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Costly, Dangerous Effort in Iraq Worth the Risk, Rumsfeld Says

By Staff Sgt. Stephen Hudson, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2003 – U.S. and coalition efforts in Iraq are "difficult, costly and dangerous," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sept. 25. But the work, he stressed, "is worth the risk, and it's worth the cost, because if the coalition succeeds then we deal terrorism a powerful blow."

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld answers questions following a speech at the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Security Conference Sept. 25, 2003. He used the occasion to highlight the success the coalition is seeing in both Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Coalition officials are operating on the same guiding principle that has brought success to efforts in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said. "Iraq and Afghanistan belong to the Iraqi and Afghan people. The United States does not aspire to own those countries or to occupy them."

He discounted accounts the United States is "going it alone" in Iraq and Afghanistan, citing 32 nations that are providing military or financial support and humanitarian relief.

"Today we are again hearing suggestions the postwar effort is on the brink of failure, and it will take longer than 21 days," Rumsfeld said, relating the reconstruction effort to the number of days it took U.S. and coalition forces to take Baghdad during the war.

Rumsfeld compared the pace of postwar reconstruction in the five months since major combat operations ceased in Iraq to that of Germany and Japan after World War II.

"In just two months, an independent Iraqi Central Bank was established," Rumsfeld said, "and a new currency (was) announced -- accomplishments that took three years in postwar Germany."

Within two months, he said, all major Iraqi cities and most towns had municipal councils, something that took eight months to accomplish in postwar Germany. Within four months, the Iraqi Governing Council had been appointed, something that took 14 months in postwar Germany.

"When all is said and done," the secretary said, "the Iraq plan to win the peace will, in fact, succeed, just as the plan to win the war succeeded."

(Air National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Stephen Hudson is assigned to DefendAmerica.)

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