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Rumsfeld Stresses Unity, Cooperation at Security Conference

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 12, 2005 – Allies must cooperate, while respecting and understanding one another's points of view in the interest of their collective security, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

At the 41st Munich Conference on European Security, the secretary told the delegates that NATO's enemies know their cause benefits from divisions and differences within the alliance. "But we know that our collective security depends on our cooperation and mutual respect and understanding," he said.

Though differences exist among NATO allies on Iraq, the alliance "has navigated through some choppy seas over the years," Rumsfeld said. Among other serious disagreements, he cited France's withdrawal from the alliance and expulsion of NATO troops in the 1960s, disagreements on Pershing II missile deployments in the 1980s, and differences in approaches on how to handle the Middle East peace process. He also noted that as U.S. ambassador to NATO in the 1970s, he had to testify before the Senate on a proposal that the United States withdraw all of its forces from Europe.

"Think of it in the middle of the Cold War," he said. "What if we had lost our will?"

Still, he said, NATO always has managed to resolve the toughest issues it has faced. "And I submit that is because there is so much that unites us: common values, shared histories and an abiding faith in democracy," he added.

Something else the allies have today, he said, is a common enemy.

"Extremists have targeted all civilized societies in New York and Washington, Istanbul, Madrid, Beslan, Bali and many more," Rumsfeld said. "Radical Islamists do not seek an armistice with the civilized world. They will not negotiate a separate peace. Rather, they seek to impose a totalitarian rule George Orwell described as 'a boot stomping on a human face forever.'"

No one nation can defeat extremism, nor can one nation fight the other threats that face the world today, the secretary said. "It's a global concern, and it requires a global effort."

Rumsfeld pointed to the 60-nation Proliferation Security Initiative's effort to keep dangerous regimes from getting dangerous weapons and the dismantling of the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network as the kind of international cooperation the effort requires. He also cited German, Italian, British and American authorities confiscating nuclear equipment bound for Libya in 2003, which he said surely prompted that country to open its inventories of weapons of mass destruction for inspectors.

Building on this collaboration, Rumsfeld noted, the United States proposed a Global Peace Operations initiative, which he called "another way to work together by helping to train countries for peacekeeping operations and to develop their own defense capabilities."

A community of nations, the secretary said, also is necessary to gather intelligence about extremist networks and break up their financial support lines, or to apprehend suspected terrorists. And that community must contribute with all elements of national power, including legal, diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence-gathering agencies. "It is not the work of the military alone," he said.

And it will take many nations, the secretary said, to help Afghanistan and Iraq on the road to democracy.

"Because we know the value of democracy," he said, "we stand with those who freely choose it." He noted that every NATO nation has had personnel serving in Afghanistan, and that more than half have had forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

He cited Germany's contributions to security and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and noted that Germany and the United States are educating young leaders from countries in NATO's Partnership for Peace program at the Marshall Center in nearby Garmisch. He also singled out Lithuania, one of NATO's newest members, for taking the leadership of a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan, "joining other European nations in contributing to Afghanistan's stability and progress."

Rumsfeld said that during this week's defense ministerial meeting in Nice, France, he "was struck by the enthusiasm over the democratic experiment under way in Iraq." Many NATO countries, he said, have agreed to help train Iraqi security personnel to help establish a war college and military academies in Iraq. Others, he said, have agreed to provide funds or send equipment for Iraqi security forces.

"These are welcome and encouraging signs, and the Iraqi people are grateful," the secretary said. "It sends an important message to the extremists: that they are on the wrong side of history."

Since World War II ended 60 years ago, NATO's allies "have counted on each other in times of peril and challenge," Rumsfeld said. His own lifetime, he added, has seen the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, Nazism and Soviet communism.

"Together, we have helped to protect Kosovo, and recently brought aid to the victims of a devastating tsunami," he said. "Great achievements are possible when the Atlantic community is united."

Unity isn't necessarily uniform tactics or views, the secretary said. Union of purpose is what's important, he explained.

"Those who cherish free political systems and benefit from them and free economic systems and benefit from them share similar hopes," he said. "And working together, those hopes can be realities for the many more who yearn to be free."

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