Myers Says World Must Think of Terror Like Slavery
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
TOWNSVILLE, Australia, Jan. 19, 2004 The war on terrorism seems light years away from this beautiful tropical city on the Coral Sea, but what happens in New York, Riyadh, Bali or Istanbul has a direct affect on the people here.
That was the message Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered to the people of Townsville during a Jan. 18 stop to end his nine-day, four-country visit to the Asia-Pacific region.
Myers said the world is so interconnected now that terrorist attacks in other areas affect all. Fear, he said, is the terrorist weapon of choice. Myers said the terrorists want to do away with the western way of life.
"Fear is a terrible thing. It can drive us to do things that are just not logical and (that are) harmful to our interests in the long run," he said.
Terrorists rely on breaking freedom-loving peoples' will, the chairman said, and this cannot be allowed to happen. Myers compared the threat of terrorism to slavery. In the late 18th and early 19th century, he noted, people around the world finally decided that slavery was an evil that should be combated, and they took steps to outlaw the slave trade.
"Slavery is now internationally condemned, and international terrorism has to be thought of the same way," he said. Terrorists must be pursued by the community of nations in the same way slave traders were pursued in the early 19th century, and no country can allow terrorists to operate in its territory, he added.
The chairman said that because of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq it is easy for people to think of the war on terrorism as a strictly military operation. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. Australia and the United States, he noted, are not only fighting terrorists in combat, but are instituting programs to lift the standards of living of people to stop new people from turning to terrorism.
Myers said the people of Townsville have a better appreciation for the sacrifices military personnel are making, because the area has the largest number of military posts in the country. Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney listed the units from the area that are in Baghdad and other operations in the region.
"We are a garrison city, and a community that backs our service personnel when they are called to duty," Mooney said. "We close ranks to support their missions, sometime far from home, and we focus on the well-being of their families. We worry when they are away and we celebrate when they return home."
Myers thanked the Australians for their part in the war on terror. He said the United States appreciates Australia's commitment of personnel and funds to the effort.