Stakes Require Proper Handling of Terror War, Myers Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 31, 2004 The stakes are high in the global war on terrorism, and if the United States doesn't handle it correctly, "I don't think we're going to like the world we'll live in in five or 10 years," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said today.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told CNN that not everyone thought World War II was a noble effort. "There were a lot of critics of that particular conflict," Myers said. "And if we think about it for a minute, if we had not done what was done in World War II, then we'd be living in a much different world today."
Making the right choices today will be crucial in maintaining democracy and the freedoms we now enjoy in the future, Myers said.
Myers, who also spoke to ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today,", CBS's "Early Show" and "The Fox Morning Report," said the terrorist adversary doesn't need armies and planes and ships to threaten the United States. "They can (threaten us) just through terrorism and creating fear where we lose confidence in our leaders, where we lose confidence the rule of law," he said on "Good Morning America." "They go after the very heart of the freedoms that we all in America and around the world enjoy."
Myers said the free nations are in a test of wills against terrorists and their sympathizers in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. "The resolve of the American people, the will of the American people will be very important in determining the outcome," he said.
Myers said it's important to remind the American people what is at stake in the global war on terrorism. He said that when he met World War II veterans at the May 29 dedication of the memorial on the National Mall, they encouraged him. "The World War II vets they were terrific," he said. "I shook a lot of hands, looked in a lot of eyes (and) they invariably said, 'Stay the course on this war against terrorists and extremism.' I think they have a pretty good understanding of how serious the current conflict is."
He said the global war on terrorism is a noble cause. "Like World War II, this generation is fighting this conflict against extremism," he said. "The stakes are so high, that they will change the world like our World War II generation did."
Myers said the United States and other nations with forces in Iraq are working to define the relationship after the return of sovereignty June 30. "The important thing to remember is that when sovereignty passes, Iraq will not be capable of providing for its own security," he said on "Today."
The Iraqi security forces will not have the training or equipment to adequately protect their country. "They're going to need and they will want the help of the coalition forces," Myers said. "And how we organize that is being worked on right now. But I can guarantee you Iraq will go to sovereignty. They will be making the decisions that affect their future."
Myers said that in his talks with service members around the world, he tells them there has never been a more important time to serve in the military. "This is a time that the U.S. armed forces need to stand up again and help defend the things that we really hold dear, and that's our American way of life, our freedom, our democracy," he said.
The Joint Chiefs chairman, a Vietnam veteran, participated in the Rolling Thunder tribute on Sunday. Tens of thousands of motorcyclists gather each year in tribute to fallen comrades and to highlight the prisoner-of-war and missing- in-action issues. Myers said participating in Rolling Thunder is indescribable.
"As you turn the corner onto Memorial Bridge, and there are hundreds, thousands of people lining the streets, and they're all cheering, they're all waving American flags, and there's a chill that goes up your spine that is so, so important (for the Vietnam vets)," he said. "I think it's a very appropriate event, and very poignant for many people -- including myself, as a matter of fact."