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Defense Department Update

Secretary Rumsfeld spoke today at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Mo. He reflected on President Truman’s leadership in the White House during the early days of the Cold War, and the similarities and differences between that struggle and the Global War on Terror.

Following are highlights.

  • Our task today is similar to that in the Cold War:
    • We must hold firm, defend ourselves over long decades, and trust that the truth will win.
  • The two eras have many differences:
    • Rather than an empire, our enemy today is a shadowy movement of terrorist cells;
    • Threats today are unconventional; and
    • Al Qaeda and other terrorists have neither territories to defend, nor diplomats to sign agreements.
  • The two eras also have many similarities. Both have required the United States to:
    • Be prepared for a long struggle, punctuated by periods of military conflict;
    • Use all elements of our national power to defeat the enemy;
    • Transition the Department of Defense from arrangements that worked in the last war to those better suited for a new and different era; and
    • Recognize that our citizens and leaders must above all persevere.
    • Both conflicts are also fundamentally ideological – challenging free people and free systems of government.
  • After World War II, the United States bolstered the capacity of partner nations:
    • Through the Marshall Plan, which helped to save western Europe from Soviet tyranny; by aiding Japan to become a democracy; and by investing in the Republic of Korea.
    • Today, we are bolstering the capabilities of our many new allies in the Global War on Terror, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • In the early days of the Cold War, the tasks often seemed insurmountable.
    • We did not win by luck, and our victory was not inevitable. We self-corrected, and we stayed resolved.
  • There was no clear answer when that war might be over, and there isn’t one today for this struggle.
    • The mission for our brave servicemen and women deployed around the world remains to continue to secure the peace for our generation and for generations to come.

Published by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Public Affairs

Links: (speech as delivered)


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