U.S. Must Prevail in Iraq, Navy Secretary Says
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2004 The recent turnover of sovereignty in Iraq has set the tone for the United States succeeding in Iraq, Navy Secretary Gordon R. England said June 30.
England, speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here, said though he looked forward to the historic moment, events in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the United States at the center of two of the biggest security, stability, and reconstruction efforts in recent history.
He also said that while the United States may have had "higher expectations" in Iraq, setbacks shouldn't "belittle the accomplishments made in the country" since Saddam Hussein was ousted from power.
The secretary noted that recent polling shows 68 percent of Iraqis support the Iraqi interim government, 73 percent have confidence in Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and 84 percent have confidence in President Ghazi al-Yawar.
He also mentioned progress in the country's economic and social institutions, citing among them a stable Iraq currency and refurbished hospital and clinics.
"Under Saddam, the government spent only $13 million on health care, the equivalent of less than $1 dollar per person per year. Today, the health care budget is over $1 billion," England said. He added that 90 percent of Iraqi children now receive routine immunizations.
Oil production in Iraq is another area where progress has continued, he said. Iraq now produces 2.5 million barrels per day, and production continues to grow, generating $6 billion in revenues for the Iraqi people -- "not Saddam's coffers," he said. He added that continued progress in Iraq has meant that the United States must not fail the country, "because that isn't an option."
England characterized terrorists trying to undermine success in the country as "dynamic, unpredictable, diverse, fluid, networked and constantly evolving."
"They operate with very little infrastructure, and their command and control system largely consists of cell phones, the Internet and word of mouth," he explained. Their weapons of choice are improvised explosive devices, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), car bombs and suicide bombers. Martyrdom is a virtue. They are low-tech, but with high impact."
He also said that the United States must accept the fact that terrorists cannot be reasoned with, persuaded or appeased.
"Negotiating with them is not an option," he said. "Changing the way we live or what we believe is not an option. Most importantly, it would not stop them from living out their fantasy. Ending their reign of terror, with military force as need be, is the only solution open to the world."
England said that solution also calls for cooperation and assistance with allies. Such coordination will be "key to success" in combating terrorism in the Middle East, he said. He pointed out that President Bush just returned from a NATO summit in Turkey, where he met with Turkish leaders to gather support for adopting stronger measures in combating terrorism.
He also noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell recently traveled to Eastern Europe and Indonesia on similar missions.
It's also important to recognize the increasing confluence, "or at least the potential confluence, of organized crime, weapons proliferation and terrorism by sea," England said. "In general, the seas are unpoliced and unregulated and, therefore, attractive to those who want to exploit or abuse them."
The Navy secretary pointed out that piracy is up by more than 56 percent in recent years, and some particularly dangerous waterways have seen a 150 percent jump in incidents.
"There are more than 460 incidents of piracy each year," he noted, "meaning that, on average, more than one ship each day is attacked, robbed, hijacked or sunk." The threat is not the attacks themselves, England said, but the ability of criminal groups to operate at sea, "undetected and unchecked."
To face that challenge, he said, the Navy's strategy is to form "international bonds" to control the seas and oceans of the world and to help promote stability and security of routes over which global trade flows. He said it will take the international community working together to defeat terrorism, and that the war will be "a thousand fights across the globe and across the years."
England said the goal of the United States should not be the avoidance of attacks like those on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, but rather "a freedom from fear of another 9/11 anywhere in the world."
"This is now the battle for our generation and the next, and together we will prevail," he said.