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Rumsfeld Recalls Ike's Words to Define NATO's Current Challenges

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

TAORMINA, Italy, Feb. 10, 2006 – The challenges facing NATO today bring to mind words spoken by Dwight D. Eisenhower in his last televised address to the nation as president 45 years ago, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

The secretary took part in two days of informal meetings with his NATO counterparts, as well as meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and the alliance's Mediterranean Dialogue countries.

In his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961, Eisenhower spoke of the threat posed by the Soviet Union.

"As we think about the important role that NATO can play in the new century, it's worth remembering the words spoken by a former NATO commander in the early years of the Cold War. The words of Dwight Eisenhower have, in my view, a great deal of resonance today," Rumsfeld said.

"He said ... we face a hostile ideology, global in scope, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method," Rumsfeld said, "(and that) to meet it successfully, we must carry forward steadily, surely and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle with liberty as the stake."

The secretary said continuing NATO's transformation is the way the alliance's members can defeat the terrorists who threaten their freedom today. "Once again, there's every reason to believe that if we continue to work together and adjust to the new realities, we can successfully beat the great peril of our age," he said.

Rumsfeld said the two days of meetings here yielded "excellent discussions" on a range of issues important to NATO, to NATO operations, and the further development of the alliance's capabilities. He also noted his satisfaction with today's NATO-Russia Council and Mediterranean Dialogue meetings. Today's session marked the first time the defense ministers of all seven Mediterranean Dialogue members -- Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - had participated, Rumsfeld said.

As much as NATO has accomplished, the secretary said, the alliance's best days might be ahead. "While NATO remains the most successful military alliance, it is possible that history might even show that the alliance's most important missions and its most significant contributions to peace and security may very well be in its future," he said.

The secretary noted that NATO's transformation from a defensive alliance to an agile and expeditionary one "will maintain NATO's relevance and its credibility in a world where threats have a way of emerging in unpredictable places and in unpredictable ways."

"A transformed NATO will be able to provide collective defense appropriate to this 21st century, to deploy it quickly, and be sustained to meet threats wherever required, strengthen the Euro-Atlantic security beyond NATO's traditional borders, and help partner nations build up their capabilities to defeat terrorists within their borders," he said.

Rumsfeld said he used the opportunity presented by the meetings here to continue urging NATO nations to look at the percentage of their gross domestic product being invested in defense "to assure that they and NATO have the levels of defense spending to ensure that we have the capabilities that will be needed in this new century."

Today's struggle against violent extremists makes the need for the alliance clear, Rumsfeld said. "All NATO members are targets of intimidation and attack," he said, "and all must work together in new and innovative ways."

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Donald H. Rumsfeld

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