must go hand-in-hand with diplomatic skills because from 1982 to 1986, he was the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, followed in ’86 through ’89 as the ambassador to Indonesia, under President Reagan.
Secretary Wolfowitz is a scholar of global affairs, and a widely published author on national security strategy and foreign policy. He was the dean and professor of international relations at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University for seven years prior to returning to the Pentagon in March of 2001. He has a gift for looking at old problems in new ways, and I can attest to that. And he is a man that tells it like it is. I know this audience will appreciate that. He is highly qualified to address the many challenges that confront our nation on the road ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a warm welcome for tonight’s keynote speaker, a true patriot, an outstanding leader, our Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Paul Wolfowitz. [Applause]
Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz: Thank you. Thank you very much. I’d like to actually begin these remarks with a great big thank you to the U.S. Army for outstanding leadership at all levels, from senior non-commissioned officers all the way up to chief of staff. [General] Dan McNeill [Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command] is at the table that I was sitting at a few minutes ago. I had the privilege of working with Dan when he was leading our forces in Afghanistan—a truly magnificent job.
Two or thee times a week—and this morning being one of those—we were on a secure conference call with [the commander of Multi-National Force Iraq, General] George Casey, our commander in Baghdad, and [General] John Abizaid, our distinguished Central Command combatant commander.
The list is very long. I have a special debt of gratitude to three Army generals who served what are called tours of duty, but might better be called sentences. For some reason, every time I look for a new senior military assistant, it turns up Army. And I’ve had the privilege of having [Major General] John Batiste and then [Major General] Bill Caldwell and now [Brigadier General] Frank Helmick—outstanding gentlemen. [Army Vice Chief of Staff, General] Dick Cody—I don’t know, is Dick here tonight?—he’s a great, great general and somebody who I know wakes up every day trying to figure out what he can do to support the troops in the field, to save lives, and to reduce the horrible wounds that are inflicted in war. And last, but by no means least, Pete—thank you for putting your uniform back on, Gen. Schoomaker. [Applause]
As you probably know, Gen. Schoomaker was enjoying a very nice life between his ranch in Wyoming and his home in Florida, which I hope will survive [Hurricane] Ivan. You do want to go back there someday when your sentence is served. But I really stand in awe of this man. I’m in awe of his record as a combat commander and hero. I’m in awe of his leadership earlier in his career at SOCOM [Special Operations Command]. And most of all, I’m in awe of his ability to lead this Army in war effectively and at the same time, prepare it for the next battles. The Army transformation plan—to increase the number of combat brigades by 50 percent with only a modest increase in personnel—is really extraordinary to do at any time. To do it in the middle of wartime, Pete, is a huge achievement, not just for you personally, but for the whole Army.
Some of you may know that your chief played football in his college days. You may even know that in 1968 he helped his beloved Cowboys at University of Wyoming make it to the Sugar Bowl. What you may not know is that back in those days, they called Pete “the silent lineman.” Well, that was then. Gen. Schoomaker is never silent these days, when it comes to speaking up for his soldiers or his Army, whether in public or in small meetings with the Secretary of Defense. He’s a powerful voice that commands respect here in Washington and throughout the ranks of this great Army.
And I would add, whatever may be true or not about his earlier taciturn nature, I also admire Pete’s way with words. I once heard him puncture a discussion about some overdone piece of technology applied to some very simple task by saying, that’s like putting a trailer hitch on a Porsche. [Laughter] Or how about these bits of practical Schoomaker wisdom, most of which seem to be drawn from his cowboy neighbors. One of them is, “Don’t squat with your spurs on.” [Laughter] Or, “The best way to ride a bull is in the direction he’s going.” [Laughter] Or, “Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.” This one’s good for all you fast burners: “If you’re ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to see if it’s still there.” [Laughter]
Those are all pretty good. I think Pete, you must have been taking some lessons from [Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General] Pete Pace. Gen. Pace expresses his philosophy this way, quote, “You should never let a promising career get in the way of a good joke.” [Laughter] We like good jokes. We like people who are serious about their job. Pete, you’re both, and we’re mighty glad to have you back in the saddle leading the Army in the 21st century. Thank you.
Every time I come to this magnificent building, I think about Ronald Reagan, that apostle of small government, who once said, “The closest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth is a government bureaucracy.” And I wonder how he’d feel about having this building named after him. It’s the largest building in the city of Washington, I think.
But certainly, Ronald Reagan had to roll with the punches. He once referred to one wit’s definition of history as “just one darned thing after another.” But he’d follow that up with an observation that was classic Reagan. He said, “History doesn’t just happen, history is made.”
This conference is named after a great general, a great president, a great leader who made history. And I don’t think I could begin my remarks without invoking his spirit.
For me, one of the most extraordinary items on display in the Eisenhower Corridor outside the [Defense] Secretary’s office is a copy of a message that was, fortunately, never sent. It’s a message General Eisenhower drafted the night before D-Day. He kept it in his pocket to be used in case the Normandy invasion failed. It shows us a man who sent soldiers into battle and took upon himself the awful and awesome responsibility of command. It shows that Eisenhower was not only a man of great physical courage, but moral courage as well. “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area,” Gen. Eisenhower wrote, “have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time was based upon the best information available. The troops, the Air and the Navy, did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt,” Gen. Eisenhower was prepared to say, “it is mine alone.”
I bring up this powerful lesson because I often think, as important as physical courage is, moral courage can be as important, and sometimes it seems to be even more rare.
America, once again, faces a time of great testing. It will need not only great physical courage from our troops, but moral courage from our leaders. We’re fortunate, once again, to have a President who possesses that quality of moral courage.
I was in the Oval Office the day President Bush signed the Executive Order that authorized Operation Iraqi Freedom. He said at the time that it was the most difficult decision he’d ever made in his life. Two weeks ago, he gave all of us an insight into just how difficult. “I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers,” he said, “some with a very tough road ahead who say they were just doing their job. I’ve held the children of the fallen who were told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their mom or dad. I’ve met with the wives and husbands who have received a folded flag and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed,” the President said, “that so many have used those meetings to say that I’m in their prayers and to offer encouragement to me.” As the President said those words, the emotion in his voice made it clear that he understands the terrible cost of war.
Twice in the last century, the United States went to war against a totalitarian evil. First, in the bloody war against Nazism and fascism, and then later in that long twilight struggle, there was a confrontation with totalitarian communism. Each time when the war was over and the evil eliminated, we felt we could enjoy a long period of unbroken peace. Each time we suffered a rude awakening. This time, September 11, 2001, was our wake-up call. With the cold-blooded murder of 3,000 Americans and citizens of many other countries, we are once again in the middle of a war we didn’t look for—a war that found us. And as in each past confrontation, the target is freedom itself.
President Reagan liked to tell the famous story about how British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was delivering an address at the United Nations when Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and started banging it on the table. With that unflappability we associate with the British, Macmillan said without missing a beat, “I’d like that translated, if I may.” [Laughter]
Of course, no translation was required. Like the Nazis, the Soviets wanted to bury free societies. Today’s terrorist fanatics are no different.
When freedom was attacked on September 11th Americans fought back for the same reasons Americans have gone to war in the past. During a recent hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman described it well, reminding us all that when America goes to war, I quote, “it’s not for conquest, it’s for security and for a principle that has driven American history from the beginning which is freedom and democracy.”
To be successful, once again, in defending our society and our freedom, four basic principles must guide our strategy in combating terrorist fanaticism.
First, we must recognize that the struggle will be a long struggle. We will win it, but victory will not be marked by anything as dramatic as a signing ceremony on the U.S.S. Missouri or the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Second, we must use all the instruments of national power, including military force, but not solely or even primarily military force.
Third, we must wage this war in multiple theaters, including here in our own country. But we must sequence our efforts and focus our energies in the right places at the right times. We can’t take on every problem all at once.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, we need to understand that this is an ideological as well as a physical struggle. We have to do more than simply kill and capture terrorists. As President Bush said in his very first State of the Union message a few months after September 11th, we must work to build, and I quote, “a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror and particularly in the Muslim world.”
From the beginning, the President recognized that this fight would be long and difficult. Just five days after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, he said, “The American people must be patient. This will be a long campaign.”
On October 8, 2001, one day after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Secretary Rumsfeld told reporters that “these strikes in Afghanistan are part of a much larger effort, one,” he said, “that will be sustained for a period of years, not weeks or months. This campaign,” he said, “will be much like the Cold War. We’ll use every resource at our command. We will not stop until the terrorist networks are destroyed.”
I remember at that time being struck by Don Rumsfeld’s reference to the Cold War. It was a dramatic contrast to those who suggested that all we had to do—big enough—was to eliminate al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As daunting as that task was, it was nothing compared to the task that Secretary Rumsfeld and the President laid out for us. But, indeed, the problem does extend far beyond Afghanistan to other states that harbor terrorists and used terrorism as an instrument of national policy, to ungoverned areas where terrorists can find safe harbor and even to our own country and many other free societies where terrorists can hide essentially in plain sight. And it extends far beyond al Qaeda, as dangerous as that organization is.
In fact, perhaps the principal lesson of 9/11 is that we need to stop thinking about terrorism and state support for terrorism as something that we could continue living with as an evil but inescapable fact of international life the way we did over the previous 20 or 30 years. We can’t continue regarding a terrorist’s capacity to inflict thousands of casualties in a single conventional attack, much less hundreds of thousands of casualties, if terrorists gain access to the most terrible weapons human beings have invented. We can’t continue regarding that as primarily a law enforcement matter to be handled by catching and punishing perpetrators after they attack. We must do everything we can to prevent attacks.
We may not be able to eliminate every individual terrorist, but we can hope over time to eliminate global terrorist networks and to end state sponsorship of terrorism. We can hope to see the ideologies that justify terrorism discredited as thoroughly and made as disreputable as Nazism is today. We can hope to see the bombing of churches denounced by Muslim leaders as it was in Iraq last month or the slaughter of school children almost universally condemned as it was most recently after the horrendous attacks in Russia.
Americans have a reputation for impatience. That’s not all bad. It’s a strength, but it’s also a weakness. In this struggle, as in the Cold War, we’re right to be impatient for results. But looking at the stakes, we should also recognize that we’re in this fight for the long haul.
It’s striking sometimes in hindsight to look back at how quickly we became impatient with the situation in Europe after VE Day. Just six months after Eisenhower’s great victory in Europe, people were heard to say, “We’ve lost the peace.” In 1946, The New York Times editorialized, quote, “In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.” More amazingly, Life magazine was able to write also in 1946, “We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel”—get this—“that the cure has been worse than the disease.”
Sometimes it’s hard to remember how long it took to begin to turn around the situation in Europe. It was a full two years after the end of the war when the situation looked so desperate that President Harry Truman courageously proposed the Marshall Plan. As late as the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948 a full three years later, people in the West were still debating whether there was even a new threat that we needed to confront. And the idea that we could eventually win that struggle after an effort that would extend over four decades was something that few besides George Kennan dared to predict.
Similarly today, a problem that grew up over 20 or 30 years or longer is not going to disappear in two or three. So we must be resolved and patient. But we know how Europe’s story ends. We know that it can be done when leaders are determined to persevere, when the American people and its allies are resolved to stand firm for freedom.
Freedom has been the glue of the world’s strongest alliances and it has been the solvent that has dissolved tyrannical rule—the same values that held the NATO allies together over the course of four decades of often contentious debates or the values that have brought some 40 countries into the coalition effort in Afghanistan, more than 30 countries into Iraq and some 80 or 90 countries into the larger coalition against global terror.
Our enemies know us by our love of liberty and democracy. We know them by their worship of death and their philosophy of despair. At the beginning of this year, we were given a window into that dark and barren world when we intercepted a letter from an al Qaeda associate in Iraq to his colleagues in Afghanistan. That letter from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a major terrorist mastermind, gives us an idea of how he and his kind view the benefits of a free and open society emerging in the heart of the Middle East. “Democracy” in Iraq, Zarqawi wrote, “is coming.” And that, he said, will mean “suffocation” for the terrorists.
He talks disparagingly about Iraqis who, in his words, “look ahead to a sunny tomorrow, a prosperous future, a carefree life, comfort and favor.” Just imagine that. For Zarqawi, prosperity and happiness are inconsistent with a terrorist’s mission. That long letter, which I recommend to you, is readily available on the Internet, and is worth reading in detail. The contempt that Zarqawi displays for whole groups of human beings, including Muslim Kurds and Muslim Shia, calls to mind the racism of the Nazis. And his glorification of death and violence, like that of bin Laden and Zawahiri and so many others, also calls to mind the tyrannical movements of the last century. While they claim the mantle of religion, their rhetoric recalls the death’s head that Hitler’s SS proudly displayed on their uniforms.
But the great majority of human beings, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, want to embrace life and freedom if given a chance. A few months back Hamid Karzai said that if they registered six million people to vote in Afghanistan, he’d consider it a great success. They’ve registered 10.5 million people who defied the Taliban philosophy and registered to vote in the forthcoming elections. Forty percent of those voters are women.
In Iraq, the early caucuses for the Iraqi National Conference were met with an almost overwhelming number of Iraqis eager to serve. In the city of Kut more than 1,200 people competed for 22 seats. In Najaf, 920 candidates vied for those 20.
Like Nazism and Communism before them, the terrorist brand of totalitarianism contains within it the seeds of its own defeat because it runs fundamentally counter to the love of life and the love of freedom that represent, I believe, the deepest longings of most human beings.
But they will not collapse simply of their own weight. To defeat them, we have to go on offense. And that offensive, of necessity, means fighting on many and varied fronts and not just different geographical theaters, although there are many of those, and not even primarily military fronts. For this struggle is not just about killing and capturing terrorists, as important as that is. And we’ve had success there—important success. More than three-quarters of al Qaeda’s leaders and facilitators, we estimate, have been killed or captured since September 11th. We’ll never know how many September 11ths have been prevented by intercepting those facilitators and plotters in the last three years. But unfortunately, we can also be virtually certain that there are still people out there plotting major attacks against us. And even capturing or killing bin Laden himself will not eliminate al Qaeda, much less other terrorist groups.
But while we cannot concentrate our efforts on only one front at a time, we also can’t put equal effort into each one simultaneously. We need to sequence our efforts in a way that makes sense, recognizing also that what we do in one theater has impact on others. We cannot have an al Qaeda strategy by cutting aid to Pakistan, isolating a country like that, the way we did in the 1990s. And at the same time, success in one theater can provide a platform for success in others. Success in Afghanistan has not only deprived al Qaeda of a sanctuary there and driven al Qaeda terrorists into Pakistan where we’ve been able to capture them, it has also supported President Musharraf’s world position as a friend and ally of the United States.
The capture of terrorist operatives in Pakistan, in turn, has led to the arrests of key associates in places as far away as London and Chicago, Singapore and Morocco and provided significant new information about terrorist plans.
Saudi Arabia is another crucial theater. Terrorists once found Saudi Arabia a friendly place to find money. But since the suicide bombings in Riyadh on May 12th of last year, Saudi Arabia’s own wake-up call, it’s been a far less hospitable place for terrorists. The Saudis have been able to kill or capture more than 600 al Qaeda associates and their efforts have been facilitated by the fact, thanks to Operation Iraqi Freedom, that Saudi Arabia no longer has to be the pillar of a failing policy to contain Iraq.
Indonesia, where I was privileged to serve as a U.S. ambassador for three years, has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world and religious tolerance is a true hallmark of that country. For Indonesians, the attacks in Bali and Jakarta were their wake-up call, and they have taken serious steps to deal with our own terrorist problem. And they need our help.
The Palestinian-Israeli problem is another theater in this struggle. President Bush laid out the very clear solution to this problem—the establishment of two states living side by side in peace. As simple as it is to say it, getting to that solution is an enormous challenge. But getting there will bring enormous benefits for our other efforts in that struggle. An Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, though a limited step, is an important one in the right direction.
In other theaters, our diplomacy has been strengthened by our military success. It’s been said, and I agree, that diplomacy without military capability is little more than prayer. In the process of performing their role so magnificently, brave American troops have also given our diplomats enormous credibility. As a result, not long ago Libya saw what was happening in the region and agreed to peacefully dismantle its weapons programs.
But for our military forces, of course, the two central fronts are Iraq and Afghanistan. Today in those two countries, 50 million people have been freed from brutal tyranny. Afghanistan and Iraq are on the way to becoming America’s newest allies in the fight for freedom.
There are those who debate whether Iraq was the right place to use military force. I agree strongly with Senator John McCain who recently said, quote, “Our choice wasn’t between the benign status quo and the bloodshed of war, it was between war and a greater threat.” As the senator explained, “There was no status quo to be left alone. The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close. The international consensus,” Senator McCain went on, “that Saddam be kept isolated and unharmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come, once again, to do business with Saddam, despite his nearly daily attacks on our pilots and his refusal until his last day in power to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal.”
The success of democracy in Iraq is a terrorist’s greatest fear. “Suffocation,” as I mentioned, is what Zarqawi calls it. For success in Iraq will have effects far beyond the borders of that country. When Iraqis possess freedom and lasting stability, that will be one more step in pushing this extremist ideology the terrorists espouse to the margins of civilized society and replacing it with a hopeful vision of freedom.
Winning in Iraq and Afghanistan is imperative, but it is only part of the larger war on terrorism. Winning in each of the geographical theaters I’ve mentioned is only part of the victory. Because victory requires more than just killing and capturing terrorists, it requires planting the seeds of hope and expanding the appeal of freedom particularly in what we call the broader Middle East and the Muslim world.
As democracy grows in the Middle East, it becomes easier for peacemakers to succeed throughout the region. There are so many wonderful Muslims who are our best allies in fighting this ideological battle. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to just tell you briefly about three that I’ve been privileged to know personally.
One of them is Shaukat Aziz, the new prime minister of Pakistan. I first met him 10 years ago when he was a highly successful executive of Citicorp and I was a dean, out raising money for Johns Hopkins University. I was struck even then by his interest in substance. He’s a man who has given up an incredible career in the American business world—some even talked of him as the next CEO of Citicorp—in order to go to Pakistan to help his country achieve a prosperity that he could have enjoyed personally without any effort. His reward for that has been one nearly successful assassination attempt just a few weeks ago. But that hasn’t stopped him and it hasn’t stopped his brave president, Pervez Musharraf.
Another old friend of mine is Abdurrahman Wahid, the first democratically elected president of Indonesia. He is perhaps even more distinguished for his long leadership of an organization called Nahdlatul Ulama. With 40 million members, it’s the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia and, indeed, it’s larger than most countries in the world. Abdurrahman Wahid is a Muslim leader, but he is also a true apostle of tolerance.
One of his first acts as president—as the new president of that predominantly Muslim country—was to go to a Hindu temple in Bali to participate in Hindu prayers. While he was in Baghdad in the 1960s studying his own religion, he also studied Shia texts with an ayatollah now known to the world as Sistani. And tragically, he studied with a very distinguished Sunni cleric, al-Badri, who was taken away while Wahid was his student, tortured with hot irons and brutally murdered.
The third one, I’m happy to say, is a former deputy prime minister who was, thankfully, released just two weeks ago from six years of unjustified imprisonment in his own country, Malaysia. Anwar Ibrahim, again, is a devout Muslim. In fact, he started his career as a leader of the Muslim student movement in Malaysia.
I remember a conference I attended in Kuala Lumpur some eight years ago where Anwar was asked about his views of the relationship between Islam and politics, and he said, “I have no use for countries that call themselves Islamic and then deny basic rights to half their population,” clearly meaning their women.
These are three of the most wonderful human beings in public life anywhere. It’s men and women like them who will lead change throughout the Muslim world.
Just as in the years after World War II, victory will require great risk and sacrifice and much hard work. The three Muslim leaders I’ve just mentioned have risked their reputations, their freedom and even their lives to stand up for freedom and democracy and religious tolerance.
Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan knows that his life is on the line every day. And thousands of Iraqis are joining the new army and the new national guard and the police force, even though they know they’re risking their lives in doing so.
On my visit to Iraq this past June, I met a young Marine whose life had been saved by five members of the Iraqi National Guard. They had risked their own lives to pull him from the battlefield when he was wounded under fire. Afghans and Iraqis know what they’re fighting for. They understand the risks. Nearly 700 Iraqi soldiers and police and national guardsmen, by our official count and probably hundreds more, have already given their lives in this cause. But as one young woman we met in June up in Mosul, whose sister had recently been murdered, said to us, “My father said, ‘You must never back down in the face of evil.’”
These people are not retreating in the face of evil and they have the support of extraordinarily brave young Americans who were risking their lives so that other people can enjoy freedom and so that we, as Americans, can live in greater security.
We mourn each one of those Americans who’ve been lost for this cause. My friend Joe Lieberman put it eloquently when he called it “a noble cause as critical to American security as any we have fought over the centuries.”
One of those American heroes who helped give them that opportunity is an extraordinary young man, Army Sgt. Adam Replogle of the 1st Armored Division. I met him at the hospital, at Walter Reed. He had been with his unit fighting Sadr’s army in May near Karbala when an RPG slammed into him and he lost his left arm and sight in his left eye. Adam put that enormous sacrifice into perspective this way. He said, “We’re fighting for everything we believe in. We’ve freed Iraqis from a dictator who was killing them by the millions.”
And he 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 helped multiply the number of schools in his sector from 2 to 40 in just a year. He’d even bought bikes for Iraqi girls and boys with his own money. “After all,” he said, “they only cost five bucks and these kids didn’t have anything.”
And Sgt. Replogle summed up the situation like this: “Saddam affected everything in that country. Something had to be done.”
Just as Eisenhower not only defeated an evil enemy, but also helped us gain new allies in the fight for freedom, this generation of Americans is doing the same thing. Eisenhower would be proud of them—enormously proud.
Something had to be done. And once again, Americans are doing it, just as Americans have always stood up to evil.
There are others in the Muslim world who will one day join us as allies in this fight. That’s because history has shown that, in their hearts, most people do not want to live under tyrants. Clearly, hope remains. As the President reminded us, “As freedom advances, heart by heart, nation by nation, America will be more secure and the world will be more peaceful.”
With that, ladies and gentlemen, as the hour grows late, I think I’ll close, once again, by invoking the immortal wisdom of our Army Chief of Staff who once wisely observed: “Never miss a chance to shut up.” [Laughter] Thank you very much. [Applause]