Results Worth Sacrifices in Iraq, Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 24, 2005 The results in Iraq are worth the costs, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee here June 23.
In the year since the return of sovereignty in Iraq, much has been accomplished, the secretary said. But much remains to be done, he added, and the United States and its coalition allies must stay in Iraq, until the Iraqi people can handle the security situation themselves.
The secretary told the representatives that following World War II, critics said the U.S. policy was a failure. Yet 60 years of peace and the ultimate destruction of the Soviet bloc have proven the critics wrong. "It's now been one year since the turnover of sovereignty to the liberated Iraqi people," Rumsfeld said. "And just as Europe was a central battlefield ... in the war against communist aggression, so too the Middle East and Central Asia are centers of gravity in today's struggle against violent extremism."
These violent extremists seek to destroy the Western way of life and its values, Rumsfeld said. "They have money; they have weapons; they're seeking even more dangerous weapons, let there be no doubt," he said. "They are surveying and targeting landmarks in our country. Terrorists have to be stopped, and the world must find ways to encourage would-be recruits to choose a better path."
U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are a blow to the goals of these extremists, the secretary said. "Our nation's actions to liberate Afghanistan and Iraq have eliminated two state sponsors of terrorism, most certainly contributed to Libya's decision to open its nuclear weapons programs to international inspection and to renounce terrorism, and encouraged democratic movements in regions that have long been breeding grounds for violent anti-Western extremism."
The strategy to combat these violent extremists is clear, the secretary said. The strategy calls for empowering the democratically elected Iraqi government, he explained. It also calls on coalition and Iraqi forces to aggressively go after the insurgents and terrorists and for coalition forces and the international community to work to improve public services and the quality of life for the Iraqi people. Finally, the strategy hinges on enabling Iraq's security forces to take charge of their own country, Rumsfeld said.
"Each of these strategies depends on the others," Rumsfeld said. "Success will not be easy, and will require patience and progress."
The long-range effect will be a different Middle East. "A free, democratic and peaceful Iraq will not provide aid to violent extremists; it will not plot the assassination of American presidents; it will not invade or fire missiles at its neighbors; and it will not use chemical weapons on its neighbors or its own people," Rumsfeld said.
He said if the coalition leaves before the Iraqi security forces are ready to assume responsibility, "we would one day again have to confront another Iraqi regime -- perhaps even more dangerous than the last -- in a region plunged into darkness, rather than liberated and free."